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Facts in Five

Election of 1948 edition

 

  • Democrats briefly courted Dwight D. Eisenhower to challenge Truman for the nomination.  The Republicans were talking with Douglas MacArthur during the same period. 
  • Truman’s support for  NAACP legal efforts combined with his executive order desegregating the military caused the Southern Democrats to splinter and nominate Dixiecrat, Strom Thurmond.
  • Liberal Democrats rejected Truman as well- they nominated Henry Wallace as the Progressive party candidate.
  • Dewey’s lackluster campaign was best summed up by the poorly crafted message- “You know that your future is still ahead of you.”
  • As election day arrived, only Truman was convinced of his victory- many on his staff had already accepted other jobs. 

Harry1

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Mr. Madison’s Mind

Historians are often baffled by James Madison… In 1787, there was no stronger voice for nationalism and strengthening the federal government; yet, by 1790 he was battling one-time ally, Alexander Hamilton over the very powers they helped create.  Madison had become an advocate of limited government in less than a Presidential term.  What happened?

With friends like these...

With friends like these…

Madison was the “Father of the Constitution”… and creator of the Bill of Rights-  the commonly held description of our most overlooked Founder.  We view this change in his political outlook as inconsistency, or even a problem.  This opinion hangs on the assumption that Madison was responsible for the final draft of the Constitution.  He authored the Virginia Plan, the radical framework that altered the course of the 1787 Convention.  Of the document produced in September, Madison said,  “It ought to be regarded as the work of many heads and many hands.”  Most historians assumed Madison was being modest- in fact, he was expressing his displeasure with the process.  Madison wanted a Federal government that could control the wildly inconsistent passions of state governments, but he did not advocate a massive consolidation of power.

Author of the Virginia Plan

Author of the Virginia Plan

Federalist #10 is Madison’s warning aboutthe dangerous passions that consumed state governments.  From 1784 to 1787 he toiled in the Virginia legislature, witnessing the worst governance(or lack thereof) he could imagine.  The Federal government he envisioned would temper these passions(and blunders)  and provide the regulation to help the Union move forward. Madison opposed Hamilton’s financial programs because he feared they brought the same economic passions driving policy in the states  into Congress. The very threat Madison looked to alleviate caused his split Hamilton.  Madison remained consistent to the end. 

 

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Facts in Five

Election of 1948 edition

 

  • Democrats briefly courted Dwight D. Eisenhower to challenge Truman for the nomination.  The Republicans were talking with Douglas MacArthur during the same period. 
  • Truman’s support for  NAACP legal efforts combined with his executive order desegregating the military caused the Southern Democrats to splinter and nominate Dixiecrat, Strom Thurmond.
  • Liberal Democrats rejected Truman as well- they nominated Henry Wallace as the Progressive party candidate.
  • Dewey’s lackluster campaign was best summed up by the poorly crafted message- “You know that your future is still ahead of you.”
  • As election day arrived, only Truman was convinced of his victory- many on his staff had already accepted other jobs. 

Harry1

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Tough Loss

Why did the British lose the War of 1812… consensus history teaches that the Napoleonic wars kept mighty England from crushing the upstart Americans.  As expected, consensus historical lessons are wrapped too tightly, strangling the complexities from our past.  America won the war, but Britain lost it just as much.  We cannot pin this all on the French.

Right on the nose !

  • Poor strategy and execution– As in the Revolutionary War, Britain attempted a ‘divide and conquer’ strategy.  Simultaneous invasions would divide American forces and allow the British to defeat the disorganized American armies.  Unfortunately, the invasions were far from timely; poorly organized and executed, British forces were unable achieve any strategic success during the invasions of upstate New York and Maryland.  The third invasion at New Orleans ended in disaster.  The first graduates from the American military academy (like Winfield Scott)  were able to rally American forces, including the unreliable militiamen, to resist the uncoordinated assaults.
  • Political disunity– The government of Spencer Perceval had taken a stand against American attempts to trade with France their during the war.  Perceval’s ministers enacted the Orders in Council and did little as the tensions with America continued to rise.  Diplomats serving in Washington did a poor job communicating Britain’s positions on key issues.  Perceval’s assassination on May 11, 1812 brought to power Lord Liverpool, who sought to ease tensions with America.  The repeal of the Orders in Council just two days before America’s declaration of war was not accepted by all British ministers.  The disunity in  Liverpool’s government continued as the hostilities escalated.
  • Swatting flies– The British military machine was not built to fight an enemy like the United States.  The British army was recruited and trained to fight on the sweeping fields of Europe, not the wilds of North America; geography proved to be a keen enemy in both wars Britain fought in America.  The small, but powerful American fleet did not give the Royal Navy its Trafalgar of the west.  The power frigates of the US fleet held their own in ship to ship combat.  These small victories boosted American morale during the dark days of the conflict.  The British dependence on its Indian allies on the frontier proved as detrimental as in the Seven Years War.  The United States used its home field advantage to keep the British war machine from operating efficiently.

