Friday, November 30, 2012

Cliff Diving in Washington DC


Leaving for a time our historical diversion . . .

The immediate challenge facing President Obama after his reelection is how to reach an agreement with Republicans on a budget that avoids going over “the fiscal cliff.” The cliff refers to the massive cuts in spending that will occur after the terms of the Budget Control Act of 2011 expire. If the President and the Congress cannot reach a new budget agreement by January 2, 2013, spending cuts of $1.2 trillion over the next ten automatically go into effect. None of these cuts involve the largest long term expenditure: entitlements. On the other side of the ledger, income taxes and capital gains taxes go up.

Almost everyone agrees that the “sequester cuts” will cripple our already limping economy.

And almost everyone agrees that the Republicans will bear the brunt of the blame.


The President won reelection on his so-called “balanced” plan on the budget, especially that part about “taxing the rich.” So far he has not shown much balance. With the support of his fluffers at MSNBC, He can stiffen his resistance to spending cuts and force the Republicans to accept the tax hikes he wants.

So what can Republicans do? Not much. They say that holding out on the tax increases is their only leverage. So far, however, they have failed to leverage anything out of the President. Their obstructionism will likely cost them Congressional seats in 2014.

Maybe the best bet is to vote “present” and let the President have his way. The Bush tax cuts are hardly sacred. They linger as part of the residue left by Bush's undisciplined and fiscally irresponsible administration. Once the President has his tax increases, begin the demands for spending cuts. If don't come (and they won't), then call the President out as a “G-d d----d liar.” Then force the cuts by refusing to pass any budget that does not include them.






                                   Over the fiscal cliff

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Puritans and Yankees


The Puritan vision of a “Christian Commonwealth” failed to last.

First, their commitment to congregational rule inevitably led to religious diversity. Without any religious governing body, it was only a matter of time before individual congregations began to deviate from Puritan orthodoxy. Eventually, concerned ministers felt compelled to adopt some form of official statement of faith and practice to govern all the congregations. In 1648, they adopted the Cambridge Platform.

Second, increasing numbers of later generations of New Englanders could not pass existing examinations for church membership and qualify for political rights. The Congregationalists baptized their infants, but they could not become full church members until they gave an account of a “new birth” conversion experience. Without this testimony they could neither receive communion nor participate as church members. In addition, lack of church membership disqualified them from political participation as well.

Most of the first generation of settlers possessed full church membership and political rights. They had their children baptized as a symbol of the New Covenant. Many of this second generation, however, never gave a conversion narrative to become full church members. A problem arose when this generation produced their own children: should the church baptize children of the unconverted? To overcome the diminishing numbers of church members, many churches adopted what came to be known as the “Half-way Covenant.” This allowed churches to baptize the children of the unconverted in order that they, too, could enjoy the privileges of partial membership. And, of course, this also made them subject to church discipline for moral infractions.

Event outside the churches also eroded the “Christian Commonwealth.”

As quality land became more scarce, increasing numbers of people left for the frontiers or the growing port cities like Boston, effectively moving beyond the control of their families and churches.

Overtime the Massachusetts Bay economy grew more diversified. Although most people remained farmers, others found new opportunities in lumbering, fur trapping, and distilling. The most important change was the growth in shipping. Massachusetts Bay and the other Puritan colonies prospered from participation in the commerce of the North Atlantic. New England ships appeared along the North American coastline, in the West Indies, in Africa, and and in England. Commerce opened the door for employments as sailors, stevedores, inn keepers, taverns, and import merchants. Increasing numbers of persons who never shared the Puritan vision made their way to Boston either as sailors or as permanent residents. Soon the first Anglican Churches made their appearance in the large port city.

New England society grew more prosperous, alarming those concerned about the rise and seduction of “luxury.” And it grew more stratified, as the numbers of new wealthy people were exceeded by the growing numbers of the poor.

By the beginning of the eighteenth century, the “Jeremiad” sermon, warning listeners about the moral decline of New England, became regular staples from the pulpit. But Massachusetts continued to grow more prosperous, more economically diverse, and, in short, more modern. Its inhabitants grew less and less Puritan—people sustaining a Christian Commonwealth-- and became more and more Yankee—people possessing a shrewd ability to make money.



Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Roots of New England Culture


In our continuing historical diversion . . .

The Puritans became famous for the implementation of their “applied theology” in organizing their society. But it was not religion alone that gave New England its distinctive regional culture.

Over 60% of settlers to Massachusetts during the Great Migration originated from the easternmost counties in a region historically called East Anglia. As in most historically significant migrations, people connected by family relationships or friendships constituted most of the settlers. In addition, that region was such Puritan stronghold that Anglican Archbishop William Laud called it the heartland of heresy. In fact, during the persecution of Protestants in the previous century under Catholic Queen Mary, out of 273 dissenters burned at the stake, 225 hailed from East Anglia. The settlers, however, brought much more than their religion to New England.

East Anglia at the time of the Great Migration was one of the most densely populated areas of England. It was also the most urbanized; Norwich was England's second largest city. The area was also characterized by a prosperous wool industry and large numbers of artisans or skilled craftsmen. Consequently  the Massachusetts settlement patterns in organized villages not only reflected the religions visions of the founders, but also replicated what most of the Puritan settlers knew back in England.

The settlers also brought with them their distinctive East Anglia accents. The “Norwich whine” of East Anglia became transplanted as the “Yankee twang” in New England. The nasal intonation was accompanied by such distinctive pronunciations such as darter for daughter, yistidy for yesterday, har or hair, and hev for have.

Finally, the brought with them their habits of hard work and their knack for what became known as “Yankee ingenuity ” Where the more leisure oriented settlers in the Southern colonies spoke of “killing time,” the hard working New Englander labored to “improve the time” or, in the more biblical expression, “redeem the time.”

Later generations of their descendants spread this culture across New York state and into the Midwest.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Peopling of New England


In our continuing historical diversion . . .

John Winthrop's fleet was the first of many ships that brought Puritans to New England. Over 20,000 settlers arrived between 1630 and 1640 in what the Puritans called “The Great Migration.” After the English Civil War broke out, immigration abruptly stopped.

