Monday, December 10, 2012

Lots of Heroes

Some people observe moral decline in some aspects of American society, and conclude that part of the problem is that we don't have enough heroes. This is disputable. It is quite possible to argue that America has many heroes, both in the past and in the present.

Of course, a definition is in order. We aren't talking about the superheroes of comic books and movies with their supernatural powers - Superman, Spiderman, etc. To borrow a definition from a dictionary, we're using 'hero' in the sense of someone "who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities" or more simply "who is typically identified with good qualities."

America has many heroes. Other nations do as well - take your choice: China, Germany, Poland, Iceland, Australia, etc. America has no monopoly on virtue. Again, a definition will clarify: although we need not demand complete agreement on virtue, a consensus reveals that definitions will include, by way of example, chastity, temperance, charity, diligence, patience, kindness, humility, prudence, justice, restraint, courage, faith, hope, and love.

But one definition in turn demands another - the 'love' which is a virtue is no mere emotional attraction, but rather a selfless commitment to do what is good for another, even at one's own cost: altruism.

But the abstract discussion of heroes and virtues, while central to philosophies like Aristotelianism and Scholasticism, is almost irrelevant to history. In history, it is the concrete, specific, and detailed study of individual heroes which interests us. For example, the National Review offers us the obituaries of two heroes:

As the world that was forged at Guadalcanal, Stalingrad, Normandy, and Hiroshima endures through each decade's challenges, the band of men who fought and won World War II continues to dwindle in numbers, though not in glory. Last month brought the passing of Albert Brown, America's oldest WWII vet, who survived the Bataan Death March to find that it was just the beginning. During his three years in captivity, Brown endured constant beatings as his six-foot frame wasted away to 90 pounds. After liberation, he spent two years in an Army hospital; unable to work at his pre-war trade of dentistry, be became prosperous in California real estate. Dead at 105. R.I.P. Also leaving us was Charles Murray, Jr., a Medal of Honor recipient. At one desperate juncture during the Battle of the Bulge, he encountered a group of 200 German troops who had pinned down an American battalion. Murray tried to call in air support, but when his radio went dead, he single-handedly fought off the entire detachment - killing 20, capturing ten, wounding many others, and taking shrapnel in his legs from a grenade before reinforcements arrived. Dead at 89. R.I.P.

It is in studying such heroes that we learn about heroism. These heroes were young - many WWII heroes were between the ages of 18 and 22 - but heroes can be of any age. These high-profile examples are properly understood when we see that the same heroism is at work in everyday examples: being a good mother or a good father is a heroic act, a deed often spanning decades. Being a good friend is heroic; donating to charities is heroic. Having a mutually supportive, respectful, and affectionate marriage over the decades is heroic.

Examining and understanding history's heroes is - in an overused word - inspirational. The knowledge of these events has the emotional power to encourage us in our individual lives - encourages us to heroism. A periodical titled Historical Footnotes relates the events surrounding

a navy chaplain who was wounded at Pearl Harbor and then was in the Tokyo Bay area at the end of World War II. His experiences epitomize the danger chaplains can be in while ministering to the soldiers and sailors in the military.

Two elements of heroism can be found here. First, that the chaplain persevered: wounded, he returned to duty. Second, altruism: his mission was to serve his comrades. His name was Raymond Charles Hohenstein; his is not one of the famous names in history books.

Chaplain Hohenstein began his service stationed on the USS Boise from 1940 to 1941, when he left to serve on the USS California. He was stationed on the USS California at Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii, on that fateful day in December 1941 when Japan attacked and the war began for the United States.
Charles Hohenstein worked to help the sailors aboard the ship when it was attacked. First looking for gas masks to help them breathe, then helping to evacuate them to safety. Even after he was wounded, he continued to find ways to encourage the sailors.

The USS California was severely damaged and eventually sank. Chaplain Hohenstein's injuries consisted of flash burns to the face, scalp, and right arm. He was awarded the Purple Heart in 1943 for wounds received at the attack on Pearl Harbor. He was the first living navy chaplain to receive the award.

After recovering from his wounds, he returned to active duty. Providence can be symbolic, and he who was wounded at the very beginning of the Pacific war was present at its very end.

Chaplain Hohenstein went on to serve at the Submarine Base at Pearl Harbor, the Naval Training Center in Great Lakes, Illinois, the Naval Operating Base in Key West, Florida, and as senior chaplain on the USS Wisconsin during World War II. He served on the USS Wisconsin from 1944 to 1946; this service included being ashore in the Tokyo Bay area on September 2, 1945, when Japan officially surrendered. He was the only navy chaplain to be present at both the beginning and end of the war with Japan.

Our problem is not that there are too few heroes. There are many. Our problem may be that we are not studying our heroes - not learning about their lives and actions - and therefore denying ourselves the opportunity to be inspired by them.

Studying heroes requires sober realism. Heroes are not perfect; they have their flaws and failings. Heroes come in all races, languages, cultures and nationalities; American cannot claim a monopoly on heroism. But studying heroes will not only inspire us, but it will also - through the analysis of many examples - crystalize our understanding of virtue and help to recognize the the right thing to do.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Bataan - Road of Horrors

Long before the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, bringing the United States into the war, hostilities were in the works. Although the December attack on the Hawaiian naval base was a surprise in terms of its exact timing, both sides knew that war was probable, if not inevitable. Military planners had been anticipating some such conflict since the mid-1930's.

Even earlier, military preparedness planners had considered it necessary to be ready for a Pacific naval war. Historian Russell Weigley notes that U.S. unpreparedness for such a war was considered to be so problematic,

especially after the Washington Treaty of 1922, that the planners of the twenties and thirties never had much confidence in their handiwork. The Army planners felt little hope that the garrison of the Philippine Islands could hold out, even in such a restricted area as the Bataan Peninsula and the island of Corregidor, until the fleet arrived with reinforcements.

