It’s not a real President’s birthday (Lincoln was the 12th, Washington is the 22nd), but everyone wants a day off, so sorry Abe and George, but we’re taking it today. But in the spirit intended for the holiday, let me offer up Borepatch’s bestest and worstest lists for Presidents.
#5: Calvin Coolidge
Nothing To Report is a fine epitaph for a President, in this day of unbridled expansion of Leviathan.
#4. Thomas Jefferson.
Jefferson is perhaps the last (and first) President who exercised extra-Constitutional power in a manner that was unambiguously beneficial for the Republic (the Louisiana Purchase). He repealed Adam’s noxious Alien and Sedition Acts and pardoned those convicted under them.
#3. Grover Cleveland.
He didn’t like the pomp and circumstance of the office, and he hated the payoffs so common then and now. He continually vetoed pork spending (including for veterans of the War Between the States), so much so that he was defeated for re-election, but unusually won a second term later. This quote is priceless (would that Latter Day Presidents rise so high), on vetoing a farm relief bill: “Federal aid in such cases encourages the expectation of paternal care on the part of the Government and weakens the sturdiness of our national character.”
#2. Ronald Reagan
He at least tried to slow down the growth of Leviathan, the first President to do so in over half a century (see entry #5, above). He would have reduced it further, except that his opposition to the Soviet fascist state and determination to end it cost boatloads of cash. It also caused outrage among the home grown fascists in the Media and Universities, but was wildly popular among the general population which was (and hopefully still remains) sane.
#1. George Washington
Could have been King. Wasn’t. Q.E.D.
#5. John Adams.
There’s no way to read the Alien and Sedition Acts as anything other than a blatant violation of the First Amendment. It’s a sad statement that the first violation of a Presidential Oath of Office was with President #2.
#4. Woodrow Wilson.
Not only did he revive the spirit of Adams’ Sedition Acts, he caused a Presidential opponent to be imprisoned under the terms of his grotesque Sedition Act of 1918. He was Progressivism incarnate: he lied us into war, he jailed the anti-war opposition, he instituted a draft, and he was entirely soft-headed when it came to foreign policy. The fact that Progressives love him (and hate George W. Bush) says all you need to know about them.
#3 Lyndon Johnson.
An able legislator who was able to get bills passed without having any real idea what they would do once enacted, he is responsible for more Americans living in poverty and despair than any occupant of the White House, and that says a lot.
#2. Franklin Roosevelt.
America’s Mussolini – ruling extra-Constitutionally fixing wages and prices, packing the Supreme Court, and transforming the country into a bunch of takers who would sell their votes for a trifle. At least Mussolini met an honorable end.
#1. Abraham Lincoln.
There’s no doubt that the Constitution never would have been ratified if the States hadn’t thought they could leave if they needed to. Lincoln saw to it that 10% of the military-age male population was killed or wounded preventing that in an extra-Constitutional debacle unequaled in the Republic’s history. Along the way, he suspended Habeas Corpus, instituted the first ever draft on these shores, and jailed political opponents as he saw fit. Needless to say, Progressives adore him.
[Edit: Also instituted the first income tax]
So happy President’s Day. Thankfully, the recent occupants of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue haven’t gotten this bad. Yet.
War Between the States Sesquicentennial
All pages in the history book – Jenkins – NewsObserver.com
Your article was passed on to me and it deserves reasoned comment.
First, there are many flags which can be called American — the flags of the Confederacy are considered such just as the Gadsen, Burlington and Betsy Ross flags are. They are part of American history and all American, and undeniably so.
The withdrawal of several States from the fraternal and voluntary union in 1861 was well-conceived and done so in a similar manner as was done in acceding to the union in 1787; in convention by the States. We know that in ratifying the Constitution the States delegated specific authority to the federal agent in Washington, all else was (and is today) retained by the States. President James Buchanan publicly stated that he did not agree with the concept of secession, but admitted he had no constitutional authority to wage war upon a State which no longer wished to belong to the voluntary union. His successor decided to wage war upon his own people, and without the authority of Congress.
As for slavery, the facts do not support the claim that North Carolina seceded over slavery – the May 20th secession ordinance came as a result of Lincoln’s war upon South Carolina, and demanding troops from North Carolina to do it with. Governor Ellis, the chief magistrate of North Carolina, understood the US Constitution and told Lincoln, “no.” This was no “internal rebellion,” and to believe such is show a lack of common knowledge and is promoting revisionist history.
