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Author Topic: American History  (Read 29504 times)
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Dzimas
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« Reply #2175 on: March 23, 2008, 01:51:55 AM »

I always liked Franklin best among the Founding Fathers.  Jefferson is perhaps a more complex figure, as his actions often seemed to bely his words, but in regard to slavery, he was massively in debt at Monticello and about the only collateral he had were his slaves, which was why I think he didn't free them.  Also, Jefferson wouldn't have known want to do without his slaves.  He was totally reliant upon them for the building of Monticello and the lifestyle he lived at the plantation.  He couldn't even release them in his will as creditors pretty much held Monticello, as noted by McLaughlin in Jefferson and Monticello,

http://www.amazon.com/Jefferson-Monticello-Biography-Jack-Mclaughlin/dp/0805014632/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1206251362&sr=1-1

His plantation had become an albatross around his neck.
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Furphy
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« Reply #2176 on: March 23, 2008, 10:53:00 AM »

No one could accuse Mr. Adams of being in a hurry. At page 150 or so he has put Jefferson, Burr and John Marshall on the chess board and the game is about to begin.

But then mere page later comes an origami moment. You all remember the origami instructions that show a page of paper folded in half, then folded into quarters and then a model of the Eiffel Tower. There is never any explanation of how one gets from step two to step three.

In a discussion of patronage in New York under Jefferson's new administration, Adams throws De Witt Clinton and the Livingstones into the mix, does a little sleight of hand and arrives at a conclusion satisfactory to himself and perfectly baffling to the common reader.

I hate when that happens. I want to pull Adams' coat tails and ask him to come back and explain what happened why it happened and how
it happened.
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madupont
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« Reply #2177 on: March 23, 2008, 06:23:58 PM »

Shirley,

I'm in the same boat as far a HBO is concerned, but hubby is not a fan of mini-series, especially if they are documentary in style ...



John Adams is rather a Dramatic production than resembling a documentary, such as PBS, although they do pretty good dramatization in their own way as
does DocDays on Sundance channel.  HBO's presentation intends more to draw you into the human experience, politically as well as revolutionary.

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caclark
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« Reply #2178 on: March 24, 2008, 11:16:49 AM »

"....Jefferson wouldn't have known want to do without his slaves.  He was totally reliant upon them for the building of Monticello and the lifestyle he lived at the plantation...."

TJ tremendously benefitted financially from slavery. But it may have gratified him to know he was giving back by keeping down the unemployment rate among blacks. As Reverend Jesse Jackson in speaking of slavery once put it, "we all had jobs back then."
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Bob
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« Reply #2179 on: March 24, 2008, 07:59:39 PM »

Somebody once said that  there was a delicious sort of irony or paradox connected to American Slavery: that the enslaved were really the slave powners, who had allowed themselves to become totally dependent on the slave in order to live. When emancipation came the point was driven home when the slave owners proved incapable of performing simple tasks in life and an entire way of life disappeared. The owners couldn't survive without their slaves. In essence the they were then enslaved.

This, I think, was the paradox Jefferson and even Washington found themselves in. While they learned to abhor slavery and consider it wrong, they had difficulty freeing their slaves because they couldn't exist without them--their dependecy was almost total. In addition, they couldn't solve the problem of what would become of the slave in they were freed. Virginia for instance, ordered all freed slaves out of the Commonwealth within a year of emancipation. Having taken responsibility for the slave, the slaveowner, unable to assure the well being of the any slave he might free, could not be assured he was putting the emancpated slave in a better position--the newly emancipated slave might not be able to survive economically, even though he went North. Having taken responsibilty for him by purchasing him, he would be acting irresponsibly by freeing him. (And then again, how would he, the owner, now get along without him).

Look at the economic  devistation which resulted when Lincoln, through the Emancipation Proclamation and the Thirteenth Amendment , freed the slaves. Suddenly on their own, they were poverty stricken, landless and jobless (and hated, even in the North). 3,000,000 people were economically stricken because their was no phased emancipation or plans for them after Freedom.