Almost twenty years in advance, it was known that American and Filipino forces would face almost certain defeat in the face of Japanese attack. And that's what happened. Timed to happen quickly after the Pearl Harbor attack, the Japanese invasion of the Philippines began on 8 December 1941. Historians Allan Millett and Peter Maslowski write that

the defense of the Philippines depended upon the Asiatic Fleet, the Far Eastern Air Force of about 140 aircraft, 31,000 American and Filipino regulars, 100,000 Filipino levies, and the fertile brain of Douglas MacArthur. None proved adequate to meet the Japanese invasion. Through command lapses that still defy explanation, the majority of the AAF bomber and fighter force burned to junk on the ground from a bombing attack on December 8. The remaining planes and the Asiatic Fleet could not stop invasions throughout December in both northern and southern Luzon, and the Navy fell back to join the Anglo-Dutch squadron defending the Malay Barrier. MacArthur himself did not enjoy one of his finest hours in command, for, alternating between romanticism and despair, he threw his feeble ground forces against the Japanese army rather than retreat immediately to the Bataan peninsula according to plan. By the time his battered forces eventually reached Bataan, they had already suffered serious losses; more importantly, they had abandoned their food, supplies, and munitions that might have prolonged their resistance or at least reduced their subsequent suffering. Under field conditions that beggar the mind, the Philippine army fought until early April 1942. Disease, malnutrition, and ammunition shortages doomed Bataan's staunch defenders. Their comrades on Corregidor Island resisted an additional month, then General Jonathan Wainwright, who assumed command after FDR ordered MacArthur to Australia, surrendered the remaining forces throughout the Philippines. Thousands of American and Filipino servicemen and civilians faded into the mountains to form guerilla units that harassed the Japanese for four years. Wainwright cabled Washington, "With profound regret and with continued pride in my gallant troops, I go to meet the Japanese commander. Good-bye, Mr. President."

The American-Filipino force had held out as long as possible. Indeed, very quickly after Pearl Harbor, the senior officers in the United States military knew that they would need to devote maximum effort to the defense of the Philippines, and they knew exactly as certainly that such a defense was doomed to failure. Historian Michael Korda describes how two brilliant minds, Eisenhower and Marshall, stood at the center of this complex, stressful, and historic moment. General Eisenhower, at that time reporting to General George Marshall, drafted a strategic overview of the situation in the Pacific for Marshall:

He faced the painful facts: no major reinforcements could reach the Philippines without the protection of the battleships of the Pacific Fleet, which still lay smoldering at Pearl Harbor. The first priority must therefore be to set up a secure base in Australia, and "to procure a line of communications leading to it," which meant moving instantly to save Hawaii, Fiji, New Zealand, and New Caledonia, even at the risk of further Japanese advances elsewhere. (This conclusion may seem obvious now, since we know that the plan succeeded, but nobody else at that time had reached it, stated it clearly, or proposed to make it America's first and most immediate priority.) In the meantime, every effort had to be made to supply the American and Philippine troops by air and submarine for as long as possible, "although the end result might be no more than postponement of the inevitable."

Committing effort to what was probably a lost cause had two reasons: first, a moral statement to the civilians and soldiers of the Philippines and to the American troops; second, it kept the Japanese military tied up. General Eisenhower presented his ideas to General Marshall:

When Ike went back in to present Marshall with his conclusions, he finished by saying, "General, it will be a long time before major reinforcements can go to the Philippines, longer than any garrison can hold out with any driblet assistance, if the enemy commits major forces to their reduction. But we must do everything for them that is humanly possible. The people of China, of the Philippines, of the Dutch East Indies will be watching us. They may excuse failure but they will not excuse abandonment."

American forces, already reduced by the Pearl Harbor attack, were stretched thin, attempted to establish a base in Australia, protect lines of communication and supplies across thousands of miles of Pacific Ocean, and strengthen the defenders of the Philippines. Marshall agreed with Eisenhower's assessment of the situation, and agreed to Eisenhower's plan of action:

Marshall merely replied, "I agree with you. Do your best to save them," and sent Ike off to begin the process of building up a base in Australia, while getting anything he could to the Philippines. In effect, Marshall had asked Ike for his recommendations, and then given him the task of carrying them out.

The various branches of the United States military do not automatically operate in harmony. Different officers have conflicting ideas of what should be done. It is incumbent on the high command to create harmony, hopefully by persuasion, but if necessary by direct orders.

One of Ike's first moves was to overrule the Navy, which after Pearl Harbor had wanted to recall all the supply ships on their way to the Philippines to United States ports, and send them on to Australia instead, guarded by the cruiser Pensacola. Ike worked closely with Marshall, drafting many of the Chief of Staff's most crucial messages, many of which dealt with the rapidly deteriorating situation in the Philippines. MacArthur's plan to "stop the enemy on the beaches" of the Philippines had failed from the first moment - at the first sight of the Japanese landing on the beaches, the Philippine soldiers threw down the newly issued Enfield rifles that Ike had procured for them, and ran.

Prior to working for Marshall, Eisenhower had worked for MacArthur in the Philippines, and so understood the situation exactly.

Ike was, unsurprisingly, clearheaded on the subject of MacArthur. The Philippines was a lost cause, and in his opinion MacArthur should fight it out to the end, with whatever help could reach him - Ike, when the time came, would be against evacuating MacArthur from Bataan, and also against awarding him the Medal of Honor - and then surrender. He drafted Marshall's calm and fact-filled replies to MacArthur's complaints that no supplies were reaching him and that he and the Philippines were being abandoned. Ike also had a hand in drafting Roosevelt's reply to an angry, anguished plea from President Quezon - with the support, rather surprisingly, of MacArthur, who had swung from improbable optimism to describing the situation as "about to be a disastrous debacle" - to let the Philippines be granted immediate independence and be "neutralized," with the immediate removal of both American and Japanese troops.

The end was inevitable, and clear to everyone except FDR. While even MacArthur saw the defeat coming, Roosevelt would be shocked to learn of it. The exchange with the Filipino president, and the agreement between Eisenhower, MacArthur, and Marshall about the fate of the Philippines

brought home at last, even to optimists like the president, "the very somber picture of the Army's situation" and the possibility of a major defeat there. This picture was shortly to be confirmed by the news that Manila had fallen and that MacArthur had retreated to Bataan, where 15,000 American and 65,000 Filipino troops were trapped. In his reply to Quezon, Roosevelt rejected Quezon's proposal as unacceptable, and pledged that "so long as the flag of the United States flies on Filipino soil ... it will be defended by our own men to the death," an answer which infuriated Quezon. Roosevelt's cable to MacArthur ordered him to fight on "so long as there remains any possibility of resistance," and said, even more uncompromisingly: "The duty and necessity of resisting Japanese aggression to the last transcends any other obligation now facing us in the Philippines." MacArthur's belief that he had been "betrayed" by Roosevelt, Marshall, and Ike, who had promised reinforcements and supplies and then withheld them or routed them elsewhere is not borne out by the facts. True, the president made optimistic promises; and true, Marshall did his best to make the tone of his messages more encouraging than Ike's very much bleaker drafts. But in the absence of a fleet and an air force to protect them, no significant number of supply ships could have reached the Philippines in time to change the outcome, and it seems unlikely that so experienced a commander as MacArthur did not know this.

MacArthur, in any case, seemed to waffle back and forth between accepting his fate and denying it. After the inevitable defeat of American and Filipino forces, and the fading of those in the heart of the larger islands into guerilla forces, the most tragic fate, as the Washington Times reports, befell the force on Bataan,

the 30-mile peninsula that bounds Manila Bay on Luzon, largest of the 7,000-island Philippine archipelago, a U.S. dependency in 1941. Within hours of striking Pearl Harbor, Japan launched another surprise attack here. Unable to repel the invaders, American and Filipino defenders soon fell back to the natural bastion of Bataan and its island redoubt, the “rock” of Corregidor.