Within a few years, however, natural increase of the settlers made Massachusetts the most populous of England's North American provinces.

Several factors contributed to this and serve as a contrast with the earlier settlement in Virginia. First, the Puritans faced and less numerous and less hostile native population. Although two major wars broke out with the surrounding tribes, the Puritans experienced nothing like the devastation faced by settlers in Virginia. Second, the Puritans lived in an environment that did not support many of the communicable diseases that plagued Virginians. And finally, the different demographics of the settlers laid the foundation for explosive population growth even after emigration ceased. In contrast to the predominantly single, male, and uneducated servant that came to Virginia, the Puritans attracted intact families with education, skills, and financial assets.The population exploded from this original 20,000 to nearly 100,000 by 1700 as they spread from Massachusetts, to Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New Hampshire.

The peopling of Massachusetts and New England was not haphazard. During the first generations, the colony's leaders managed the seeding of additional settlements. Most villages seemed to have been planned as nucleated villages surrounding a green and a meeting house. The villagers each possessed small landholdings for farms, orchards, and pastures. And for the first couple of generations, the Puritans utilized “applied theology” to build their Christian commonwealth.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Puritan Vision


In our continuing historical diversion . . .


In most ambitious colonization effort to date, eleven ships carrying over 700 English Puritans arrived in Massachusetts on 12 June 1630. The flagship Arbella carried the leader of the project, Governor John Winthrop. Prior to coming ashore, Winthrop read a sermon he wrote entitled “A Model of Christian Charity.” It laid out his vision for a Christian commonwealth.

He opened the sermon with his recognition of the traditional hierarchical social order that in his view rested on God's providence:

GOD ALMIGHTY in His most holy and wise providence, hath so disposed of the condition of mankind, as in all times some must be rich, some poor, some high and eminent in power and dignity; others mean and in submission.”

God did this for three main reasons.

First, the show the glory of his wisdom, power, and greatness to all his creatures in ordering society for the good of the whole.

Second, to show the workings of his Spirit in restraining the wicked--so that the rich would not consumer the poor and the poor would not revolt against the rich—and in showing grace to the regenerate—so that the rich would show love, mercy, and gentleness and the poor would exhibit faith and obedience.

Finally, to show that every man needs others.

Much of rest of the sermon developed these three points in an exhortation of the settlers to show Christian love and unity in their support of the common good.

The most memorable phrase from this largely forgotten sermon was Winthrop's call to be a “city on a hill,” a reference to the declaration of Jesus that his followers were “the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.”

For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us. So that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken, and so cause Him to withdraw His present help from us, we shall be made a story and a by-word through the world. We shall open the mouths of enemies to speak evil of the ways of God, and all professors for God's sake. We shall shame the faces of many of God's worthy servants, and cause their prayers to be turned into curses upon us till we be consumed out of the good land whither we are going.”

As a future post will show, the Puritan vision of “a city on a hill” faded with time. Later generations of American politicians appropriated the phrase and applied it in a secular fashion to America's mission in the world on behalf of freedom and democracy.

And for unfortunately for some, even if that means war.




Governor John Winthrop

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Puritan Diaspora


In our continuing historical diversion . . .

With a secure charter from King Charles I, the Massachusetts Bay Company aggressively pursued the settlement of New England.

From another point of view, the company engaged in a de-settlement of old England. For between 1630 and 1640, some 80,000 English left their homeland. About 20,000 moved to nearby Ireland, another 20,000 moved to the Netherlands and the Rhineland of western Europe, a third wave of 20,000 or so settled in the Caribbean Islands of Barbados, Nevis, and St. Kitts, and while a fourth wave of 20,000 or more settlers came to Massachusetts Bay.

What drove this diaspora of English?

Emulating the absolute monarchs of the European continent, King Charles I attempted to enhance his power through the expansion of royal prerogatives. Faced with  opposition from a Parliament that sought to aggrandize its own authority, Charles on several occasions dissolved Parliament and attempted to rule England without it.

In addition, he supported the efforts of Anglican Archbishop William Laud to bring a more severe conformity to the state church. This meant the rooting out of the Puritan reformers who desired a more radical reformation of the English church in both dogma and church government. The aggressive pushed for religious uniformity drove thousands of Puritans to leave their homeland.

This massive diaspora lasted until 1642, when a civil war erupted between Charles and and Parliament and their respective supporters in the army. With the triumph of Parliament and the religious reformers, the massive migrations ceased. (The victory of the Puritan party led to a similar but smaller emigration of royalist "distressed cavaliers" to Virginia.) But the foundations had been laid for the establishment of English societies abroad.

King Charles I



Archbishop William Laud

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Demise of the Plymouth Company


In our continuing historical diversion . . .

After the failure of the Plymouth groups first settlement in Maine, it attempted another colonization venture near the location of the Pilgrims. It issued a land grant to a Dorchester company led by Puritan minister John White out of Dorchester, England. This Dorchester investors funded the establishment of a small fishing village at Cape Anne. But this, too, never took off. The investors stopped their financial support after only two years. The small group of adventurers moved to another settlement a little closer to the Pilgrim settlement at Plymouth.

Back in England, the Plymouth Company reorganized with new investors as the Plymouth Council for New England. They made another land grant, this time to a group of inventors styled as the New England Company for a Plantation in Massachusetts Bay, or, the Massachusetts Bay Company for short. (Plantation simply meant colony or settlement.) Investors included minister John White.It sponsored another settlement at a site later called Salem, Massachusetts. The settlement experience similar hardships to those at Plymouth—starvation and disease killed off nearly half the settlers. Additional settlers with supplies, however, kept the settlement going. It proved to be the first successful settlement of the Plymouth reorganized Plymouth group.

Investors in the Massachusetts Bay Company harbored concerns about the legality of their land grants. The original London and Plymouth groups of the Virginia Company possessed overlapping grants, the London group charter had been revoked by the Crown, and the Plymouth groups had subsequently reorganized under new leadership with a new named. Consequently, they went directly to the Crown and secured a charter for themselves that superseded all previous grants. This provoked some lawsuits, but the old Plymouth Council for New England eventually lost its legal status in 1635.


