And when Abraham Lincoln eventually made the decision that, at terrible cost, ended slavery forever, he did so in the name of the Founders. The other tragic failure of the Founders, almost as odious as the failure to end slavery, was the inability to implement a just policy toward the indigenous inhabitants of the North American continent. In , the year the British surrendered control of the eastern third of North America in the Treaty of Paris, there were approximately , American Indians living between the Alleghenies and the Mississippi.
The first census revealed that there were also , white settlers living west of the Alleghenies, swelling in size every year by they would number , and moving relentlessly westward. The inevitable collision between these two peoples posed the strategic and ultimately the moral question: How could the legitimate rights of the Indian population be reconciled with the demographic tidal wave building to the east?
In the end, they could not. Although the official policy of Indian removal east of the Mississippi was not formally announced and implemented until , the seeds of that policy—what one historian has called the seeds of extinction —were planted during the founding era, most especially during the presidency of Thomas Jefferson — One genuine effort to avoid that outcome was made in during the presidency of George Washington. The Treaty of New York with the Creek tribes of the early southwest proposed a new model for American policy toward the Indians, declaring that they should not be regarded as a conquered people with no legal rights, but rather as a collection of sovereign nations.
Indian policy was therefore a branch of foreign policy, and all treaties were solemn commitments by the federal government not subject to challenge by any state or private corporation. Washington envisioned a series of American Indian enclaves or homelands east of the Mississippi whose borders would be guaranteed under federal law, protected by federal troops, and bypassed by the flood of white settlers. And the very act of claiming executive power to create an Indian protectorate prompted charges of monarchy, the most potent political epithet of the age.
Washington, who was accustomed to getting his way, observed caustically that nothing short of a Chinese Wall could protect the Native American tribes from the relentless expansion of white settlements. Given the surging size of the white population, it is difficult to imagine how the story could have turned out differently. Meanwhile, the more mythical rendition of the Founders, which continues to dominate public opinion outside the groves of academe, presumes that their achievements dwarf their failures so completely that the only question worth asking is: How did they do it?
More specifically, how did this backwoods province on the western rim of the Atlantic world, far removed from the epicenters of learning and culture in London and Paris, somehow produce thinkers and ideas that transformed the landscape of modern politics? Two historical explanations have been offered, each focusing on the special conditions present in revolutionary America favorable to the creation of leadership.
The first explanation describes the founding era as a unique moment that was postaristocratic and predemocratic. In the former sense, American society was more open to talent than England or Europe, where hereditary bloodlines were essential credentials for entry into public life. The Founders comprised what Jefferson called a natural aristocracy, meaning a political elite based on merit rather than genealogy, thus permitting men of impoverished origins like Hamilton and Franklin, who would have languished in obscurity in London, to reach the top tier.
In the latter i. Their constituency was not the people but the public, which they regarded as the long-term interest of the citizenry that they—the Founders—had been chosen to divine.
Living between the assumptions of an aristocratic and a democratic world without belonging fully to either, the founders maximized the advantages of both. The second explanation focuses on the crisis-driven pressures that forced latent talent to the surface. When Jefferson concluded the Declaration of Independence by proclaiming that all the signers of the document were wagering our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor on the cause, he was engaging in more than a rhetorical flourish.
When Washington departed Mount Vernon for Philadelphia in May , for example, he presumed that the British would burn his estate to the ground once war was declared. An analogous gamble was required in —88 to endorse the unprecedented viability of a large-scale American republic. The founding era, according to this explanation, was a propitious all-or-nothing moment in which only those blessed with uncommon conviction about the direction in which history was headed could survive the test.
The severe and unforgiving political gauntlet the Founders were required to run eliminated lukewarm patriots and selected for survival only those leaders with the hard residue of unalloyed resolve.
This was probably what Ralph Waldo Emerson meant when he cautioned the next generation of aspiring American leaders to avoid measuring themselves against the Founders. They had the incalculable advantage, Emerson observed, of being present at the creation and thus seeing God face to face. All who came after them could only see him secondhand. Thus far we have viewed the identity, achievements, and failures of the Founding Fathers as if they were the expression of a composite personality with a singular orientation.
But this is wildly misleading. The term Founding Fathers is a plural noun, which in turn means that the face of the American Revolution is a group portrait. To be sure, Washington was primus inter pares within the founding generation, generally regarded, then and thereafter, as the indispensable figure. If one of the distinctive contributions of the American political tradition was a pluralistic conception of governance, its primal source was the pluralistic character of the founding generation itself.
