Critics of the New Deal assail the consensus history that… FDR’s social programs helped the US out of the Great Depression. Their objections are based on two faulty parameters of statistical analysis:
- First, they use 1929 as a baseline for all New Deal data compiled by the Census Bureau. — WRONG. Any elementary study of economic policies in the 1920’s exposes the data as artificially enhanced by rampant speculation, unscrupulous trading, and predatory lending. These statistics in no way represent typical American economic activity.
- Second, modern economic indicators are used to examine the progress made during the 1930’s. — WRONG. Post World War II employment patterns are radically altered by the baby boom. The statistical sample is completely different from the 1930’s. The average 5.5% unemployment figure following 1970, cannot be factored against the data compiled following the grossly inflated figures from the 1920’s.
The Great Depression presented a crisis never before seen in American economic history… and required measures beyond mere market correction to address the suffering. The basic indicators of GDP and unemployment rates improve during the New Deal. The so-called Roosevelt Recession of 1938-39 must be considered an effect of the budgetary restraints forced on FDR by the newly elected Republicans in the 76th Congress.
R0bert E. Lee was an honorable man… White House Chief of Staff John Kelly was not wrong making this observation. Unfortunately, Lee’s honor too often guided him down the wrong paths in life. It was this misguided sense of honor that led him to fight for one of the worst causes in history. Once the conflict was over, Lee behaved admirably in helping the Confederate forces put down their weapons and reenter Union society.
Traitor? Noble Warrior?
Lee advised his former countrymen-
“It is the duty of every citizen, in the present condition of the Country, to do all in his power to aid in the restoration of peace and harmony…Dismiss from your mind all sectional feeling, and bring [your children] up to be Americans.”
As the President of Washington College, Lee often dismissed white students who carried out violence against black residents… and did not tolerate “Lost Cause” propaganda at the school. A professor who regularly criticized US Grant received one of the famous, pointed Lee rebukes:
“Sir, if you ever presume again to speak disrespectfully of General Grant in my presence, either you or I will sever his connection with this university.”
George McClellan said goodbye to his beloved… Army of the Potomac on November 11, 1862. He cared deeply for their well being(much too deeply it turned out) and they repaid him with unwavering affection. Lincoln had to make the decision- The “Young Napoleon” was fighting like the war could go on for decades. But to his troops, he would forever be “Little Mac.” He left them with this thought….
“In parting from you I cannot express the love and gratitude I bear to you. As an army you have grown up under my care. In you I have never found doubt or coldness. The battles you have fought under my command will proudly live in our nation’s history. The glory you have achieved, our mutual perils and fatigues, the graves of our comrades fallen in battle and by disease, the broken forms of those whom wounds and sickness have disabled—the strongest associations which can exist among men—unite us still by an indissoluble tie. We shall ever be comrades in supporting the Constitution of our country and the nationality of its people.”
The Young Napoleon Edition
- George McClellan’s father was a renowned physician and founder of the Thomas Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia
- McClellan graduated West Point ranked second in the vaunted class of 1846- his classmates included Thomas J. Jackson, Jesse Reno, Cadmus Wilcox, AP Hill, and George Pickett
- Jefferson Davis was an influential mentor in McClellan’s life- sending him on secret reconnaissance missions into the Caribbean, and to the Crimea as our official observer during the Crimean War
- Small victories in western Virginia would pave the way for West Virginia statehood- a profile of him in the New York Herald brought national attention to the “Napoleon of the present War”
- Winfield Scott cautioned Lincoln against appointing McClellan General-in-chief in addition to his army command- Little Mac’s response was, “I can do it all”
Not an ideal pairing
Jefferson wrote to John Holmes of the Missouri Compromise- “but this momentous question, like a fire bell in the night, awakened and filled me with terror. I considered it at once as the knell of the Union. it is hushed indeed for the moment. but this is a reprieve only, not a final sentence. A geographical line, coinciding with a marked principle, moral and political, once conceived and held up to the angry passions of men, will never be obliterated; and every new irritation will mark it deeper and deeper.”
Wolf by the ears…
Missouri’s admission to the Union as a slave state… threatened the tenuous balance- 22 states, 11 with slavery, 11 without. Missouri was the first territory carved from the Louisiana Purchase to apply for statehood. Jefferson’s vision of America as a land of small, republican farmers was in danger of devolving further into the plantation gang labor system dominating the tidewater south.
Henry Clay of Kentucky
Henry Clay’s solution to the crisis is often reviled… by historians for perpetuating slavery and providing the United States the opportunity to conquer more land. This New Left interpretation of history overlooks the contributions Clay made to our republic during its formative years. His American System had revitalized the nation following destructive War of 1812. Clay had convinced Madison, the National Bank’s most vocal critic, to recharter it in 1816. He had rewritten the rules of the House of Representatives and established the post of Speaker as the force we know it today. Firebrands bent on defending slavery at all costs- even peace and prosperity for all- could not be allowed to derail Clay’s vision. The Missouri Compromise has to be studied from all points of view.
Clay’s Compromise saved the republic in 1820… arm-chair historians(like Jamelle Bouie @jbouie at Slate) are quick to condemn the Compromise as an extension of slavery- but what if the Civil War had started in 1820? Was there a leader like Lincoln on hand to defend the Union? Would the people of the free states supported action against secessionists? If not for Clay, the slave-holding South would have emerged from this crisis in a stronger political position. The Union may never have recovered and abolition would have been dealt a serious blow.