Pursuing Liberty – a blast from the past from July 4, 2011

Pursuing Liberty – a blast from the past from July 4, 2011

The United States of America is the most revolutionary land based on the most revolutionary idea in the history of mankind.

A year before I married my husband, my best friend from childhood married a Frenchman. She became a French citizen the year before I became an American citizen, and for her that meant that – in her little town – she got to open the Bastille-day ball by dancing with the mayor.

I remember being happy for her but, at the same time, both feeling the vast superiority of my journey to becoming an American citizen (even if I never danced with a mayor) and the vague uneasiness of celebrating bastille day.

Because America was founded in a revolution and because most people writing our entertainment are historically illiterate in that way that only Americans (prosperous and secure [still. Relatively] within a vast country can afford to be) movies and many books tend to resonate with sympathy for other revolutions: the French and the Russian revolution foremost.

They should not. They should not even if the temptation is understandable and even if some of the founding fathers were at first sympathetic before turning away in horror at the results.

Oh, I’ll grant you both revolutions looked similar up front. They were both the work of the educated middle class (the sans culottes were a blunt weapon, not the real revolutionaries) and they both originated on the ideas of the Enlightenment.

The similarity ends there. The French revolution, the Russian revolution and the endless revolutions throughout most of the twentieth century are of a kind and kin with much, much older uprisings. Regardless of the clothes they wear and the names they partake, they have more in common with what the iksos did to Egypt or what the Germanic underclass did to Rome. (An invasion? Well, kind of… only we’ve found that this is not necessarily true. Actually, in Rome’s case at least, it had been trickling over the border for centuries.) It was an uprising of the “formerly powerless” and what they wanted was to seize the place of the upper classes and rule as the upper classes had ruled. This always ends with the new upper class devouring each other and rivers of blood drowning all vestiges of civilization until a dictatorship takes over to impose order.

This is because the revolutions are fights over power – not fights over liberty. As with most human trouble, it starts with the words. The words at the beginning.

The French – and most other revolutionaries – fought for ideals of an abstract and high nature “Liberte, fraternite, egalite.” It doesn’t seem to have occurred to any of them – Lafayette included – that by mandating fraternite and egalite they were denying the liberte. And the fraternity and equality one being a lofty feeling, and the other an absolute measurement always prone to more and finer adjustment, both could be used as levers for the new upper classes to get more and more tyrannical power, until you could be executed as an “aristo” because you knew how to read or you wore glasses. Or you had one plate more than your destitute neighbor.

Americans, on the other hand, based their revolution on life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. You are free to pursue happiness. You have equality under the law on your right to pursue it.

No one guarantees you will catch it or that you’ll be happy when you do it. Well, at least we didn’t use to. In the twentieth century the statist excesses have infected even the US, and we’ve regulated more and more how equal you have to be and how much happiness you can attain and how much is “good for you.” This is a wrong path.

It’s impossible to look at this and not think of a quote from Heinlein, in The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress. It should surprise no one I can’t find my copy, because that book moves all over the house, though I own something like five copies of it, I swear the kids are playing smuggler (from Canticle for Leibowitz) and burying them in the background against the hard times. However, I read it recently.

After discussing the Luna declaration of independence, Prof Bernardo de la Paz admits he stole the words from Thomas Jefferson and asks Manny if he remembers who that was: “Yes,” Manny says (I’m not quoting exactly) “He freed the slaves.” Prof responds, “Could be argued he tried to, but they caught him at it.*”

The difference between life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and liberte, equality and fraternity is the difference between being a wild-eyed revolutionary or simply playing one (or being manipulated into becoming one) to get a new class into power.

Because once you mandate equality, you fall into the trap of another Heinlein quote. You see, men weren’t created equal, and as I’ve pointed out at length there is only a creative minority and of that minority there is only a minority actually willing to work hard. But it is those minorities that advance civilization. The genius of America has always been to let those minorities do the work. This revolutionary arrangement has led to the freest and most prosperous nation in the history of mankind, a nation that has lifted the whole world out of poverty.

Good job. Now don’t get cocky. Remember:

Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.
This is known as “bad luck.” (Robert A. Heinlein.)

Happy Fourth Of July. Keep on Revolting.

*anyone bringing up nonsense about Jefferson and Sally Hemmings is subjected to the penalty of having Lin Wicklund explain the facts of life to them. If you don’t know who Lin Wicklund is, you’ll find out. Also, judging great men by the standards of a much later time is a device of midgets on stilts, trying to piss on the heads of giants. You only make yourself small.

 

*Crossposted at Classical Values*

167 responses to “Pursuing Liberty – a blast from the past from July 4, 2011

  1. Good Lord! I remember when this first appeared. I need to get a Life. Or, considering the venue, an Undeath.

  2. even if I never danced with a mayor

    Looks at NY Mayor de Blasio.

    Looks at Chicago’s Rahm Emmanuel

    Considers looking around at other mayors, shakes head, concludes there are far worse omissions one could have in this life.

  3. my roomates just tried to send our paperback of Revolt in 2100/Methuselah’s Children to a used bookstore O.o I had to basically say “If its by Heinlein its mine”

  4. I do not recommend burying thumb drives with Heinlein’s collected works in the back yard. I thought the boys were smarter than that.

  5. “Liberte, fraternite, egalite.”

    Two of these things belong together,
    Two of these things are kind of the same,
    One of these things is not like the others
    One of these things just doesn’t belong
    Can you tell which thing is not like the others
    By the time I finish my song?

    life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

    It should be remembered that the definition of “pursuit of happiness” has narrowed more than a little over the centuries. A more accurate expression of the phrase in current times might be “pursuit of meaning.”

    • Terry Sanders

      IIRC, the word translated as “happiness” in Plato was “eudaimonia,” and referred to a life well lived. The Greek saying ‘Call no man happy until he is dead’ reflected that–right up to the end, you could always screw it up.

      • Well, depending on what happens after death, I might not be very happy. For that matter, I’m not going to be very happy going through the process of death itself either. Now a “life well lived” could be talking post mortem, as a final summation, or I suppose it could be talking about a currently ongoing process of someone still corporeal. I like the latter; I’d prefer to paraphrase Plato and say that happiness is living life well.

    • “pursuit of meaning.”

      Since you brought up this phrase, I will suggest Man’s Search For Meaning by Victor Frankl as a book everyone should read.