Imagine the dispruption even today if suddenly 3,000,000 people were left jobless, homeless and poverty stricken for whatever reason---
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MrUtley3
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« Reply #2180 on: March 24, 2008, 08:09:08 PM »

No one could accuse Mr. Adams of being in a hurry. At page 150 or so he has put Jefferson, Burr and John Marshall on the chess board and the game is about to begin.

But then mere page later comes an origami moment. You all remember the origami instructions that show a page of paper folded in half, then folded into quarters and then a model of the Eiffel Tower. There is never any explanation of how one gets from step two to step three.

In a discussion of patronage in New York under Jefferson's new administration, Adams throws De Witt Clinton and the Livingstones into the mix, does a little sleight of hand and arrives at a conclusion satisfactory to himself and perfectly baffling to the common reader.

I hate when that happens. I want to pull Adams' coat tails and ask him to come back and explain what happened why it happened and how
it happened.

Maybe it was his editor.
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Bob
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« Reply #2181 on: March 24, 2008, 08:11:52 PM »

Dzimas:

But Franklin was also a slaveholder, something not generally known or advertized in biographies about him. Of course he held only two or so at a time--but was slaverholder nevertheless. He seems to get off scott free in this regard becuase at the end of his life he was President of the Pennsylvania Society for the Abolition of Slavery....I'm awaitng  Gary Nash's presentation on Franklin and his slaves,which he gave before the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia last year. Nash has written extensively on slavery and on Colonial Issues. My question to Nash was: when did Franklin dispose of his last slave? I asked this becase he still had slaves in 1775. I want to know whether he still had slaves when he worked on amending the Declaration of Independence and at least tacity approved of the phrase "All men are created equal..."
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Bob
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« Reply #2182 on: March 24, 2008, 08:17:28 PM »

Mr Utley:

I'm not sure of this (I'll check) but I don't think the Adams HISTORY had an editor other than Adams himself.  Adams had a sense of superiority which would allow him to think that his readers could fill in the holes---after all, his  history was written not for the common man, but for his fellow historians and other intellectuals.
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weezo
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« Reply #2183 on: March 24, 2008, 08:23:30 PM »

Folks,

Let's put aside this notion othat the owners could not free the slaves because they didn't know how to do for themselves. To refute all those convincing arguments that it couldn't be done, Robert Carter III, grandson of King Carter, an immensely wealthy many, freed all of considerable number of slaves. He first freed the older slaves who already knew a trade, and he trained others in the various trades. He sent his younger children to college in New England so that they would not learn to be dependent on slaves. And, he had to fight some of his children, who felt that giving the slaves their freedom was depriving them of property that was rightly theirs by inheritance, even tho their father wasn't dead yet.

Look up the book "The First Emancipator - Robert Carter III" By Andrew Levy. It's a good read.
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Bob
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« Reply #2184 on: March 24, 2008, 09:26:36 PM »

I wouldn't go so far as to say they "couldn't," but I would say they "wouldn't." Keep in mind that Carter is truly unique---that's why he's written about. Most slaveholders weren't  all that wealthy. Most were either land poor or property poor. That is, their wealth was tied up in land or slaves and was based on the price of their crops which changed every year. Carter had money coming out of his ears. Jefferson was a spenthrift of sorts who was always in debt. Washington was little better in that he invested heavily in land and had so little cash he had to borrow to get the cash he needed to go to his own inauguration (even then, he was turned down by at least one of his friends)Their dependency on their slaves was very real.

I was going to buy THE FIRST EMANCIPATOR when it first came out but somehow lost sight of it. I'll look to buy it soon. My list has about 10 "must buys"  before I can get to it--(two new Nixon books two new general histories, parts of sets [WHAT HAS GOD WROUGHT, Oxford History of the United States] and the new volume by MacDougall, reviewed by the NYT this week)
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weezo
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« Reply #2185 on: March 24, 2008, 10:49:38 PM »

Bob,

Learned about the book on the Virginia History list and I just had to get it and read it. I've seen so many excuses put up about why these founding fathers did not end slavery from the gitgo. But, I suspect that the last thing I would see on the Virginia History list would be an agreement by the descendent of a slaveholder that their ancestors were pragmatically unable to live without their slaves.
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Dzimas
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« Reply #2186 on: March 25, 2008, 08:38:26 AM »

