Category Archives: Dave
As the debates rolled on, the nation considered many elements of the proposed Constitution. In Rhode Island there was grave concern over the idea that the State would not be able to print its own paper currency. In Virginia the Kentucky Counties worried about the navigational rights on the Mississippi River. But nearly everyone agreed on one issue – the idea that if the nation went to war, it would be stronger united than not.
On April 6, 1917, Congress gathered to vote on whether or not the United States should declare war on Imperial Germany. Four days earlier President Woodrow Wilson had made it clear that the United States was needed and ready for the fight against an evil and depraved monarchy that chose war over peace and threatened the entire world. But, he made he clear, that it would not be, it could not be, his decision alone to send the US into World War I.
Despite the changes in the world since 1787, one thing remained the same. It was that one thing that the Framers had in their prescience foreseen: that no one person should ever be allowed to take the US to war.
One of the things that I believe we (corporately, not you specifically) have lost connection with in our history, is that our Framers and Founders were people, not demigods (Thomas Jefferson notwithstanding). In 1865, George Washington will be featured in a painting that is hung in the dome of the US Capitol, visible through the oculus of the dome. The painting portrays Washington being elevated to the status of a deity. The idea of portraying Washington as a god, really does not offend most Americans.
On occasion, it’s worth our time to talk about and recall the realities of these men and women. They lived, they loved, they got mad, they had joys. They traveled and they discussed. They argued and they liked and disliked each other. They wrote copious letters to each other in flowery language that both complemented and occasionally berated each other. They saw things differently. Some favored one way, others favored another.
On March 30, 1788, six of the necessary nine States have ratified the Constitution. Debate is leaning towards Ratification in Maryland, and in South Carolina the resistance of the country folk is being dealt with. In New Hampshire, the efforts to manipulate things by the Federalists are being indefatigably resisted by the anti-Federalists in Convention. New York has not gathered in convention as yet, but already more than seventy letters have been published as “The Federalist Papers” arguing for the ratification. Likewise, dozens of anti-ratification letters have been published. The debate, while hopeful, is still in doubt. There are many who believe that there will be a new United States that will not have all of the original States as a part.
In Bath, England, Abigail Adams begins her trip home to The United States after three years in Paris and London.
Over the past six months, a couple from Alexandria, John and Elizabeth O’Conner, have been corresponding and even in early February, visiting the Washington’s. Mr. O’Conner is a “barrister,” from Ireland, who plans to write a topographical and geographical description of The United States. Elizabeth has opened a small school for girls in Alexandria.
At Mt. Vernon, George Washington sends a letter to Mr. O’Conner, thanking him for his kind words and invitation to a speech. A presentation on eloquence by Mr. O’Conner which Washington clearly had no intention of attending. Probably because he knows what the O’Conner’s are really (probably) up to…
When we hear the term “muck raking,” we almost automatically go in our heads to politicos and specifically those who “report” on politicians and their antics. There’s a good reason why we associate the phrase that way. And much of it goes back to the 1st decade of the 20th Century, when calls in earnest were coming from the media to chance how Senators would be elected.
In the early 1900’s, President Theodore Roosevelt began to label those in the press who attacked him or the government as “muck rakers,” a term he has borrowed from a book written in 1678 and well known to Christians even today, Pilgrim’s Progress.
But it was over the US Senate that the muck-rakers, as they even began to call themselves, really began to strike a blow against what they perceived as government corruption and the failure of the US Senate. When William Randolph Hearst began to promote the attacks against the Senators such as Nelson Aldrich of Rhode Island, it became increasingly clear that facts were no longer relevant to the discussion. Whether there was or was not any truth in the accusations or the stories of gridlock and failure by the States no longer matters. When one Senator was exposed as a corrupt and evil man, it reflected upon the entire body.
When what would become the 17th Amendment was first introduced, it faced an uphill battle. As time went by, and as more and more of the muck-rakers “uncovered” scandals and perceived injustices, it gained traction. In 1912 it would be adopted by Congress and in 1913 it would be ratified by the requisite number of States.
And in that lies the story of how the press can change the vision of the Framers and the US Constitution…