    • Paul Koning

      It’s really informative to read the draft of the Declaration. As I recall, it uses the phrase “life, liberty, and property” — which makes a lot more sense. It is also extremely interesting in that it contains quite an explicit denunciation of slavery in the bill of charges against the king. Not surprisingly that section didn’t survive committee, but it helps to show where Jefferson’s head was at the time. It also clearly counters the modern narrative that Jefferson was an evil slaveholder person unfit for modern right-thinking people to approve of.

  6. French and Russian revolutions achieved very little but much blood was shed. French rev in particular gets way more positive attention than it should, they killed their king, unleashed Jacobins on world, and France is now on its fifth attempt at a republic.

    Anglo countries do revolutions well but in most other countries they create unstable societies that take a long time to heal.

    • They accomplished much. Just very little good. How else would we have the model nation the USSR?

    • For some reason, I’m thinking of some of the lyrics from Hamilton at this point:

      [Hamilton]
      We signed a treaty with a King whose head is now in a basket
      Would you like to take it out and ask it?
      “Should we honor our treaty, King Louis’ head?”
      “Uh… do whatever you want, I’m super dead.”

      (snip)

      [Jefferson]
      But sir, do we not fight for freedom?

      [Washington]
      Sure, when the French figure out who’s gonna lead ‘em

      [Jefferson]
      The people are leading—

      [Washington]
      The people are rioting
      There’s a difference.

      It took a long time for the worst of the horrors to be reported in America. Support for France was widespread throughout much of the Reign of Terror, simply because the news was so slow to cross the ocean and the worst was easily brushed off for a long time. (And when the worst was known, a lot of the supporters basically just quietly stepped away.)

      • I have actually heard a leftist SF writer complain that SF writers use the American, not the French, Revolution as a model. Well, DUH. Even if you approved of the consequence, you can not glamorize the French Revolution. The two most famous stories about it are probably The Scarlet Pimpernel and A Tale of Two Cities. The first dramatizes the fate of the aristocrats, the flower of chivalry, the descendants of the Crusaders, etc. and is about rescuing aristocrats from the guillotine. The second one explicitly if poetically calls the Terror the judgement of God — and is about rescuing an aristocrat from the guillotine. ’cause there’s no other task anyone even remotely fit for anyone decent.

        (I’ve actually seen a writer get haughty about “Francophobia” because some writers use some poetic license and put the masses of victims, actually existing late in the Terror, in stories taking place earlier.)

        • Have you ever read the Paula Volsky book Illusion? The blurb says that it is modeled on the Russian Revolution, though most of the events more closely mirror the French Revolution. And not in a flattering way, either.

      • Those are horrible lyrics…but at the same time, I’m a little surprised that they express and anti-French-Revolution sentiment, considering the expected politics of the play.

        It’s my understanding that Hamilton is a horrible play (the criticism I remember Ben Shapiro making of it is that the music is simple and the lyrics are sloppy) (and it doesn’t help that I don’t particularly like rap music), but it also seems like something I should watch or listen to at least once, just to understand what all the commotion is about….

        • I enjoy it a lot; there’s a lot of complexity to the musical forms. The lyrics are very colloquial, but that is true of rap and hip hop as forms, so it’s staying true to the roots of the style they’re using. And I am not a fan of rap or hip hop (or R&B and other forms used) in general, so it does have cross-genre appeal.

          If you read the Chernow biography that the musical is based on, you can see that Lin-Manuel Miranda did play with elements of timing and certain characters a lot, but structurally it’s very focused on the contrast between the two main characters of Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. The first is presented as actually a bit Odd in that he does the full steam forward and damn the consequences, and Burr is presented as holding back. (The line about the election of 1800, where Hamilton’s voice is the deciding factor between first and second place is “When all is said and all is done, Jefferson has beliefs—Burr has none.” That’s actually pretty close to what Hamilton actually wrote.) It’s the conflict between those two personalities that is the driving force in the musical.

          Anyway. The musical has gotten people to read historical biographies, if nothing else. So even if you end up disliking it, it has that going for it.

          • And no matter how horrible I think something is, I cannot argue against it, if it encourages people to learn more about history or even if all it does is encourage people to read more!

            • We actually avoided listening to it for a while because of all the hype. Then we found out we were rabid for it too. 🙂 But yes, it did lead us to the Chernow biography (which was a best-seller even before the musical), and encouraged us to get more biographies from him and other folk. I wasn’t pleased with the Jefferson biography that we got because, after Chernow, the person seemed vague and vacillating, and advancing theories rather than facts.

              • We picked up the Chernow Hamilton biography as an audio book … well, as a package of eighteen audio cassettes for $7.98 off the remainder table at B&N. Money very well spent.

                I don’t fancy Rap nor Hip Hop, so I had mixed feelings about the show. I was happy Hamilton was getting the attention, happy it struck a chord, but it was not something I could really share in. OTOH, as the song says, You Never Can Tell. As a parent I can appreciate this tale, even if I never see the show …

                Hamilton
                Joe Posnanski
                * * *

                ”How does a bastard, orphan, son of a whore
                And a Scotsman, dropped in the middle of a
                Forgotten spot in the Caribbean by providence
                impoverished, in squalor
                Grow up to be a hero and a scholar?”

                — The opening words of “Alexander Hamilton.”

                * * *

                The idea took hold a few months ago. It’s hard to say exactly what sparked it other than … well, have you ever been the parent of a 14-year-old girl? It is a daunting experience. Elizabeth is a good person. She’s a good student. She has a huge heart. She’s a loyal friend. She’s funny too. She likes Death Cab and Spinal Tap and comic books and reading. The other day, she told me that her favorite movie of all time is “The Godfather.” I mean, she is more me than I am.

                But she is 14, and in some ways that explains everything. In some ways it doesn’t. There are times I feel closer to her than ever … and times I feel so much further away. Farther away? Further away? One gorgeous day in autumn, I was sitting on the porch, working, and she came outside and sat next to me, and it became clear after a few choice words about tattoos and nose rings and such that she had come out for the sole purpose of starting a fight. There was no specific reason for it other than she’s 14, and I’m her father, and this is the timeless story.

                There have been other things, trying things, unforeseen things, a punishing year, and one day I came up with this idea. I would take Elizabeth to see “Hamilton.”

                We have a flaw in my family, one that goes back generations: We tend to grow obsessed with, well, stuff. What kind of stuff? OK, my mother through the years has had been possessed by countless activities including (but not limited to): paint-by-numbers; cross-stitch; stamp collecting; Harlequin Romances; computer programming (the most profitable of such obsessions); various soap operas; various reality TV shows; crossword puzzles; cookbooks; Candy Crush; all sorts of collectibles and, most recently, coloring books. She recently had coloring pencils shipped from Sweden or Switzerland or some such place. She’s very good at coloring. You can find her work on Facebook.