The Japanese had an easy time defeating the Americans who had retreated to a peninsula, without any naval craft for evacuation. It became clear at this point that the POW's would receive treatment which was neither humane nor human.

Then came the inevitable, humiliating surrender and infamous Death March, in which GIs were herded north for 60 miles — nonstop without food, water or rest en route. Prisoners who fell by the wayside were dispatched by bayonet. They were beaten, stabbed, shot, beheaded, chained together and toppled into a ravine.

This was merely the prelude to torture and atrocities which are almost beyond description. The American soldiers who

fought valiantly against suicidal waves of Japanese troops — and against starvation, fatigue, jungle heat, tropical diseases and volcanic terrain

would now face more painful, more humiliating, and more dispiriting circumstances, sadistically inflicted upon them by the Japanese.

Japan’s high command, driven by monocultural certitude, regarded westerners as a race apart, a race beneath. Further, since Japan never signed the Geneva Convention, she ignored its proscriptions against torture and executions.

The Bataan peninsula fell into Japanese hands on April 9, 1942, when the Americans surrendered. More than 60,000 Filipino and 15,000 American prisoners of war were forced into the infamous Bataan Death March. Thousands of Filipino soldiers, and hundreds of American soldiers, died as they marched to the camp where they would be held as POW's. The route was approximately 80 miles, and the prisoners received neither food nor water nor rest. At the end of the march, they were herded into boxcars and taken the last few miles by train to the camp.

The Bataan Death March came to symbolize many of the other atrocities committed by the Japanese soldiers during WWII in the Pacific. The torture and inhumanity remains shocking and gruesome to this day.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Presidential Humility

The best form of government will lead to bad results, if the individuals who fill that form act badly; the worst form of government can lead to successes, if the people who occupy that form's offices act honorably. Therefore we examine not only the policies of those in office, but also their characters.

Humility is always a virtue, but all the more so In the executive branch of government. Those who occupy this branch must view themselves as facilitators, managers, caretakers, or stewards of the republic. To be sure, leadership is occasionally necessary, often in foreign policy, and especially in war. But the egotistical executive will fancy that his leadership is everywhere necessary.

Aware of the temptation posed by pride, Calvin Coolidge, himself a model executive, wrote:

It is a great advantage to a President, and a major source of safety to the country, for him to know that he is not a great man. When a man begins to feel that he is the only one who can lead in this republic, he is guilty of treason to the spirit of our institutions.

This thought was doubtless in the minds of the Founding Fathers as they wrote the Constitution. In 1788, Alexander Hamilton wrote The Federalist Papers number 70, in which he noted:

Men often oppose a thing, merely because they have had no agency in planning it, or because it may have been planned by those whom they dislike. But if they have been consulted, and have happened to disapprove, opposition then becomes, in their estimation, an indispensable duty of self-love. They seem to think themselves bound in honor, and by all the motives of personal infallibility, to defeat the success of what has been resolved upon contrary to their sentiments. Men of upright, benevolent tempers have too many opportunities of remarking, with horror, to what desperate lengths this disposition is sometimes carried, and how often the great interests of society are sacrificed to the vanity, to the conceit, and to the obstinacy of individuals, who have credit enough to make their passions and their caprices interesting to mankind. Perhaps the question now before the public may, in its consequences, afford melancholy proofs of the effects of this despicable frailty, or rather detestable vice in the human character.

With this awareness, the Founders wrote the Constitution with the famed system of "check and balance" and "separation of powers." But beyond these external checks on the innate flaws of human nature - everyone's inborn susceptibility to temptations of pride - it is good if an executive has internal checks on the ego.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Madison's Union

President James Madison, speaking at his inauguration in March of 1817, was able with satisfaction to look back at the Revolution of 1776, at the country's success in defending itself in the War of 1812, and at the economic and geographic growth of the nation. Having seen the Bill of Rights through the ratification process from 1789 to 1791, he was an experienced legislator, and a proven supporter of personal freedoms.

The early history of the United States can be seen as a paradox: how could the nation moved away from the Articles of Confederation toward the Constitution, in order to have a somewhat stronger central government for purposes of military self-defense and coherent foreign policy, while at the same time preserving individual liberties and independent state governments. It was with this tension that Madison and others wrestled. He noted that

In explaining my sentiments on this subject it may be asked, What raised us to the present happy state? How did we accomplish the Revolution? How remedy the defects of the first instrument of our Union, by infusing into the National Government sufficient power for national purposes, without impairing the just rights of the States or affecting those of individuals? How sustain and pass with glory through the late war? The Government has been in the hands of the people. To the people, therefore, and to the faithful and able depositaries of their trust is the credit due. Had the eople of the United States been educated in different principles had they been less intelligent, less independent, or less virtuous can it be believed that we should have maintained the same steady and consistent career or been blessed with the same success? While, then, the constituent body retains its present sound and healthful state everything will be safe. They will choose competent and faithful representatives for every department. It is only when the people become ignorant and corrupt, when they degenerate into a populace, that they are incapable of exercising the sovereignty. Usurpation is then an easy attainment, and an usurper soon found. The people themselves become the willing instruments of their own debasement and ruin. Let us, then, look to the great cause, and endeavor to preserve it in full force. Let us by all wise and constitutional measures promote intelligence among the people as the best means of preserving our liberties.

Almost two hundred years later, this same tension continues to make itself felt in American politics. The rights of the individual, and the self-determination of each of the fifty states, stands across from the need for a centralized government which is strong enough to militarily defend our interests and to present to the world a coherent foreign policy. Historian Laura Ingraham writes:

So our federal government has two big problems. One, our country is too large and diverse to be adequately covered by a single set of policies. Two, because the country is so big, it is very difficult to even for members of the House to adequately represent the people who elect them. Neither of these problems is going away anytime soon. Certainly the country is not going to get smaller. And I don't think anyone really believes we should have thousands of members in the House of Representatives - talk about "big government." The congressional dining room would become a drive-through and C-SPAN would constitute half of your cable lineup. In light of these facts, how can we truly give "Power to the People"?

Like James Madison, Laura Ingraham considers John Locke's principle that the sovereignty - the legitimacy - of a government is derived from the consent of the governed. "Power to the People," as the slogan goes, is also "Power from the People." Power is given to citizens when it is recognized that it is they who lend power to the government. Locke's principle is most effectively implemented by smaller local governments, which are more flexible to respond to regional conditions, and which are easier for the individual citizen to access. It's easier for a citizen's expressions and communications to impact his city council than his national Congress.

