33 Comments

  1. Is this George Washington and other Founding Father types coming back to life in order to restore US constitutional democracy?

  2. I believe you’ve got it, @narmitaj. That’s clearly Ben Franklin on the right (death has slimmed him down a lot) and maybe Alexander Hamilton on the left?

  3. If they come back now, you’d think they’d have come back during the Civil War.

  4. “If they come back now, you’d think they’d have come back during the Civil War.”

    The winners write the history books. Washington and Jefferson were Virginians.

  5. narmitaj is right, except they came back to restore the constitutional republic.

  6. Or just to stop everyone of every political persuasion from telling everyone what they REALLY meant by all the stuff they wrote in the Constitution.

  7. padraig has the most correct answer, but larK has the funniest!

  8. i was going to say they got tired of turning over in their graves, but Susan Crites said it better.

  9. “Washington and Jefferson were Virginians.” Do you think they would have been in favor of secession?

  10. Mark in Boston: In favour of succession? Well, they did start a war against the government because they didn’t want to obey the law and pay their taxes. So if someone wanted to take their property away, well, not too far-fetched.

  11. To be fair, padraig, if they hadn’t been so deliberately vague about how they worded things, people wouldn’t all have their own opinions.

  12. ” Do you think they would have been in favor of secession?”

    They would have been in favor of Virginia, and Virginia, except for that western bit, was in favor of secession.
    They definitely favored secession. Washington led the armies.

  13. But they would have known that splitting the country in two hands the world’s economic power back to England, just as pulling out of the Trans Pacific Partnership gives economic control of the Pacific Rim to China.

  14. Ah, but Mark, you forget that to remain economically competitive, they needed to own blacks. Well, not necessarily blacks, but people of some kind. They would not want the government to take away their property and impede their profits.

  15. “But they would have known that splitting the country in two hands the world’s economic power back to England”

    Maybe. But they weren’t anti-English so much as they were pro-Virginia (and the other, lesser colonies, from their point of view.) Anyone who could read the winds of change knew the Confederate economy was doomed Industrialization was changing the world.

  16. Remember back then they actually considered our country as separate countries joining together as one. There is a line in a movie – I don’t know if it is true, but it is the sort of idea – that before the Civil War the reference was that the United States are and after that the United States is. It was not anticipated that the central government would become the main government .

    And back then – Hamilton was not considered to be as important as the recent play makes him – and many of the other founding fathers did not like him.

  17. Showed this strip to husband and told him about the posts – “Jefferson and Hamilton in the same room?” and he laughed.

  18. ” There is a line in a movie – I don’t know if it is true, but it is the sort of idea – that before the Civil War the reference was that the United States are and after that the United States is.”

    In the beginning, the United States were an arrangement of separate sovereign states. They ceded a small array of their separate powers to the central government. This arrangement failed, in less than 15 years. So, they tried again. A more powerful central government was created when the Constitution replaced the Articles of Confederation. This took a chunk of powers away from the states, and moved them to the central federal government, so there would be uniformity throughout the various states of America. The Founders feared having a strong central government, so they divided the power. They divided the power in the federal government between different branches of government, and set the branches to contend against each other. They also left the power divided between the central government and the states. The theory at the time was that the state would defend the rights of individual citizens against the central government’s encroaching oppression.
    This also failed, though it took longer. So the balance of power between the states and the federal government was altered again, moving more power from the states to the federal government. An important change was that the federal government became the guarantor of individual liberty against the encroaching oppression of the states.
    This was refined further into what we have now, the so-called “administrative state”. Federal power has been increased at the expense of the states, and power is divided among different administrative agencies.

    The original Articles of Confederation were altered in 1789 with the passage of the Constitution. The Constitution was altered substantially in 1868, with the 14th amendment. The administrative state arose starting in the 1930’s (as a response to the Great Depression) and then into the 1950’s (as the United States settled into its role as a global superpower.) What we have today is functionally very similar to the 1950’s.

    Looping back, I would say that in the interval between the successful American Revolution and the Constitution, it would have been correct to refer to the United States as a plural, and since the ratification of the Constitution to refer to the United States as a singular unit.

  19. James Pollack – of course I know this and that it does make sense to have referred to the states in the plural then and the singular now. I just am not sure if the line in the movie, while describing this well, is an accurate statement or not.

  20. Meryl A: You probably saw it in the same Ken Burns documentary that I did. This paper claims that, while the usage of the “United States” has changed from plural to singular, the change was gradual, and didn’t take place until well after the Civil War.

  21. Winter Wallaby – no, it was in a fiction movie – either National Treasure or the sequel. Nice to know that it was in a Burn’s documentary as when it was from a National Treasure film, I thought it a good line and explanation, but did not take it to be a true statement – as I said – or just a nice line in a movie. If it was in Ken Burns I would presume it to be true.

    By the way – the local Restoration village’s brass band was in the Ken Burns Civil War for much of the music. (That’s the same village where the Elementary episode’s “reenactment” was filmed.)

  22. If anyone gets BBC History magazine – in the April issue there is a good article on Alexander Hamilton. Since I haven’t received the May issue yet, the April may still be available in Barnes & Nobles for reading also.

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