                This is just how the family mind works, I guess. I have known all my life about my weakness for growing obsessed by things. This is the reason I haven’t seen Game of Thrones or The Americans or Downton Abbey or House of Cards or any other recently popular television show. It isn’t because I dislike television — it’s the opposite. I like television too much. I know the only way to avoid free-falling into that television hole is to never start watching in the first place.

                I don’t mean this theoretically. For years, people have been on me to watch “Mad Men.” Three weeks ago, I caved in and decided to watch. I have now seen every show, all seven seasons, 92 episodes. That’s in three weeks. In other words, I have spent roughly four of the last 21 days doing nothing but watching Mad Men. That’s not healthy. I mean, the show was superb but I’m glad it’s over. I would rather obsess about something else.

                Elizabeth is one of several million people — so many of them teenagers — who have become obsessed with the Broadway show “Hamilton.” It is funny, if you think about it. Kids all over America are smitten by a show about a previously minor Founding Father who probably would have gotten chucked off the $10 bill had it not been for the genius of Lin-Manuel Miranda. When I was Elizabeth’s age, we all wore Rush and Black Sabbath T-shirts and sang about how Mommy’s alright and Daddy’s alright, they just seem a little weird.

                These kids are singing about Alexander Hamilton’s argument with Thomas Jefferson over a plan to establish a national bank and assume state debt.

                All of Elizabeth’s friends seem to be into Hamilton. One of them will periodically and for no obvious reason break into “You’ll Be Back,” a song where King George tells the colonies they will eventually return to England’s rule (‘’Cuz when push comes to shove/I will kill your friends and family to remind you of my love.”). Another somehow got to see the show back before it became a national phenomenon and this has turned her into something of a superhero.

                But of course, Elizabeth is more consumed by the show than most. She has memorized every word of the musical, read every word she can about Alexander Hamilton, and, naturally, she has asked us to start calling her “Eliza” after Hamilton’s wife, Eliza Schuyler. She wears one of her three Hamilton T-shirts every single day that she’s allowed, and she regularly says things like “Thomas Jefferson was the worst,” though it has nothing at all to do with what we were talking about, and she will actually tear up a little thinking about poor John Laurens.

                This is all hilarious, of course — a 14-year-old girl utterly fanatical about the Founding Fathers — that is until you realize that it isn’t going away.

                All of this reminded me, strangely enough, of the Cleveland Browns. They were my first obsession. Even now, I’m not sure I can put into words how consumed I was with the Browns. In classes, when I should have been learning how to find the area of a circle or how circuits work or what the heck Hawthorne was talking about (things I still don’t know), I was scribbling stupid little stories about the Cleveland Browns. You might think this was because I wanted to become a sportswriter, but no,I had no idea about sportswriting, no ambitions to be a writer. I was writing these Browns stories because I couldn’t stop thinking about them — no, more to the point, I did not want to stop thinking about them. I was happiest pondering Bernie Kosar and Earnest Byner and Kevin Mack and Hanford Dixon and all the rest. I was happiest dreaming up imaginary plays that might work, strategies that might pay off, preview stories that might come true.

                Now, of course, I see it: The rest of life was kind of scary. School was scary. Girls were scary. My parents were scary. Homework was scary. All the other kids seemed to me to know something I did not know. They knew who they were. They knew how they fit in. They knew what they wanted to do with their lives. Of course, they did not really know any of that, but they sure seemed to know, and here I was, too small for one sport, too uncoordinated for another, too stupid or lazy (or both) to excel, too homely to ask out the cheerleader, too nearsighted to give up the glasses, too shy to be the class clown, too unimaginative to play Dungeon and Dragons, too uncool to be first, too uncommitted to think about it all very much. Ah, but the Cleveland Browns. That was a world I understood. I did not want to leave.

                Elizabeth does not have any of my weaknesses — she has lots of friends, works way harder and does way better in her classes, is beautiful … but it’s only when you get older that you realize that ALL kids have at least some of these emotions. It is scary being a teenager. But it’s also exhilarating. She finds herself seesawing between childhood and and adulthood, enjoying a few minutes of peace doing girlish things but then growing outraged when the waitress gives her a kid’s menu, proudly interviewing and getting a summer job but then wanting to know why she can’t just stay home and read. It’s all so confusing.

                It’s so much safer in the world of Alexander Hamilton.

                So, one day, I decided to take on a speaking engagement for the sole purpose of raising enough money to take Elizabeth to see Hamilton. You probably know that it’s hard, almost impossible even, to get Hamilton tickets. This is true but it’s also not true. It’s true that getting Hamilton tickets involves lotteries and luck and trying to buy tickets months in advance and knowing somebody who knows somebody who knows somebody.

                But … it’s also true that you can simply buy resale Hamilton tickets — that is, if you are willing to spend more money than you could ever imagine spending. How much money? I still can’t say the number out loud.

                Rain fell in New York the night we saw Hamilton.

                And Elizabeth held my hand tight and couldn’t stop crying as we walked into the theater.

                [END EXCERPT]

                RTWT

  7. What about life, liberty & property?

    • At some point you’ve gotten enough.

    • I wonder how much would have changed had that been the formulation used instead of “pursuit of happiness”

      • It’s hard to say — the reason it was changed was because of the fear that it would entrench the notion that we shouldn’t get rid of slavery. Southerners would have argued that they had a right to slaves, because their slaves are property.

        But who knows? Perhaps had “property” been used, the North may have been a lot more open to freeing the slaves through a form of eminent domain…(and perhaps the South, too, because if I recall correctly, the South wasn’t too happy with the idea either).

        In any case, slavery was an ugly thing: it’s no wonder that it caused so much disruption trying to get rid of it, regardless.

        Personally, I think “Pursuit of Happiness” is an important phrase in the Declaration of Independence; it’s a phrase that’s even found in one of the first chapters of Blackstone’s Commentaries, which went something along of the lines of “The most fundamental unalienable rights are Life, Liberty, and Property, which put together culminate in the Pursuit of Happiness”. (Ok, I really slaughtered that, and I may have even damaged the original meaning that Blackstone was intending…)

    • start with liberty, but yes.

    • Well, Jefferson had to file off Locke’s serial number somewhere.

  8. I’ve said this before but the American Revolution wasn’t one.

    Not in the sense of the French and Russian Revolutions.

    Those Revolutions were all about “replacing the Powers-That-Be”.

    The War of Independence was about the American Powers-That-Be telling the British Government “get out of our affairs”.

    For most matters, the Americans looked to their own “State” governments not the British Government.

