One If By Land

Progressive political commentary, analysis, and opinion. Showing no mercy to Republicans or Democrats, conservatives or liberals. "A great democracy must be progressive or it will soon cease to be a great democracy." Theodore Roosevelt

Sunday, October 03, 2004



The questions facing Americans today are among the most serious our country has ever had to decide. The choices we make as a nation in the coming year will affect the destiny of our nation and the world for generations. In order to obtain the best advice possible to aid in considering the issues of the day, I have decided to ask the most prominent of our founding fathers- George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison- their opinions about some of the issues facing the United States today.

Schwartz: Thank you all for coming here to speak with me today, gentlemen. I’m sure that the present generation of Americans will benefit from your experience and wisdom. Don’t worry Col. Hamilton, Aaron Burr wasn’t invited, but I think perhaps you ought to sit on the other side of the room from John Adams (whispered- I think he still has a chip on his shoulder).
Alright, if it’s ok with you gentlemen, I’d like to start with war. Recently, we went to war with a small nation, Iraq- Mesopotamia to all of you classically educated folk, because our president assured us that the Iraqis that it possessed nightmarish weapons and wanted to attack us with them. But after invading Iraq and killing tens of thousands of Iraqis and taking thousands of American casualties, its become obvious that the Iraqi military was a backward rabble and the Iraqis neither posed nor intended any threat to the United States. I know this specific war is a few hundred years after your time, but I’d like to get your thoughts on the idea of preemptive war. President Washington, what do you think of the doctrine of preemptive war?1

Washington: That we should be always prepared for War, but never unsheath the sword except in self defense so long as Justice and our essential rights, and national respectability can be preserved without it;…
Draft of Farewell Address, May 15, 1796

Schwartz: Thank you sir. That sounds like a clear statement against a doctrine of preemptive war. But let me play devil’s advocate for a moment. Some people say that this war wasn’t about weapons, it was about controlling the world oil supply, which has become one of the most important strategic resources. We’re the greatest nation in the world- why shouldn’t we become an empire like Rome or Great Britain?

Washington: We shou’d not, in imitation of some nations which have been celebrated for a false kind of patriotism, wish to aggrandize our own Republic at the expense of the freedom & happiness of the rest of mankind.
Draft of First Inaugural Address, c. January 1789

Schwartz: Well said. One particularly controversial aspect of the Iraq war is the cost. At a time when our nation is carrying trillions of dollars in debt, this war has already run up hundreds of billions of dollars in expenses, which future generations will be forced to pay for in a further accumulation of debt. Assuming for a moment that this was a justifiable war, could I get a comment about the economic impact it’s going to have on future generations?

Madison : ….Each generation should be made to bear the burden of its own wars, instead of carrying them on at the expense of other generations.
Universal Peace, National Gazette, February 2, 1792

Schwartz: That’s a very powerful comment, especially coming from a president who served during a war which really did threaten our national survival. And it leads us into the next topic which I want to discuss- the economy. The United States is now carrying trillions of dollars in debt, with a projected deficit of over $500 dollars this year alone, without factoring in the cost of the war. Col. Hamilton, are you alright? Yes, the numbers are shocking, but try to take a deep breath... Yes, President Washington, please go ahead.2

Washington: No pecuniary consideration is more urgent, than the regular redemption and discharge of the public debt: on none can delay be more injurious, or an oeconomy of time more valuable.
Fifth Annual Message to Congress, December 3, 1793

Schwartz: I see. You might be surprised to learn that all this comes just three years after our period of greatest economic prosperity. The projected debt for this year alone is over $400 billion, and that’s without figuring in funding of the war. Is this kind of deficit spending justifiable under any principle of government?

Jefferson: …the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale.
To John Taylor, May 28, 1816

Schwartz: At the same time, the current president is presiding over the largest expansion of the federal government in over fifty years. As one of the original republicans (from the first republican party) how do you feel about this type of big government with an expansive executive branch?