Federalism is a big part of the answer. In general, it is far better that issues be decided by a town council than a state legislature, and better that issues be decided by a state legislature than the federal government. Each step up that ladder takes governmental power farther away from the people it's meant to serve and puts more power in unreachable government bureaucracies.

When we compare the national government in Washington with state, county, and city governments, we note that the national government piles up ever-larger amounts of debt quickly, while most local governments have enacted rules which prevent them from having debt at all; the national government increases taxes often and significantly; local governments are more likely to concentrate on ways to keep taxes as low as possible. By definition, local governments can more accurately reflect the cultures of those in their territories, while the large national must choose a course which corresponds to the views of a very small segment of the nation's citizens.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Stabilizing the Defeated Mexican Government

Historian Irving Levinson offers a more nuanced account about the war, conducted between 1846 and 1848 between the United States and Mexico, and its political and social dynamics than is given, according to him, by typical textbook narratives:

to many, the fighting that began on 8 May 1846 at Palo Alto, Texas, and ended with the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo on 2 February 1848 constitutes the military history of the United States of America’s war with Mexico. This framework has remained fundamentally unchanged for more than 150 years. Then, as now, the war stands as a conventional nineteenth-century conflict fought by armies of two sovereign states in set-piece battles as well as in ongoing partisan warfare. This paradigm is seriously flawed and ought to be replaced.

Within Mexico at that time, various demographic factions – delineated along economic, racial, and other variables – prevented much of a consensus on policy, and certainly made any mandate by a mathematical majority impossible. The country was so fragmented that as one group offered intense, guerilla-style resistance to U.S. soldiers, major cities gave no resistance – not even objection – to being occupied by the U.S. Army, and in some cases seemed to even benefit from such occupation:

when U.S. forces entered Mexican territory, they crossed into a nation divided along lines of class, race, and rights. The U.S. Army marched into a nation at war with itself as well as at war with the invader. This particular duality remains essential to understanding the subsequent course of events that involved governments, armies, and civilians.

Wise military leaders – Levinson chooses Winfield Scott as an admirable example – understood this dynamic, and went to great lengths to demonstrate benevolence toward the citizens of the occupied cities. At the same time, U.S. forces in the region were dependent upon long supply lines through unsecured territory; supply convoys needed large numbers of soldiers to guard them along the way. Despite peaceful and masterful occupation of cities, therefore, the U.S. troops were at risk because supplies were uncertain, and the larger U.S. strategy endangered because many men were tied up guarding supply lines instead of attacking military targets.

Levinson compares and contrasts the U.S. presence in Mexico with the occupation of Spain by Napoleon’s troops. That latter event, thirty or forty years prior to the U.S. conflict with Mexico, was the actual origin of the term ‘guerilla’ warfare; whether it was the origin of the form of warfare itself, and not merely the word, is subject to debate: one might possibly conceive of Germanic resistance to Roman soldiers between 50 B.C. and 476 A.D. as guerilla warfare. Levinson’s point is, however, that Winfield Scott did better than Napoleon, because Scott, while facing the same type of hit-and-run adversary, did a much better job of forming friendly relations with that segment of the local population which was willing to countenance the possibility of a mutually beneficial arrangement with the occupying U.S. forces.

The guerilla-style efforts at disrupting U.S. supply lines were effective; they might have even crushed the U.S. military operations in Mexico, but they did not, largely because a significant segment of the population was indifferent to, or even slightly supportive of, the U.S. presence. This comfort with the presence of U.S. troops was the result of some Mexicans’ ambivalence with their own government.

At this point, Levinson’s narrative omits a detail included by fellow historians Allan Millett and Peter Maslowski. Their account of the same events notes that, at one point, Scott, realizing his vulnerability in depending on long and difficult-to-defend supply lines, decided to operate his army without a supply line, living off the land for needed materials. Levinson’s description of the effective guerilla operations, and their effect on those supply lines, reciprocally sheds light on Scott’s decision to abandon temporarily those lines and work without them.

As the war progressed, and the Mexican military increasingly turned its resources toward offering resistance to U.S. operations, those segments of Mexican society most opposed to the Mexican government saw an opportunity, and rebellions arose in various parts of the country. The Mexican military could not simultaneously harass U.S. troops and quell rebellions. Faced with their inability to fight basically two wars at the same time, the Mexicans – or more exactly, the Mexican government – was willing to negotiate a peace treaty. “The 2 February 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and the almost equally important truce agreement of 6 March 1848” ended the war, but did not end U.S. military activity in the country. The latter document pledged U.S. military support for the Mexican government’s efforts to put down rebellions. In addition to direct military action, the United States also sold significant amounts of weapons to the Mexican army at deeply discounted prices.

Levinson’s article is important because it reminds to be alert for situations in which there is a significant internal division in one of the belligerents. Such cases appear at different points in history: in the incident involving the U.S.S. Panay, in 1937, there were three countries involved – Japan, China, and the U.S. – there were in essence six parties, because each of those countries had two major internal factions: in China, the Communists opposed the Nationalists; in Japan, the militarists were eager to expand the war, while the civilian government was not; in the United States, isolationists opposed internationalists. Mexico during the 1846-1848 war was even more fractured: there were divisions of race, divisions of wealth, and divisions of political agendas. Mexico’s internal schisms led to its inability to defend itself from the U.S., and ironically also led to military aid from the U.S.: having defeated Mexico, the U.S. found it necessary to then stabilize Mexico in order to form a lasting peace.

A final lesson to be learnt concerns the distinction between victory in battle and success in war. In Mexico, as would be the case at the end of the Second World War, the U.S. Army could destroy any enemy formation that the Americans wished to destroy. But domination of the battlefields did not guarantee the emergence of the desired postwar political result. In Mexico, a stabilization program for a cooperative government emerged as the prerequisite for peace. Similarly, the willingness of prominent Japanese and Germans made possible the transition of both nations from defeated tyrannies to emergent democracies. Clearly, Scott recognized such reality even if civilians above his grade did not. And so let us, even if it be late in the day, now praise a famous man.

The U.S. Army not only occupied, but placed its men and resources into the service of, the government it had so recently defeated – an irony. The management of the situation on the ground immediately after the peace treaty and ceasefire agreements was essential to creating a stable situation. Managing, and maintaining good working relations with, the locals during and after the war was as important as the actual battles themselves.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Reshaping the USMC

When thinking of U.S. military leaders, lots of names come to mind – Washington, Grant, Pershing, Eisenhower, Patton – but the name Ben Fuller probably does not come to mind. Although relatively unknown, he guided the United States Marine Corps through some important developmental phases.

