Joe Ellis explained the absence of serious Madison biographies… by proclaiming “he’s boring as hell” and that “only lawyers like him.” As previously stated, Ellis’s recent comments on the Framers and Original Intent cast doubt on the rigor of his scholarship- and these nuggets of wisdom only enhance the evidence of his misguided revisionism.
Never far apart
The revision Ellis is peddling holds that Madison and other Framers… rejected the doctrine of Original Intent on its face. The only empirical evidence supporting this notion is Madison’s oft quoted explanation for not publishing his notes on the Constitutional Convention. Once established, the government continued to disappoint Madison, driving him closer to his friend Jefferson. During his presidency, Madison undoubtedly supported Original Intent as he battled John Marshall and Congress for the soul of the Constitution. He feared the elasticity in the Constitution was being abused by ambitious demagogues- Madison wanted the power of government restrained- his original intent.
What have your wrought, Joe?
Presidential History Blog
James and Dolley Madison
The position of Secretary of State is the country’s premier diplomatic post.
James Madison and the Merrys
British Ambassador (modern term) Anthony Merry
Anthony Merry was the first British Minister Plenipotentiary (considered Ambassador) sent to the United States. He and his uber pretentious wife Elizabeth were pompous and snobbish, according to all who knew them, but in 1803, Great Britain was approaching the apogee of its Great Britain-ness, and the little backwater country across the pond was perceived as a punishment tour of duty.
President Thomas Jefferson
President Thomas Jefferson was rather obvious about his disdain for all things British, and the Merrys were no exception. They in turn, were enraged by what they perceived as deliberate slights from the President, who had invited them to a pathetically democratic (small ‘d’) dinner party. No seating plan, a suspiciously offensive invitation to the French Minister (with whom…
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My Journey Through the Best Presidential Biographies
Published in 1983, “Eisenhower: Soldier, General of the Army, President-Elect, 1890-1952” is the first of two volumes in Stephen Ambrose’s famed series on the thirty-fourth president. Ambrose was a historian and the author of more than two-dozen books; he is one of the best-known biographers of Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon. But numerous, and often convincing, allegations of plagiarism and exaggeration have tarnished his reputation over the past fifteen years. Ambrose died in 2002 at the age of sixty-six.
With 572 pages of text, this first volume in Ambrose’s series has long been considered the most thorough (and, often, the “standard”) account of Eisenhower’s pre-presidency. Proceeding from Eisenhower’s ancestry to his election as president in 1952, it moves steadily – if sometimes slowly – in a strictly chronological fashion.
The first one-third of the book carries the reader up through Eisenhower’s first commanding roles in World War II…
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History Myths Debunked
There are several myths associated with the phrase “Mind your Ps and Qs.”
One says it was a warning to watch out for cheating bartenders who would short you when you ordered a pint or a quart.
Another says it means to watch your “pieds” (feet) and “queus” (wigs), or watch your behavior from head to toe. Yet another says it comes from the master printer reminding his young typesetters to distinguish between the letter P and the letter Q, which are virtually indistinguishable in lower case.
The author of the Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (1898) notes that of the several explanations he had heard, none were “wholly satisfactory,” but he preferred the interpretation “Be very circumspect in your behaviour” from the French dancing master’s caution to mind your “pieds” and “queues.” I don’t agree.
Personally, I lean toward the printing shop origin. A typesetter in those days had…
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George Washington achieved iconic status during… his lifetime. His peers held him in such esteem that by the time of his death most Americans were left unaware of the life he led. Washington quickly faded in the collective memory- he became a statue, figuratively as well as literally. This dehumanization has caused Washington’s name and reputation to plummet in our national remembrance. Recent polls of some 600 historians show Washington ranking #3 behind Lincoln and FDR. Many of the same writers cite unwarranted “hero worship” as the reason for the decline.
Myth or man?
What troubles many delusional historians… is that Washington was aware of his image as the great patriot-hero. This was an image he went to great lengths to protect. This type of self-awareness irks 21st century sensibilities, but was common and accepted in the 18th century. Washington was not as well read, educated or worldly as his peers, but he always acted appropriately, worked efficiently, and governed wisely.
Washington should still be first… in the hearts and minds of his countrymen. His great strength was character- the ability to lead men without ruling them. The example he set has endured through the trials and tribulations of our republic- he is truly, the essential American.
A continuing examination of the Presidency of Barack Obama… partisanship is kept to a minimum, but the issues raised are the opinions of Practically Historical and its staff.
The clean energy conundrum: Obama’s attempts to be the first “Green President” cost the tax payers hundreds of millions of dollars in bogus subsidies and crippled traditional industries(costing thousands of jobs) with an undeclared war on the coal industry. Considering that the United States accounts for less than 15% of the world’s CO2 emissions, Obama’s policies were decidedly ideological and at odds with the majority of the American people.
Minding the store: The 24 hour news cycle brings local stories national attention, completely skewing proper perspectives. Obama’s seeming need to insert himself in local and state matters often blurred the lines of Federalism and confounded attempts at reforming law enforcement. The “beer summit” and professed paternal bond with Trayvon Martin did more to divide the public than promote understanding. Obama’s image evolved into that of lecturer-in-chief, castigating the public for what he considered their ignorance. on matters of race, religion, and tolerance.
Selective Enforcement Syndrome: Despite being declared “scandal-free” by partisans, Obama’s Justice Department was plagued by insidious ideological application of the law. The half-hearted investigation of IRS officials targeting Conservative groups with audits and denying non-profit status based on ideology concluded without a single indictment; conversely, Attorney General Loretta Lynch promptly responded to Congressional Democrats demanding an investigation into secret videos of Planned Parenthood officials leaked by a pro-life group. The DOJ refused to pursue any charges in the botched DEA operation called “Fast and Furious.”
Another round was needed
Next time– The Ugly