    The British Government had basically let the “Colonial Governments” handle matters in the Colonies but then tried to “change the rules”.

    We objected and had a little war. 😉

    • Yes, the Americans didn’t have to rebuild anything from scratch and already had their own local power figures. But the people essentially ruling themselves, and George Washington turning down the position of King, and stepping down after his time as President (imagine if he hadn’t done that), that was HUGE, and, in its way, a different revolution altogether, though more opening up the prisons people had in their heads.

      • On the one hand, I’m sad George Washington didn’t have children. I think he would have made a good father. OTOH, I can’t help but wonder if there were a touch of Divine Providence in that: a little reminder that the Presidency isn’t supposed to be hereditary.

    • I was going to make this as an independent comment, but I think it would be good to point this out here.

      I’ve been listening to a “Revolutions” podcast (by some guy who also did a Roman History podcast that I haven’t gotten all the way through, and should probably start over at some point), and the first Revolution he covered was the English Civil War.

      Although the English Civil War didn’t “stick”, it was more of a revolution in the American vein and probably even set up the foundation for the American Revolution. In this case, the Parliament didn’t intend to take power, and didn’t even intend to execute King Charles, but strongly disliked King Charles’s policies. Heck, when they executed King Charles, they were left wondering what to do next, and decided that the answer was to establish a Republic with some sort of Protectorate. I came away from the podcast with a lot of pity for King Charles’s stubbornness, and a lot of respect for Oliver Cromwell (who wasn’t quite the tyrant I was originally led to believe he was…).

      I have often wondered what would have happened had the founders of the English Republic had put some thought in the succession issue, and actually put in a decent means for finding a new Protectorate after the old one stepped down or died, rather than assign the position to Oliver’s son, who was weak politically, and who essentially allowed the Republic to dissolve and fall back to becoming a monarchy…

      In any case, as awful as the fighting in this Civil War was, it doesn’t hold a candle to the systemic purges of the French (and later Russian) revolution.

  9. I wonder what the leaders of our revolution would think of their experiment now. It seems we the people are closer to despotism than ever before.

    Do those who want single-payer realize the ramifications of that system where a child is sacrificed because those “in charge” say he had no chance and his death was for a better “quality of life” than any treatment would possibly provide. That he had “dignity” in his death away from home and those who truly loved him. Single-payer is the state above all for any health issue.

    A coup is being committed before our eyes purely because another candidate did not win. Why else would calls for impeachment sound before even the inauguration?

    I believe if Trump is removed a full-scale civil war will erupt as his supporters think the collusion charges are bogus. They see this as another step towards their enslavement to government.

    See McCain’s “Build the dang wall” and “Repeal Obamacare” as a prime example of politicians directly lying to them in supporting and expanding the govermental system in place.

    • “That he had “dignity” in his death away from home and those who truly loved him.”
      The is no such thing as a dignified death. Death is really the final indignity we suffer. Dying away from home (familiar, comforting surroundings), and away from those we love and who love us, isn’t dignified at all. If anything, it’s a form of torture and misery.

      That’s the situation my brother and I faced in the final week of our father’s life. They had him in a rehab / palliative care unit and we about to move him to where they put their actively dying patients (is actively dying an oxymoron, or what?) Dad still had all his marbles and was demanding to go home. The facility wanted to keep him there; and it was basically my brother and I asking them if there was anything more they could do to cure him, and if not, we were taking him out of there. Took almost the entire day to break Dad out of their prison.

      And yes, Dad died at home 3 days later, in his own bed, looking out the window at the Coosa River, with his dog snuggled up to him, and my brother and I at his side.

      • the final indignity for most of us we never see, our family arguing over sh… stuff.

      • My father-in-law died in hospice, and we were sad that he couldn’t be at home. But it was in a situation where his wife couldn’t care for him (we was dying of cancer and needed 24-hour care, in part because he lost all strength and was too big for his wife to move him, to keep him clean and avoid bed sores, and so forth) and the nearest hospice was over 100 miles away.

        Indeed, we were lucky we could get him in as close a hospice as we did!

        But my wife and I would make the trip down to visit him when we could (about 100 miles from a different direction) as his wife did as well. And a nurse told us that she was with him when he died — which alleviated one concern that my wife had, that he would die completely alone.

        But you’re right: when the family is willing and able to care for the person dying, it’s best when it can be done at home!

    • a civil war is in the offing. It’s just a matter of when.

    • Turbo Beholder (@TBeholder)

      > I believe if Trump is removed a full-scale civil war will erupt as his supporters think the collusion charges are bogus. They see this as another step towards their enslavement to government.
      I’m generally inclined to believe that mostly it’s American style of uffing up and hissing at best, and wishful thinking at worst. Because whenever someone actually flips out, the rest just turn tail, then a few bemoan their fate later, and nothing really changes.
      How scary even “Tough Texans” really are was abundantly demonstrated when Big Brotherhood gassed and burned alive a bunch of them including their babies, and there wasn’t any response more tangible than noise.
      Except that one guy who was annoyed enough to pop a petard, and all he achieved was being used for an obvious Reichstag Burning!!1 style provocation before being offed too.
      I doubt there would be an actual civil war there.
      But then, infrastructure is awfully fragile and now much more people see just how deep the cesspool is and are close to seriously flipping out.
      Which creates a more likely (and even uglier) scenario.

      • are you referring to the BLM thing?

        you do know most of those ‘blm protesters’ were paid protesters bussed in, often from other states, right?

        • I was assuming by “Tough Texans” he was meaning Waco, which is a really interesting example to complain about people not supporting.

          • And then Timothy McVeigh.
            Also, the Branch Davidians weren’t exactly–Texan. Except in the sense that they were in Texas. It’s also worth pointing out that they hadn’t exactly done much to endear themselves to the locals.

            • Yup, Randy Weaver (Ruby Ridge) would have been a much better example for his purposes, and is also something Timothy McVeigh protested, so he could have brought him into it also.

              Yeah the Feds didn’t act too well at Waco, then again it was mostly the same people in charge as at Ruby Ridge, so what do you expect? The Branch Davidians were a) an actual serious problem and b) had a serious compound. Randy Weaver on the other hand had a simple Failure to Appear warrant, and the “crime” he was charged with was trumped up by the feds in an attempt to force him to become a snitch.

              • In fairness, there was much less skepticism of the MSM at that time.

                • This is true. There was also much less alternative news.

                • Indeed. I remember looking at the news in High School (it wasn’t even “real” news — it was one specifically designed for kids) being convinced that the Government’s case was water-tight, and watching in horror as everything collapsed as it did. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I had a weird disconnect that the government’s claims and the government’s actions didn’t fit together.

