Tuesday, December 3, 2013

12/3 The Progressive Era

"Come, Brothers You Have Grown So Big You Cannot Afford to Quarrel," William A. Rogers,  Harper's Weekly, 1901

There has never been a successful political revolution in the United States, some historians have the divided the American political system into "three republics": The First Republic, the constitutional system established in 1789-1860. Originally the system emphasized states' rights and consensus, no laws could be passed unless all parties agreed, like the "compromises" made between pro and anti slave factions leading up to the Civil War. 

The Second Republic 1861-1912, is established during the Civil War establishing a strong central state, assisting the expansion of industry throughout the country, like the railroads and steel industries. 

The Third Republic 1913-1980(?), beginning in 1913 under the Wilson administration (1913-1921) but developing fully under the Roosevelt administration (1933-1945). The large centralized state becomes the "welfare state" now that industry has expanded through every aspect of life. The critical question, posed by progressives, is should large industrial monopolies be regulated? Political conflicts in the present are still fought over whether government should regulate and tax businesses. 

In other words, the political issues of the early 20th century are to a large extent the political issues of today especially over the economy. A consequence of the labor movement that grew during the late 19th century. Progressive thinkers took on corporate monopolies, but they were hardly communists, progressivism is a liberal alternative to communism. These movements were, however, linked. At its peak in the 1930s, union membership consisted of about 30% of the workforce of the country, still far less than a majority. Since the 1980s, union membership nation-wide has declined to less than 10%. In the North, especially in states like New York, unions are still fairly strong, but in the South, unions are much weaker.

The Republican Party slogan in 2012 "We Built It," refers to private entrepreneurs creating the American "free market" system. Many aspects of the market taken for granted today were actually the result of long bloody struggles against management and ownership, including: Child labor laws, an eight-hour workday, minimum wage laws, worker's compensation for injuries sustained on the job, health and fire safety standards, and more–all of these reforms were fiercely fought by employers, often at the cost of many worker's lives.

Not all progressives were opposed to "scientific" theories of racism. Many were nationalistic and pro-war and in favor of the U.S. going to war in World War I (1914-1918), to help "make the world safe for democracy." The opposing view was held by Randolph Bourne, also a progressive intellectual, who spoke out against the racist or xenophobic tendencies in the essay we read at the beginning of class.

Among major progressive thinkers only a handful like W.E.B. DuBois and Bourne did not see war as a great heroic struggle for democracy. We began the class with Bourne and Chesterton and now after going back to the origins of the political system we have come full circle. The reason why I begin the class with these essays (besides being well-written and interesting to read) is to emphasize again how little has really changed in our political discourse since the 1920s.

The managers of the industrial cartels, trusts, and monopolies sought greater organization and control in society in order to better manage their own economic empires and prefer a system of "managed competition" over the unpredictable free market. Establishing a social welfare state was not against the interests of corporate managers, but was desired as way of consolidating control and the predictability of "business cycles." In reality, there has never been a society that has ever functioned according to the principles of the free market, in many ways, this is as utopian a belief as the communist idea of a fully equal society. The U.S. economy was built for centuries upon a slave economy (which the North benefited from), followed by an unprecedented era of government corruption in the period after the civil war. By the time of the progressive era, the idea of managed competition or a "mixed economy" had already taken hold.

Woodrow Wilson
Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924)became the first Democratic progressive president in 1913, and only the second Democratic president since the Civil War. His election marked the first time Democrats had won both houses of Congress since before the Civil War as well. Wilson, a Southerner from Virginia, became President of Princeton University and then Governor of New Jersey in 1910. Wilson, like all progressives, and basically every American politician invokes the name of Jefferson: 
You know that it was Jefferson who said that the best government is that which does as little governing as possible, which exercises its power as little as possible. That was said in a day when the opportunities of America were so obvious to every man, when every individual was so free to use his powers without let or hindrance, that all that was necessary was that the government should withhold its hand and see to it that every man got an opportunity to act if he would. But that time is past. America is not now, and cannot in the future be, a place for unrestricted individual enterprise. It is true that we have come upon an age of great cooperative industry. It is true that we must act absolutely upon this principle (p. 439).

One thing that many working people have in common is no contact between employees and management. Wilson's central point is that the size and scale of American society is so large that  government intervention is necessary:
Who in this great audience knows his employer? I mean among those who go down into the mines or go into the mills and factories. You never see, you practically never deal with, the president of the corporation. You probably don't know the directors of the corporation by sight. The only thing you know is that by score, by the hundred, by the thousand, you are employed with your fellow workmen by some agent of an invisible employer. Therefore, whenever bodies of men employ bodies of men, it ceases to be a private relationship" (p. 440)

He argues that government up until now has been the tool of industrial monopolies that control the economy, "I say, then, the proposition is this: that there shall be two masters, the great corporation and over it the government of the United States; and I ask: Who is going to be the master of the government of the United States? It has a master now––those who in combination control these monopolies. And if the government controlled by these monopolies in its turn controls the monopolies, the partnership is finally consummated" (p. 441).

The population of the country at the time of the founding of the Constitution was about 4 million; when Wilson was inaugurated it was just under 100 million; the population is now more than three times as large from Wilson's time (320 million).

During Wilson's administration the Federal Reserve was set up which regulates the supply of money in the economy, by controlling interest rates. The Federal Trade Commission was also established to regulate commerce and prevent abuses. Several "Progressive" Amendments to the Constitution were passed between 1913-1933:
  • 16th Amendment (1913): Right for government to collect income tax.
  • 17th Amedment (1913): Provides for direct election of Senators by the people of the state.
  • 18th Amendment (1919): the infamous Prohibition amendment making the sale of alcohol illegal.
  • 19th Amendment (1920): Gave women the right to vote (the defining civil rights issue of the era).
  • 20th Amendment (1933): moved the President's inauguration from March 4th to January 20th. This was done to speed up the time between a president being elected and taking office and was a response to the crisis of the Great Depression. It also testifies to the growing importance of the executive branch of government. January 1933 is also when Adolph Hitler took power in Germany who basically had a two month head start on Roosevelt for taking on the depression in their countries although that may not have been a direct influence at the time.
  • 21st Amendment (1933): Reverses Prohibition.

Wilson committed the U.S. to the war in Europe in 1917, and tried unsuccessfully to get the U.S. to join the League of Nations, a precursor to today's United Nations (UN). 

The psychological and emotional identification with the state during World War I, accompanied by controversial laws, like the Espionage Act of 1917, the Sedition Act of 1918, and the Immigration Act of 1918, gave the state extensive powers to jail or deport those critical of the war effort. Radical labor unions like the Industrial Workers of the World  (I.W.W.) were suppressed and Socialist Party leaders like Eugene Debs were put in jail–competing labor organizations like the American Federation of Labor (AFL), with a history of racism and xenophobia were supported. The first U.S. propaganda department was created, the Committee of Public Information (CPI, or Creel Commission), headed by Carl Creel, noted journalist for the Rocky Mountain News. The massive propaganda apparatus was accompanied by, and itself a part of, an even larger apparatus used to regulate the economic forces of the nation:

By propaganda, by Presidential decree, and by willing patriotism, the United States became more unanimous than ever before. The brains and hands and even the stomachs of 100 million Americans were made to function as one. While dollar-a-year men poured into Washington to run the swollen government machine, four-minute men poured out to sell Liberty Bonds, Thrift Stamps, Home Gardens, and the Red Cross. “Do Your Bit,” “Food Will Win the War,” and “Swat the Hun” glared from billboards on every side. Overstuffed society ladies said they were “Hooverizing” when they did without wheat on Monday, or meat on Tuesday. A Fuel Administrator in Washington gave an order, and the nation’s lights were dimmed; he gave another order, and all the clocks were turned ahead. The War Industries Board under Bernard Baruch converted 28,000 factories into a production “trust” such as even Morgan had never dreamed of. William G. McAdoo, the President’s son-in-law, became dictator of the nation’s railroads. The German language was banned in schools; German born musicians and scholars were publicly insulted; Eugene Debs was put in jail, and the New York Times printed a rumor that German spies were putting poison in bandages in Philadelphia. It was all part of the home-front war (Butterfield pp. 360-61).