Jefferson: I am for a government rigorously frugal & simple, applying all the possible savings of the public revenue to the discharge of the national debt; and not for a multiplication of officers & salaries merely to make partisans, & for increasing, by every device, the public debt, on the principle of its being a public blessing.
To Elbridge Gerry, January 26, 1799

Schwartz: In America today political campaigns require millions, in the case of presidential elections hundreds of millions of dollars. In order to finance their campaigns, candidates and parties accept huge contributions from corporations and other special interests. They also raise a tremendous amount of money from the personal contributions of wealthy citizens―90% of which comes from the wealthiest 1% of the population3 . Candidates often appear to vote for or against legislation based on its benefit to the donors to whom they are indebted rather than its possible benefit to society; in some cases this ends up costing the public vast sums of money.

Madison: A government operating by corrupt influence; substituting the motive of private interest in place of public duty; converting its pecuniary dispensations into bounties to favorites, or bribes to opponents; accommodating its measures to the avidity of a part of the nation instead of the benefit of the whole: in a word, enlisting an army of interested partisans, whose tongues, whose pens, whose intrigues, and whose active combinations, by supplying the terror of the sword, may support a real domination of the few, under an apparent liberty of the many. Such a government, wherever to be found, is an imposter.
Spirit of Governments, National Gazette, February 20, 1792

Jefferson: …though civil govemt duly framed and administered be one of the greatest blessings and most powerful instruments for procuring safety and happiness to men collected in large societies, yet such is the proneness of those to whom its powers are necessarily deputed to pervert them to the attainment of personal wealth and dominion & to the utter oppression of their fellowmen,…
Petition on Election of Jurors, October 1798

Schwartz: Those are both very strong statements, but after all, shouldn’t the wealthiest members of society, individuals and corporations, have the most say in its government? Aren’t they the smartest, most capable people in society?

Adams: The rich are seldom remarkable for modesty, ingenuity, or humanity. Their wealth has rather a tendency to make them penurious and selfish…
Diary, June 30, 1772

Schwartz: A lot of people would call a statement like that ‘class warfare’. , I must admit that current scandals in big business, Enron, Worldcom, etc. do kind of support that opinion. But, after all, shouldn’t we trust our leaders, especially when they are among our successful citizens? They must understand the day’s issues more deeply than regular people. For example, the neo-cons, maybe the most influential faction in Washington today, are behind a lot of the more controversial policies of the government today. They claim to be righteous, visionary and patriotic, and insist that their critics simply aren’t capable of understanding their visionary ideas.

Adams: ..Power always sincerely, conscientiously, de tres bon Foi, believes itself Right. Power always thinks it has a great Soul, and vast Views, beyond the comprehension of the weak; and that it is doing God service, when it is violating all his laws…
To Thomas Jefferson, February 2, 1816

Schwartz: Those are both pretty extreme statements, Mr. President. But in all societies there are going to be opposing parties along lines of race, religion, class, etc. And it’s inevitable that the wealthiest portion of society will have a disproportionate share of power, isn’t it? If they can’t always be trusted to rule in societies best interests, what can we do? Yes, President Madison, please tell us what you think.

Madison: In every political society, parties are unavoidable. A difference of interests, real or supposed, is the most natural and fruitful source of them. The great object should be to combat the evil: 1. By establishing a political equality among all. 2. By withholding unnecessary opportunities from a few, to increase the inequality of property, by an immoderate, and especially an unmerited, accumulation of riches. 3. By the silent operation of laws, which, without violating the rights of property, reduce extreme wealth towards a state of mediocrity, and raise extreme indigence towards a state of comfort. 4. By abstaining from measures which operate differently on different interests, and particularly such as favor one interest at the expense of another. 5. By making one party a check on the other, so far as the existence of parties cannot be prevented, nor their views accommodated. If this is not the language of reason, it is that of republicanism.
Parties, National Gazette, January 23, 1792

Schwartz: Thank you. Of course, your first point, establishing political equality among all, could be accomplished through measures like publicly funded elections, but both of the parties in power today seem resistant to that idea. ‘Withholding unnecessary opportunity from a few to accumulate unmerited riches and abstaining from measure that operate differently on different interests’ sound nice, but with the system of special interest political funding that I told you about before that seems unlikely. As far as ‘laws that equalize extreme wealth and extreme indigence’, over the past two and a half decades, the opposite has been happening- the bottom 60% of Americans are earning less and the top 1% are earning more. The current government has cut income taxes on the richest Americans, and corporations, and eliminated the tax on large estates, while cutting programs to benefit the poorest Americans. Moreover, now that one of the two major parties controls all three branches of government, there is no effective check whatsoever on even their most extreme partisan measures.