The Massachusetts Bay Company possessed the freedom to move ahead with plans for a massive migration of Puritan dissenters to the New World.



Friday, November 23, 2012

Thanksgiving Proclamations


Local Thanksgiving traditions eventually led to “official Thanksgiving proclamations. Such proclamations encouraged the regularity of the practice and began to bring uniformity of the date of the celebration.



A couple of important Thanksgiving proclamations:



George Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation (3 October 1789):



Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor, and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me "to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness. Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be. That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks, for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation, for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his providence, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war, for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed, for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us. And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions, to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually, to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed, to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shown kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord. To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and Us, and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best. Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789



And below is Abraham Lincoln's Thanksgiving proclamation (3 October 1863):



The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften the heart which is habitually insensible to the everwatchful providence of almighty God.



In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign states to invite and provoke their aggressions, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere, except in the theater of military conflict; while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.



Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense have not arrested the plow, the shuttle, or the ship; the ax has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege, and the battlefield, and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.



No human counsel hath devised, nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the most high God, who while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.



It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American people. I do, therefore, invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that, while offering up the ascriptions justly due to him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation, and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union.



In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United Stated States to be affixed.



Thanksgiving became a federal holiday after President Franklin Roosevelt signed a joint resolution of Congress 26 December, 1941.



Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving 1621


Cultures throughout the world have held and continue to hold feasts at the close of the growing seasons after the final harvest. Usually these feasts involve giving thanks to whatever divine being(s) the particular cultures acknowledge. In the United States, the tradition loosely relates to the first “Thanksgiving" feast held by the English settlers at Plymouth, Massachusetts


The original one hundred or so settlers consisted of congregants of a separatist church who refused to worship in the England’s established Anglican Church. They arrived on the Mayflower in November 1620, just in time for the onset of winter. After an exploratory party located an advantageous site, the settlers came ashore that December. The site selected had been a Patuxet village that the natives abandoned after its decimation by small pox. By March 1621, however, about half of the English settlers themselves had perished from diseases contracted spread during the voyage or the harsh winter living conditions.


The new settlement took root that year with assistance from the local Wampanoag tribe. Their help had been secured through the efforts of Squanto, a Patuxet native. (Years before he had been captured and brought to England as a “specimen” by an English explorer. While living in England he learned the language. Later he found himself back in his native land. He served as a translator). That fall, after a successful harvest and hunting, a feast was held with some of the Wampanoag neighbors.


One settler preserved an account in a journal:


"Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors. They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the company almost a week. At which time, among other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the plantation and bestowed upon our governor, and upon the captain, and others. And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty."


And so a local tradition, although inconsistently practiced, began. Other parts of the English colonies celebrated their own traditions on different fall days. These gradually became unified through proclamations of the government.


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Pilgrims


In our continuing historical diversion . . .

Several recent posts surveyed the colony of Virginia, started in 1607 by the London group of the Virginia Company. What about that part of the company known as the Plymouth group? In the same year of the London group established a settlement in Jamestown, Virginia, the Plymouth group started a settlement at the moth of the Kennebec River in what is now Maine. It lasted only a year, however, that the settlers boarded a supply ship for home.

Ironically, the London group that initiated the Virginia colony also sponsored a second settlement named after the city of Plymouth. A group of religious dissenters decided to leave England to avoid continuing legal harassment for their refusal to conform to England's established church. 

To understand who these people were, it is necessary to distinguish the main religious factions within the Church of England. Within the Anglican communion many Christians who desired a more radical reformation of the church. They sought changes in both church dogma and church government. Regarding dogma, they wanted to bring the church more in line with the teachings of John Calvin. Regarding church government, most of these reformers wanted to replaced the episcopacy (rule by bishops) with presbytery (rule by association of  ministers. A smaller group wanted to replace the episcopacy with congregational government. 

The dissenters who came to America desired congregational government. In contrast to the majority of reformers, they gave up any hopes of reforming the church. So they became complete separatists. This brought legal harassment from a government that desire religious uniformity. Before coming to America, the fled to the Netherlands in 1609. After ten years, however, many families decided to leave the Netherlands. They could not see returning to England. As described by one of the leaders, William Bradford, “They knew they were pilgrims, and looked not much on those things but lift up their eyes to the heavens, their dearest country, and quieted their spirits.” Discussions began about a plan to move to the New World.

Even while its original settlement struggled in Jamestown, the Virginia group agreed to sponsor a second settlement. They funded Bradford's group to settle near the mouth of the Hudson River, which at that time lay within the original grant of the Virginia Company. A little over one hundred adventurers, including Bradford's “Pilgrims” and several of what the Pilgrims called “Strangers” set sail for American in the Mayflower.


They never made it to “Virginia.” Storms forced a landing on the coast of Massachusetts. Although sponsored by the London group, the Pilgrims ended up on land owned by the Plymouth group. Because they possessed no charter rights in Massachusetts, the settlers drew up a document that announced the formation of a “civil body politic” to enact and submit to laws for the good of the colony.



In the name of God, Amen. We, whose names are underwritten, the loyal subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord King James, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, King, defender of the Faith, etc.
Having undertaken, for the Glory of God, and advancements of the Christian faith and honor of our King and Country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the Northern parts of Virginia, do by these presents, solemnly and mutually, in the presence of God, and one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic; for our better ordering, and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame, such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions, and offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the colony; unto which we promise all due submission and obedience.


In witness whereof we have hereunto subscribed our names at Cape Cod the 11th of November, in the year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord King James, of England, France, and Ireland, the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth, 1620.


Some have interpreted the Mayflower Compact as an example of a real social contract than anticipated the more famous philosophical Lockean version. The settlers found themselves in a “state of nature” with no established governing authority. Consequently, they formed themselves into a civil political body pledged to form a governing body and to submit to its laws.