Wilson also suffered a stroke in 1920 that limited his ability to rally support for his cause. The Republicans won the election of 1920 and again the Presidency and Congress until 1932. It was under a Republican administration and Congress when the Great Depression hit in 1929, with the crash of the stock market in New York. 

The response of the Republicans was to do nothing and let the market work itself out. Problems became worse, and after almost three years of unsuccessful Republican attempts to deal with the effects of the depression, Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882-1945) is elected in 1932. Democrats also re-capture both the House and Senate, and have large majorities in both for more than 50 years. Roosevelt invokes a kind of evolutionary argument, seen in his campaign speech from 1932. He also refers implicitly to the "Second Republic" after the Civil War:
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
 The tariff was originally imposed for the purpose of "fostering our infant industry," a phrase I think the older among you will remember as a political issue not so long ago. The railroads were subsidized, sometimes by grants of money, oftener by grants of land; some of the most valuable oil lands in the United States were granted to assist the financing of the railroads which pushed through the Southwest. A nascent merchant marine was assisted by grants of money, or by mail subsidies, so that our steam shipping might ply the seven seas....It has been traditional, particularly in Republican administrations, for business to urgently ask the Government to put at private disposal all kind of Government assistance. The same man who tells you that he does not want to see the Government interfere in business––and he he means it, and has plenty of good reasons for saying so––is the first to go to Washington and ask the Government for a prohibitory tariff on his product. When things get just bad enough, as they did two years ago, he will go with equal speed to the United States Government and ask for a loan; and the Reconstruction Finance Corporation is the outcome of it (p. 455)

American industry and finance has expanded and risen to such heights the purposes of the government must change. Changing functions of the government necessitate a new kind of qualified expert for running the government:
The day of the great promoter or the financial Titan, to whom we granted anything if only he would build, or develop, is over. Our task now is not discovery or exploitation of natural resources, or necessarily producing more goods. It is the soberer, less dramatic business of administering resources and plants already in hand, of seeking to reestablish foreign markets for our surplus production, of meeting the problem of underconsumption, of adjusting production to consumption, of distributing wealth and products more equitably, of adapting existing economic organizations to the service of the people. The day of enlightened administration has come (p. 457)

Roosevelt argues, again like most progressives, the primary function of the government is to prevent the concentration of wealth in large monopolies, as he says in this speech from his first re-election campaign in 1936 (Roosevelt is the only president to serve more than two full terms in office, he was elected four times in all but died shortly into his fourth term). Despite his status today, FDR was a very polarizing figure in his time. He also suggests that the artificial prosperity created by the corruption of government and business only sets the stage for its own destruction:
During those years of false prosperity and during the more recent years of exhausting depression, one business after another, one small corporations after another, their resources depleted, had failed or had fallen into the lap of a bigger competitor. A dangerous thing was happening. Half of the industrial corporate wealth of the country had come under the control of less than two hundred corporations. That is not all. These huge corporations in some cases did not even try to compete with each other. They themselves were tied together by interlocking directors, interlocking bankers, interlocking lawyers (p. 463).

Roosevelt suggests hypocrisy on those who claim to be "social darwinists," to let the strong survive, except when their survival is at stake:
I know how the knees of all our rugged individualists were trembling four years ago and how their hearts fluttered. They came to Washington in great numbers. Washington did not look like a dangerous bureaucracy to them then. Oh, no! It looked like an emergency hospital. All of the distinguished patients wanted two things––a quick hypodermic to end the pain and a course of treatment to cure the disease. They wanted them in a hurry; we gave them both. And now most of the patients seem to be doing nicely. Some of them are even well enough to throw their crutches at the doctor (p. 464).

The final reading is from Roosevelt's Economic Bill of Rights made up less than a year before he died during the waning days of World War II (1939-1945). The contents of this bill including a right to healthcare and a right to education:

In short, like today the most dominant issue confronting progressives and conservatives is over the role of the government in regulating the economy and the extent of government intervention.

Next class, we will try to bring things up to the present and see how modern politics is influenced by the issues we have talked about in the past.

Assignment Due 12/10 : Choose a passage from Wilson, or Roosevelt, write out the passage and interpret it and explain why you chose this passage.

Go to the link for the The Great Depression. Choose a passage from this website and write it out and interpret it and explain why you chose this passage. Also choose a picture or painting and explain the content of piece and how it relates to class.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

11/26 Lincoln (Part 2)

The slave law, made it a crime to shelter any runaway slaves and by implication legally compelled citizens to aid in the capture of found runaways. Susan B. Anthony makes reference to this in readings from last class, referring to the humanity of people who disobeyed this law. The conflicts of the 1850s raised the importance of civil disobedience even more. The Dred Scott case was decided that an ex-slave named Dred Scott who have lived for years already as a free man was not legally entitled to his freedom or to any rights. Chief Justice Taney ruled explicitly that African-American were not entitled to the rights under the Declaration of Independence. This illustrates how the court system applies the laws to specific events, it also underscores, how no matter how elegant the words are in the Declaration, they are in the end just words and are only powerful to the extent they became the basis of action. One of Lincoln's most famous writings is his response to this case which firmly established him as a leading anti-slavery spokesman in the Republican Party.

Civil disobedience was practiced by both pro and anti slavery forces, and very quickly it descended into violence. Perhaps, nowhere was there a better prologue to the Civil War than in Bleeding Kansas in 1855. Kansas which had recently applied for statehood was expected to come in as a free state. Pro-slavery forces then invaded the state and actually staged battles against the anti-slavery government. Eventually the pro-slavery side won and burned the capital of the anti-slavery government and established, by force, a pro-slave government in Kansas.

One man who fought in Bleeding Kansas was John Brown. He believed he was God's agent to bring about the destruction of slavery. In Kansas he executed several pro-slavery prisoners. In 1859, he led an attack on the U.S. Armory at Harper's Ferry in Virginia with five black men and thirteen white men. His intent was to start a full-scale slave revolt in the South by arming the slaves. However his plan failed and he was captured by an Army Colonel named Robert E. Lee who would later become the General of the Confederate Army. Here is an excerpt from the New York Herald, once an important newspaper, interviewing Brown shortly after his capture: "Bystander: Upon what principle do you justify your acts? Mr. Brown: Upon the golden rule. I pity the poor in bondage that have none to help them....Bystander: To set them free would sacrifice the life of every man in this community. Mr. Brown: I do not think so. Bystander: I know it. I think you are fanatical. Mr. Brown: And I think you are fanatical."
At this time, it is important to remember that to be considered an abolitionist at this time was to be considered a radical, an opinion which was not shared by the majority of the people at the time.