Washington: Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the Spirit of Party, generally
This spirit, having its root in the strongest passions of the human Mind. It exists under different shapes in all Governments, more or less stifled, controuled, or repressed; but, in those of the popular form it is seen in its greatest rankness and is truly their worst enemy.
The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge natural to party dissention, which in different ages and countries has perpetuated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an Individual: and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty.
Farewell Address, September 19, 1796

Schwartz: Thank you President Washington. I think you’ve just pretty much said it all on the subject of parties and factions. The last thing you said, about the ruins of public liberty, was remarkably prophetic, and it leads me to one of the most important issues of the day. In response to an isolated but shocking attack on our nation’s home soil, the government has passed a series of laws called, ironically, the PATRIOT act. This act gives the executive branch and law enforcement agencies unprecedented access to information that seems in some cases unrelated to foreign terrorists- what books Americans read, what they buy, even access to their personal correspondences and documents. It denies the right of habeas corpus, the requirement that the government obtain search warrants, even allowing accused persons to be held indefinitely, with no outside contact, without even being charged with a crime. Furthermore, this and other recent acts allow first amendment acts of speech and assembly to be redefined as ‘terrorism’. Is it right to give up so many of the rights you and subsequent generations of Americans fought so hard to protect because of a single act of terrorism?4

Franklin: Those who would sacrifice essential liberties for a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
This quote first appeared in 1755 in an answer by the Assembly of Pennsylvania to the Governor; and was the motto of Franklin’s Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759

Schwartz: Thank you, Dr. Franklin. In response to the PATRIOT act a growing number of communities, even states, have passed resolutions condemning the act. Some of the resolutions empower, even instruct local police and officials to disobey the act in cases in which in may be unconstitutional. There have been cases of local police not cooperating with federal authorities. Does the government have the right to pass unconstitutional laws? Since this is a nation of laws, shouldn’t we follow the law until it’s repealed? If you don’t mind, I’ve heard a lot from Presidents Jefferson and Madison already, and considering your leading roles in the opposition to the alien and sedition acts I think we can guess what you might say. I’d like to hear from someone more conservative. Yes, please, Col. Hamilton.

Hamilton: There is no position which depends on clearer principles, than that every act of a delegated authority, contrary to the tenor of the commission under which it is exercised, is void. No legislative act therefore contrary to the constitution can be valid. To deny this would be to affirm that the deputy is greater than his principal; that the servant is above his master; that the representatives of the people are superior to the people themselves; that men acting by virtue of powers may do not only what their powers do not authorise, but what they forbid.
The Federalist No. 78, May 28, 1788

Schwartz: Coming from someone who is generally considered to be among the most conservative, even aristocratic of our nation’s founders, that’s a strong argument against the validity of any unconstitutional law.
We’ve been talking so far about modern America in the twenty-first century, but I’d like to ask you one question about your own era. As you may know, the last election, in 2000, was perhaps the most controversial ever- yes even more than yours of 1800. The current president lost the popular election by a wide margin, but managed to win the electoral vote by a hair under suspicious circumstances. Of course, I can’t ask any of you to comment on the specifics of an election that was held long after you all died, but it brought the issue of the electoral college back into the public debate briefly. Some people claim that your motives in choosing the electoral college over direct popular election were, well, less than pure. Others defend the system, but their arguments don’t hold up under careful examination. I believe President Madison spoke quite candidly on the electoral college at the constitutional convention, and I’m wondering if he’d be willing repeat his opinion for us today?

