What is America? Poli 110J 3.1 The Nation as Crusade.
Presentation on theme: "What is America? Poli 110J 04 High and Holy Principle."— Presentation transcript:
What is America? Poli 110J 04 High and Holy Principle
Constitution of the United States of America 1787 – Congress of the Confederation votes to begin plan to revise/replace Articles of Confederation – Invite states to send delegates to Philadelphia Convention (only RI refuses) – Contrary to Articles of Confederation, Art. VII says that only 9 participating states need ratify the new Constitution for it to go into effect – Adopted September 17, 1787
Constitution of the United States of America What does it mean to constitute? We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Constitution of the United States of America Legislature (Article I) – Broad powers over declaration of war, commerce (foreign & interstate), law, currency, punishment, etc.
Constitution of the United States of America House of Representatives Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons. – Changed by 13 th & 14 th amendment
Constitution of the United States of America Senate The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof, for six Years; and each Senator shall have one Vote – changed by 17 th amendment to direct election Compromise between small and large states
Constitution of the United States of America Executive – Commander-in-chief of armed forces – Appoint to offices – Grant pardons – Sees that laws are faithfully executed – Veto Can be overridden by 2/3 majority of legislature
Constitution of the United States of America Judiciary Congress creates lower courts, but there must be a Supreme Court Lifetime appointment Constitutional review – Constitution is the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding (Art. 6)
Constitution of the United States of America No amendment may affect slavery until 1808 – Compromise to maintain unity
Bill of Rights Hamilton against, Jefferson in favor Madison proposes Bill of Rights during ratification process for Constitution 1789, ratified 1791 – A compromise to keep the Constitution from being derailed
Bill of Rights The case against: Hamilton in Fed. #84 in strictness, the people surrender nothing; and as they retain every thing they have no need of particular reservations. bills of rights… are not only unnecessary in the proposed Constitution, but would even be dangerous. They would contain various exceptions to powers not granted; and, on this very account, would afford a colorable pretext to claim more than were granted.
Bill of Rights The case for: Brutus in AF #84: The most important article in any Constitution may therefore be repealed, even without a legislative act. Ought not a government, vested with such extensive and indefinite authority, to have been restricted by a declaration of rights? It certainly ought. So clear a point is this, that I cannot help suspecting that persons who attempt to persuade people that such reservations were less necessary under this Constitution than under those of the States, are wilfully endeavoring to deceive, and to lead you into an absolute state of vassalage.
Bill of Rights Individualistic Restrictive of the powers of government – Negative liberty
Bill of Rights 1. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Bill of Rights 2. A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
Bill of Rights 3 & 4: Security of property from the state – Protection from the quartering soldiers – Protection from unreasonable search & seizure
Bill of Rights 5-8 Governing arrest, trial, and punishment of crimes
Bill of Rights 9: The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people. 10: The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
Authority The ability to speak finally – The Constitution is at the foundation of the United States
Jacksonian Democracy Andrew Jackson – Hero of the Battle of New Orleans – President 1829-1837 – Man of the [white] people Bowed to the crowd at inauguration – Promoter of more direct democracy – Removal of the Cherokee & Trail of Tears – Favored strong states rights, Union
John L. OSullivan Defining the American community of belief Moral perfection and political exceptionality of US national identity Expansion of US is expansion of liberty Liberty as a political good of the first order States rights & strong sense of national mission and identity
John L. OSullivan 1813-1895 Democratic party activist Editor, literary critic, govt envoy to Portugal Influential in van Buren, Pierce administrations Founder, editor-in-Chief of United States Magazine & Democratic Review
United States Magazine & Democratic Review Politico-literary journal Nationalist project of culture Helped to launch Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Walt Whitman to prominence Central to Young America – Nationalism, democracy, expansion
The Nation as Crusade The high and holy democratic/voluntary principle (Introduction) – the fundamental element of [Americas] new social and political system Defining America – The best government is that which governs least – Let man be fettered by no duty, save His brothers rightlike his, inviolable
The Nation as Crusade A community of belief – full and free profession of the cardinal principles of political faith on which we take our stand – true and living faith
The Nation as Crusade US exceptional, world-historical importance All history has to be re-written; political science and the whole scope of all moral truth have to be considered and illustrated in the light of the democratic principle. All old subjects of thought and all new questions arising, connected more or less directly with human existence, have to be taken up again and re-examined in this point of view.