This is a partial truth. The Mayflower Compact was a type of social contract. It differed, however, from Locke's more theoretical contract in a couple of important ways. First, although the settlers found themselves in a state of nature, they were not completely beyond all authority. They had no company charter rights to be in Massachusetts, but the land constituted part of the dominions of the English monarch. So in the compact, the settlers acknowledged that they remained the “loyal subjects” of King James. Second, the compact cited different ends that Locke's contract. In Locke's version, the reason for the establishment of a social contract was the protection of individual rights. The security of natural rights would be tenuous at best in a “state of nature.” In the Mayflower Compact, the ends consisted of the “furtherance and preservation” of the mission behind their voyage: the glory of God, the advancement of the Christian faith, and the honor of king and country.


The compact did, however, provide another early example of self government among the English in the New World







Sunday, November 18, 2012

The First South


In the last historical diversion into the South . . .

As Virginians entered the eighteenth-century, their society had matured into a simplified version of society as they knew it back in England. It was hierarchical and highly stratified, but some elements were missing. At the top were the so-called planter elite, those wealthy families who set the pattern for behavior and who came to dominate the colony's political life. The “middling sort” consisted of small landowners who had to migrate from the Tidewater areas westward into the Piedmont to secure affordable land. Because of the self-sufficiency of the larger plantations, few independent artisans emerged to meet demands for their services. And almost no urban areas developed. Society was bottom heavy with largely illiterate indentured servants who performed labor on the larger farms. With a tradition of weak public institutions, education remained the prerogative of the wealthy. Ominously, in the 1680s planters began importing increasing numbers of slaves to replace those English laborers who left after the completion of their indentures.

Over 60% of the seventeenth-century immigrants that helped Virginia become one of the most populous of the English colonies came from Southern and Western England. They also brought their customs into the New World. As we shall see in future posts, settlers in other parts of North American came from different regions of England. This accounts for the different regional cultures found in the United States then  . . . and today.

A few cultural distinctives from Virginia and the later Southern colonies in general.  First, Virginians transplanted speech patterns from Wessex and Sussex that gave the region its peculiar pronunciation and grammatical characteristics. Such constructions as I be, you be, he ain't, it don't, and using “like” for “as if” were found almost exclusively in the Chesapeake region. Vocabulary such as allowed (permitted), skillet (pan), mighty (very), favor (resemble), right good (very good) persisted in the colony even as it disappeared in England. Hundreds of other example could be noted.

Second, Virginians exhibited an ambivalence about hard work. The affluent planters of course, were above it. By definition, a gentleman was a man who enjoyed the financial independence that freed him from working with his hands. It is difficult, maybe impossible to measure, but one must wonder about the influence of Virginia's cultural elite on the work ethic among the general population. Their aversion and denigration of labor had to contribute in some ways to "the lazy South." Perhaps, too, the fertile soils and warm weather permitted Southerns to produce what they needed with labor much less intense than that required in other regions. Even animals thrived. Instead of mastering the skills of animal husbandry, many Southerners turned their pigs loose to forage for themselves and multiply. When needing meat for the table, the Southern farmer grabbed his musket and went out to find one.

Third, Virginians and the South transplanted the Dorset method of preparing food through simmering or frying in a pan. The use of heavy spices came to characterize the cooking style of the Chesapeake. And the region became known for barbeque.

In short, the beginning of America was also the beginning of the South.


Friday, November 16, 2012

The Ascension of Virginia


In our continuing historical diversion . . .


After becoming a royal colony, Virginia continued to struggle. Immigrants continued to arrive, but mortality rates approaching 50% retarded population growth. Moreover, the colony still had the appearance of “impermanence.” Most of the more ambitious settlers had no intentions of staying. They continued to hope for the acquisition of quick riches—through tobacco cultivation instead of conquest or trade—to enable them to return to England and live the life of a “country gentlemen.” Most either failed or died trying. Few attained the level of success that enabled a return to England. A small indigenous leadership emerged, but they contributed little to the development of traditional English social life or institutions.

That began to change finally during the decade of the 1640s.

First, a Civil War broke out in England that divided the army between supporters of Parliament and supporters of King Charles I. The Puritan dominated forces that gave Parliament the victory attempted to erect a republic in place of the traditional English monarchy. In addition, they enforced their own version of Presbyterian religious uniformity on the English people. Thousands of English immigrants unhappy with the new regime left for Virginia, boosting the population from 8,000 in 1640 to over 40,000 in 1675. Most immigrants consisted of tenant farmers and day laborers from England's rural areas seeking to improve their lot. Perhaps 75% came as indentured servants whose contracts required seven years of labor on behalf of whoever paid their passage to Virginia by purchasing the contract after their arrival. In contrast, a number of these immigrants were the so-called “distressed cavaliers,” fairly well-off supporters of the old monarchy. The scions of many eighteenth-century notable Virginia families arrived in Virginia during this time, including those of the Lee, Culpepper, Chinchely, Custis, Page, Harrison, Randolph, Washington, and Madison families.

Second, Sir William Berkeley received appointment as the governor of Virginia. Berkeley was staunchly loyal to the Stuart dynasty that appointed him. After the English Civil War, Berkeley refused to recognized the authority of the new Puritan leadership back in England. Only the threat of invasion forced Berkeley to submit to England's new rulers. And more than any other governor before him, Berkeley allied himself with the interests of Virginia's emerging elite.

After the restoration in 1660, Berkeley continued to recruit immigrants from among England's genteel families. He published a pamphlet in 1663 that touted the opportunities that awaited the adventurous in Virginia:

A small sum of money will enable a younger brother to erect a flourishing family in a new world; and add more strength, wealth, and honor to his native country. . . .”

This appeal to “a younger brother” was directed at the younger sons excluded from inheritance by laws of primogeniture and entail. Many of these “younger sons” saw settlement in Virginia as an opportunity to establish their financial and personal independence. These newcomers and their descendants through personal connections, good fortune, and individual talent reached levels of prosperity unmatched by earlier generations of immigrants. They began constructing the red brick Georgian style homes across the counties of the Tidewater area. They became as self-conscious elite that intermarried amongst themselves across counties. In an era when political power rested upon social status, they eventually came to dominate the House of Burgesses and the governor's Council. These families emerged as the political and social elite of Virginia's eighteenth-century “golden age.”


 Sir William Berkeley





                    Westover Plantation



                                   Gunston Hall



                                  Stratford Hall


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Dissolution of Virginia Company


In our continuing historical diversion . . .