Madison: The people at large was in his opinion the fittest in itself. It would be as likely as any that could be devised to produce an Executive Magistrate of distinguished Character. The people generally could only know & vote for some Citizen whose merits had rendered him an object of general attention & esteem. There was one difficulty however of a serious nature attending an immediate choice by the people. The right of suffrage was much more diffusive in the Northern than the Southern States; and the latter could have no influence in the election on the score of the Negroes. The substitution of electors obviated this difficulty and seemed on the whole to be liable to fewest objections.5
July 19, 1787- Speech in the Federal Convention on Electing the Executive

Schwartz: What? You mean to say that you it was actually a compromise intended to give a disproportionate share of power to the slave states? That is disappointing. But I guess you had no real choice at the time, since you had to accommodate the regional interests of the day. Now that slavery’s been abolished though, I guess it’s up to us living American to reconsider.
Now, as I said, I won’t ask you to comment on any specific events that have occurred since your day, but, I can tell you that throughout our history every major party, but the two in power now especially, have been accused of election fraud at different times. The last two election cycles, including the last presidential election, were definitely no exception. New machines, called computers, are often used in place of paper ballots. The problem is, they can be accessed remotely and the results altered without leaving any evidence. Furthermore, the companies which make the machines all have financial connections with the party in power- including a senator who is part owner of the company who makes the machines used in his own state. In your opinions, is election fraud something we ought to worry about?6

Adams: ..we should be unfaithful to ourselves if we should ever lose sight of the danger to our liberties, if anything partial or extraneous should infect the purity of our free, fair, virtuous, and independent elections. If an election is to be determined by a majority of a single vote, and that can be procured by a party, through artifice or corruption, the government may be the choice of a party, for its own ends, not of the nation, for the national good.
Inaugural Speech to Both Houses of Congress, March 4, 1797

Schwartz: I see. How much of a threat do you consider election fraud to be?

Adams: Corruption in elections is the greatest enemy of freedom.
A Defense of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America (begun in 1786, published in volumes 1787 – 1788)

Schwartz: Well, if that’s true, then I suppose that whichever party they support, today’s Americans ought to take a closer look at how their votes are being counted and who they are being counted by.
I know that in your day there were a great number of newspapers, often quite partisan, and that all of you suffered some pretty slanderous attacks from the press. In America today the news media consists of print, broadcast television, radio, internet- but for all this seeming variety six large corporation control most of our media7. These corporations have economic and political interests which may influence the objectivity of their news reporting. One study showed that a large portion of Americans believed erroneous facts about the threat posed by Iraq; errors which, if true, would have justified the war. One television station even assigned election night coverage in the last presidential election to a cousin of one of the candidates. That reporter called the election for his cousin before the votes were even counted. Can I get a few comments on the role of the media in a free republic?

Adams: I hope it will be no offence to say that public opinion is often formed upon imperfect, partial, and false information from the press.
To John Taylor, 1814 (written as part of a series begun in April, 1814, letter #XXXI)

Madison: A popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.
To William T. Barry, August 4, 1822

Schwartz: That brings me to another topic: education. The state of American education today is deplorable. We have students graduating who are illiterate, who need a machine called a calculator to do basic mathematics, who can’t even find their own state on a map, let alone important foreign nations. Recently, a bill called the No Child Left Behind Act was passed, which, though certainly flawed, did include some good improvements to the public school system. The problem is, that after passing the bill the president has refused to fund it; as an unfounded mandate it’s only making things worse. How important is education to a nation like ours, and who ought to be responsible for funding it- the government, the states, local governments, or individual parents?

Franklin: The good of Education of Youth has been esteemed by wise Men in all Ages, as the surest Foundation of the Happiness both of private Families and of Commonwealths. Almost all Governments have therefore made it a principal Object of their Attention, to establish and endow with proper Revenues, such Seminaries of Learning, as might supply the succeeding Age with Men qualified to serve the Publick with Honour to themselves, and to their country.
Proposals Relating to the Education of Youth in Pennsylvania, Philadelphia: Printed in the Year, MDCCXLIX, 1749

Schwartz: Men qualified to serve the public? In this day and age, with technology developing so quickly, and with all the influence science and technology have on our lives and international relations, I guess public servants need to be well educated. What about the common people, though? How much education do they need?