Dzimas:

But Franklin was also a slaveholder, something not generally known or advertized in biographies about him. Of course he held only two or so at a time--but was slaverholder nevertheless. He seems to get off scott free in this regard becuase at the end of his life he was President of the Pennsylvania Society for the Abolition of Slavery....I'm awaitng  Gary Nash's presentation on Franklin and his slaves,which he gave before the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia last year. Nash has written extensively on slavery and on Colonial Issues. My question to Nash was: when did Franklin dispose of his last slave? I asked this becase he still had slaves in 1775. I want to know whether he still had slaves when he worked on amending the Declaration of Independence and at least tacity approved of the phrase "All men are created equal..."

As I recall, Franklin freed his slaves, which Jefferson was never fully able to do.  Of the 100s of slaves that he had at Monticello, I believe he only freed a handful late in life.  James Hemings had to buy his freedom.
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caclark
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« Reply #2187 on: March 25, 2008, 12:36:37 PM »

Weezo: "....I've seen so many excuses put up about why these founding fathers did not end slavery from the gitgo."

They couldn't. It's that simple. Slavery was institutionalized in America since before the Revolution. Had the slavery issue been forced at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787, the entire endeavor would have come apart at the seams and there would have been no Constitution, at least not in 1787 or any time in the foreseeable future.

As it was, no one went home from Philadelphia entirely satisfied. They were just hoping they had come up with a compromise everyone could at least live with, creating a government blueprint with provisions for amending it as need required. That in and of itself was a major achievement and proved to be far more.
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caclark
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« Reply #2188 on: March 25, 2008, 01:22:54 PM »

When I say they couldn't end slavery at the outset, I don't mean that they didn't want to and in fact there were a great many who had the will to do so. But the more savvy among them steered clear of tackling it head on. Slavery wasn’t just a thorny moral issue. It was a powder keg and remained so right down to 1861 when the powder keg finally blew.

Even Lincoln, who was virulently anti-slavery and determined to do something in his lifetime to bring about its demise, knew what a danger could be posed to the republic by trying to impose abolition on the South. As it was, the calcified South left him no choice and handed Lincoln what he came to see as an opportunity guided by Providence.

Niether Washington nor Jefferson had that fortuitous situation on their doorsteps and we can only speculate on how they might have responded.
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madupont
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« Reply #2189 on: March 25, 2008, 01:40:21 PM »

Dzimas, (cool tribute to the H.S. Thompson)  

I was going to say something about which the erudite caclark has just mentioned that  has led to the predicament, so often mentioned to us in Campaign forum, or rather it is the unmentionable, because the average citizen/voter does not know about the Constitutional Convention.

There were the exceptional trained slaves,apprenticed out to become skilled craftsmen, not that they might be free but that their owner had need of that skill. The unexceptional had a real problem in emancipation, people still study Plantation Economy down at the Univ. of Delaware (I noticed), and the slave was still dependent on that way of life and that economy also; used to growing their own food on soil that had been built up for generations, when they were freed to walk, where would they but into eventual share-cropping.

I know the feeling for myself, in having a burgeoning kitchen garden(as someone reminded me, from the Johnson administration, through the Nixon impeachment, Gerald Ford, Carter, then no more) which I could not afford to buy. And so it was back to work in Pathology transcription; by the time I could begin a garden again in a couple of years, I was lucky that there was always field work with seasonal vegetables to take along home at the end of the day,just short of Lake Wobegone.

The field hand of a rich planter(or even a less rich planter) became an advantage to a smaller land-holder. A house slave  hired out as a domestic worker. My present neighborhood today in Southeastern Pennsylvania bears the signs everywhere about,  as to where the freed go and sometimes did not remain free because they lived too near the border.

In any case, this missing part of non-black experience has led directly to day before yesterday's Wm.Kristol Op in the nytimes.com of a "dual consciousness" about whether there would be a "national conversation on Race", missing the point that it was addressed in Philadelphia a week ago by the campaigner most interested in what we do with out Constitution.

For the interim, we will have to bear with anyone who has not shared the relevant experience that the campaigner refers to as the dividing line between the Old Past and not yet New.
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