When Governor Thomas West, Lord De La Warr, arrived in the starving colony, he brought a new set of laws to instill discipline into the inhabitants. The new set of Laws Divine, Moral, and Martial prescribed the death penalty for theft, lying, rape, adultery  blasphemy, and several other offences. It also required inhabitants to gather at the beat of a drum into separate gangs, each under a different leader. Each leader was not permitted to allow “any of his company to be negligent, and idle, or depart from his work” until signaled to do so under another communication from the the drums.

This measure proved temporary in the face of the food crisis. After a couple of years, the new leadership added some positive incentives as well. Previously, whatever production of food had taken place was based upon a community basis. No private property or private plots were permitted. The new leadership instituted private property in land and began making land grants to the settlers. Immigrants whose passage had been paid by the Virginia Company had been required to work seven years for the company.When their term of service ended, individuals received three acres and families received twelve. The governor put production regulations in place. The regulations required that farmers produce not only produce their own food, but also two and one half barrels of corn each year for the substance of new comers. Moreover, to encourage more immigration to the colony, the directors instituted a new “headright” system. Any new immigrant who paid his own passage to American received a grant of 50 acres. And anyone who paid the passage of new immigrants received 50 acres for each one.

After the colony made headway in the production of food, they finally discovered a source of wealth beyond mere sustenance. John Rolfe learned how to cultivate tobacco from the local natives. The domestic variety proved unpleasant to the English palate. He subsequently began cultivating a Caribbean variety in Virginia. So began the tobacco boom. By 1620, Virginians exported 50,000 pounds of tobacco; by 1630, they exported 250,000 pounds.

Not only did the company improve the situation with the institution of landed private property, they also eventually gave the settlers more control in local affairs. In 1619, each of the now twenty small sparsely populated settlements chose representatives called burgesses to meet in Jamestown to craft policies for their fellow settlers.

The colony suffered a major setback, however, from an attack by the natives on 22 March 1622. A massive attacked killed 346 colonists, nearly one-third of the settlers.

Meanwhile, stockholders back in England pressed for some kind of profit from their investments. Eventually, King James sued the company in court to revoke the charter. He won the case, but died before its conclusion. His son and new heir, Charles I, declared Virginia a royal colony.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

England to America


In our continuing historical diversion . . .

After two failed attempts to establish settlements in the 1580s, colonization efforts ceased. Finally, at the turn of the seventeenth century, attempts resumed in earnest.

An assortment of merchants , lawyers, and landed nobles chiefly from London, Bristol, and Plymouth. formed a joint-stock company to fund the establishment of a settlement in the New World. Of the company shareholders, fifty percent nobles or gentry, thirty two percent were current or  future earls, three percent were viscounts, and the rest were dozens of lesser gentry.They drafted a charter and presented it to King James I of England. James issued the patent authorizing the adventure.

The charter divided North American into two parts. It granted the northern part to the Plymouth group, and the southern part to the London group. The latter became known a the Virginia Company.

They organized a group of adventurers for the New World. For the initial settlement, 104 men and boys signed on. A governing council was named. The council would elect one of their own to direct affairs of the colonies once the landed. All council members were “gentleman” except for a soldier named John Smith. While at sea, Captain Christopher Newport remained in command. They set out in three ships--the Susan Constant, the Discovery, the Godspeed, arrived in Virginia in April of 1607.

Although Virginia became the first successful English colony in North American, its early beginnings were anything but successful. The first landing party came under attack by Indians. They reboarded their ship and drifted southward and established a base on a small peninsula between what Englishmen named the the James and York rivers. They named the settlement Jamestown.

These first settlers, however, were ill-prepared for their task. Over one-third of the original settlers were “gentlemen,” who by definition performed no manual labor. Remaining members including various artisans such as carpenters, masons, coopers, smiths, refiners.

No one, however, knew how to farm, hunt, or fish.

Consequently, the English found themselves depending upon provisions from area natives and facing starvation.

After the first winter of 1607-08, only 38 settlers of the original 104 remained alive.

In the spring, John Smith became the leader of the settlement. He initiated a military regimen that put everyone to work. Through hard work and the cultivation of good relations with the local tribes, the original settlers and the additional newcomers who arrived during 1608 made it through the winter. Only ten colonists died. Smith's unpopularity, however, led to his recall to England.

During the summer of 1609, the settlement grew to over 500 people. Most new settlers added nothing to the skill set required for the enterprise. Moreover, landed gentlemen who refused manual labor continued to arrive to Jamestown in search of fortune. Without the discipline instilled the previous year by Smith, the colonists entered the winter of 1609-10. It became remembered as “the starving time.” By the turn of the new year, only 60 out of the 500 settlers were still alive. The colony witnessed the first incident of English cannibalism in North America, when one of the colonist salted down and ate parts of his dead wife.

When relief shipments arrived with more supplies, more settlers, and new governors, they found the starving Englishmen not hard at work, but in their usual diversion, “bowling in the streets.”


Sunday, November 11, 2012

England Eyes the New World

Continuing this historical diversion . . .

England, like Spain, sponsored efforts to reach the East by sailing West. They, too, recognized that their explorers had ventured upon the Northernmost reaches of a "New World." And like Spain, they began to consider plans to settle Englishmen.

The most outstanding spokesman for foreign adventures was Anglican clergyman Richard Hakluyt. He wrote a treatise entitled A Discourse on Western Planting (1584) and presented it to Queen Elizabeth. As a clergyman, he emphasized the evangelizing of the Amerinds  as the chief motivation for English settlements in the New World:

"It remains to be thoroughly weighed and considered by what means and by who this most godly and Christian work may be performed of enlarging the glorious gospel of Chris,and reducing of infinite multitudes of these simple people that are in error into the right and perfect way of their salvation."

"No the Kings and Queens of England have the name of Defenders of the faith. By which title I think they are not only charged to maintain and patronize the faith of Christ, but also to enlarge and advance the same."

(Hakluyt's half brothers, Humphrey Gilbert and Walter Raleigh, both eventually participated in unsuccessful settlement efforts in Newfoundland and on Roanoke Island respectively.)