Jefferson: I have indeed two great measures at heart, without which no republic can maintain itself in strength. 1. that of general education, to enable every man to judge for himself what will secure or endanger his freedom.8
To John Tyler, May 26, 1810

Schwartz: Wait, are you saying that we need education to preserve our freedoms? In America today, there’s a tendency towards both anti-intellectualism and blind patriotism. Do you think that this could be a danger to our liberties?

Washington: …there is nothing, which can better deserve your patronage than the promotion of Science and Literature. Knowledge is in every Country the surest basis of public happiness. In one, in which the measures of Government receive their impression so immediately from the sense of the Community as in our’s, it is proportionably essential. To the security of a free Constitution it contributes in various ways: By convincing those, who are entrusted with the public administration, that every valuable end of Government is best answered by the enlightened confidence of the people: And by teaching the people to know and to value their own rights; to discern and provide against invasions of them; to distinguish between oppression and the necessary exercise of lawful authority; between burthens proceeding from a disregard to their convenience and those resulting from the inevitable exigencies of Society; to discriminate the spirit of liberty from that of licentiousness, cherishing the first, avoiding the last, and uniting a speedy, but temperate vigilence against encroachments, with an inviolable respect to the laws.
First Annual Message to Congress, January 8th, 1790

Schwartz: Ok, well you just said a mouthful. Could you summarize what you mean for our modern readers?

Washington: I mean education generally as one of the surest means of enlightening & givg. Just ways of thinkg to our Citizens,
To Alexander Hamilton, September 1, 1796

Schwartz: Alright, so an educated public is essential for democracy- that I can certainly believe. After all, people need to really understand the issues of the day if they are going to have a say in government, or even in choosing the people who do. But who ought to be responsible for the cost of education? Should we all have to pay for schools for poor people? Shouldn’t that be their responsibility?

Adams: Free schools, and all schools, colleges, academies, and seminaries of learning, I can recommend from my heart;
To Benjamin Rush, August 28, 1811

Schwartz: Well, you all seem to agree that education is essential to democracy, and that its important enough that society ought to pay for it so that everyone has access to education.
There is one issue that comes up in regard to schools, and with the current administration it’s becoming a more general issue- separation of church and state. There are religious groups which demand that prayer be allowed, or even required in public school. The current attorney general holds morning prayer meetings that his staff are expected to attend; he’s even rumored to anoint himself with oil on taking office, though I personally find that hard to believe. But many of these religious people claim that you intended the country to be governed by Christian fundamentalism. Was this your intention? What should the role of religion be in government and public life?

Madison: The settled opinion here is that religion is essentially distinct from Civil Govt. and exempt from its cognizance; that a connection between them is injurious to both;9
To Edward Everett, March 19, 1823

Jefferson: I am for freedom of religion, & against all maneuvers to bring about a legal ascendancy of one sect over another: for freedom of the press, & against all violations of the constitution to silence by force & not by reason the complaints or criticisms, just or unjust, of our citizens against the conduct of their agents.
To Elbridge Gerry, January 26, 1799

Schwartz: I apologize if the next question is a bit too personal; I know it’s not really a public matter, but I feel like I have to ask you a little about your ideas on religion. After all, there is a religious movement with a powerful political lobby that has a lot of influence over the current government. They claim that every word in the bible is literally true. Furthermore, they claim that all of you believed this to be true, and intended it to be a foundation of our government. So, if it’s not too personal, could I get a few of your opinions on the real meaning of the Christian religion?

Adams: The substance and essence of Christianity, as I understand it, is eternal and unchangeable, and will bear examination forever, but it has been mixed with extraneous ingredients, which I think will not bear examination, and they ought to be separated.10
To Thomas Jefferson, January 23, 1825

Schwartz: You seem to be saying that even though you are a Christian, you don’t believe ever word in the Bible to be divinely inspired. Do any of the rest of you share President Adams’ opinion?

Franklin: As to Jesus of Nazareth, my Opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the System of Morals and his Religion, as he left them to us, the best the World ever saw or is likely to see; but I apprehend it has received various corrupting Changes, and I have, …some Doubts as to his Divinity;
To Ezra Stiles, March 9, 1790

Schwartz: Wow, that certainly doesn’t seem like the opinion of a Christian fundamentalist!