Ben Hebard Fuller was born in Michigan in 1870, and educated at Annapolis. Fuller’s first important assignment was to the Philippines in 1899, reflecting a new era in U.S. foreign policy and correspondingly new types of military deployment. Fuller’s career also coincided with William Fullam’s controversial vision of a totally new role for the Marines. Over the next two decades, Navy officers and Marine officers would debate whether the USMC was mainly a police force onboard and in port, or whether it would assume activities on land – activities larger than merely the occasional landing party.

In 1928, Fuller had been promoted to the position of assistant commandant and brought into USMC headquarters. A document entitled “Advanced Base Operations in Micronesia” had been prepared and would dictate much of the USMC’s training and planning over the next decade – leave the Marines amazingly well-prepared for the outbreak of WWII.

By contrast, the First World War had seen Marines used as infantry, apart from any amphibious landing. Ben Fuller saw no action in WWI, being posted elsewhere. Although his lack of combat experience probably slowed his advancement through the ranks, he was seen as valuable and ultimately promoted in part because of his extensive training – in institutions like the Naval War College and the Army’s Field Officer’s Course – which made him a capable tactician, strategist, and theoretician.

Historian Merrill Bartlett has written a hagiographic account of Ben Fuller’s career in the USMC. Bartlett’s panegyric takes the form of a reappraisal – Bartlett falls into the noble tradition of historians who ask their readers to rethink the ‘standard account’ – seeking to rehabilitate Ben Fuller as a significant and praiseworthy Commandant of the USMC from 1930 to 1934. Inter-service power politics, which Fuller faced, are notoriously thorny, but even more so for the Marines, who stand not only vis-a-vis the Army, Coast Guard, and Air Force, but also occupy an internal status within the Navy which places them technically ‘under’ Navy command.

Among the reasons for which President Herbert Hoover appointed Fuller to be Commandant was that Fuller’s classmate from Annapolis was Chief of Naval Operations, and that the two could be expected to work well together. “But Fuller stood firm every time the admirals attempted to gain ground at the expense of the Marine Corps, and he never hesitated to take issue with” his old friend from the academy days, as Bartlett writes.

During Fuller’s career, the USMC not only retained “traditional duties in support of the Navy at sea and ashore, but also” adopted “new missions as colonial infantry, an advanced-base force, and finally an amphibious-assault force.” Under Fuller’s command, the USMC’s role “as a subsidiary of the Navy” ended. Fuller’s steadfast advocacy before Navy high command was central to the USMC’s increased independence.

In 1933, Fuller had restructured the deployment of Marines within the Navy, and restructured the chain of command; he ordered the officers to develop amphibious landing techniques, which would be important in WWII. In this same year, the Navy authorized increased manpower for the Marines, and procured equipment according to the USMC specifications instead of Navy specifications; these steps were the fruit of Fuller’s advocacy.

In the previous years, there had been considerable dispute about the roles of Marines vis-a-vis the Navy, and their role vis-a-vis the Army. The Army was eager to form a monopoly on aircraft, and so the USMC aircraft were linked closely with Navy aircraft to prevent them from being absorbed into the Army. Likewise, the Marines were defined as being

responsible for the seizure and defense of advanced bases; subsequent operations ashore would then pass to the Army. Planners argued that the Marines should only be employed as an adjunct to the Army if necessary, because in any likely scenario the Marine Corps would be busy supporting the fleet. Prophetically, the Director of the War Plans Division posited that Marine Corps air assets should always remain an integral part of naval aviation and never operate as a separate component; otherwise, it would open the way for criticism from the Army Air Corps.

Through 1931 and 1932, the economic conditions of the country combined with the schemes of the famous and infamous General Douglas MacArthur to cut the USMC to somewhere in the neighborhood of 15,000 to 16,000 men. MacArthur believed that the USMC “should be limited to the traditional duties aboard ship.” MacArthur’s trademark ego would allow no place a for a significant Marine Corps to compete with his Army. It was from these depths that Fuller would lift the Corps.

One wonders about the relative impact of two factors in strengthening the USMC: Fuller’s advocacy for more manpower and better equipment, versus FDR’s view that the military could be a “make work” program for unemployed civilians and boost production through procurement of equipment.

Ben Fuller died in 1937, and was buried beside his son, who had died in WWI.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Jay's Defense Policy

John Jay, writing in the third of the Federalist Papers in 1787, stated his notion about national defense, and how it would be strengthened by adopting the proposed Constitution. Under the Articles of Confederation, national defense had been a murky subject. Arising from an equally murky foreign policy, in which each of the thirteen states was free to make its own treaties with other nations, the nation's defensive structure was ambiguous. It was not clear if or how the national government had the authority to call up the militia of one of the states. This left the central government toothless, and the need for a stronger centralized military structure was obvious. But at the same time, it was far from obvious how one might create a national defense without harming the rights of the individual states, counties, towns, and individuals.

This, in a nutshell, is the paradox behind the Federalist Papers as they advocate for the ratification of the new Constitution: how to obtain the benefits of a strong national government without hindering the liberties of the individual citizen. This same tension lies behind the ninth and tenth amendments to the Constitution, found in the Bill of Rights.

Jay wrote that

Among the many objects to which a wise and free people find it necessary to direct their attention, that of providing for their safety seems to be the first. The safety of the people doubtless has relation to a great variety of circumstances and considerations, and consequently affords great latitude to those who wish to define it precisely and comprehensively.

He begins by indicating that the issue of safety can be perceived or interpreted differently. Honest and intelligent men might differ as to what they mean by the phrase "provide safety" for the citizens of a nation. To clarify and sharpen the discussion, then, Jay continues:

At present I mean only to consider it as it respects security for the preservation of peace and tranquillity, as well against dangers from foreign arms and influence, as from dangers of the like kind arising from domestic causes. As the former of these comes first in order, it is proper it should be the first discussed. Let us therefore proceed to examine whether the people are not right in their opinion, that a cordial Union under an efficient national Government, affords them the best security that can be devised against hostilities from abroad.

Refining the definition, then, Jay writes that the types of safety in which the federal government will have an interest are "security for the preservation of peace and tranquility," and "against dangers from foreign arms and influence," and "dangers of the like kind arising from domestic causes." John Jay is telling us that the national government will protect its citizens from foreign military attack and from domestic criminals. Expanding the definition slightly, he includes that the constitutional government will protect its citizens also from foreign "influence" - we have rightly here to ask, what he means by this: propaganda, economic pressures, spying, etc.

Jay's ruminations on national security did not take place in a vacuum. The experience of the war (1775 to 1783) was close at hand. The Continental Congress had faced then the same tension: how to provide a military defense for the liberties of the inhabitants of the thirteen colonies - soon to be the thirteen states - without violating the same freedom which it was protecting. Mounting a defense of freedom required taxing citizens to pay for the military, as well as conscripting or impressing men to be soldiers - the draft. Yet taxes and government interference with the private lives of citizens were exactly the causes of the rebellion.