Evangelization sought not only to introduce the natives to the Christian religion, but also to advance the cause of the Protestant faith. The Catholic-Protestant religious rivalry partly moved colonization efforts. English promoters contrasted their religion and civilization favorably to that of the Spanish. As one promoter put it, the native peoples would not suffer from the "storms of raging cruelty" that they endured from the Spaniards. Spanish deprivations in the New World had become well known after a Spanish priest named Bartolome de las Casas published a book called A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies (1552). Instead, the Amerinds would prosper under the "fair and loving means suiting to our English natures." Unfortunately, most Europeans believed that civilization had to precede evangelization. And that meant the destruction of native cultures.

More worldly ambitions also moved the English. Between 1585 and 1604, they fought an undeclared war with Spain. One cause of the war was the privateering missions of English sailors Francis Drake and John Hawkins. They brought treasure into England's coffers (as well as their own) by attacking Spanish treasure ships bringing gold and silver from Spain's New World settlements back to Europe. Settlement in America would provide more secure bases from which Drake, Hawkins, and other less well-known privateers could prey upon Spanish vessels.

Finally, settlements in the New World would help England deal with its ever growing numbers of the poor. For some reason that escapes demographers, England experienced an explosion in population. The English government grew alarmed by the increasing numbers of citizens roving from town to town or aggregating in London searching for work. Settling these people in the New World would not only removed a potential source of social disorder, but also provided an opportunity for a new start in life.



Saturday, November 10, 2012

Spain's New World

A historical diversion . . .

Back on October 12, I posted a short piece in honor of Christopher Columbus. His voyages in search of a shorter route to the East led to the discover of a New World in the West.

The heroism of Columbus and his fellow adventurers gave way eventually to the barbarism of conquest. After Spain became convinced that Columbus had discovered a "New World," it soon engaged in a conquest and enslavement of the native peoples. Occupation of the islands of the Caribbean was soon followed by the overrun of powerful native empires in Mexico and Peru.

The Spanish hardly enjoyed a monopoly on violence. The empires of the Aztecs and Incas had long dominated neighboring tribes, partly through conquest. Both empires, like many Mesoamerican cultures, engaged in human sacrifices to their gods. Usually the subject tribes provided the victims. The Aztecs were particularly gruesome. After killing their victim, their priests skinned the victim and wore that skin for the rest of the ritual. That ritual included extraction of the heart and cannibalism.  Hernando Cortez in Mexico and Francisco Pizarro in Peru enforced submission of the natives to their Christian king and to their own version of the sacrificial religion. 

Spain secured a large empire in the New World. Gold, tobacco, and sugar gradually filled Spain's treasury and helped make it the most formidable power in Europe. 

Spain's experience moved England in its own expansion into the New World.



Below an audio of a song by Neil Young, a good representative of the "Third Worldism" of the 1970s that occasionally reappears. He makes up his own history and romances the brutality and savagery of the Aztecs.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Morning After the Morning After

Votes are still being counted, but Barack Obama has won reelection to the Presidency of the United States.

On the morning after the morning after, pundits began weighing in on "what it all means." Liberals, of course, reiterated  the talking points of the Obama campaign--the war on women, the war on immigrants, the war on the working class--blah blah so forth. Some liberals pointed to the Republican Party ideology, although this year I cannot see that we really had one. Republicans meanwhile seemed engaged in the usual internal debate that every losing party has "the morning after." Do we change along the lines suggested by the Social Democrats? Do we reaffirm some core principles even though they may be unpopular? Or something else?

If we include the results in the House and Senate election in our considerations, I am not sure we can conclude that the election means much of anything. A stalemate in Washington continues. But hear is my take on why Romney lost.

The Candidate:

Mitt Romney seems an unlikely nominee after the conservatives revolt in the 2010 midterm elections. Some of us members of the Tea Party Movement eagerly anticipated the opportunity to choose which Republican nominee would best represent our views and extend the conservative revolt to Pennsylvania Avenue. We ended up, however, with a big government moderate who benefited from the support of the Republican establishment. Contrary to the claims of Tea Party Patriots National Coordinator Jenny Beth Martin, Romney was not hand picked by the establishment. We looked at candidate after candidate in search for a conservative, but found them wanting. After each of them imploded, we ended up with Romney--a weak  nominee challenging a weak incumbent.

A fundamentally decent man, Romney appeared  not to possess any clear core political principles. Or if he had them, he failed to articulate them. He seemed more like a Republican version of that other Massachusetts technocrat--Michael Dukakis. Although he possessed executive experience as governor of Massachusetts, he rarely appealed to it. He ran on executive experience as a businessman who knew how to create jobs.

The Campaign:

Romney emerged from the Republican primaries an already battered candidate. His competitors for the Republican nomination provided the Social Democrats most of their "narrative." Republican accusations of Romney being a "vulture capitalist" and "looking like the guy who fired you" were more than just shocking in that they came from Republicans. They  provided the theme for the Obama supporters. Even before the Republican convention, Obama PACs began running ads using Romney's chief qualification--a businessman--against him. And the ads addressed more that just performance as a businessman: they leveled personal attacks on his character. These ads went on for so long without reply, especially in Ohio,  that one pundit called the months before the convention "Mitt's Lost Summer."

Romney recovered somewhat during the debates. Even while losing the last two debates, Romney improved his image and changed the momentum of the race. Still, Romeny "the businessman"  never really connected with the blue collar "Reagan Democrats" of Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

In addition, he never successfully put away the bogus "war on women." Granted, he had to overcome the efforts of the liberal mainstream media to keep the issue in play. Unfortunately, the  ignorant comments by senate candidates Todd Akin and Robert Mourdock threw fuel on the fire. They not only hurt Romney, but also cost the Republicans two winnable seats in the Senate.

While Romney needed to keep things "positive" in his personal campaigning, he needed to go "negative" with ads. It is difficult to assess the campaign on this issue. Living in Georgia, a state Romney expected to easily carry, I saw few ads from either party. I do not know what transpired in so called "battleground states." I do not recall any news on ads calling out Obama on the Benghazi coverup, on the  corruption of stimulus funds to political supporters, or on government by executive order.