All the Founders agreed that American independence from Great Britain was nonnegotiable and that whatever government was established in lieu of British rule must be republican in character. Beyond this elemental consensus, however, there was widespread disagreement, which surfaced most dramatically in the debate over ratification of the Constitution — Two prominent founders, Patrick Henry and George Mason, opposed ratification, claiming that the Constitution created a central government that only replicated the arbitrary power of the British monarchy and Parliament.
The highly partisan politics of the s further exposed the several fault lines within the founding elite. They disagreed over the proper allocation of federal and state power over domestic policy, the response to the French Revolution, the constitutionality of the National Bank, and the bedrock values of American foreign policy. These disagreements often assumed a hyperbolic tone because nothing less than the true meaning of the American Revolution seemed at stake. In what became the capstone correspondence of the revolutionary generation, Adams and Jefferson both went to their Maker on July 4, —arguing quite poignantly about their incompatible versions of the revolutionary legacy.
The ideological and even temperamental diversity within the elite leadership group gave the American founding a distinctly argumentative flavor that made all convictions, no matter how cherished, subject to abiding scrutiny that, like history itself, became an argument without end.
And much like the doctrine of checks and balances in the Constitution, the enshrinement of argument created a permanent collision of juxtaposed ideas and interests that generated a dynamic and wholly modern version of political stability. If there is a clear legacy bequeathed by the founders, it is the insistence that religion is a private matter in which the state should not interfere. In recent decades Christian advocacy groups, prompted by motives that have been questioned by some, have felt a powerful urge to enlist the Founding Fathers in their respective congregations.
But recovering the spiritual convictions of the Founders, in all their messy integrity, is not an easy task. Once again, diversity is the dominant pattern. Franklin and Jefferson were deists, Washington harbored a pantheistic sense of providential destiny, John Adams began a Congregationalist and ended a Unitarian, and Hamilton was a lukewarm Anglican for most of his life but embraced a more actively Christian posture after his son died in a duel. One quasi-religious conviction they all shared, however, was a discernible obsession with living on in the memory of posterity.
One reason the modern editions of their papers are so monstrously large is that most of the Founders were compulsively fastidious about preserving every scrap of paper they wrote or received, all as part of a desire to leave a written record that would assure their secular immortality in the history books. When John Adams and Jefferson discussed the possibility of a more conventional immortality, they tended to describe heaven as a place where they could resume their ongoing argument on earth.
The Founding Fathers: Quotes, Quips and Speeches [Gordon Leidner] on soesockercdrab.tk *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. Filled with more than quotes. Editorial Reviews. Review. History buffs and liberty lovers alike may appreciate this book's The Founding Fathers: Quotes, Quips and Speeches Kindle Edition. by.
Adams, irreverent to the end, declared that if it could ever be demonstrated conclusively that no future state existed, his advice to every man, woman, and child was to take opium. The only afterlife that they considered certain was in the memory of subsequent generations, which is to say us. In that sense, this very introduction is a testimonial to their everlasting life.
Joseph J. Adams, Abigail. An American first lady — , the wife of John Adams, second president of the United States, and mother of John Quincy Adams, sixth president of the United States, Abigail Smith — was a prolific letter writer whose correspondence gives an intimate and vivid portrayal of life in the young republic.
For her introduction to great literature, she credited her brother-in-law, Richard Cranch. During the first 10 years of their marriage Abigail gave birth to five children, including a daughter who died in infancy and John Quincy Adams. She managed the second decade of her marriage on her own, as John participated in the colonial struggle for independence as a member of the Continental Congress and later as a representative of his country in France.
Their correspondence during these years, especially when added to the spirited letters penned earlier, during their courtship, provides a rich account of their activities and thinking as well as their love and devotion to each other.
Because of her, the Adamses avoided the financial ruin that befell some other early presidents, such as Thomas Jefferson, after they left office. As the revolutionary spirit swept through the colonies, Abigail firmly supported the movement for independence. In March , when her husband prepared to gather with his colleagues to write a statement of principles that would soon be adopted by the Continental Congress as the Declaration of Independence, she asked him to remember the ladies and be more generous and favourable to them than your ancestors.
She also favored the abolition of slavery. In Abigail joined her husband in Europe, when he began serving as American minister to Britain. Her letters from Paris and London contain descriptive musings on British royalty, French customs, and the superiority of the. This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
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