Jefferson: The truth is that the greatest enemies to the doctrines of Jesus are those calling themselves the expositors of them, who have perverted them for the structure of a system of fancy so absolutely incomprehensible, and without any foundation in his genuine words. And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter.
To John Adams, April 11, 1823

Schwartz: Well, so much for all of you having been religious fundamentalists. If you don’t mind, I’d like to finish by asking your opinions on a more mundane topic which has become a major issue in my day- we call it outsourcing. What it means, basically, is that companies- manufacturers, support services, even some of our most advanced scientific industries- close their American factories, research facilities, etc. and move them to foreign countries where they can buy virtual slave labor for a fraction of the cost of hiring American laborers. Some economists claim that it’s just a natural part of the market economy, and that the profits made by American companies outweigh the value of maintaining domestic industry. Since the party most in favor of outsourcing today call themselves Republicans, I’d like to get the opinions of the two presidents from the original Republican Party.

Madison: …there is no subject that can enter with greater force and merit into the deliberations of Congress than a consideration of the means to preserve and promote the manufactures which have sprung into existence and attained an unparalleled maturity throughout the United States… This source of national independence I anxiously recommend, therefore, to the prompt and constant guardianship of Congress.11
Message on Peace Treaty, 1815

Jefferson: Shall we make our own comforts or go without them at the will of a foreign nation? He, therefore, who is now against domestic manufacture must be for reducing us either to dependence on that foreign nation or to be clothed in skins and to live like wild beasts in dens and caverns. I am not one of these.
To Benjamin Austin, 1816

Schwartz: Now that we’ve heard from the true Republicans, would anyone else like to weigh in on this issue? Yes, Of course, please go ahead, sir.

Washington: Congress have repeatedly, and not without success, directed their attention to the encouragement of manufactures. The object is of too much consequence, not to insure a continuation of theei efforts in every way which shall appear eligible.
Eighth annual Message, 1796

Schwartz: Is there anyone with a dissenting opinion? …No? I see. Actually, outsourced industries go beyond just our ‘comforts’. The country receiving the greatest portion of ex-patriot American industry is China. Of course, like you say, many of the products being produced in China are comforts; but we are also exporting our high technology industries, including things called semiconductors and fiber optics, among others, which may also be used in making the modern weapons necessary for the United States to maintain our military supremacy. Some components of some of our weapons systems are actually made in China even though the Chinese have openly avowed to become a rival to our power and many in the Chinese government are actively planning to bring about a military confrontation with us over our support of the democratic nation of Taiwan. I’d like to get an opinion about this particular aspect of the outsourcing issue… yes, President Washington, please give us your opinion.

Washington: …when these are of a nature essential to the furnishing and equipping of the public force in time of War…Ought our Country to remain in all such cases, dependant on foreign supply, precarious, because liable to be interrupted? If the necessary Articles should, in this mode cost more in time of peace, will not the security and independence thence arising, form an ample compensation?12
Eighth Annual Message, 1796

I’d like to thank all of you gentlemen for taking the time to speak to me today. You’ve certainly given today’s Americans a lot to think about, and I hope that we can all heed and benefit from your advice. I’d hate to think that we modern Americans might let you down after all that you did for us.


In writing this piece it has been my intention to establish the context of each quote as accurately as possible within the literary framework of an ‘interview’. I had originally intended to include detailed footnotes for each quotation, but to do so would require more space than the original piece. Rather, I would encourage anyone who doubts the contextual accuracy of my quotations to read the originals in their entirety. In the interest of accuracy I have preserved irregularities in spelling and grammar which appear in the originals.