Romney and Ryan hit most of the key economic issues--jobs, budget, debt, regulation, etc. They failed to articulate these issues within the context of the philosophy of limited government and freedom. This may have added some appeal to their campaign and perhaps would have permitted them to distance themselves from the last Bush administration. Instead, the Obama campaign easily brushed aside the economic issues by blaming Bush and claiming he just needs more time. And they gave him more time.  Although Obama has exacerbated the situation,  most voters do blame Bush. The Social Democrats now use Bush the same way that Republicans used  Jimmy Carter.

 And depending on how long our current economic crisis continues, we might still be  hearing about Bush in 2016.





Monday, November 5, 2012

The Republican South


One of the most remarkable political developments of the last quarter of the 20th century was ascent of the Republican Party to the domination of the Presidency and to competitive parity in the Congress.
More remarkable is the change that permitted that to happen: the rise of Republicanism in the South.

How did it happen?

The Republican Party faced several obstacles to overcome in the immediate post-WWII period.

First, the legacy of the Civil War limited the appeal of Republicans in the South. The Republican Party formed in the mid-1850s on the ruins of the old Whig Party with the aim of stopping the expansion of slavery into the unorganized western territories of the United States. When Abraham Lincoln captured the Presidency and Republicans gained control of the Congress in the 1860 elections, the South seceded. The subsequent American Civil War, abolition of slavery, and post-war Reconstruction, poisoned the minds of Southern citizens against the Republicans.

Second, the memories of the Great Depression, which occurred on the Republican Party watch, reduced the appeal of the Republicans in all regions of the country. The depression proved especially dire in the already impoverished South.

Third, Republicans found it difficult to distinguish themselves on major issues from the traditionally conservative southern Democrats. Both southern Democrats and Republicans supported business enterprise, opposed unions, and adhered to the principle of limited federal government. Among the only issues on which the Republicans distinguished themselves from the Democrats included the New Deal and race relations. Many southern Democrats embraced the New Deal because it brought federal programs to a region with historically low state and federal taxes. This meant a net transfer of the wealth from the more affluent areas of the country that paid the taxes to the less affluent South that received the benefits. Republicans, of course, opposed the enactment of most New Deal reforms. The issue of segregation and the race baiting rhetoric that accompanied it carried more weight among whites who lived in the rural areas that contained more black residents. The very small base of Southern support for Republicans-- the mountainous regions of Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia and  West Virginia and the small but growing suburbs--contained few black residents. Race relations played only a negligible role among Republicans.

Last, the southern Democrats enjoyed important and influential positions with the Congressional and Senate committee system. Through these positions, they successfully brought New Deal pork to the South while at the same time resisted efforts by other Democrats and Republicans outside the South to challenge racial arrangements in the South.

Developments in the 1960s and 1970s, first in the South then later outside the South, tore the Democratic Party apart and slowly dissolved the traditional ties of southern voters to that party.

First, the South experienced a growth of suburbs in such metropolitan areas as Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Charlotte, and Miami. Both immigration from other regions of the country and from the rural South fueled this development. Prosperous middle class voters in the burbs became a receptive audience for the Republican message of low taxes without the race baiting rhetoric offered by traditional conservative Democrats. The most famous Republican to emerge from the new southern suburbs was Representative George Bush in 1964.

Second, and most important, the Civil Rights Movement challenged traditional southern racial arrangements. The movement eventually secured intervention from the federal government and made manifest the sectional divisions within the Democratic Party. After northern Democrats and Republicans in Congress enacted a series of civil rights laws in the 1950s and 1960s, southern Democrats retrenched. They failed, however, to stop the federal enforcement of civil rights laws. Because of their intransigence, southern Democrats soon found themselves removed by the majority northern Democrats from their influential committee chairmanships.

Events outside the South, too, fractured the Democratic Party. While the liberal northern Democrats purged conservative southern Democrats on the right from influential party positions, they found themselves under siege from their left. The rise of the so-called New Left challenged the traditional liberalism of the Democratic Party. The New Left not only supported the Civil Rights Movement, but also feminism, the sexual revolution, radical environmentalism, and an end to the war in Viet Nam. The New Left was more than than just a counter-cultural revolt against America, but also a rejection of traditional Kennedy, Johnson, and Humphrey liberalism. The radical challenge became most visible at the nationally televised brawl remembered as the 1968 Democratic National Convention. Combined with the urban riots that erupted in cities in the north and the west coast, the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. in April 1968 and Robert F. Kennedy two months later, these events seemed to show an American coming apart. The decade of the 1960s closed on a very different note for Democrats than that hopeful beginning following the election of John Kennedy in 1960.

Southern voters reacted with protest votes. They continued to send conservative Democrats state offices and to the United States House and Senate but abandoned the party in the 1964 presidential race. Five Deep South states left the Democratic fold for Republican candidate Barry Goldwater. The vote was a protest vote because it really did not begin some new abiding loyalty for the Republicans. Moreover, Goldwater opposed segregation. He said it was “morally wrong” and “economically bad.” He just did not believe that the government possessed the constitutional authority to coerce the states. In addition, four years later in 1968 the South went with Alabama governor George Wallace, a traditional southern segregationist, rather than with Republican Richard Nixon. Nixon captured the South for the Republicans in 1972, but the rest of the nation went with Nixon as well. And the south returned to the Democratic Party of Jimmy Carter in 1976. But Republican Presidential candidates had finally broken through. They served as the vanguard for the Republican success in the South.

The decisive candidate proved to be Ronald Reagan. Although he often preached the message of limited government, his main theme of the campaign was the incompetence of the government under President Carter and its sense of resignation about the economic problems facing Americans:


The major issue of this campaign is the direct political, personal and moral responsibility of Democratic Party leadership --in the White House and in Congress -- for this unprecedented calamity which has befallen us. They tell us they have done the most that humanly could be done. They say that the United States has had its day in the sun; that our nation has passed its zenith. They expect you to tell your children that the American people no longer have the will to cope with their problems; that the future will be one of sacrifice and few opportunities.