"Tragic Prelude," John Steuart Curry, Kansas State Capitol, 1934

Brown was tried for treason and hanged, however, he became an icon of the abolition movement and was praised by people like Frederick Douglass and writers like Herman Melville who wrote of  the prophetic quality of Brown's actions, one that would be confirmed just a few years later, in his poem "The Portent":

Hanging from the beam,
Slowly swaying (such the law),
Gaunt the shadow on your green,
The cut is on the crown
(Lo, John Brown),
And the stabs shall heal no more.

Hidden in the cap
Is the anguish none can draw;
So your future veils its face,
But the streaming beard is shown
(Weird John Brown),
The meteor of the war. 

Shenandoah is an Indian name for Virginia, where Brown's attack was carried out. There are many prophetic references in the poem, which was first published in 1866, so Melville is reading this prophetic quality in Brown after the war. A portent is a sign of the future, a meteor (actually his beard covered by a hood) has also been seen for centuries as a symbol of prophecy, weird in this sense refers to the "weird sisters" who predict the future in Shakespeares' play Macbeth. Lincoln, who has also been attributed with prophetic qualities, however denounced his use of violence. Lincoln at this time had returned to the practice of law after serving time in Congress. He would later run for president in 1860. This more than anything else is what drove the South to secede from the Union. 

Lincoln was perceived by Southerners as representing a direct threat to their way of life, even though he was perceived as a moderate and was often criticized by the more progressive elements of the abolition movement. Lincoln for example did not favor the total abolition of slavery, only to restrict its further expansion (which he believed would kill it in the long run). Douglass, you will remember from last class, was very critical of this view and in fact became one of the most vocal critics of Lincoln. Many credit his frequent protests against the government in the form of public speeches and written documents to have influenced the policy of the administration in eventually abolishing slavery.

 The Souther Secessionist movement to leave the Union was led by members of Congress, like Jefferson Davis, a Senator from Mississippi who became the first and only President of the Confederate States of America. Southern states began to seceding after the election of Lincoln and before he took office on March 4th, 1861. South Carolina was the first to secede in December 1860, followed by Mississippi and Florida. In Texas, the Governor Sam Houston was thrown out of office by pro-slavery factions. West Virginia broke off from Virginia and refused to secede from the Union. Maryland was retained by force after President Lincoln sent troops to occupy Baltimore and the capital and arrested the mayor of Baltimore and secessionist legislators. All of these men were held without trial.

As mentioned last class, Abraham Lincoln belonged to the Republican Party which was originally named the Free Soil Party and then Free Soil Republicans. Anti-slavery was one of the major foundational principles of the modern Republican Party. It also a strong Union and a strong national government. It also stressed economic growth and favored close relationships with the growing industries: railroads, shipping, iron and steel, coal mining, lumber, textiles, cattle and livestock, corn and other cereal crops. All of these industries were mutually interdependent and growth in one sector tended to mean growth in all the sectors. Most historians stress the North's  industrial supremacy over the South in being a decisive factor in their ultimate victory over the Confederacy. After the war, many of the industrial managers who had supported the war effort now benefitted from government support in the various form from protective tariffs to control over currency and even influencing the passing of laws.

Highlights of Lincoln's Presidency (Besides the Civil War):
Lincoln was a very powerful president who extended the power of the executive branch of government more than it had ever been previously.

Pacific Railway Act 1862: Started construction on the transcontinental railroad connecting the East and West coasts of the U.S.

Land Grant Act 1862: Sold federal land cheaply to states in order to create public universities to specialize in teaching agricultural and industrial arts as well as military training

Founded Dept. of Agriculture 1862 (USDA): This branch of government would provide assistance to farmers, providing them credit, and giving them information on the latest farming techniques and technology. This was helpful too for the newly freed slaves after the war, most of whom tried to make a living for themselves through agriculture (farming and raising livestock).

During the Civil War, Lincoln suspended certain civil liberties like habeas corpus. This legal principle states that people arrested for a crime must be brought as soon as possible in front of a judge and charged formally with a crime. During the war, Lincoln had Southern sympathizers jailed without reason and never charged with a crime. He also shut down newspapers which were sympathetic to the South. Lincoln seized control of all Northern telegraph lines thus controlling the flow of information between all the states in the North.

Lincoln idolized Jefferson and in the Gettysburg Addressattempts to redefine the meaning of the Declaration of Independence. Notice how he refers to "dedication" and "conception". He says the country was born with liberty (conceived) and dedicated to equality. He does not say the country was born with equality. Instead dedication refers to a future goal that has not come to pass. In this sense America is an unfinished project that is committed to realizing equality among its citizens. The Civil War will be the rebirth of the Nation which will now be conceived in equality as well. Lincoln's death will link him to the memory and sacrifice of the soldiers he himself commemorates in this speech. Lincoln himself becomes a victim of the Civil War, unlike leaders who usually escape the personal consequences of war themselves.

The traumatic experience of the war, and theme of devotion to a cause to the point of self-sacrifice was still felt even decades later as this quote by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., Civil War veteran and later Supreme Court Justice shows, and perhaps suggests a much darker undercurrent to the idea of civil religion:

 I do not know what is true. I do not know the meaning of the universe. But in the midst of doubt, in the collapse of creeds, there is one thing I do not doubt, that no man who lives in the same world with most of us can doubt, and that is that the faith is true and adorable which leads a soldier to throw away his life in obedience to a blindly accepted duty, in a cause which he little understands, in a plan of campaign of which he has little notion, under tactics of which he does not see the use.  
Most men who know battle know the cynic force with which the thoughts of common sense will assail them in times of stress; but they know that in their greatest moments faith has trampled those thoughts under foot. If you wait in line, suppose on Tremont Street Mall, ordered simply to wait and do nothing, and have watched the enemy bring their guns to bear upon you down a gentle slope like that of Beacon Street, have seen the puff of the firing, have felt the burst of the spherical case-shot as it came toward you, have heard and seen the shrieking fragments go tearing through your company, and have known that the next or the next shot carries your fate; if you have advanced in line and have seen ahead of you the spot you must pass where the rifle bullets are striking; if you have ridden at night at a walk toward the blue line of fire at the dead angle of Spottsylvania, where for twenty-four hours the soldiers were fighting on the two sides of an earthwork, and in the morning the dead and dying lay piled in a row six deep, and as you rode you heard the bullets splashing in the mud and earth about you; if you have been in the picket-line at night in a black and unknown wood, have heard the splat of the bullets upon the trees, and as you moved have felt your foot slip upon a dead man's body; if you have had a blind fierce gallop against the enemy, with your blood up and a pace that left no time for fear—if, in short, as some, I hope many, who hear me, have known, you have known the vicissitudes of terror and triumph in war; you know that there is such a thing as the faith I spoke of. You know your own weakness and are modest; but you know that man has in him that unspeakable somewhat which makes him capable of miracle, able to lift himself by the might of his own soul, unaided, able to face annihilation for a blind belief (The Soldier's Fate, 1895).

The Second Inaugural Address, is one of the most famous political speeches of all time (along with the Gettysburg Address). In this speech Lincoln tries put the war in context, he views it as a long and painful act of atonement for the sins of slavery. Slavery is a crime against nature and a part of "original sin" in Christian doctrine. For over 250 years (in his time) this crime against nature had been perpetuated. Now this war has been delivered like a judgement from God to balance the scales of justice, sparing neither North or South both of whom share guilt. Unfortunately, the "sins" of racial oppression continued long after the war.