The Nation as Crusade The advent of the United States is a discontinuous break with history – Transforms not only the future, but also the past – Forces reinterpretation of all that has come before and that will come – Analogous to birth of Christ
The Nation as Crusade The American interest = the universal interest – Voluntary principle = democracy = United States = the cause of all mankind
The Nation as Crusade Defining the community: What about slavery? – Vague commitment to eventual extinction of slavery – slavery was not a political problem, but a moral and economic one, the decision of which must rest, voluntarily, with the slave states themselves. – Matter of intrastate commerce, not rights (Democratic Review 14, 4/44, p. 429)
The Nation as Crusade Defining the community: What about slavery? – Union composed of states, not individuals – Illegitimate to compel change in status quo – Would violate democratic principle
The Nation as Crusade Liberty > Equality – To be treated as an equal, one must be capable of self- rule. – Some can, some cant: – According to their knowledge of, and respect for, the rights of a citizen, shall their freedom from governmental restraints be measured out to them, and every privilege which they learn to exercise wisely, government will be forced to relinquish, until each man becomes a law unto himself. (Territorial Aggrandizement)
The Nation as Crusade To be considered an equal, one must first become free – Anglo-Saxon culture (not biology) makes whites most capable of freedom Until then, it is fair to regard the un-free individual as an inferior – Slaves are made incapable of being free because the brutality w/which they are treated has made them brute – Natives cannot be free because of their savagery & primitiveness – Mexicans cant be free because they are semi-barbarous, have an aristocratic Spanish culture. They may one day be educated enough that they can be free.
The Nation as Crusade To forcibly annex Mexico would make a mockery of the voluntary principle It would also taint the US w/people who were not prepared to rule themselves Thus, Mexico should be left alone (he changed his mind)
The Nation as Crusade The Great Nation of Futurity – we have, in reality, but little connection with the past history of any [other nations], and still less with antiquity, its glories, or its crimes. On the contrary, our national birth was the beginning of a new history. America is new, morally pure, and unstained by sins of the past A radical break from the past
The Nation as Crusade America is destined for better deeds. It is our unparalleled glory that we have no reminisces of battle fields, but in defence of humanity, of the oppressed of all nations, of the rights of personal conscience, the rights of personal enfranchisement. – America acts with pure motives, in the interest of all mankind by definition
The Nation as Crusade We have no interest in the scenes of antiquity, only as lessons of avoidance of nearly all their examples. The expansive future is our arena, and for our history. We are entering on its untrodden space, with the truths of God in our minds, beneficent objects in our hearts, and with a clear conscience unsullied by the past.
The Nation as Crusade The old, the past is to be repudiated For Americans, the only history that matters is future history – It is not what we have been or what we have done that makes us who we are, but what we will do and who we will be Americans are a people who are unmarked by sin
60 seconds of theology What is sin? – Not being a bad person – Not doing bad things (individual sins) In Christian thought, the taint of original sin is a state of moral imperfection. – A person can be very good and still be stained by sin. – Makes forgiveness necessary – Separates humans from God For OSullivan, America is beyond sin
The Nation as Crusade We are the nation of human progress, and who will, what can, set limits to our onward march? Providence is with us, and no earthly power can. We point to the everlasting truth on the first page of our national declaration, and we proclaim to the millions of other lands, that the gates of hellthe powers of aristocracy and monarchy shall not prevail against it.
The Nation as Crusade Americas purpose, its telos is to spread democracy throughout the world – Telos: A purpose that is part of a things nature, forming what it is America is providentially destined to succeed in this mission. Failure is impossible. Voluntary principle = democracy = United States = the cause of all mankind = The will of God
The Nation as Crusade The enemies of the United States and democracy are enemies not only of all mankind, but of God – They are intrinsically evil, satanic The gates of hell shall not prevail against it – Matthew 16:18 – Refers to the Christian church – America, embodying the will of God, is the new church – By definition, the United States is a force of pure good and its enemies agents of pure moral and religious evil
The Nation as Crusade Because the American interest is identical with the universal human interest and the will of God, everything done in the name of the American interest is by definition good, acting to promote freedom and democracy By the same token, every opponent of the American interest is by definition an enemy of God and all mankind
The Nation as Crusade no lust for territory has stained our annals. No nation has been despoiled by us, no country laid desolate, no people overrun. – The indigenous would probably disagree. – But, they cannot for OSullivan be free, and thus are removed from consideration. Where they were, democracy will be.
The Nation as Crusade New York Morning News, Dec. 27, 1845: To state the truth at once in its neglected simplicity, we are free to say that were the respective arguments and cases of the two parties, as to all these points of history and law, reversedhad England all ours, and we nothing but hersour claim to Oregon would still be best and strongest. And that claim is by the right of our manifest destiny to overspread and to possess the whole of the continent which Providence has given us for the development of the great experiment of liberty and federated self-government entrusted to us.
The Nation as Crusade Manifest Destiny: manifest here means made apparent, revealed, obvious. Fated by Providence (the will of God) to spread across continent Americas moral & religious right and mission are prior to any existing legal claim.
The Nation as Crusade All this will be our future history, to establish on earth the moral dignity and salvation of manthe immutable truth and beneficence of God. For this blessed mission to the nations of the world, which are shut out from the life-giving light of truth, has America been chosen; and her high example shall smite unto death the tyranny of kings, hierarchs, and oligarchs, and carry the glad tidings of peace and good will where myriads now endure an existence scarcely more enviable than that of beasts of the field. Who, then, can doubt that our country is destined to be the great nation of futurity? (Great Nation of Futurity)
The Nation as Crusade The US is chosen by God for blessed mission to spread the life-giving light of truth (democracy) to the world – America does not have a mission, it IS a mission. It must redeem the world. Messianic Nation: Redeeming people of other nations, raising them to dignity of humans from bestial condition