Describing how this tension played out in practical terms, historians Allan Millett and Peter Maslowski write that

It looked as if the colonies were embarked upon an unequal war. A population of two and a half million (20 percent of whom were slaves), without an army, navy, or adequate financial resources, confronted a nation of eight million with a professional army, large navy, and vast wealth. Yet many colonists were confident and determined. They believed in the "natural courage" of Americans and in God's divine protection. Congress admitted that colonial soldiers lacked experience and discipline but insisted that "facts have shown, that native Courage warmed with Patriotism is sufficient to counterbalance these Advantages." And a British captain wrote that Americans "are just now worked up to such a degree of enthusiasm and madness that they are easily persuaded the Lord is to assist them in whatever they undertake, and that they must be invincible." Colonists were determined because they struggled for high stakes, summed up by George Washington: "Remember, officers and soldiers, that you are freemen, fighting for the blessings of liberty; that slavery will be your portion and that of your posterity if you do not acquit yourselves like men." The Revolution was no European dynastic squabble, but a war involving an ideological question that affected the population far more than did the kingly quarrels of the Age of Limited Warfare. Large numbers of colonists ardently believed freedom was the issue, not only for themselves but for generations yet unborn.

The focus on freedom as the goal of the war provided enough motivation to allow the thirteen colonies to overcome their deficits in technology, in money, and in manpower. Other wars in the preceding decades and centuries had been rivalries between competing European dynasties. Soldiers were commoners employed by the royal houses - precious little motivation for them to risk their lives. In adventures like the War of the Austrian Succession and the Seven Years' War, then, we see soldiers fighting without the concept of "total war" which motivated the colonists in throwing off the British yoke. (The phrase "total war" would come to have a negative connotation, two centuries later, when it was used by fascists against democracies, but in George Washington's time, the phrase was unknown - we apply it retroactively, as an anachronism, to denote the passion and dedication of the Continental Army.) The colonists knew that, once begun, they would either win the war, or be devastated by the British. There would be no negotiated compromise as a 'middle way' out.

Shouldering arms freely and believing freedom was the issue, Continentals never became regulars in the European sense. They became good soldiers, but they remained citizens who refused to surrender their individuality. They asserted their personal independence by wearing jaunty hats and long hair despite (or perhaps to spite) their officers' insistence upon conformity in dress and appearance. Furthermore, they were only temporary regulars. Unlike European professionals, they understood the war's goals and would fight until they were achieved, but then they intended to return to civilian life.

The Americans revived the concept of "citizen soldier" from ancient Rome - a citizen who fought for the goals of the war, not for pay, and who had a hand in determining those goals. European soldiers of the 1700's fought for pay; the Americans fought for freedom. The Americans had so thoroughly embraced the ideology of liberty that they were willing to die for it.

Americans reintroduced ideology into warfare, fought for the unlimited goal of independence, and mobilized citizen-soldiers rather than professionals. In the spring of 1783, Washington summarized the drastic implications of these changes. "It may be laid down as a primary position, and the basis of our system," he wrote, "that every Citizen who enjoys the protection of a free Government, owes not only a proportion of his property, but even of his personal service to the defense of it...." To protect the nation, "the Total strength of the Country might be called forth." Mass citizen-soldier armies would be motivated by patriotic zeal as they fought for freedom, equality, and other abstract ideological virtues.

As abstract as the goals of war may have been, they took specific and concrete form in the minds of the Americans: the list of grievances against the King of England in the Declaration of Independence - drawn from the Intolerable Acts, the Stamp Act, the Townshend Acts, the Sugar Act, the Tea Act, and others - was no mere ideological abstraction, but a physical reality. This specificity prevented the American Revolution from becoming the debacle which was the French Revolution.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Wartime Shortages

America's War of Independence - or, if you prefer, The Revolutionary War - was one in which the young United States faced perpetual deficits: a shortage of men, a shortage of money, and a shortage of material. One might add a shortage of political support among the colonists. The Continental Congress, and the governments of the individual colonies, took various steps to cope with this shortfall, e.g., printing paper money, borrowing money, and seeking the aid of the French. Another measure was the draft: the conscription or impressment of men to serve as soldiers. The word 'impressment' can also be broadened to describe the confiscation or other appropriation of property and material (food, horses, etc.). Historian John Maass notes:

The War of American Independence (1775–83) created an incessant demand for troops, weapons, provisions, and supplies in quantities most states could not readily provide. A relentless need to bring soldiers into the field, keep them in the ranks, and provide them with necessities to fight the enemy and prevail in the struggle for liberty were constant challenges for all of the nascent state governments, all of which lacked a sufficient financial foundation, manufacturing base, and logistical network to sustain a concerted war effort. North Carolina was particularly beset by these challenges. War with the Cherokees on the western frontier, persistent Loyalist hostility, and several British incursions beleaguered the state from the winter of 1776 to the end of the conflict. Financial concerns added to the considerable obstacles that confronted North Carolina upon independence, taxing its meager resources and disturbing the internal stability of its society and newly created political institutions.

A policy of conscription and impressment, however, could easily backfire. Given that one of the needs was more broad-based popular support for the war, confiscating property could easily turn citizens against the independence movement. Impressment of property, if it was to be successful, had to be done with the utmost delicacy, wisdom, and diplomacy. Those who did it well learned, e.g., that property could safely be taken from those who were firmly against the war, because there was no potential support from them anyway. Appropriating property from others needed to be done with expressions of regret, and with an eye toward distributing the burden fairly.

Conscription of men - the draft - was even more difficult, given the low level of information technology to accurately census the population. Men could easily hide or disguise their identities. In some cases, substitutes were hired to fill a conscription obligation. Those who served grudgingly often served poorly.

Given the deprivations faced by the Continental Congress - not only in terms of its armies in the field, but in terms of financing, staffing, and equipping them - the American War of Independence remains a historical David-and-Goliath narrative.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

John Jay on the Nature of Government

John Jay, writing in The Federalist Papers, addressed the perennial question of government's power versus citizen's rights - only, in 1787, it was a far from theoretical question. The United States had found its "Articles of Confederation" to be inadequate for organizing the nation, and was considering whether or not to adopt the new Constitution. The Federalist Papers were a series of articles written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay. These articles were written to encourage the ratification of the Constitution. Jay wrote:

Nothing is more certain than the indispensable necessity of government, and it is equally undeniable, that whenever and however it is instituted, the people must cede to it some of their natural rights in order to vest it with requisite powers.