Lincoln was assassinated shortly after the war, but the legacy of his presidency could not be changed. Lincoln greatly increased the power of the presidency, mostly out of necessity and circumstance. However, certain changes once made cannot be undone, and although Congress tried to control presidents after Lincoln the power of the president was forever increased. 

Power over reason also came to play more of a role in politics. Although the framers like Hamilton and Madison believed that reason and persuasion could solve our problems (a central belief of Enlightenment philosophy), the legacy of the war and slavery revealed the limits of persuasion. The lesson was clear, at a certain point, persuasion fails and only power can achieve the necessary results. Hamilton did want the citizens to identify and form emotional attachments with the federal government, and in this sense he succeeded beyond his imagination. States' rights was seen as coded language for slavery. The Union (as in United States), which many hundreds of thousands fought and died for ascended to a level of importance in the eyes of ordinary citizens that had been unprecedented in the history of the nation thus far.

Next class we will talk about the Progressive movement.

Have a happy holiday and a great Thanksgiving!

Assignment Due 12/3: Choose a passage from the Gettysburg Address or the Second Inaugural Address. Write out the passage and interpret its meaning and explain why you chose it.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

11/19 Lincoln (Part 1)

Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln's Presidency is important in the evolution of the American political system because of significant growth in the power of the executive branch of government, in many cases going beyond the authority given in the Constitution. After Lincoln the U.S. can be said to be a "nation-state" and has a national identity in a truer sense of the word. This lecture is not about Lincoln the person but about his impact on the office of President and overall effect on American politics.

Lincoln's presidency cannot be discussed with talking about slavery however, which truly defined almost every action taken as president, and of course animated the conflict that became the Civil War (1861-1865).

By the 1830s the vast disparity between the Northern and Southern regions of the country were obvious due to the effects of slavery. The Ohio River was conventionally regarded as the dividing line between North and South, as Tocqueville observed:
On both banks of the Ohio stretched undulating ground with soil continually offering the cultivator inexhaustible treasures; on both banks the air is equally healthy and the climate temperate; they both form the frontier of a vast state: that which follows the innumerable windings of the Ohio on the left bank is called Kentucky; the other takes its name from the river itself. There is only one difference between the two states: Kentucky allows slaves but Ohio refuses to have them.... 
On the left bank of the river the population is sparse; from time to time one sees a troop of slaves loitering through half-deserted fields; the primeval forest is continually reappearing; one might say that society had gone to sleep; it is nature that seems active and alive, whereas man is idle. 
But on the right bank a confused hum proclaims from afar that men are busily at work; fine crops cover the fields; elegant dwellings testify to the taste and industry of the workers; on all sides there is evidence of comfort; man appears rich and contented; he works (Tocqueville, Democracy in America, pp. 345-46). 

Later when the Civil War is being fought the North's industrial and agricultural superiority over the South will be decisive in its victory. However, it is important to remember the racial conditions in the North were not good although slavery had been long abolished by this time, again, as Tocqueville says:
Race prejudice seems stronger in those states that have abolished slavery than in those where it still exists, and nowhere is it more intolerant than in those states where slavery was never known. 
It is true that in the North of the Union the law allows legal marriages between Negroes and whites, but public opinion would regard a white man married to a Negro woman as disgraced, and it would be very difficult to quote an example of such an event. 
In almost all the states where slavery has been abolished, the Negroes have been given electoral rights, but they would come forward to vote at the risk of their lives. When oppressed, they can bring an action at law, but they will find only white men among their judges. It is true that laws make them eligible as jurors, but prejudice wards them off. The Negro's son is excluded from the school to which the European's child goes. In the theaters he cannot for good money buy the right to sit by his former master's side; in the hospitals he lies apart. He is allowed to worship the same God as the white man but must not pray at the same altars. He has his own clergy and churches. The gates of heaven are not closed against him, but his inequality stops only short of the boundaries of the other world. When the Negro is no more, his bones are cast aside, and some difference in condition is found even in the equality of death (Tocqueville p. 343).

Liberal enlightenment thinkers, like John Locke, wanted a strong legislative branch of government to restrain the power of the executive. A system of government set up like this was believed to better reflect the will of the people and to have the consent of the governed––even if in reality the representatives elected to the government were exclusively from the middle and upper classes. In reality, the power of the executive has grown in all democratic governments.  Jefferson whose political philosophy stressed small government was the same president who made the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, doubling the size of the country. Jefferson and later Andrew Jackson in the 1830s both stressed the role of the president as acting more directly in the interests of the people. This coincided with the extension of voting to more parts of the population that had been excluded. The 1830s were the heyday of the Jacksonian era in American politics in which all remaining property restrictions upon the white male population were removed leading to a massive surge in electorate in the latter 1820s around the candidacy and later presidency of Andrew Jackson and his handpicked successor Martin Van Buren. In the 1824 election between Jackson and John Quincy Adams about 300,000 people voted in the nation. Jackson who had won the popular vote win over a 100,000 votes but with less than an electoral majority lost the election to the younger Adams in the House of Representatives led by Speaker Henry Clay–also a candidate in the same election, who later became Adam's Secretary of State, something which the Jacksonians denounced as a "corrupt bargain." By the 1828 election, after Jacksonian protest over the "corrupt bargain" led to many of the property restrictions being removed, over a million people voted for the first time in the nation's history and over 600,000 of those votes (twice the amount of the entire previous election) were cast for Jackson winning 56% of the popular vote and 178 out of 261 electoral votes. Jackson won by an even larger margin in the 1832 election over Henry Clay with over 700,000 votes and 219 out of 294 electoral votes to Clay's 49 (though votes picked up by the first major third party, the Anti-Masonic Party shortened Jackson's percentage of the overall popular vote).

However even by the 1830s the existence of the national Union over the individual states that made up the Union was still contended. In hindsight although it seems unbelievable that states would think they could dissolve the Union, but before the Civil War the existence of the Union was somewhat fragile, as Tocqueville says:
The Union is a vast body and somewhat vague as the object of patriotism. But the state has precise shape and circumscribed boundaries; it represents a defined number of familiar things which are dear to those living there. It is identified with the soil, with the right of property, the family, memories of the past, activities of the present, and dreams for the future. Patriotism, which is most often nothing but an extension of individual egoism, therefore remains attached to the state and has not yet, so to say, been passed on to the Union (Tocqueville p. 367).

After the Civil War, the unity of the nation is preserved but not through the rational consent of the governed but through military conquest.

Prior to that, the power of the Union over the states was fragmented and inconsistent:
If today the sovereignty of the Union was to come into conflict with one of the states, one can readily foresee that it would succumb; I even doubt whether such a struggle would ever be seriously undertaken. Each time that determined resistance has been offered to the federal government, it has yielded. Experience has proven that up till now, when a state has been obstinately determined on anything and demanded it resolutely, it has never failed to get it; and when it has flatly refused to act, it has been allowed to refuse (Tocqueville p. 368).

He goes on to question even the right to do so:
Moreover, a government, even if is strong, cannot easily escape from the consequences of a principle one admitted as the foundation of the public right which ought to rule it. The confederation was formed by the free will of the states; these, by uniting, did not lose their nationality or become fused in one single nation. If today one of those same states wished to withdraw its name from the contract, it would be hard to prove it could not do so. In resisting it the federal government would have no obvious source of support either in strength or in right (Tocqueville p. 369).

He concludes: "I therefore think it certain that if some part of the Union wished to separate from the rest, not only would it be able to do so, but there would be no one to prevent this" (Tocqueville  p. 370).

