Tag Archives: Presidency

Only Lincoln

There should be no surprise that the greatest of all our Presidents’ annual messages was delivered by Abraham Lincoln…  The daunting task of explaining his decision to emancipate the slaves, a drastic measure that drew the ire of conservatives and skepticism from moderates.

Lincoln was able to explain how emancipation would not only help save the Union… but was the only way to keep our republic on the right side of history.

 

December 1, 1862-

“The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.

Fellow-citizens, we can not escape history. We of this Congress and this Administration will be remembered in spite of ourselves. No personal significance or insignificance can spare one or another of us. The fiery trial through which we pass will light us down in honor or dishonor to the latest generation. We say we are for the Union. The world will not forget that we say this. We know how to save the Union. The world knows we do know how to save it. We, even we here, hold the power and bear the responsibility. In giving freedom to the slave we assure freedom to the free–honorable alike in what we give and what we preserve. We shall nobly save or meanly lose the last best hope of earth. Other means may succeed; this could not fail. The way is plain, peaceful, generous, just–a way which if followed the world will forever applaud and God must forever bless.”

 

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Silent (Cal) Night

It’s often the quiet people who have the most profound things to say… With the Holiday season in full swing,  let us all take heed of the words from our most reticent President:

“Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.”

 

Calvin Coolidge

Silent Cal picks the right tree

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On Free Speech

The current administration continues to assail the press and critics utilizing their free speech rights… The President’s minions disingenuously claim that he is merely “fighting back.

Only those who approve

Trump does not believe in civil discourse…. If he does not agree with something, or it challenges his actions, he feels it is illegitimate and should not exist.  This is tyranny.

Remember

George Washington warned his fellow citizens about the dangers of losing free speech…

“If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.”

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On War

America’s War on Terrorism enters its 16th year… our Commander-in-Chief continues to display a subtle contempt for the honored traditions of the Office-  should we be surprised at his willingness to rattle the sabres and promote continued military actions?

The First Constitutional Scholar

In 1793, James Madison warned of the dangers in conducting long, expensive wars…

 

“War is in fact the true nurse of executive aggrandizement. In war, a physical force is to be created; and it is the executive will, which is to direct it. In war, the public treasures are to be unlocked; and it is the executive hand which is to dispense them. In war, the honours and emoluments of office are to be multiplied; and it is the executive patronage under which they are to be enjoyed. It is in war, finally, that laurels are to be gathered, and it is the executive brow they are to encircle.”

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Weekly History News Roundup

Lee descendants grapple with family legacy… the complex issue of monument removal haunts family

 

Wreckage of USS Indianapolis discoveredship sank by Japanese submarine 72 years ago

 

Will Trump resign the Presidency?.many before him have considered it

 

Fruitcake found in Antarctica “practically edible”… was abandoned over 100 years ago by explorer 

 

Civil War Trust acquires 391 acres of battlefields in Virginia... purchase halts significant threat to 3 battlefields

 

Found

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Never Be Surprised

Academics say the darnedest things… in the cozy confines of the University system.  Impressionable undergrads eagerly hang on every word and grad students serve as willful accomplices as they look to continued advancement.  Peer review is a veiled threat at best, considering the lock step that seems to permeate academia.  Even when a proven fraud like Ward Churchill is called to account, academic circles are reluctant to police their own because of the lofty standard  “academic freedom.”(The investigation revealed that Churchill had received tenure without a PhD in addition to plagiarism and fraud charges.)

Devaluing the term "genocide" since 1978

Devaluing the term “genocide” since 1978

So, say whatever you please, professor… tenure has your back.  History professors proclaim “changing the narrative” as the driving force behind their scholarship.  Everything we’ve learned about America is wrong… so, like a Seinfeld episode of note, the opposite must be true: The founding of America actually had a negative impact on human history, the Founders were greedy imperialists in training, and ALL 15 Presidents before Lincoln owned slaves…. that’s right- ALL of them.

Surely, you jest...

Surely, you jest…

This would come as a shock to John Adams and his son… both from Quincy, Massachusetts.  James Buchanan, Franklin Pierce, and Martin Van Buren would likewise have an argument to such an absurd notion.  Millard Fillmore was only in office two years, but slave owning cannot be included on his resume.  Even Virginian William Henry Harrison had abandoned the practice by the time he entered public life.  Members of the Founding generation hated the institution, yet felt trapped by it- Jefferson described having a wolf by the ears.  As the abolition movement grew, later Presidents sought to defend slave owning rights, but their arguments were swept away in the tide.    But, to listen to many academics today, the Presidency was nothing more than the last line of defense for the slave owning class.  Never be surprised at what nonsense seeps out of our universities… our hard earned dollars make this “academic freedom” possible.

 

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Book Review

Andrew Burstein, The Passions of Andrew Jackson, Knopf Publishers, 2003, ISBN 0-375-41428-2

Before the recent renaissance of Andrew Jackson scholarship brought on by HW Brands’s 2005 biography, cultural historian Andrew Burstein( America’s Jubilee) tackled Old Hickory’s impulsive nature in a slender but effective volume.  Heavier biographies  like Jon Meachem’s American Lion, borrow extensively from Burstein’s unflinching look at the 7th President, a historically tragic figure: “Every tragic figure requires a flaw rooted in good intentions, and Jackson’s was his incessant pursuit of virtue in the political realm, where virtue, so greatly desired, can scarcely exist.”

 

According to Burstein, Jackson’s life was defined by conflict, much of it his own doing.  Jackson suffered from a “corrosive vanity” that demanded utter loyalty from those around him.  Jackson’s burning pride, rooted in the harsh realities on the Tennessee frontier, caused him to place a “defiant honor” above all other virtues.  Burstein explains how honor and an “incessant need for redress” nearly ruined Jackson’s public career following the murder of Charles Dickinson.  The book adeptly displays Jackson’s varied understanding of loyalty and how it caused him to make questionable, if not dangerous relationships; for example, his misguided defense of John Eaton and the nefarious negotiations with Aaron Burr, expose the darker side of Jackson’s character.  Jackson’s impassioned virtues produced two rocky terms as President- the raucous persona of “Old Hickory” was popular with the newly enfranchised “common man,” but his careless policy decisions were ultimately  destructive.

 

Recent attempts at comparing Jackson to Washington are quickly negated by Burstein’s incisive summation of Jackson’s place in our history, “Washington appointed to his cabinet the greatest talent he could find; Jackson appointed men whom he expected to think like him and do what he said. Washington knew his intellectual limitations and took considerable time to reach decisions, while the more impulsive Jackson made it appear…that he was somehow the recipient of a pure light of inspiration.”   Driven by the desires of honor, loyalty, and redress, Andrew Jackson cut a jagged path through the formidable years of our republic.  Burstein’s analysis provides valuable new insight into the mind of a man shrouded in democratic mythology.

 

 

Gordon Sheaffer

James Madison Preparatory School

Tempe, Arizona.

 

 

 

 

 

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