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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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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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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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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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Channeling Harry

Give ‘Em Hell Harry !

 

Barack Obama faced an obstructionist Congress in 2012… much like the one Harry Truman faced in 1948.  Truman waged a fiery campaign against what he termed the “do nothing Congress” and surged past a floundering Thomas Dewey.  The 80th Congress was dominated by Conservative Republicans who blocked most of Truman’s domestic agenda that he laid out in 1945.  Congress then passed the controversial anti-union Taft-Hartley Act over Truman’s veto.  Truman went back to his populist roots and crisscrossed the nation championing the common man.  The people rejected Republican obstructionism.  Truman’s victory is the greatest election upset in our history.

Don’t always believe the polls

Truman faced a Congress with both houses… controlled by Republicans.  Obama was confronted by a divided legislature, but it is giving him just as many headaches.  Obama’s biggest problem is a flagging economy that has prompted legislative initiatives following a shift in control of the House.  When Democrats controlled both houses much of Obama’s program was enacted, including the massive healthcare overhaul.   The election proved that Truman’s tactics are still viable;  Obama returned to some of Harry Truman’s rhetoric of ’48.  Obama channeled Harry Truman to secure his second term. Unlike Truman, his legacy is still in doubt….

Did he really say “trillion ?”

 

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