                  It wasn’t until at least a couple of decades later that I read “No More Wacos” and realized that both the Government and the Media did things that made the situation a lot worse than it should have been….

    • And the hospital had the nerve to offer condolences.

  10. As a side note: the best resolution I’ve ever seen to the Sally Hemmings question is: no, we don’t know, we never will, and the key thing is that whether or not Jefferson used his slaves in that fashion, he still had slaves (emphasis mine), which, while not making him a terrible person, does sort of contradict the principles outlined in the DoI.

    • It all depends on how you define who are people, and what is not.
      Oh to have been alive back then and posing the question to Jefferson and the other founders. “If these slaves are human, then they are also “the people”, and fully deserving to be treated as all people are treated. If they are not people, then they must be animals. In which case you’re engaged in bestiality, fornicating with animals. So tell me, Tom. Which are they?”

      • The interesting thing is that the founders themselves were fully aware of the contradiction. It took until the 1830s for the “not really people” thing to start becoming mainstream.

        • Yeah.
          I believe that’s called ‘cognitive dissonance’?

          • It is somewhat easier to say, “You should not own slaves” than it is to say, “I should not own slaves.”

          • Well, until fairly well along, white people were conscious that other white people (like the Scots and English hauled off to be plantation slaves on the UK’s sugar islands, or like the folks kidnapped by the Barbary Pirates, or Indian captivity, or the Children of Israel) could be slaves. Slavery was something that could happen to you. And even if you weren’t a slave, you might be bound and indentured.

            In consequence, there was more of a vague idea that slaves should be manumitted or should be able to buy themselves out of slavery, and that your ex-owners would probably become patrons of your small business. It was a Roman sort of concept of slavery.

            But I think things got more racist as the idea of white slaves went out of people’s minds, and as the South ended up with a really huge population of slaves per capita, in some areas. Large numbers of slaves were a huge amount of plantation owners’ assets; they couldn’t really lose them without losing money but they also cost a ton. Slavery was also a status thing for some owners, not to mention a handy brothel for the unscrupulous.

            The Roman-like idea of slavery as something you could lift yourself out of, was replaced by various sorts of nativism, Know-Nothing hatred of people of other cultures and appearances, plain old guilt (for breaking the American “covenant” of all men being equal), and fear (of slave revolts, which was also something the Romans worried about). People who owned slaves were suffering more and more cognitive dissonance as a result (especially when it came to Bible interpretation), but we humans are too good at ignoring that sort of thing.

            • They would have also been aware of Haiti’s slave rebellion. The Brit’s offer during the Revolution of freeing slaves who rose up against their masters probably did not help.

              • kenashimame

                The Nat Turner slave revolt kneecapped abolition resolutions in Maryland and Virginia. John Brown’s activities in Kansas and at Harper’s Ferry did his cause as much harm as it did good.

                • Though if modern opponents of the Democrats dealt with Democrats like John Brown dealt with them when they stole the elections in Kansas, maybe it would give Democrats cause for reconsideration.

            • I’ve read at least one claim that indentured servants from Britain were treated so tremendously worse than slaves from Africa that were owned, and therefore had value and who’s children had value, that a huge amount of resentment built as those “transported” watched their children starve and die even while their own service times were up and their “owners” found reasons not to let them go.

              And also there’s a rather large leap between “some people are very unfortunate” and “unfortunate people are not people.”

              Of course, if one attempts to get inside the head of the many people who were kind and compassionate and perhaps even sympathetic to abolition but pragmatic about “the way things are”, you’re going to be accused of defending slavery itself. Which is another lie.

              Sort of like Historical Romances where the heroines (in particular) have modern attitudes and stop to pick up street urchins as if the street urchin is any of their concern rather than a vector for lice.

              • The issue of treatment tends to be a rabbit trail and overlooks the central issue: people as property. That said, I had heard of Irish immigrants used to drain marshes because slaves were too valuable, but I’ve not heard that indentured servants were treated worse.

                There is one important difference: An abused indentured servant could cut out for elsewhere with none the wiser. A slave differentiated by the color of his skin finds that much harder to do.

                • Were some slaves manumitted by stipulation of the owner’s will?

                  • Some were, and this gets into several issues. One was that some states, such as Georgia, passed laws preventing manumission except by act of legislature. This meant each freed slave from the point the law went into effect until Union occupation was done so by a bill passed by legislators. No, I don’t know how many, if any, were freed by such means.

                    There was also a nasty trick where slave owners freed slaves past their prime. This left the newly freed slave with little or no means to care for himself. It also freed the slave owner from the responsibility to care for these slaves who were not able to produce labor to cover their expenses. A variation was to sell off such slaves. Still a nasty trick.

                    I have a copy of one will that I stumbled across looking for something else. It dates from the 1850s, and in it the slave owner left his older slaves to his youngest son with the stipulation that he care for them and not sell them. He also left that son a larger portion of his estate to ensure that he would be able to do so. I do not know if that was common or not, but thought it was interesting.

                    • When living in Columbus Georgia, I read of a slave who was a blacksmith earning money for his owner (his owner would hire out his services).

                      His owner asked the Georgia Legislature to free his slave and the slave was freed.

                      Oh, the former slave “returned the favor” by helping out his former master after the Civil War was over.

                      I don’t know how common this was in Georgia but there was at least one case of it happening.

                    • That’s interesting. Thanks.

                • Indenture wasn’t the same thing as slavery. It was basically a labor contract; X months or years of service for $Y value.

                  Traditional apprenticeships usually included terms of indenture. The law would drag a runaway apprentice back; they were debtors, back when that was more serious than today.

                  • If the law caught them. He wasn’t an indentured servant at the time, but one ancestor may have traveled to another colony to avoid a lawsuit, so it was possible to move and hide on the frontier.

                  • Kevin’s point was that the average escaped indentured servant could more easily fade into the population than an escaped black slave.

                    Yes, both would be “looked for” but the escaped black slave was easier to find.

                • White Cargo: The Forgotten History of Britain’s White Slaves in America by Don Jordan and Michael Walsh documents it pretty well.

                  More in the Caribbean than on the continent, but then, here the time span in which blacks were held as slaves and whites as indentured servants was small; prior to that, blacks as well as whites were sold into indenture.

            • I actually was told point-blank online that nowhere in the world but the United States was there chattel slavery that the law would enforce.

              • How very multiculturally aware. Nowhere in the world must include such nonentities as Brazil, the Caribbean, the Ottoman Empire, the Mughal empire, and almost the entire African continent.