This prediction made about 25-30 years before the war itself was almost accurate and suggests how close the Union came to dissolving during the Civil War. Tocqueville did believe however that the causes for keeping the Union together were strong. Besides the mutual interest all the states have in keeping trade going, Tocqueville points to "immaterial" factors, and here you can see his idea of mores (mœurs) anticipates what Chesterton will later call the "creed" and Bellah will call the "civil religion" of America or more critically what Louis Hartz called "irrational Lockeanism." Tocqueville points to the strong force of mores as providing a sense of national unity and forms the foundation and unifying force of what Bourne will later call "transnational" America:
I would never admit that men form a society simply by recognizing the same leader and obeying the same laws; only when certain men consider a great many questions from the same point of view and have the same opinions on a great many subjects and when the same events give rise to like thoughts and impressions is there a society. 
Anyone taking the matter up from that angle, who studies what happens in the United States, will readily discover that the inhabitants, though divided under twenty-four distinct sovereign authorities, nevertheless constitute a single nation; and perhaps he will even come to think that Anglo-American Union is in reality more of a united society than some European nations living under the same laws and the same prince (Tocqueville p. 373).
Or he goes on to say:
The Anglo-Americans regard universal reason as the source of moral authority, just as the universality of the citizens is the source of political power, and they consider that one must refer to the understanding of everybody in order to discover what is permitted or forbidden, true or false. Most of them think that knowledge of his own interest properly understood is enough to lead a man to what is just and honest. They believe that each man at birth receives the faculty to rule himself and that nobody has the right to force his fellow man to be happy. All have a lively faith in human perfectibility; they think that the spread of enlightenment must necessarily produce useful results and that ignorance must have fatal effects; all think of society as a body progressing; they see humanity as a changing picture in which nothing either is or ought to be fixed forever; and they admit that what seems good to them today may be replaced tomorrow by something better that is still hidden (Tocqueville p. 374).

However, a strong nation tends to entail a centralization of power. The main stimulant of the growth of presidential power was the increasing paralysis of the legislative branch of government, the Congress, who were deadlocked over the issue of slavery. Every time a state was added to the union which now had 33 states in 1861, slavery was brought to the forefront every time. In the 1850s, passage of laws like the Fugitive Slave Act and the Dred Scott case in the U.S. Supreme Court raised the already heightened tension over slavery by forcing the government to examine the moral consequences of supposedly impersonal and objective administration. 

In the case of Dred Scott v. Sanford which was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court on March 6th, 1857, two days after the inauguration of James Buchanan, the court ruled that African-Americans whether born in the U.S. or abroad could not become U.S. citizens. If we go back to the idea of transnational America we discussed in the beginning of class, the idea of citizenship is the crucial foundation on which this idea rests, and so when the court restricts the idea of citizenship so narrowly it is in effect an act of imposing Anglo-Saxon superiority, something which Lincoln ridicules in his speech on the Dred Scott case. The outcome of the case shocked even moderates like Lincoln who re-entered politics at this point, after serving in the Illinois state legislature, and one term in the House of Representatives. 

We will continue this discussion next class.

Assignment Due 11/26: Choose a passage from Lincoln's speech on the Dred Scott case, interpret it and explain how it relates to class.

From the African-American Odyssey website, from the Civil War section, choose two parts, and summarize and explain them. If they include pictures, copy and paste the photo or image in your paper. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

11/5 Civil Disobedience (Part 1)

"American Progress," John Gast, circa 1872

The midterms will be graded by the end of the week.

As the American republic grows over the first few decades, already one can see a mythic idea of American history taking shape. With abundant natural resources, open immigration and a steadily growing population, and relative isolation from the political conflicts in Europe, it is easy to believe that Providence (the idea of God as a power guiding human destiny) is guiding the actions of the nation. This mythical image is strengthened by the deaths of Jefferson and John Adams who both amazingly died on July 4th, 1826 exactly 50 years after the Declaration of Independence is first read publicly.

In part, the power of these myths explains why Tocqueville when visiting the U.S. in the early 1830s emphasizes the influence of "mores" (mœurs in French from mos in Latin the root word of morals) on the Republic. Writing after the French Revolution, Tocqueville is concerned with understanding the reasons why the American republic has been stable and durable when other democratic governments have perished, a central concern of political science in the present. As he says in Democracy in America: "The Laws contribute more to the maintenance of the democratic republic in the United States than do the physical circumstances of the country, and Mores do more than the laws" (Tocqueville p. 305). In other words, he places highest emphasis on the cultural values, the mores of Americans, but also a hierarchy for understanding levels of influence on the republic Mores-Laws-Geography, these then become explanations he uses to explain the causes of the stability of the regime. 

There is too much to cover to fill in all the gaps that occur during this time: wars, crises of slavery, economic depressions, and more all happened in this period of time. By the late 1840s, about half of the continental U.S. has been taken over by the government. This is not the same thing as states, they were "territories" controlled by the government that eventually became states:

One of the major issues of the day was over the Mexican-American War (1846-1848). Mexico itself only became independent from Spain in 1821.
Map of Nueva España (New Spain) 1521-1821

 Again there is a lot to cover with this conflict as well, but it began perhaps with the independent Republic of Texas declaring its independence from Mexico in 1836. In 1845 it was "annexed", taken over, by the U.S. and made a state of the U.S. In 1846, Democratic President James K. Polk (1795-1849) asked for a declaration of war from Congress after receiving reports that "American blood had been shed on our soil."

Polk was a Democrat who believed in the idea of "Manifest Destiny," or the belief popular in many newspapers at the time, that the destiny of the U.S. was to expand from coast to coast and become a great and powerful nation. The idea of Providence guiding the actions of the nation and more importantly authorizing these actions as legitimate can also be found in the Declaration of Independence, "a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence," and is one of the cornerstones of the idea of "civil religion." Originally the idea was used to justify the Declaration itself, or the formal act of separation of the colonies from Great Britain. In other words providence will protect them and they will succeed because what they are doing is right. In the context of the mid 19th century, providence is now used to justify expanding the power of the state over new territory, in most cases removing the native inhabitants.

In the late 1820s, Jefferson's Republican Party split into factions around Andrew Jackson (1767-1845), a war hero, who became the first "Democratic" President in 1829 and when the party is officially renamed the Democratic Party, the ancestor of today's Democratic Party. The other faction was around Henry Clay (1777-1852), who founded the Whig party in 1833. Jackson had more support among the working class and farmers; while Clay appealed more to elites and the business interests. Scholars of American politics usually refer to this as the second party system, referring to a relatively stable balance of power between two competing parties (distinct from the first party system, defined by the federalists and jeffersonian republicans), which eventually gave way to the third party system defined by the Republicans and Democrats (according to most scholars there were at least five distinct party systems over time in this country).

Polk portrayed himself as another Andrew Jackson who also favored nationalism and expansion. They were opposed by the Whig party. The Whigs were actually the reorganized business interests in the country who had now adopted more of a "common man" rhetoric that they sought to appeal to voters with. The Whigs were sort of a transitional party between the Federalists and the modern Republican Party (GOP). They did however win two presidential elections in 1840 (they elected William Henry Harrison, who died one month into his term, the first president to die in office) and in 1848 they elected Zachary Taylor (1849-1850), who also died in office, and was a leading general in the Mexican war. Both of these candidates were generals in the army and they were both meant to appeal to the common public (and they did). 

