Sunday, May 13, 2007

GW, You May Be Cincinnatus, But You're No Democrat!

GW to HenLee, October 31, 1786

In the aftermath of Shays's Rebellion GW wrote to HenLee thanking him for his observations on the civil unrest caused by the post-war economic downturn and the failure of MA to come to the aid of the beleaguered farmers of their state. GW notes:

"The picture you have exhibited, and the accounts which are published of the commotions, and temper of numerous bodies in the Eastern State,are equally to be lamented and deprecated. They exhibit a melancholy proof of what our trans-Atlantic foe has predicted; and of another thing perhaps, which is still more to be regretted, and is yet more unaccountable, that mankind when left to themselves are unfit for their own Government...In a word, I am lost in amazement when I behold what intrigue, the interested views of desperate characters, ignorance and jealousy of the minor part, are capable of effecting, as a scourge on the major part of our fellow Citizens of the Union; for it is hardly to be supposed that the great body of the people, tho' they will not act, can be so shortsighted, or enveloped in darkness, as not to see rays of a distant sun thro' all this mist of intoxication and folly."

Shocking, GW! Those farmers had no money to pay taxes because there was no money anywhere! They tried to petition the government for a redress of grievances, just like they were supposed to, but the political elite in MA didn't want to listen. What else were they supposed to do except for protest? Yet, you, HenLee, Fort Knox and JMAD all decided--thanks to the pernicious influence of A-Ham, no doubt--that Shays's Rebellion was a sign that the people were "unfit" to rule. And know what you did...I'm not even going to say it.

Know this GW: we see you and we are not pleased. Bad Founder, v. bad.


Publius said...

But shall we cancel all Debts, thus leaving the Fledgling Republic adrift? Catiline appealed to the Mob and almost destroyed Rome. What is your Policy, Founder-Chic? Without a Bank to regulate the Currency and a Contracts Clause to protect Commerce, we shall become an Anarchie. Demos, thou art a Great Beaste!

GayProf said...

It's a tough one -- Sometimes I agree with Hamilton (Like after the 2004 election). The people will always vote against their own best interest and can't be trusted...

Mercy O. Warren said...

Dear Publius,

No, it does seem proper to cancel all debts--although I am interested in following those debates on that topic in Rhode Island,strange, wonderful Rhode Island--to me forgiving debts seems unjust to the creditor. But, nor should we tax landed property more than we tax other forms of property, especially when we require payment made in hard money. As you know, many of our hard-working yeoman have subsistance farms--it being too difficult to carry their produce to market. My point was as much about the economy as it was about the process--as our dear friend William Manning might say--the people justly petitioned the government, but they were ignored. It was only after repeated injury that they acted and when they acted they merely tried to close the courts so that no more of their friends and neighbors would be imprisoned for non-payment of taxes. What was the Revolution for if our hard working yeoman will be imprisioned for failure to pay taxes?

Mercy O. Warren said...

Oh dear, Gayprof!

Give the people a chance! Our infant republics are so new and our economic situation is so dire. I think that the people have acted very responsibly given the circumstances. Heaven only knows what will happen in 2004, but I suspect that if the wrong person is elected president, then CNN election night polling will show that Americans ranked "moral values" and "terrorism" as the most important issues facing the country--sadly, even Americans in 2004 will fall victim to fear appeals.

Remember friends, nothing trumps a safety argument except for another safety argument!

Mercy O. Warren said...

missed a "not" up there in my response to Publius, whoops! (it does not seem proper to cancel all debts).


Publius said...

Here is an article from the Mises Institute (the merry band of paleolibertarians at Auburn University) defending both the Articles of Confederation generally and the Shays rebels particularly:

(Publius doth worry, however, that Ms. Warren will end up as a libertarian one of these days, given the entailments of her Principles.)

Mercy O. Warren said...

Thank you for the link Publius. I was once an Anti-Federalist. Maybe that label fits me better than libertarian? Or, maybe Libertarians are just Anti-Federalists?

As you know, I prefer to think of myself as a romantic, vernacular republican. I think that MOW was a romantic, elite republican--a true Jeffersonian!

But, I think that there are worse things than being called a Libertarian!

I thank ye kind Sir. I am, as ever, your most humble servant and obedient Friend.