At that moment, this eternal question took the concrete form of the Union. Specifically, should the thirteen former colonies continue to form one nation, and - under the new Constitution - an even more cohesive nation than they had been under the articles of confederation? Or should the thirteen states be even more independent from each other? It might have been a step toward greater liberty for the thirteen colonies to function as independent governments; but it might also have been the end of them - if the Union were indeed necessary for the continued freedom from British rule - and the step toward greater liberty would have resulted in the termination of liberty. John Jay hoped to persuade the citizens that the Union was necessary for continued survival; that, without the Union, independence and freedom would disappear, and English rule would resume:

It is worthy of remark that not only the first, but every succeeding Congress, as well as the late convention, have invariably joined with the people in thinking that the prosperity of America depended on its Union. To preserve and perpetuate it was the great object of the people in forming that convention, and it is also the great object of the plan which the convention has advised them to adopt. With what propriety, therefore, or for what good purposes, are attempts at this particular period made by some men to depreciate the importance of the Union? Or why is it suggested that three or four confederacies would be better than one? I am persuaded in my own mind that the people have always thought right on this subject, and that their universal and uniform attachment to the cause of the Union rests on great and weighty reasons.

Jay, writing in the second of what would ultimately become a series of 85 articles, reminds his readers that it is the nearly unanimous opinion of the Congresses run under the old articles of confederation, and the opinion of the people at large, that the Union is necessary for the preservation of the thirteen states.

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Sick Chicken

After Franklin Roosevelt took office in early 1933, he launched numerous programs during his first hundred days in office. These programs - the first wave of the "New Deal" - affected many different aspects of daily life for ordinary citizens, and involved massive increases both in the amount of control which the government exerted over people and in the amount of debt which the federal government was creating. One of the largest of these programs was the National Recovery Administration (NRA), created by the National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA).

FDR did so much so quickly that it took the public a while to sort out exactly what had happened during those first hundred days (the phrase 'first hundred days' is routinely used in many history textbooks to define the launch of New Deal programs). In fairness, President Roosevelt is not alone to blame for the misery created by the New Deal - he had a willing Congress. The legislation which passed both the House of Representatives and the Senate, the legislation which began the New Deal, would eventually be understood as having prolonged and intensified the Great Depression.

That was certainly not FDR's goal. The purpose of the New Deal was to help America during a severe economic downturn. Yet history so often reminds us about the law of unintended consequences. New Deal programs made things worse, not better. In addition to their harmful economic effects, they also impinged on personal freedoms. As these programs unfolded and developed in the months following "the first hundred days," ordinary people began to feel the tightening grip of many federal regulations on various aspects of their lives - like buying chicken in a grocery store.

Chicken was the topic of a major lawsuit which found its way to the Supreme Court, and which offered a defense of individual liberty in the face of Roosevelt's New Deal regulations. Historian Robert Murphy writes:

Perhaps the most outrageous injustice occurred in the Schechter case, which was appealed to the Supreme Court and led (in 1935) to the overturning of the original National Industrial Recovery Act as unconstitutional. The Schechter brothers were chicken butchers in Brooklyn, and were subject to the NRA's Code of Fair Competition for the Live Poultry Industry of the Metropolitan Area in and about the City of New York.

Historian Amity Shlaes describes the Byzantine maze of NRA regulations governing poultry operations. Even the most compliant butcher would find it difficult to understand, much less conform to, the endless pages of fine print:

Section 2 of article 7 declared that it was prohibited "knowingly to purchase or sell for human consumption culls or other produce that is unfit for that purpose" ... The code prohibited "straight killing," defined it as "killing on the basis of official grade." The rule meant that customers might select a coop or a half coop of chickens for purchase, but they did not "have the right to make any selection of particular birds."

The Schechter brothers were prosecuted for failure to comply with the NRA rules, but the trial quickly settled on the question of whether the NRA rules were constitutional. Robert Murphy describes the facts of the case:

The Schechters were accused (among other code violations) of selling unfit chickens. However, the evidence against them "in the end, was based on the selection of ten chickens, which was then reduced to three suspect chickens, which, upon autopsy by the health authorities, turned out to include only one unhealthy chicken. It was an 'eggbound' chicken [meaning that] eggs, upon its slaughter, were discovered to have lodged inside it, something that would have been hard for the Schechters to detect before sale." This was the only "crime" that related to anything that would strike the average person as actually criminal. Nonetheless, the Schechter brothers were found guilty of violating the NRA code, and fined $7,425 - the equivalent of more than $100,000 at today's prices. One of the brothers received three months in jail, while his other brothers received lighter sentences.

As evidence was presented, and as the Supreme Court justices asked questions, it became difficult for those in the courtroom not to giggle, as "the absurdity of NRA became evident." Justice James Clark McReynolds asked questions to clarify the butcher's terminology of "straight killing" and how the selection of chickens for slaughter and sale was conducted:

McReynolds wanted to probe the meaning of straight killing, and he started with the chickens. "How many are there in a coop?" There were thirty to forty, according to the size of the coops. "Then when the commission man delivers them to the slaughterhouse, they are in coops?" They were in coops. "And if he undertakes to sell them, he must have straight killing?" He must have straight killing, yes. As [Schechter lawyer Joseph] Heller put it: "His customer is not permitted to select the ones he wants. He must put his hand in the coop when he buys from the slaughterhouse and take the first chicken that comes to hand. He has to take that." At this point there was laughter in the court. Then Justice McReynolds asked: "Irrespective of the quality of the chicken?" Irrespective of the quality of the chicken, Heller replied. Later on, Justice Sutherland asked, "Well suppose however that all the chickens have gone over to one end of the coop?" (More laughter.)

It became laughably clear that the NRA was an irrational compilation of rules and regulations attempting to manage specialized industrial processes about which the regulators knew nothing; it became clear that the NRA was an unconstitutional violation of individual liberty; and it became clear that the NRA was harming, not hurting, the economy's attempt to return to normal levels.

When the Supreme Court struck down the NIRA, it would seem a defeat for Roosevelt and his New Deal, and it would seem a victory for personal freedom. However, Roosevelt had another maneuver: his famous attempt at "court packing," although a tactical loss, would prove a strategic victory. When he moved to increase the total number of judges on the Supreme Court, which would allow him to "pack" the bench with judges favorable to his programs, he was again overruled, and the "court packing" plan found to be unconstitutional. But Roosevelt had shown that he would not stop, he would not give up, and he would continue to look for ways to exceed the limits placed on government by the constitution. Robert Murphy continues:

Although the Supreme Court would overturn the absurdity of the NRA, they were not nearly so bold after FDR's attempt to pack the Court with more justices who would see the wisdom of the New Deal. Rather than risk their (waning) sphere of power against the charismatic Roosevelt in an open confrontation, the Supreme Court became more compliant with the New Deal. Roosevelt, for his part, dropped his plan to pack the Court once it stopped throwing out his legislative victories.