Since both presidents died in office, technically there were four Whig Presidents altogether, and the first two instances of a vice-president succeeding a president, John Tyler for Harrison and Millard Fillmore for Taylor. The vice-president will continue to serve out the remainder of the four year term of the president and is still eligible to be re-elected, although often the less popular former vice-president loses when the next election comes. In the case of Harrison, who died one month into his presidency, Tyler served almost the entire four year term (1841-1845) but had no support from his own party by the time his term ended.  Ironically, the Whigs were opposed to the war when it began, but then nominated the most famous general of the war, Taylor, to be their candidate in the 1848 election. 
U.S. Presidential Election, 1848
Note the differences in electoral votes in states like Virginia and New York
since the election of 1800

1848 was also 12 years before the Civil War began. Those of the founders who were opposed to slavery (like Jefferson even though he owned slaves) believed that slavery would die out by itself in the early 19th century. The American Revolution had a big impact on this. Many people forget that for 160 years, from about 1620 to about 1780 slavery was tolerated in the North, although it never grew to the level it did in the South. Undoubtedly, it was the language of natural rights and equality that inspired the rapid abolition of slavery in the North after the revolution begins. Slavery had mostly been abolished in the North by the early 1800s, however the invention of the cotton gin in 1793, made cotton production more profitable and actually increased slavery in the South. The international slave trade had been abolished but it still carried on illegally, domestic slave owners also began experimenting with "eugenics" and made attempts to start "breeding" slaves. Racial theories to explain slavery now begin to develop which up until then never circulated that much. Prior to this the existence of slavery was not even questioned, it was only when a theory of equality was so clearly stated, that explanations based on racial inequalities start to develop, ironically, based in the same scientific language that is used to undermine traditional sources of inequality.

In 1820, a crisis was triggered by the question of Missouri's admission to the Union. Missouri had been settled by slave owners and adopted a slave constitution and wanted to be admitted as a slave state. This was in violation of laws in effect since 1787 which prohibited slavery's extension north of a certain border (the Ohio River). In the early 1780s, debates in the first Congress of the Confederation had debated whether or not to admit territories South of the Ohio River as slave states as well. Many scholars believe that had legislators including Jefferson not compromised on this issue that slavery could have been rooted out then and never would have extended to states like Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama, and Mississippi. "The Missouri Compromise," was decided in Congress after intense fighting, and real threats of violence coming from both sides, to admit Missouri as a slave state, but also to admit Maine as a free state. This "compromise" was supposed to keep the "free" states and "slave" states balanced at 12 each. Many other compromises were decided on leading up until the Civil War.

Protest against the war in Mexico was on the grounds that it was believed to be a plot by Southern plantation owners to extend slavery into the South. Texas did become a slave state and a member of the Confederacy during the Civil War.

Henry David Thoreau
This was the background in which Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), is writing, when he writes his famous essay "Civil Disobedience." The idea of civil disobedience is peculiar to democratic societies. It means breaking the law and thus challenging the authorities, but usually in a non-violent fashion. In Thoreau's case he refused to pay his taxes in 1846 because he believed the money was being used for an immoral purpose, and he was put in jail. He was bailed out the next day by his friend and famous poet Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882). Supposedly, there was an exchange between the two, where Emerson questioned Thoreau on why he was in jail. Thoreau allegedly responded "why are you not in jail?" In other words, the idea behind civil disobedience is that  morality requires you to disobey unjust laws. To passively accept a corrupt society, Thoreau would argue, makes you almost as morally guilty as the people who actually oppress others and do violence to people. It is even worse in a democracy because here the citizens actually have some ability to alter the course of laws and government.

This idea is also a core component of the civil religion, and refers to the higher authority that is referred to in the Declaration, as "endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights," in other words, a form of law based on natural rights higher than the laws of political states. The basis of civil disobedience can be found in the Declaration itself which explicitly authorizes disobedience to the extent in which government departs from protecting the rights of its citizens.

Thoreau was from Massachusetts, so it should not be a surprise if he seems to possess some of that moral severity that we saw in the Puritans who as previously discussed were heavily involved in the abolition movement. It was also easy for him to accept the idea of a "natural law" higher than human law to which he could appeal to, to justify himself. This is part of Puritan theology, however the difference is, where the original Puritans believed natural law or God's law could be used to guide human law, and thus become like the natural law. Thoreau sees the natural law and human law as much more antagonistic and separate from each other, as he says: "Must the citizen ever for a moment, or in the least degree, resign his conscience to the legislator? Why has every man a conscience, then? I think that we should be men first and subjects afterward" (p. 222).

Thoreau was very conscious in which respect for laws or traditions and mores can easily turn into a mechanical and unthinking submission to whatever the authorities may be:
The mass of men serve the state thus, not as men mainly, but as machines, with their bodies. They are the standing army; and the militia, jailers, constables, posse comitatus, etc. In most cases there is no free exercise whatever of the judgement of the moral sense; but they put themselves on a level with wood and earth and stones; and wooden men can perhaps be manufactured that will serve the purpose as well. Such command no more respect than men of straw or a lump of dirt. They have the same sort of worth only as horses and dogs. Yet such as these even are commonly esteemed good citizens (p. 223).

Government is only as good or bad as the people who run it. It is not evil in itself nor is it good in itself, or as  he says, "But, to speak practically and as a citizen unlike those who call themselves no-government men, I ask for, not at once no government, but at once a better government. Let every man make known what kind of government would command his respect, and that will be one step toward obtaining it" (p. 222). In other words a government closer to the ideas of equality and justice that we are entitled to according to the Declaration.

He is very clear on the source of his disgust for the current government, "I cannot for an instant recognize that political organization as my government which is the slave's government also" (p. 223) (referring to the slave owners not the actual slaves)

In The Federalist we discussed how the ideal of government was supposed to function like a machine and thus create an impersonal system of control that is not under the control of any one person. As long as the machine functions properly and maintains justice in society but what happens if the machine is creating injustice:
If the unjustice is part of the necessary friction of the machine of government, let it go, let it go: perchance it will wear smooth––certainly the machine will wear out. If the unjustice has a spring, or a pulley, or a rope, or a crank,  exclusively for itself, then perhaps you may consider whether the remedy will not be worse than the evil; but if it is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say break the law. Let you life be a counterfriction to stop the machine. What I have to do is to see at any rate, that I do not lend myself to the wrong which I condemn (p. 226). 
Next class we will look more at other figures associated with civil disobedience, Fredrick Douglass, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Susan B. Anthony. 

Assignment (Due 11/12): Choose one passage from Thoreau write out the passage and interpret them and explain why you chose them.

Go to the link for African-American Odyssey and under the section Abolition choose two topics from part 1 and part 2, research these topics, and summarize them and explain how they relate to the readings by Thoreau.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

10/22 The Anti-Federalists

Early political cartoon showing the separate states as part of a snake, Benjamin Franklin, 1754

Last class we talked about the Constitution and about the movements that came out of this: supporters of the Constitution (The Federalists) and opponents of the Constitution (Anti-Federalists). Obviously, the design of the federalist system became the government of the U.S., however the anti-federalists evolved and eventually became the Democratic-Republican Party, or more simply the Republicans. This is NOT the same as the modern Republican Party which was created in the 1850s. To make it even more confusing, today's Democratic Party traces its history back to the "Republican" Party of the 1790s and 1800s. The party became officially known as the Democratic Party during the Presidency of Andrew Jackson (1829-1837). 