1. The quotations regarding war were taken from the rough draft of Washington’s Inaugural Address and from an essay of Madison’s entitled Universal Peace. Both of these pieces were written in the context of presenting guiding principles to both contemporary and future legislators. Some may argue that the threat of terrorism justifies preemptive action and that we simply have more to fear than they did and thus must react more aggressively. It should be remembered, however, that in those days America was surrounded by the British Empire in Canada, the French in Louisiana, the Spanish in Florida, hostile Indian tribes all along the frontier, and the British, French, and Spanish navies, not to mention the British press gangs which terrorized coastal towns and the Barbary pirates at sea. There were domestic factions opposed to the union, the constitution, even factions seeking reunion with Britain. Indeed, the threats we face today would probably seem trifling indeed to a man like Washington, who nonetheless counseled defensive war only, and only as a last resort.
2. The economy and especially repayment of the national debt were major issues facing the nation after the revolutionary war and the confederation period. Anyone who argues that terrorism and war justify carrying and increasing the current national debt should consider again the constant threats faced by our nation at the time that these quotations were originally written. If balancing the budget was a priority then, it can certainly be a priority now.
3. The statistics on the increasing disparity of income between the top 1% and bottom 60% of the American people is taken from Robert McChesney, The Media Crisis of Our Times, Project censored website, 2003.
4. Should the claims put forth in this piece regarding the PATRIOT act seem alarmist, I would encourage the reader to research the issue thoroughly on their own. The Bill of Rights Defense Counsel and the ACLU websites both contain a lot of information on just how far the PATRIOT act goes in violating the constitutional rights of American citizens. Both the Bush administration and attorney general Ashcroft have continued to push for even greater authoritarian powers, including the introduction of a “PATRIOT II” act. As noted above in (1) the country was under considerably greater threat at the time the bill of rights was written than in the present crisis which some would use to justify its nullification.
5. I was surprised at how little information I could find on the electoral college, for or against, in researching this piece. The only two quotations I did find which dealt with this topic were from James Madison’s speeches in the convention. I have included the more concise of the two, which I felt fit more naturally into the literary format of the interview. It is written in third person because that is the way in which he reported his own speeches, along with the speeches of other speakers which he recorded. Although I considered changing the tense to fit the conversational style of the piece, I opted not to do so as I considered it important not to alter the original quotations in any way. The other quotation on the subject runs as follows:

Madison: The remaining mode was an election by the people or rather by the qualified part of them, at large. With all its imperfections he liked this best. He would not repeat either the general argumts. For or the objections agst. This mode. He would only take notice of two difficulties which he admitted to have weight. The first arose from the disposition in the people to prefer a Citizen of their own State, and the disadvantages this wd. Throw on the smaller States. Great as this objection might be he did not think it equal to such as lay agst. Every other mode which had been proposed. He thought too that some expedient might be hit upon that would obviate it. The second difficulty arose from the disproportion of qualified voters in the N. & S. States, and the disadvantages which this mode would throw on the latter. The answer to this objection was 1. That this disproportion would be continually decreasing under the influence of the Republican laws introduced in the S. States, and the more rapid increase of their population. 2. That local considerations must give way to the general interest. As an individual from the S. States he was willing to make the sacrifice.
Speech in the Federal convention on Electing the Executive, July 25, 1787