                • Aside from the presumption that there was no slavery in the British Colonies in America, a single word refutes their claim: Haiti.

                  For that matter, I wonder how they explain the Spartan helots.

                  On second thought, I don’t wonder: lies spread by Christian America, rewriting History to justify their abuses.

                  • They’ve never heard of them.

                    • ^^^That. (Note that Brazil had a section of their Olympic opening ceremonies dealing with their history of slavery and most people hadn’t realized that it had persisted later than the American Civil War.)

              • Oh, that lie is being widely taught in every “American” history course through college. It’s also being used as a justification for any amount of crime by blacks against whites.

            • Turbo Beholder (@TBeholder)

              > In consequence, there was more of a vague idea that slaves should be manumitted or should be able to buy themselves out of slavery, and that your ex-owners would probably become patrons of your small business. It was a Roman sort of concept of slavery.
              > But
              Also, it looks like the idea of property in general as understood by the more aggressive Protestants (and from there, their secular descendants) is something unlike that of Catholic tradition, much less in old Hebrew or more remotely related and unrelated ones.
              As a part of even greater picture, yes.

              • “Also, it looks like the idea of property in general as understood by the more aggressive Protestants (and from there, their secular descendants) is something unlike that of Catholic tradition, much less in old Hebrew or more remotely related and unrelated ones.”

                Care to explain that?

          • I think it’s less cognitive dissonance than pragmatic recognition of the fact that a strong stance against slavery would have alienated Virginia, the Carolinas, Georgia, and possibly Maryland and Delaware. That’s up to half of the original colonies and well more than half the population. Losing those colonies would have strangled the United States in its crib. The Founders chose to not let the perfect become the enemy of the good, especially since all the data at the time showed that slavery wasn’t a sustainable system and it was naturally dying out.

            • They did take precautions, however, to limit the ability of the slaveowners to use slavery to take over the Congress and the Presidency; that’s what the infamous 3/5ths clause was about.

              The slaveowners didn’t like it then, just as their descendants don’t like attempts to import a new population of serfs with votes today.

              • “to stop importing a new population of serfs with votes today.”

                Too much blood in my caffeine stream this morning….. now where did I put that diet Mountain Dew IV?

    • He still had slaves, yes; and IIRC he also had debts throughout his his life which meant he was legally incapable of manumitting those slaves.

      • Those debts were incurred partly through bad management of his financial affairs (endemic to the planter class, with the notable exception of George Washington), time spent in service to his country and a serious tendency to spend money on books.

        Given that those books constituted a core component of the Library of Congress, it might well be argued that the United States was responsible for Jefferson’s inability to free his slaves.

        OTOH, given he sold his collection to the US, his penury might have more to do with economic ignorance and pursuit of quality wine.

        • To be fair, the whole “mercantilism” as applied by the UK to American colonial plantation owners was all about turning the plantation owners into workers buying from the company store. They got ripped off by British traders selling import goods, they got into debt, and then they never got out.

          That’s why Washington was so big on being self-sufficient on his plantation when he could, and buying American when he couldn’t.

          • Terry Sanders

            And even then, most of his money came from land speculation.

            • The wheat mill he built and operated produced flour of such fine quality that it was sold in Europe at a premium, his Mount Vernon distilled whiskey was highly regarded, and he often contracted out his slaves to earn money by working for other local businesses. Quite the entrepreneur, was our George.

        • George Washington had planter class-related debts too, not just related to his terms in the Presidency (which was unsalaried and came with a heavy load of entertaining folk who visited him.) A large part of it was the Hollywood phenomenon where you have to do the expensive things so that people think you’re successful and still do business with you, but part of it was that there wasn’t much in the way of luxury goods being made in the colonies, so you had to buy from abroad if you wanted anything other than plain.

      • He also worked to try to change the laws of Virginia to make it possible for people like him to free his slaves.

        It annoys me to hear things like “Well, Jefferson never freed his slaves,” because it isn’t as though he hadn’t put at least *some* effort into doing it. Whether he could have done more, who’s to say? Except that, chances are, we *all* could *always* do more than what we do, but we’re *all* human, so we don’t….

  11. Someone might get the wrong idea if they peeked into our bookstore warehouse in the next few weekends. We’ve loaned the unused back 2k sq feet or so to a low-budget movie crew making a picture about alien invasion of Earth. In exchange for a big “thank you” in big font in the credits. Kids running around with Airsofts of M4s, MP5s, Berettas and Sig Sauers. I can’t go watch the fun, I’m running the bookstore through Monday.

  12. He freed one set of slaves. Sadly today we are sitting and begging for the manacles back as long as we get one hour in the yard to do what we like.

  13. Blame the historians (why not, everyone else does?) for the attempts to run the American Revolution, the French Revolution/s, and the Russian Revolutions together as “all the same except for accents.” In the 1920s-30s it became trendy to say that the French Revolution had been a precursor of the Russian Revolution (October/November edition), with the noble proletariat and bourgouise rising up to overthrow the old feudal order and advance the arrow of history forward toward Communism. In the 1970s a French historian actually stood up and said, “No, they are two very different events,” and laid out the philosophical and other reasons for the difference. But two generations had glommed onto the “prefiguration” thing, and were applying it to the US Revolution, the German Peasant’s Rebellion in 1525, and all sorts of things, all as precursors and failed-versions of the Real™Revolution in 1917. It’s lazy. (And it shows that they never read D’Toqueville, because he describes clearly how the French Revolution just continued the centralizing process and grasping for control from Paris.)

    • The Ancient Regime was probably one of the more terrifying dry reads of my lifetime…

    • The American Revolution followed the precedents of the English Revolutions that brought us Oliver Cromwell and eventually installing William III, prince of Orange, who presented, in the Bill of Rights (formally An Act Declaring the Rights and Liberties of the Subject and Settling the Succession of the Crown, 1689), the precursor of the Declaration’s indictment of George III’s governance and of the American Constitution’s first ten amendments.

      • I was struck when reading Churchill’s description of Cromwell’s machinations during and after the trial of Charles I how often I found myself saying “huh, there’s a clause in the Constitution specifically prohibiting that.” The Founders weren’t nearly as worried about creating another King George III as they were about creating another Oliver Cromwell.

        • Their greatest fear was democracy even before the French Revolution. When Franklin replied, “A republic, if you can keep it” he wasn’t warning against the potential danger of a monarch.

          • It does seem to me that republics are inherently unstable political systems. The basic political forces drive them either to a strongman government or rule by mob (which eventually becomes a strongman government).