As the name suggests, the Anti-Federalists still had a way to go to define their own political identity. They defined themselves in opposition to the system proposed by the Federalists. Thomas Jefferson who became the leader of this party and 3rd President of the U.S., at this time was ambassador in France (absorbing more Enlightenment theories no doubt), and also witnessing the unfolding of the French Revolution (1789-1799), and was not in the country nor was he part of the Constitutional Convention. He would become the first Secretary of State under George Washington in 1790. I will explain more about the President's Cabinet next class. However, this is not to say that the Anti-Federalists did not have leaders or that they were entirely ineffective in getting their message across.

I have mentioned several times the concept of "ideology" in class.  Ideologies provide a "meaning-context" in order to interpret empirical events based in news reports. This is done in order to mobilize a segment of the public for a political project. All of the readings and all of the people we have gone over so far have all contributed to this to varying degrees. 

Ideologies are structured according to "reports" and "commands" that influence each other. Information in which "reports" are emphasized more are usually the "news" or even "science." "Commands"  say "what should be done," which you might get in the "editorials" of news or media sources that target specific audiences like MSNBC or Fox News, or publications like The Nation or The National Review. However, news and science always implicitly contain commands even if they are not explicit. And the most passionate ideology has to use "reports" or some kind of factual information about the world in order to make sense at all. These readings are no exception. What is interesting in this case, is you have a clear example of opposing "meaning-contexts" regarding the interpretation of the Constitution. In this case, we have the Federalist Papers which we looked at last class, and now the Anti-Federalists.

In the case of the Anti-Federalists we have writings by the "Pennsylvania Minority" who opposed ratification of the Constitution in Pennsylvania. This was a document signed by 21 of the 23 Constitutional delegates who voted against ratification of the Constitution and appeared in the Pennsylvania Packet and Daily Advertiser, December 8th, 1787. The author of the document is unknown but is believed to be either Robert Whitehill (1738-1813) later a Pennsylvania Congressmen or Samuel Bryan (1759-1821), a prominent anti-federalist in Pennsylvania who also wrote under the pseudonym, "Centinel." We also have a letter by Samuel Adams to Richard Henry Lee; and letters from "the federal farmer" actually an anonymous author (like Publius in the Federalist) up until recently believed to be Richard Henry Lee (1732-1794), but since the 1970s, historian Gordon Wood has disputed this claim and this has been accepted by most modern historians. The true identity of the federal farmer is unknown.

Ideologies provide meaning to interpret events, so how do these authors interpret the events surrounding the formation of the Constitution? The Pennsylvania minority emphasizes the physical abuse they suffered at the hands of the Federalists who physically dragged many of them in the legislature to vote (this is because to have an official vote a certain number of members must be present to have what is called a quorum). Now, these things happened but most Americans do not focus on these things or emphasize them when telling the history of the Constitution–they have a different context of interpretation. Its a "blind-spot" in people's historical consciousness because to take the literal implications of it would invalidate the Constitution. If people were physically forced and intimidated and threatened with violence or even the victims of violence in then how could the Constitution have any moral legitimacy?

In the passages by Sam Adams he spoke of the "social contract" or the "state of nature." In other words, the idea that people voluntarily leave the natural world and establish civil society as a way of protecting themselves. What is important in this case, is the idea of consent of the governed. The whole foundation of modern liberalism depends on this. However in this context, the idea of a social contract is at best a metaphor. Although scholars have since its founding interpreted the founding of the American republic as the best real life example of a "social contract" and the transition from the state of nature to civil society, clearly, under the circumstances which they describe, there is no consent over the governed who the Constitution applies to.

This is not to say it should be invalidated (or that it would be pragmatic to even try), many of the concerns over tyranny of the Anti-Federalists were exaggerated (although Hamilton originally wanted to have a President-for-life and the aforementioned suppression of the Pennsylvania minority). The major concern was that the individual states would lose their autonomy, in other words to be self-governing over themselves. 

In a sense this did occur because the states were unable to resolve the contradictions of slavery through persuasion and consent. Southern states, many of whom produced leading Anti-Federalists, were not persuaded of the evils and did not consent to abolish it. Legal slavery in this country was abolished because the Union Army conquered the Rebel Confederacy created during the Civil War. For a political system supposedly founded against the principle of "might makes right," the legacy of events like this still cast a dark shadow over the idea that people can resolve their differences through persuasion and consent, or true democratic government.

Arguably, at least until the Civil War the Federal government never had that much of an influence over the lives of individual citizens and the states retained considerable autonomy within their borders. Even today, states retain a large degree of autonomy. I already mentioned previously most crimes will be prosecuted by the state not the federal government and many important areas like education are hard to coordinate precisely because the federal government has no authority over the states. The federal government functions by incentives: in other words it can offer to give money, or take it away, but it cannot actually force the states to do many things like follow a certain standard curriculum. 

The debate over education in this country is directly tied to the relative autonomy of local school boards and the central government. In most liberal-democracies, the national government sets a standard curriculum to be followed, in the U.S. however there is a long tradition of local control over the school curriculum (another legacy of the Puritans). In reality, it should be said incentives can almost give you power over someone else though and are hard to turn down. Speed limits are another area. Since the 1970s oil embargoes, the national speed limit has been set at 55 mph. States are free to set their own speed limits, however the amount of federal money they will receive for road repairs will be reduced or eliminated. As a result most states set the speed limit at 55 mph.

States also regulate voter registration within their states, and there has been a lot of controversy lately about certain states trying to limit the right to vote among certain groups like in Florida. The idea of "gerrymandering" (named after early Massachusetts governor Elbridge Gerry) or redrawing election districts to give a strategic advantage in elections has been a concern right from the beginning of the republic. Although struck down by most courts as being "unconstitutional" there was a strong push by Republicans in certain states going into the 2012 election to require photo i.d. cards to vote, failure to do so would prohibit the person from voting, a practice that was seen to negatively impact the elderly, the poor, and many minority voters. As we will see, even with the passage of the 15th Amendment of the Constitution which gives blacks the right to vote, Southern politicians devised numerous means to get around this and effectively block black voters from voting after Reconstruction ended around 1876.

The most hated government institution besides the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is probably the Department of Motor Vehicles, but these departments are run by the state not the Federal Government (the IRS is though). Most corruption within government usually happens at the state level who have the authority to give out government contracts for construction, or have to enforce health and environmental laws in their state. You may have noticed this on your assignments on New York state.

The other major point that should be made about "states rights" is that it has been used time and time again to justify slavery, segregation and all sorts of forms of discrimination against minority groups within states. In many ways, the "David and Goliath" imagery the Anti-Federalists use is fake because the states are the Goliath in relation to the individual. In the South, the idea of autonomy in South Carolina for example means not having outsiders interfere with slavery because "they don't understand our way of life." This behavior and attitude continued right up until the 1960s and in many regards is still practiced today. Today we see it with gay marriage, where it is legal in some states, illegal in others, or abortion, or any other numerous racially based issues which have not gone away. This could be applied to the "stop and frisk" policy of the NYPD who argue people "don't understand" the requirements of policing in the largest city in the country when they complain of the violation of civil rights.

Madison's ideas behind the government was preventing "majority factions" from tyrannizing over minorities (Madison was a Southerner himself from Virginia). Their intent was to protect their own property but it has also provided an effective, if not always, consistently applied protection for the civil rights of individuals. To argue that the states are the embodiment of democracy seems strange when in reality almost all of the abuses committed by the "government" has usually been committed by a state government.