As you suggest, those descended from slaves certainly need to learn of their ancestors participation in North Carolina’s defense, though some of them chose to adhere to the enemy of North Carolina and commit treason. The war of 1861-1865 was not the first time this occurred as Lord Dunmore, Royal Governor of Virginia issued an emancipation proclamation in 1775 which incited race war and freed slaves to fight against American independence (many North Carolina slaves fled to British arms); and again in 1814 when Vice Admiral Sir Alexander Cochrane issued the same to rob the American South of its agricultural labor. Lincoln’s intent was the same as he wanted more troops (Northern enlistments lagged) and to incite murderous race war in the South. No peaceful solution to the conflict came from this man or his abolitionist followers, only bloodshed and war.
Nonetheless, free blacks from Greensboro offered their assistance to the State, slaves produced foodstuffs and materiel for North Carolina troops away at war, and fought alongside their white neighbors in integrate units – Northerners segregated their colored soldiers. The Dempsey brothers for example, Charles and Henry, surrendered at Fort Fisher along with their white compatriots in Company F, 36th NC, as did Daniel Herring of the same company; also Arthur and Miles Reed of Company D, 40th NC, and James Doyle of Company E; plus Everett Hayes of Company F, 10th NC. You are right, black North Carolinians should be made aware of these patriotic contributions to our struggle for independence 1861-1865.
In closing, your editorial should have mentioned that the true representation of “the torture and murder of their ancestors” was the age-old practice of slavery in African, and it being brought to our shores by Dutch, Spanish, French, British, and New England ships. The colony of Rhode Island had, by 1750, surpassed Liverpool as the center of the transatlantic slave trade that helped populate North Carolina with African slaves. And it was the rapacious mills of New England, hungry for raw cotton from the South, that perpetuated slavery with the invention of Massachusetts inventor, Eli Whitney. No slavers flying the Confederate flag plied the coast of West Africa.
I invite you to visit our Sesquicentennial website (below) to read of North Carolina patriots whose valor, sacrifice and devotion to The Old North State is legendary.
Bernhard Thuersam, Chairman
North Carolina War Between the States Sesquicentennial Commission
“The Official Website of the North Carolina WBTS Sesquicentennial”
A great summary of where we are/how did we get here.
Here is Judge Napolitano’s closing argument yesterday on his FreedomWatch.
Does the government work for us or do we work for the government? Is freedom in America a myth or a reality? Tonight, what if we didn’t live in a free country?
What if the Constitution were written not to limit government, but to expand it? What if the Constitution didn’t fulfill the promise of the Declaration of Independence, but betrayed it? What if the Constitution actually permitted the government to limit and constrict freedom? What if the Bill of Rights was just a paper promise, that the government could avoid whenever it claimed the need to do so? What if the same generation – in some cases the same people – that drafted the U.S. Constitution enacted laws that violated it? What if the merchants and bankers who financed the American Revolution bought their way into the new government and got it to enact laws that stifled their competition? What if the civil war that was fought in the name of freedom actually advanced the cause of tyranny?
What if the federal government were the product of 150 years of stealing power and liberty and property from the people and the states? What if our political elites spent the 20th century importing the socialist ideas of big government Statism from Europe? What if our political class was adopting the European political culture from which our founding fathers fought so hard to break free?
What if our political leaders no longer acknowledged that our rights come from our humanity, but insisted instead that they come from the government? What if you had to produce your papers to get out of or into our once-free country? What if you couldn’t board a plane, a train, or a long-distance bus without providing documentation telling the government who you are and where you’re going, without paying the government, and without risking sexual assault? What if your local police department could shoot down a plane? What if government agents could write their own search warrants, declare their own enemies, and seize whatever property they want? What if the feds could detain you indefinitely, with no visitors, no lawyer, no judge, and no jury? What if they could make you just disappear? What if the government broke its own laws in order to enforce them? What if the government broke down your front door in the middle of the night and shot your dog, and claimed it was a mistake?
What if you were required to purchase a product that you didn’t need, didn’t want, and couldn’t afford, from a company you never heard of, just as a condition of living in the United States? What if the government told you what not to put in your body as well as what to put into it; and how much? What if the government claimed that since it will be paying your medical bills, it can tell you what to eat, when to sleep, and how to live? What if the government tried to cajole and coax and compel you into behaviors and attitudes it considered socially acceptable? What if the government spent your tax money to advertise to you how great the services are that it provides? What if the government kept promising to make you safe while it kept stripping you of your liberties and committing crimes in your name that made you a target of more violence?
What if you didn’t have a right to every dollar you earned? What if the government decided how much of your earnings it will keep and how much it will permit you to have? What if the government took money from you and gave it away to its rich banking and corporate friends whose businesses were failing? What if the government thought it knew better than you did how to lead your life and had no problem telling you so? What if the government took the credit for every success your own human actions helped you achieve? What if the government told you that only it could build roads, run schools, keep you safe, and collect trash even though it’s never been able to do so efficiently before? What if the government spent nearly twice as much as it took in? What if it couldn’t pass a budget on a timely basis and funded itself just weeks at a time? And what if the government kept borrowing money against the wealth of future generations to pay for wasteful programs today?