    • To be fair, there’s some connection between the Russian and the French Revolutions — Lenin admired the French Revolution (although he seemed to take to heart the horror parts, and ignored the rest) — but nonetheless this is a point well taken.

  14. OK, I looked for Lin Wicklund. Nothing on Wikipedia, nothing on Infogalactic.
    Help, please.

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      Old fellow traveler. I can’t recall if I saw her here much, but I recall her from the Kratskeller on the Bar. Maybe she’s on facebook.

      • She’s been around in the last few days, I think

        • Given the proclivity of noms du Internet in use here, who could know?

          • I think that Lin Wicklund is her real name. She’s been tuckerized in a few of Ringo’s novels.

            • Errr … my point was that Lin could be in here posting as RES, bearcat, suburbanbanshee or any other alias. Not that I think Lin does, but Lin could.

              • She is who first introduced me to Sarah Hoyt and AccordingtoHoyt, so I am not her.

                Of course if I was I might claim not to be, in order not to sully my good name as Lin Wicklund.

    • LOL. She’s one of my fans. She’s on our groups on FB, and she’ll go into the whole Jefferson thing in enough detail to make your head spin. She also reads here, occasionally.

      • I was tempted to make the accusation, just to see what would happen. I was also a little…dissuaded…to do so, because I was afraid of what might happen.

        But while I’m not sure of the details, I’ve heard and/or read enough (I think Glenn Beck had a special on Thomas Jefferson, among other places, and if I recall correctly, I think he made a good case as to why Sally Jennings isn’t what we think it is…but I may have read other explanations elsewhere, too…)

        • Even had Jefferson schtupped* Jennings, what of it? In fiction when an MC is presented without flaws or complexity the work is dismissed as simplistic, fantastic and suffering inexcusable levels of marysuism. When viewing historical characters it seems appropriate to use different metrics, ones more suited to their eras, just as we view contemporary public figures according to the standards of our times, standards which will, in future days, be seen as horribly ignorant.

          *Let it be noted I find the evidence persuasive, not of Jefferson’s lust but of the corrupt natures of his accusers.

    • I found this:
      http://www.cedarwrites.com/zombie-maggots/
      Don’t know if it is the same Lin Wicklund or not, but could be.

  15. Sometimes the mask slips and it becomes easy to see that the Left sees government as a religion. For example, this morning Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) tweeted:

    “Last night proved, once again, that there is no anxiety or sadness or fear you feel right now that cannot be cured by political action.”

    • I think Sen. Murphy means “proved” in the sense contained in “proof of the pudding” — tested to destruction — rather than its more common meaning.

    • Hey, I’m anxious, afraid and sad that the Federal Government is going to collapse, because of Social Security, MediCare, MedicAid, and that the Federal Government has been expanding and taking away our liberties, and can only restore them if they dismantle most, if not all, of their Departments and Bureaucracies…

      I’m also anxious, afraid and sad that the Armed Forces are overpaying for a lot of things for which there are much better alternatives on the market, because their bureaucracy demands that everything be approved via some arcane and difficult-to-traverse approval process, so that these lower-cost but higher quality things can’t be purchased, because it takes less time, and costs less, just to buy the parts that wouldn’t otherwise be made any more, than it would be to go through the approval process…

      I take it that Chris Murphy’s going to cure my anxiety, fear and sadness, by going on the forefront to cut back all these things, now that I’ve expressed my feelings…

  16. BobtheRegisterredFool

    Lessee. Trump’s new comms director may be doing a bad job on purpose because he’s a Democrat.

    The Norks have shown off the range to hit more. Thanks Obama.

    • Or perhaps he thinks the MSM will treat him the same, now that he’s representing a Republican, as when he was a Democrat. McCain made a similar mistake during his presidential campaign, mistaking the MSM would treat him the same when he attacked Democrats as when he attacked Republicans.

      • McCain enjoys thinking he’s an edgy maverick instead of a backstabber who can’t keep promises. One of the main reasons he didn’t get elected President was that he couldn’t keep from backstabbing his own campaign.

        Very few people love being a total jerkus more than they love being in charge, but that’s McCain for you. He’s not a micro-manager or a macro-manager; he’s not even a pointy-headed boss.

        He’s that guy in your D&D campaign who begs to play Rogue, loves it too much, and thereby loses every treasure and gets every party member killed, including himself.

        (I have absolutely no idea why he was able to be good as a POW but not in real life. Maybe he promised himself to be a total jerk for the rest of his life, to make up for the strain of staying survival-oriented in prison.)

        So of course he isn’t humbled or chastened by getting a brain tumor. He probably promised his medical team that if they did a good job, he’d rise from his sickbed and get rid of Obamacare for them.

        • I’m trying to be generous and chalk part of it up to his neurologic condition. Trying.

          • Nope. For as long as I’ve paid attention to him, he’s been famous for being as independent as a Republican can get without formally changing his party allegiance. He doesn’t just routinely use the bridge across the aisle, he keeps a summer cabin on the other side.

            • I wouldn’t call him independent, that would imply that actually sided with Republicans at times.
              The only reason I can see that Republicans don’t throw him out of the party is because there is no mechanism for doing so.

              • McCain reliably votes for Republican control of the Senate. Sure, it is a de minimis contribution to the party, but it ain’t nothing.

        • I wish McCain all the best luck as he deals with his medical issues in the months ahead. And I hope he exits the Senate ASAP.

          • I must admit I regret losing the ability to help fire McCain, retiring for legitimate medical reasons is far too good for this particular waste of gravity.

            I guess I’ll have to resign myself to working for Heller losing by a truly embarrassing margin next year.

            • Retiring for medical reasons does suit his self-image, though. Or so I hope. He is perfectly capable of deciding to run for something anyway, and dropping dead a day before the election just to keep any other Republican off the ballot. (And yes, it sounds terrible, but the only way to predict his actions is to pick the worst and weirdest case.)

              But certainly I hope he recovers, although I also hope he gets and stays retired. I do not wish someone dead when I wish him out of office.

  17. The biggest difference between the Cromwell, French, Russian and American revolutions was George Washington. That is why, without a doubt, he is the greatest of all our presidents.

    • In London, George III questioned the American-born painter Benjamin West what Washington would do now he had won the war. “Oh,” said West, “they say he will return to his farm.” “If he does that,” said the king, “he will be the greatest man in the world.”

      • Terry Sanders

        And Napoleon’s explanation for his rise and fall, according to some stories? “They thought I would be another Washington. “

    • That’s what worries me should a second Civil War happen to break out- men like Cincinnatus or Washington are very, very rare. Most people given absolute power are loath to part with it, and are more than happy to pile up bodies in order to keep it.