All this being said, the Anti-Federalists tended to be more on the side of the "common people" than the Federalists were, who tended to be more aristocratic, and like I said were mainly motivated by the desire to protect their property and keep themselves in power. The Pennsylvania Minority in their report give a list of demands, fourteen in all. Many of them seem familiar because they were later adopted for the Bill of Rights. These first ten amendments to the Constitution were added in 1791. In order to be added as an amendment, the proposed amendment or amendments must be passed by 2/3 majority in both Houses of Congress and also passed by 2/3 of the states who appoint delegates to a convention to vote on the amendment. Federalists were initially opposed to this but eventually compromised over the issue.

Until the 14th amendment was added to the Constitution in 1868, the protections of the Bill of Rights were not extended to the states, it was only intended to regulate the federal government. For a document that has such a high symbolic value in American politics, many of the rights protected in the amendments are routinely violated. Only the first amendment really seems to have some kind of authority anymore in public life. But then again money in politics is also protected as "freedom of speech." The second amendment is controversial because it means people like this can buy guns legally without being subjected to an evaluation:
 This is the guy who in 2011, shot Rep. Giffords and eighteen other people in Arizona and killed six. Despite obviously looking crazy he was allowed to legally purchase guns.

The third amendment is totally irrelevant today. Important amendments like the 4th, (searches and seizures) 5th, (due process) and 6th (trial by jury) amendments which are the major criminal justice and due process amendments are virtually meaningless today with laws like the Patriot Act (still in effect) and other means used by the government to fight terrorism. The 8th amendment protects against "cruel and unusual punishment" does that include the death penalty or "enhanced interrogation techniques"?  The 9th amendment specifies that other rights might exist but which are not specifically mentioned. This opens the door towards a broader interpretation of rights. The 10th amendment reserves to the states all other powers not granted to the federal government.

The report of the Pennsylvania Minority like the Federalist Papers or the revolutionary pamphlets by Paine and Adams were all distributed through the "mass media" at this time consisting of newspapers, publishing houses but also public meeting places like taverns and cafes or even churches were people would gather to talk and interpret the news. The letter included here by Sam Adams is a private communication with Richard Henry Lee (who is perhaps falsely believed to be the Federal Farmer). Since it is private, Adams uses very strong language and seems almost pessimistic about the chances for democracy in the country, but this does help interpret how the Anti-Federalists viewed what was going on with the Constitution (and probably their impressions are a lot closer to the truth than we would like to admit):
You are sensible, Sir, that the Seeds of Aristocracy began to spring even before the Conclusion of our Struggle for the Natural Rights of Men, Seeds which like a Canker Worm lie at the Root of free Governments. So great is the Wickedness of some Men & the stupid Servility of others, that one would be almost inclined to conclude that Communities cannot be free. The few haughty Families, think They must govern. The Body of the People tamely consent & submit to be their Slaves. This unravels the Mystery of Millions being enslaved by the few! (p. 130).

The idea of "aristocracy" or a small group of "elites" that dominate the government is one of the most dominant themes in all political ideologies. 

Every political interest tries to portray its opponent as an elite group that is out of touch with the public or even secretly working against the public. These tactics are still used in political ideology today. Conservatives try to portray liberals as being part of a "ruling class" that is trying to tell everyone how to live. Liberals in turn point out that conservatives are supported by big businesses like oil, finance, and the military industries and that they are the real elites. Conservative ideology would then provide reports of liberals behaving in ways that seem like they are telling people what to do (the "nanny state"; liberals would provide reports of conservatives accepting support from oil billionaires or something like that. In order to make sense of these reports, ideology would provide certain suggestions and "rhetorical devices" to encourage you to interpret the report in a certain way. Symbolic, almost poetic language, carries with it a strong emotional resonance that instantly conveys meaning to people: a canker worm at the root of the tree of government, you just know is something bad even if you don't know anything else about the government. 

In the Letters from the Federal Farmer, the theme of aristocracy is dominant throughout his writings. Also, you will see another example of how ideologies provide a meaning-context by providing "reports" of events like the Constitutional Convention:
September 1786, a few men from the middle states met at Annapolis, and hastily propose a convention to be held in May, 1787, for the purpose, generally, of amending the confederation–this was done before the delegates of Massachusetts, and of the other states arrived–still not a word was said about destroying the old constitution, and making a new one–The states still unsuspecting, and not aware that they were passing the Rubicon, appointed members to the new convention, for the sole and express purpose of revising and amending the constitution–and, probably, not one man in ten thousand in the United States, till within these ten or twelves days, had an idea that the old ship was to be destroyed, and he put to the alternative of embarking in the new ship presented, or of being left in danger of sinking (pp. 131-32).

The Rubicon is a river on the border of Italy and according to the legend was crossed by Julius Caesar on his way to Rome to seize power, crossing the river meant it was obvious that Caesar intended to seize power and was interpreted as an act of war. "Crossing the Rubicon" as a phrase means taking a decisive course of action that you cannot go back from. The obvious reference to a dictator seizing power is meant to be communicated as well.

He also provides an interpretation of the state of the country and the conflicts going into the Convention which he sees as falling under the sway of two factions:
One party is composed of little insurgents, men in debt, who want no law, and who want a share of the property of others; these are called levellers, Shayites [as in Shay's Rebellion], etc. The other party is composed of a few, but more dangerous men, with their servile dependents; these avaricioulsy grasp at all power and property; you may discover in all the actions of these men, an evident dislike to free and equal government, and they will go systematically to work to change, essentially, the forms of government in this country; these are called aristocrats, m––ites [possibly monarchites?], etc. etc. Between these two parties is the weight of the community; the men of middling property, men not in debt on the one hand, and men, on the other, content with republican governments, and not aiming at immense fortunes, offices, and power (p. 135).
In other words, the farmer appeals to the middle class as the safeguard of democracy. Again, this is not all that different from how politicians talk today who always at least claim they represent the middle class.

The federal farmer sounds as if he is trying to find a compromise position between the federalists and the more radical anti-federalists. He is in favor of a limited form of federalism, sometimes referred to as "compact federalism," which says that the federal government is the sole creation of the states and that its authority is not stronger than the states. The federal government would concern itself with foreign affairs and leave domestic affairs to the states. In effect, this would give the states the ability to cancel out laws it did not agree with. Conflicts like this did occur repeatedly in the early decades of the republic right up until the Civil War.

I mentioned the identity of the federal farmer is unknown, it was believed to be Richard Henry Lee, a very prominent leader from Virginia, but this has been disputed. It is interesting that theories over the identity of the farmer are usually people from Virginia or New York. That should tell you something about the composition of the anti-federalists. They were generally from the larger states and this makes sense because you would assume that, relatively speaking, they would lose a certain amount of power. Pennsylvania was a large state too.

New York and Virginia even in the new federal system along with other states like Massachusetts tended to dominate the government in the early days. Massachusetts was actually a much bigger state as it included the state of Maine which did not become a separate state until 1820 as part of the Missouri Compromise. Vermont, by the way, was the 14th state admitted to the Union on March 4th, 1791 (the first outside the original 13 colonies, prior to that it was a "separate country" the Republic of Vermont).
Next class we will have the midterm. It will consist of an essay exam that will be taken on Blackboard.

Assignment (Due 10/29): Choose a passage from one of the Anti-Federalist writers, write out the passage and give your interpretation of the passage, then explain what this passage means to you or why you chose it.

Go to the link for "American Politics." Look up the section "Federalism" and explain the differences between horizontal and vertical federalism.