What if you worked for the government and the government didn’t work for you? What if freedom were a myth? What if we don’t live in a free country? What do we do about it?
From New York, defending freedom; so-long America.
September 30, 2011
In 1863, Lincoln delivered his Gettysburg Address at the dedication of the national cemetery on the Civil War battlefield of Gettysburg, Pa.
We wouldn’t be doing our job if we didn’t include H.L. Mencken’s famous rejoinder:
The Gettysburg speech was at once the shortest and the most famous oration in American history…the highest emotion reduced to a few poetical phrases. Lincoln himself never even remotely approached it. It is genuinely stupendous. But let us not forget that it is poetry, not logic; beauty, not sense. Think of the argument in it. Put it into the cold words of everyday. The doctrine is simply this: that the Union soldiers who died at Gettysburg sacrificed their lives to the cause of self-determination – that government of the people, by the people, for the people, should not perish from the earth. It is difficult to imagine anything more untrue. The Union soldiers in the battle actually fought against self-determination; it was the Confederates who fought for the right of their people to govern themselves.
by Walter E. Williams
Recently by Walter E. Williams: Our Contemptible Congress
One tragedy of war is that its victors write its history and often do so with bias and dishonesty. That’s true about our War of 1861, erroneously called a civil war. Civil wars, by the way, are when two or more parties attempt to take over the central government. Jefferson Davis no more wanted to take over Washington, D.C., than George Washington, in 1776, wanted to take over London. Both wars were wars of independence.
Kevin Sieff, staff writer for The Washington Post, penned an article “Virginia 4th-grade textbook criticized over claims on black Confederate soldiers,” (Oct. 20, 2010). The textbook says that blacks fought on the side of the Confederacy. Sieff claims that “Scholars are nearly unanimous in calling these accounts of black Confederate soldiers a misrepresentation of history.” William & Mary historian Carol Sheriff said, “It is disconcerting that the next generation is being taught history based on an unfounded claim instead of accepted scholarship.” Let’s examine that accepted scholarship.
In April 1861, a Petersburg, Va., newspaper proposed “three cheers for the patriotic free Negroes of Lynchburg” after 70 blacks offered “to act in whatever capacity may be assigned to them” in defense of Virginia. Ex-slave Frederick Douglass observed, “There are at the present moment, many colored men in the Confederate Army doing duty not only as cooks, servants and laborers, but as real soldiers, having muskets on their shoulders and bullets in their pockets, ready to shoot down … and do all that soldiers may do to destroy the Federal government.”
Charles H. Wesley, a distinguished black historian who lived from 1891 to 1987, wrote “The Employment of Negroes as Soldiers in the Confederate Army,” in the Journal of Negro History (1919). He says, “Seventy free blacks enlisted in the Confederate Army in Lynchburg, Virginia. Sixteen companies (1,600) of free men of color marched through Augusta, Georgia on their way to fight in Virginia.”
Wesley cites Horace Greeley’s American Conflict (1866) saying, “For more than two years, Negroes had been extensively employed in belligerent operations by the Confederacy. They had been embodied and drilled as rebel soldiers and had paraded with white troops at a time when this would not have been tolerated in the armies of the Union.”
Wesley goes on to say, “An observer in Charleston at the outbreak of the war noted the preparation for war, and called particular attention to the thousand Negroes who, so far from inclining to insurrections, were grinning from ear to ear at the prospect of shooting the Yankees.”
One would have to be stupid to think that blacks were fighting in order to preserve slavery. What’s untaught in most history classes is that it is relatively recent that we Americans think of ourselves as citizens of United States. For most of our history, we thought of ourselves as citizens of Virginia, citizens of New York and citizens of whatever state in which we resided. Wesley says, “To the majority of the Negroes, as to all the South, the invading armies of the Union seemed to be ruthlessly attacking independent States, invading the beloved homeland and trampling upon all that these men held dear.” Blacks have fought in all of our wars both before and after slavery, in hopes of better treatment afterwards.
Denying the role, and thereby cheapening the memory, of the Confederacy’s slaves and freemen who fought in a failed war of independence is part of the agenda to cover up Abraham Lincoln’s unconstitutional acts to prevent Southern secession. Did states have a right to secede? At the 1787 Constitutional Convention, James Madison rejected a proposal that would allow the federal government to suppress a seceding state. He said, “A Union of the States containing such an ingredient seemed to provide for its own destruction. The use of force against a State would look more like a declaration of war than an infliction of punishment and would probably be considered by the party attacked as a dissolution of all previous compacts by which it might be bound.”
November 2, 2010
Walter E. Williams is the John M. Olin distinguished professor of economics at George Mason University, and a nationally syndicated columnist