  18. Interesting argument put forth at National Review’s Corner by conservative health care won Avik Roy about why the GOP couldn’t replace Obamacare:

    “When Democrats retook Congress in 2006, they appointed Peter Orszag to head the CBO, as part of a deliberate strategy to stack the CBO in favor of their health-care agenda. Orszag proceeded to build out the entire health policy wing of the CBO — representing dozens of staffers — with like-minded individuals. After Obama won the 2008 election, Orszag captained the health-reform effort at the White House’s Office of Management and Budget.

    “It would be more fair to call Obamacare ‘CBOcare’ given how much the Affordable Care Act reflects the CBO’s worldview. While Senator Obama opposed the individual mandate, the CBO believed it would add 16 million covered lives to the ACA’s ledger. While the Romneycare model involved covering the uninsured solely with private coverage, the CBO believed that expanding coverage through Medicaid would be cheaper.

    “Compare and contrast that to the GOP’s effort. When Republicans had the opportunity to appoint a CBO director in 2015, they chose not to hire someone with deep health-care expertise, such as the University of Minnesota’s Stephen Parente, and instead hired Keith Hall, a labor economist. There was no comparable strategy, either by Hall or by Congress, to rebalance the CBO’s center-left tilt with individuals more knowledgeable about how health insurance markets actually work.

    “Hence, because any GOP bill would need to repeal Obamacare’s individual mandate, the CBO was poised to make any GOP bill look bad. The CBO compounded this, at critical points, by refusing to disclose key aspects of its estimates.

    “The CBO refused to break out the proportion of GOP Medicaid savings that were driven by long-term entitlement reform (per capita caps) vs. the repeal of Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion. The CBO’s deliberate opacity allowed journalists at the New York Times, the Washington Post, and every Democrat to dishonestly claim that per capita caps would ‘cut $800 billion from Medicaid,’ even though nearly all of the Medicaid savings were from repealing and replacing the Obamacare expansion.

    “Similarly, the CBO refused to break out — until the very end, after it had leaked — the fact that nearly three-fourths of the ‘coverage losses’ under the GOP bill would come from people voluntarily choosing to forgo coverage due to the repeal of the individual mandate.”

    [END EXCERPT}

    Until Conservatives learn how to manage the “Deep State” there can be little long-term conservative achievement; their strategy wins battles but loses wars.

    • Until Conservatives can elect Conservatives or at the very least Representatives and Senators that will vote as they campaigned instead of immediately making a 180 after the votes are tallied; there can be little long-term conservative achievement.

      • Conservatives will have a much easier time advancing an agenda when/if they learn to game the rules so that they aren’t always playing on Progressives’ turf.

  19. The thing about the American Revolution is that, as we use the word these days, it wasn’t a revolution. A revolution is an attempt by the ‘masses’ (usuall lead by a clique of swine, but put that aside) to overthrow the existing order.

    The War of Independence was an attempt to fend off an overthrow of the existing order (de facto self rule) by an outside force.

  20. Thankfully, nearly all of America’s politicians are diligently pursuing liberty. Alas, most of them plan to club it to death if they can catch it.

  21. Turbo Beholder (@TBeholder)

    And on a lighter note…

  22. MadRocketSci

    My impression was that the French Revolution was heartbreakingly close to actually going right. The constitution of 1791 was most of the way there, and our more idealistic founding fathers didn’t have any reason to believe (at that time) that it was going to go off the rails.

    If it weren’t for the machinations of Robespierre to bar the constitutional architects from holding office in the new government, packing it with his cronies, and shredding the new constitution, history could have ended up radically different.

    • madrocketsci

      Robespierre was one of histories true villains. You almost couldn’t make up someone that disastrous, and that mad (power-mad and eventually paranoid) in fiction.

    • madrocketsci

      Pretty much all parties in France could live with the new constitution (except the radicals). Even the former king signed it. It would have been a bloodless and largely peaceful revolution. It wasn’t until the Jacobins took over that the “revolution” really got going.

      That’s why I can’t really buy the idea that the way the French revolution went was some collective inevitability about the French culture (though the factions that pushed the eventual reign of terror certainly existed). It really was a personal creation of Robespierre and the Jacobins – a tragic example of how individuals can matter greatly in history.

      • I’ve done A LOT of reading on it. yes, it was inevitable. I don’t have the notes to my fingertips right now, but the forces they were balancing weren’t the self sufficient colonists of America. they were truly dirt poor peasants who worked as a Marxist class and wanted blood. For a while the king (or his supporters) tried to play them against the middle. The result went badly for everyone.

        • MadRocketSci

          Well, my own reading on it hasn’t been extensive. I’m not strongly wedded to my viewpoint: I might get another perspective from another source.

          • I think a lot of people were REALLY wanting to emulate the American revolution. But it was a different country.
            If I find my notes, I’ll post about it. Problem is, we moved five times in two years, and haven’t unpacked here yet (have been here 13 months) so…

            • Wish I could remember the title, but I fairly recently read what seemed to be a well-regarded study of the buildup to the French Revolution and how everything went off the rails.

              He was keen to point out that ‘populace’ is of French origin, and is *not* complementary. He described in some detail the characteristics of the populace in France, including the lack of education, the ease with which they could be (often!) roused to sudden and extreme violence. Deadly riots were apparently not a rare thing in 18th Century France, long before the revolution.

              The place was a vast, screwed up powder keg seemed to be the conclusion of the book. I had no reason to doubt the research.

              • It is worth keeping in mind that the Founders seriously considered a requirement of property ownership to hold the right to vote.

                I have no idea to what degree this view was supported in the South, where doubtless many would be hornswoggled at the idea we now allow (what they considered) property to vote.

              • And the regional variations were enormous. We see modern France and think everyone’s French, and that the people of 1789 saw themselves as “French.” Nope, not really. A lot of people spoke a local language, not the French of Paris. Your loyalty was to the local lord, or to your village and region, not so much to the king in Versailles. Eugene Weber’s _Peasants into Frenchmen_, although focused on the 1800s, goes into a lot of detail about the challenge of making people from Brittany, or Gascony, or Tolouse, or the Massif Central, into “Frenchmen.” Parts of the Rhone Valley, for example, told Paris to go sod off, enough so that the Revolutionary government of the Terror ordered Lyon razed and all the property confiscated, the people killed or re-settled all over loyal regions, and a monument raised to warn would-be rebels never to try again. Didn’t happen, but they sure wanted to be rid of the Lyonnese.