No contest, one on one.

But it is said that we are not prepared for war, and ought therefore not to declare it. This is an idle objection, which can have weight with the timid and pusillanimous only. The fact is otherwise. Our preparations are adequate to every essential object. Do we apprehend danger to ourselves? From what quarter will it assail us? From England, and by invasion? The idea is too absurd to merit a moment’s consideration. –Henry Clay, 1811

 

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Call it a Victory

Consensus history records that America barely survived… the War of 1812; persistent peace negotiations combined with a distracted British military allowed the unprepared republic a fortuitous exit.  A closer examination reveals a less than concerted British war effort with poor strategic planning.  The same criteria applied conversely proves that America won the war every bit as much as Britain lost it.  History shows us;

We have met the enemy, and they are ours…

  • Timely victories– As in the Revolutionary War, the United States military sustained losses, but its victories had a greater impact.  The early naval triumphs of the USS Constitution, President, and United States over the vaunted Royal Navy helped limit the setbacks suffered along the Canadian border.  Oliver Hazard Perry’s victory on Lake Erie permanently isolated British forces in the west.  William Henry Harrison’s decisive blow at the Thames broke the British-Indian alliance (and he finally killed Tecumseh.)  The battle of Plattsburgh ended the poorly coordinated invasion of New York, sealing off the Niagara frontier.
  • Bend, don’t break– British general Robert Ross made the same mistake Sir William Howe made in the Revolution, he believed that occupying the American capital would influence the war.  The British occupation and burning of Washington on August 24, 1814 was a minor psychological blow, but had no strategic impact on the war.  The US government simply moved, leaving no real prize for the British troops.  The failure to capture Baltimore Harbour two weeks later brought the ill conceived campaign to end (and also produced Francis Scott Key’s poem about Fort McHenry.)  The rigid strategic thinking of the British high command could not appropriately account for the flexibility of US forces defending their own soil.
  • And for good measure– US troops proved their mettle against the mighty Redcoats at Lundy’s Lane, Chippewa, and North Point.  The British army had no decisive advantage in land forces.  The crushing defeat of General Edward Pakenham’s forces by Andrew Jackson’s defenders at New Orleans was an exclamation point on a war that had officially ended two weeks earlier.  British forces suffered 2, 042 casualties (including the deaths of Pakenham and his chief Lt. Gibbs)  while Jackson lost only 71 troops.  Critics of the war were silenced when news of the triumph reached eastern seaboard.

Repel the invaders !

These proceedings and declared purposes, which exhibit a deliberate disregard of the principles of humanity and the rules of civilized warfare, and which must give to the existing war a character of extended devastation and barbarism at the very moment of negotiations for peace, invited by the enemy himself, leave no prospect of safety to anything within the reach of his predatory and incendiary operations but in manful and universal determination to chastise and expel the invader: James Madison, September 1, 1814

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Motive and Intent

Jefferson wrote to friend and newly-elected President James Madison… in 1809  “We should then have only to include the North(Canada) in our confederacy, which would be of course in the first war, and we should have such an empire for liberty as she has never surveyed since the creation…” 

An empire for liberty

An empire for liberty

As Madison prepared the country for war with Britain… the acquisition of Canada was not far from his mind.  Many felt it should have been seized during the Revolutionary War.  British possession of Canada guaranteed their continued proximity and potential interference.

The conquest of Canada

The conquest of Canada

Madison agreed with his friend and mentor… that a new war with Britain could settle old scores and solidify our control on North America.  Madison responded,   ” The conquest of Canada will do this…”

 

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Facts in Five

Election of 1948 edition

 

  • Democrats briefly courted Dwight D. Eisenhower to challenge Truman for the nomination.  The Republicans were talking with Douglas MacArthur during the same period. 
  • Truman’s support for  NAACP legal efforts combined with his executive order desegregating the military caused the Southern Democrats to splinter and nominate Dixiecrat, Strom Thurmond.
  • Liberal Democrats rejected Truman as well- they nominated Henry Wallace as the Progressive party candidate.
  • Dewey’s lackluster campaign was best summed up by the poorly crafted message- “You know that your future is still ahead of you.”
  • As election day arrived, only Truman was convinced of his victory- many on his staff had already accepted other jobs. 

Harry1

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