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What is America? Poli 110J 2.3 We shall be as a city upon a hill.

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Presentation on theme: "What is America? Poli 110J 2.3 We shall be as a city upon a hill."— Presentation transcript:

1 What is America? Poli 110J 2.3 We shall be as a city upon a hill

2 3 Visions of America Winthrop: A City on a Hill – The obligations of a chosen people Webster: National People, National Power – The supremacy of federal government Calhoun: States Rights & White Supremacy – Liberty & slavery

3 John Winthrop Governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony (starting 1629) Puritan Theocracy Democracy Puritans like Winthrop extremely influential on NE political culture A Model of Christian Charity is a sermon, containing common Puritan religious and political ideas.

4 John Winthrop The community is based in shared belief – Ye are the body of Christ and members of their part. All the parts of this body being thus united are made so contiguous in a special relation as they must needs partake of each other's strength and infirmity; joy and sorrow, weal and woe. If one member suffers, all suffer with it, if one be in honor, all rejoice with it. To be virtuous religiously is to be responsible both to God and the community

5 John Winthrop The community is held to a set of transcendental standards, expressed in a text, accessible to all, that must nonetheless be interpreted – Note that the argument is grounded in and reinforced by citations from the Bible

6 John Winthrop Puritan religious standards render all members of the community morally equal – From hence it appears plainly that no man is made more honorable than another or more wealthy etc., out of any particular and singular respect to himself, but for the glory of his Creator and the common good of the creature, man.

7 John Winthrop The community is grounded in covenant. We are entered into covenant with Him for this work. We have taken out a commission… Now if the Lord shall please to hear us, and bring us in peace to the place we desire, then hath He ratified this covenant and sealed our commission, and will expect a strict performance of the articles contained in it

8 John Winthrop An exceptional status on the world stage 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.

9 John Winthrop Exceptionality, contd 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.

10 Daniel Webster Towering figure in the Senate in first half of 19 th century, a Whig nationalist – Secretary of State under Harrison, Tyler Wanted to preserve the Union, brokered a number of compromises to do so Massachusetts 2 nd Reply to Hayne spontaneous (Jan. 1830). Against proposal in SC to nullify protective Tariff of 1828 – Only Federal govt can set foreign trade policies.

11 Daniel Webster Is the Union the creation of the states? – Hint: no. Rather, the national people created both the states and the federal government The greatest power must rest with the national government: – It is, Sir, the people's Constitution, the people's government, made for the people, made by the people, and answerable to the people. The people of the United States have declared that the Constitution shall be the supreme law. We must either admit the proposition, or dispute their authority.

12 Daniel Webster The people = the nation – the State legislatures, as political bodies, however sovereign, are yet not sovereign over the people. So far as the people have given the power to the general government, so far the grant is unquestionably good, and the government holds of the people, and not of the State governments.

13 Daniel Webster Supremacy of the national govt: No State law is to be valid which comes in conflict with the Constitution, or any law of the United States passed in pursuance of it. But who shall decide this question of intereference? To whom lies the last appeal? This, Sir, the Constitution itself decides also, by declaring, "That the judicial power shall extend to all cases arising under the Constitution and laws of the United States." These two provisions cover the whole ground. They are, in truth, the keystone of the arch! With these it is a government; without them it is a confederation.

14 Daniel Webster The state preserves liberty, which cannot exist without it – Liberty and Union, now and for ever, one and inseparable!

15 John C. Calhoun "the Union, next to our liberty, the most dear." From South Carolina, endorsed SCs position in nullification crisis. Federal govt becoming tyrannical, infringing on Constl rights of the states Champion of the South, states rights in Senate, 1 st half 19 th C. Major figure in antebellum Democratic party – VP Under J.Q. Adams, Jackson; Sec. of War under Monroe Slavery a Positive Good – Feb. 6, 1837

16 John C. Calhoun Broke with Jackson beginning with Force Act (gave federal govt right to use force to enforce the tariff) – Jackson supported states rights, but thought Union threatened by nullification

17 John C. Calhoun Strong states rights – The subject [slavery] is beyond the jurisdiction of Congress - they have no right to touch it in any shape or form, or to make it the subject of deliberation or discussion.... Exactly what powers were and were not ceded to the Federal government in the Constitution?

18 John C. Calhoun Right to secession People in non-slave states soon will have been taught to hate the people and institutions of nearly one-half of this Union, with a hatred more deadly than one hostile nation ever entertained towards another. It is easy to see the end. By the necessary course of events, if left to themselves, we must become, finally, two people.

19 John C. Calhoun Southern partisan: – We of the South will not, cannot, surrender our institutions. The South feels that the federal government is a tool of the Northern, anti-slave faction. They see it as hostile and oppressive.

20 John C. Calhoun Slavery: something for everyone For (elite) whites: freedom from labor leads to greater accomplishments: – there never has yet existed a wealthy and civilized society in which one portion of the community did not, in point of fact, live on the labor of the other. (While other figures also believed in the supremacy of whites, it did not play as central a role in their vision of power & government)

21 John C. Calhoun White racial solidarity served to conceal the real class divisions between plantation- owning, slaveholding whites and small, non- slaveholding white farmers/citizens.

22 John C. Calhoun Benefits of slavery to slaves: Never before has the black race of Central Africa, from the dawn of history to the present day, attained a condition so civilized and so improved, not only physically, but morally and intellectually.

23 John C. Calhoun Benefit of slavery to slaves: in few countries so much is left to the share of the laborer, and so little exacted from him, or where there is more kind attention paid to him in sickness or infirmities of age. – Better than being an industrial laborer, a more gentle, paternal form of power

24 John C. Calhoun Thus, slavery stabilizes society: There is and always has been in an advanced stage of wealth and civilization, a conflict between labor and capital. The condition of society in the South exempts us from the disorders and dangers resulting from this conflict; and which explains why it is that the political condition of the slaveholding States has been so much more stable and quiet than that of the North....

25 A note on terminology Black vs. African-American (power and words) – While the preferred term is today African- American, the point is that black people at the time we are discussing were deliberately excluded from the American political community. – When discussing the historical injustice of racial relations in the US, it seems inappropriate to pretend that people of African descent were not excluded from the political community

26 A note on the class authors Great majority white men Non-whites, women largely excluded from participating in public political debate

27 Coming Up Monday: MLK Holiday Wednesday: OSullivan Friday: Lincoln-Douglas debates

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