As Madison was one of the main draftees of the constitution, perhaps its single most important author, these two candid speeches on the motive behind the electoral college argue against its having any continued benefit in the present day.
6. The senator mentioned in the section on election fraud is Chuck Hagel, republican of Nebraska. He is the former CEO of Election Systems & Software (ES&S), and continues to hold stock in that company. Hagel’s campaign finance director, Michael McCarthy, owns ES&S. The other major electronic voting machine manufacturers, Diebold, Votehere, and Sequioa, all have highly suspicious connections to the republican party, and there were strong, though underreported, indications of tampering in both the 2000 and 2002 elections. The issue is covered in Bev Harris’ book Black Box Voting, Plan Nine Publishing, 2003, and is posted on the website
7.  The six corporations which control the vast majority of the American media are, in order of dominance: AOL Time Warner (partly owned by the Saudi royal family), The Walt Disney Company, Bertelsmann, Viacom, Newscorp, and Vivendi. The reporter referred to in the section on the media is John Ellis, first cousin of George W. and Jeb Bush, who was Fox News’ reporter during the night of the infamous Florida election debacle of 2000. The study referred to was conducted by the University of Maryland Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) and Knowledge Networks, and is entitled, “Misperceptions, the Media, and the Iraq War.” Its conclusions are a damning indictment of the mass media in general, particular television media, and most particularly Fox News, followed by CNN. More general information on media consolidation is available from Robert McChesney’s, Rich Media, Poor Democracy, The New Press, 2000, Robert McChesney and John Nichols, Our Media Not Theirs: the Democratic Struggle Against Corporate Media, Seven Stories Press, 2003. NOW with Bill Moyers has been providing ongoing coverage of the recent controversy over further deregulation of the media. There are also several website offering good, up to date coverage of the media consolidation issue including those of the Center For Public Integrity and CommonCause.
8. The second point in the Jefferson quote was the division of counties into hundreds in order to organize schools and other community functions. I have cut the quotation off after the general endorsement of public education. Public education was endorsed over and over by Franklin, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, and Washington, and the quotations I have presented are by no means comprehensive. .
9. Separation of church and state was an important issue, and one in which our founders believed wholeheartedly. One of the best sources for information on both his own and the other early president’s ideas and experiences in dealing with separation of church and state may be found in James Madison’s Detached Memoranda in the section entitled, Monopolies, Perpetuities, Corporations, Ecclesiastical Endowments, (1819). In it, he goes so far as to oppose the appointment of chaplains for congress and the military.
10. As far as their personal religious feelings go, the Adams – Jefferson correspondence provides a splendid exchange of ideas on philosophy and religion by two men who, though disavowing affiliation with any particular denomination, are generally considered to have been Unitarians, or at least to have been closer to Unitarianism than to any other sect. Washington was a Christian, but he apparently viewed his Christian faith in a philosophical bent which was influenced by his involvement in freemasonry and was much more philosophically and spiritually complex than Christian fundamentalism. He also shied away from making overtly Christian references in his public speeches and papers. He refers to the deity as divine providence, our creator, the allwise dispensor of human blessings, etc. rather than Jesus Christ, God, or the holy spirit. I removed the phrase, “with most of the present Dissenters in England”, from the quotation from Franklin’s letter to Ezra Stiles because it referred to a contemporary controversy of their day and in no way altered the intent or meaning of the quotation. It appeared directly before the words, “some Doubts as to his Divinity.”, in the original letter.
11. The entire quote, with the portion removed from the interview text, runs as follows: “But there is no subject that can enter with greater force and merit into the deliberations of Congress than a consideration of the means to preserve and promote the manufactures which have sprung into existence and attained an unparalleled maturity throughout the United States during the period of the European wars. This source of national independence I anxiously recommend, therefore, to the prompt and constant guardianship of Congress.” I removed the reference to the period of the European wars because, although that was one stimulus of the growth of American industry at the time Madison was writing, it is clear that his statement was meant to apply generally and over time, rather than to the short- term post war period.
12. In order to fit into the conversational tone of the interview, and to emphasize the part of the speech which related to the question at hand I shortened the quotation somewhat. The original runs as follows: “As a general rule, Manufactures on public account are inexpedient. But where the state of things in a Country, leaves little hope that certain branches of Manufacture will, for a great length of time obtain; when these are of a nature essential to the furnishing and equipping of the public force in time of War, are not establishments for procuring them on public account, to the extent of the ordinary demand for the public service, recommended by strong considerations of National policy, as an exception to the general rule? Ought our Country to remain in all such cases, dependant on foreign supply, precarious, because liable to be interrupted? If the necessary Articles should, in this mode cost more in time of peace, will not the security and independence thence arising, form an ample compensation?” This followed directly after the former quote from the same speech in the text. In short, Washington said that the government should encourage private domestic industry without becoming a producer itself except in cases in which the industry in question is likely to be unsuccessful in times of peace but necessary in times of war. It is true that this is a slightly different point than the one I have used it to support, i.e. that outsourcing of industries necessary to ourselves and potentially useful to our enemies in times of war should be forbidden. I feel justified in doing this because Washington made a stronger version of the same case- he essentially said that the government ought to produce any materials necessary in times of war which are not profitable to the private sector in times of peace. To extrapolate from this that he would support maintaining domestically at a lesser profit industries which could gain a greater profit to their owners through outsourcing at the price of national security in times of war is, I believe, justifiable based on the specific text cited and on the attitudes expressed in Washington’s papers and actions generally.


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