He made the following promise at the Republican Convention:




As your nominee, I pledge to restore to the federal government the capacity to do the people's work without dominating their lives. I pledge to you a government that will not only work well, but wisely; its ability to act tempered by prudence and its willingness to do good balanced by the knowledge that government is never more dangerous than when our desire to have it help us blinds us to its great power to harm us.”



Reagan, of course, won in a landslide, winning the electoral vote by a 489-49 margin. He captured all but six states. Reagan's won by the slimmest of margins, however, in the South. In six Southern states, his margin of victory was less that two percent. Four years later, running against Northern liberal Walter Mondale, Reagan won the electoral vote 535-3. This time Reagan swept the South by large margins.



As the Democrats continued to run Northern liberals for President and to advocate a progressive agenda that included affirmative action, racial quotas, abortion, and homosexual marriage, more and more Southerners abandoned their traditional party. The Democrats garnered Southern support with Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton, but during mid-term elections in 1994, the Republicans captured the majority of Southern congressional delegations. Republicans have enjoyed their own “Solid South” ever since.








Sunday, November 4, 2012

Conservatism In America: A Sunday Review


In the 1950s, political observers noted the rise the so-called New Conservatism. The intellectual leaders of this movement hoped to distinguished their movement from the Eisenhower and Taft conservatives that dominated the Republican Party. Their bible was Russell Kirk’s The Conservative Mind ; their weekly sermons were delivered by writers in such periodicals as Human Events and National Review. In distinguishing themselves from 50s era mainstream conservatism, they rooted their New Conservatism in the British conservatism of Edmund Burke.

As a rejoinder to these New Conservatives, Cornell history professor Clinton Rossiter published Conservatism in America in 1955. Fresh from winning the Bancroft Prize for his now classic Seedtime of the Republic, Rossiter presented the case for a more broad based conservatism rooted in American tradition. He attempted to demonstrate that the American historical experience shaped American conservatism into a movement that differs in significant ways from the British-based New Conservatism that emerged in the 1950s.

In his introduction. Rossiter noted that the term conservatism is one of the more confusing terms in our political discourse. He distinguished between temperamental conservatism, possessive conservatism, practical conservatism, and philosophical conservatism. It is the latter, the conservatism that is conscious of the principles of the traditions, institutions, history, and faith upon which society is based, about which which he writes. Rossiter also introduces an alternative paradigm on the range of political ideology that differs from the traditional Left-Right linear one. He sees political ideology as a circle in which one can begin with say, revolutionary radicalism, and work one’s way around to radicalism, liberalism, reaction, and revolutionary reaction until one arrives back at the top of the circle. This not only visually suggests the affinity between Communism and Nazism, but also, which suit his purpose, demonstrates how closed liberalism and conservatism really are to one another.

Rossiter begins by delineating the core beliefs of the New Conservatism. The New Conservatives see men as a mixture of good and evil. Man’s goodness, rationality, and altruism are offset by his evil, irrationality, and his selfishness. Social institutions cannot change this. “He is not perfect; he is not perfectible.” These Conservatives reject of individualism and equality. They believe in a ruling and serving aristocracy of the virtuous and talented. And they are skeptical that the mass of mankind can recognize these qualities in others and elect them to office.

These views of mankind serve as the foundation for their views of society. Society is a unified organism, not “an agglomeration of lonely individuals.” Man by nature is a social animal whose realizes his best interests through cooperation. Society’s arrangements reflect the wisdom of previous generations.

Government, too, is natural. For man is not only a social animal, but a political one. Because of man’s corruptibility, the New Conservatives argue that good government must contain the following features: constitutionalism, diffused powers, and limited aims.

The New Conservatives see rights not so much as God-given as hard-earned. And man has a duty to exercise those rights within the bounds or religion and natural law to be truly free.

So what is the New Conservative mission? To defend the established order, protect community values, remind mankind of their limitations and those of their institutions, support organized religion, and foster stability and unity within the community.

According to Rossiter, however, the New Conservative mission is complicated by the fact that the American political tradition which the conservatism seeks to conserve is basically liberal. Americans traditionally are optimistic. (See the sunny optimism of the most dominant modern conservative--Ronald Reagan.) Americans are anti-elitist and support equality. American have a fluid class structure. Americans are the most individualistic of all peoples. According to Rossiter, American conservatism has been shaped by liberalism; and American liberalism has been shaped by conservatism.

Rossiter surveys in the next three chapters the history of American conservatism up to the 1950s. Rossiter’s survey is much more interesting and inclusive than Russel Kirk’s more narrow focus on the so-called “true conservatives.” He includes several varieties of American conservatives. And because he is a historian, he provides the historical context in which conservatives lived. He misreads, however, the outlook of the so-called laissez-faire conservatives that arose during the post-civil war era of industrialism. Rossiter calls the 19th century industrialists natural leaders of conservatives and argues they advocated limited government regulation. Most historians today agree that corporations supported whatever legislation supported their particular interests. They wanted government regulation that benefited them and opposed government regulation that did not. Their outlook reflected corporate interest rather than any consistent ideology.

In his last chapters, Rossiter analyzes American conservatism and assesses its future prospects. In “A Hard Look at American Conservatism, Rossiter makes more explicit the differences between the New Conservatism and traditional American conservatism that he implicitly suggested in earlier chapters. He concludes with the now failed prediction that the New Conservatism “will not flourish on this soil.”

The last couple of chapters on conservative theory and practice amount to questions that conservatives must provide thoughtful answers in order to articulate a clearly conservative message to America. And who is this new kind of conservative? “Any American who is clearly happier with things as they are than with things as they would be if our social reformer had their way, and who, further, is equally determined to steer clear of liberalism to his left and stand patters and reaction to his right.”

Overall, Rossiter’s book is an interesting one, especially the historical perspective on conservatism. He could have done more to show the changing meaning of conservatism (and liberalism for that matter) over time. And his concluding remarks leave this reader unsatisfied. Yes, conservatives must think critically about broad principles and craft a distinctly conservative message. But the answers Rossiter seems to have hoped that conservatives will provide will really be nothing more that “stand patters”--satisfaction with the Eisenhower conservatism that dominated the conservative movement in the 1950s.