Roosevelt's steady efforts at undermining the concept of "limited government" had long-lasting effects: for decades, the notion of what a government could properly regulate, and how a government could invade the personal lives of citizens with its rule, was expanded. Historian John Steele Gordon writes:

The Schechter case and others overturning major aspects of the New Deal led Roosevelt to attempt to "pack" the court with new justices more favorable to his programs. He failed, but in the "switch in time that saved nine," the court began to move to a more expansive view of federal-government power, especially with regard to delegation of powers and interstate commerce. Only in the 1990s did the court once more begin to narrow these powers.

As years went by, Roosevelt continued to bully the judiciary into allowed his New Deal programs. Eventually, as he appointed his own judges, the judicial branch went from allowing New Deal programs to actively fostering government intervention in the private sector. The Supreme Court went from striking down the NRA in 1935 to upholding a similar program in 1942. Historian Mark Levin writes:

The Constitution's interstate commerce clause had as its purpose the promotion of commerce and trade among the states. However, in 1942 the Supreme Court ruled in Wickard v. Filburn that a farmer growing wheat on his own land and for his own use was still subject to federal production limits, even though none of his wheat ever left the state, the Court "reasoned" that by withholding his wheat from commerce, the farmer was affecting interstate commerce, even though there was no commerce, let alone interstate commerce. This meant that private economic activity conducted for the sole purpose of self-consumption and occurring wholly within a state’s borders would now be subject to federal regulatory authority under the Agricultural Adjustment Act. Wickard swept away 150 years of constitutional jurisprudence, decentralized governmental authority, and private property rights protection.

FDR had successfully manipulated and reshaped the judicial branch so that it would conform to his notion that the government should be able to intervene and regulate almost anything and almost everything. Roosevelt's

judiciary seized a role for itself - the manipulation of law to promote a

New Deal agenda. FDR's version of the judicial branch

continues to this day. Indeed, through a succession of laws and rulings, all three branches - the judicial, the legislative, and the executive - now routinely exercise power well beyond their specific, enumerated authority under the Constitution.

Indeed, Roosevelt's massive influence on American politics changed the nature of political discourse. Since FDR's inauguration and the "first hundred days" with its New Deal legislation, a major question in the United States is whether we can ever return to the degree of personal liberty and individual freedom which we enjoyed up until 1933.

Friday, June 8, 2012

FDR Requires You to Volunteer

Upon taking office in early 1933, President Roosevelt began to unveil his numerous different plans to create agencies which would intervene in the economy in various ways and - so he hoped - fix the nation's problems. FDR knew that his efforts at unprecedented levels of government control needed some finesse: if he openly presented his desire for a command economy, it would be rejected. One way in which FDR hoped to persuade the public was by claiming that, rather than enforcing regulations, he was presenting guidelines to which individuals and businesses were voluntarily complying. Historian Robert Murphy writes:

Many grade school discussions of the National Recovery Administration - the epitome of the (first) New Deal approach to battling the Great Depression - talk of businesses drawing up their codes of fair competition as if Roosevelt had merely offered helpful suggestions. In reality, of course, the only way to make the NRA codes "work" was to enforce their provisions on the small producers, once the big producers (and big labor unions) had hammered out the code for a given industry. Countless producers were fined or jailed, such as Jacob Maged, a Jersey City dry cleaner.

Although FDR was encouraging his political allies to insinuate that the New Deal corresponded to populist notions about helping the "little guy" in the face of "big business," Jacob Maged was the littlest of the little guys, being bullied by the National Recovery Administration (NRA). Historian Burt Folsom explains:

Maged had been pressing pants for twenty-two years and his low prices and quality work had kept him competitive with larger tailor shops in the better parts of town. The NRA Cleaners and Dyers Code demanded that 40 cents be charged to press a suit. Maged, despite repeated warnings, insisted on charging his customers only 35 cents. "You can't tell me how to run my business," Maged insisted. When threatened with jail, he said, "If you can send me to jail, go ahead." Not only was Maged thrown in jail, he was also slapped with a hundred-dollar fine. "We think that this is the only way to enforce the NRA," said Abraham Traube, a director of the NRA code authority for the Cleaners and Dyers Board of Trade. "If we did the same thing in New York City we would soon get the whole industry in line."

This hardly seems like voluntary compliance! Yet Hugh Johnson, operating the NRA for Roosevelt, continuously put forth the notion that businesses across America were freely choosing to operate according to NRA guidelines. It is true that, in many cases, there was no official enforcement. In those cases, however, enforcement was left to thugs and ruffians hired by Hugh Johnson, who made ominous comments about what could happen to small business owners who didn't comply. Major American cities had NRA parades in which workers marched like soldiers. The message was clear: everyone was expected to join. Across the country, dozens of men were fined or jailed - or both - for failing to volunteer.

Despite the heavy-handed enforcement, the NRA in fact failed to help the economy. Roosevelt was actually relieved when the Supreme Court canceled the program, because he did not then need to admit that it had failed. Historian John Steele Gordon writes:

In fact, the court did the Roosevelt administration a big favor. The whole system established by the NRA was collapsing as public opinion turned decisively against it. "The excessive centralization and dictatorial spirit," columnist Walter Lippmann explained, "are producing a revulsion of feeling against bureaucratic control of American economic life." The original bill had contained a two-year sunset provision, and it was increasingly unlikely that Congress could have been persuaded to renew it.

FDR had learned. His future attempts at reducing the economic freedom of the ordinary citizen would be more subtle.

The Problems with the New Deal

President Franklin Roosevelt's famous New Deal programs caused, and still cause, controversy. Although well-intentioned, they were plagued by a number of problems: they limited freedom, they were unconstitutional, and they simply didn't work. FDR's initiatives actually lengthened and worsened what would have been a relatively mild and short-lived economic setback. Historian Robert Murphy writes:

Despite his undeniable rhetorical gifts and his cozy "fireside chats," FDR did not charm everyone. Many business leaders feared and loathed him, considering the New Deal to be a dangerous lurch towards the collectivism that was sweeping other industrialized nations. Roosevelt also butted heads with the Supreme Court, which in 1935 threw out the National Industrial Recovery Act as an unconstitutional expansion of federal (and in particular executive) power over free commerce in the Schechter Poultry case. In another major setback to the New Deal, the Supreme Court threw out the Agricultural Adjustment Act in 1936 in United States v. Butler, on the grounds that the federal government did not possess the authority to micromanage agricultural production. Incensed at what he considered the Court’s interference with the clear will of the American people, in early 1937 Roosevelt famously threatened to "pack the Court," meaning he wanted the authority to appoint more Justices than the traditional nine. Realizing the danger this plan posed to the checks and balances designed by the Founders to restrain the tyranny of the executive branch, many of Roosevelt’s allies deserted him. However, at the same time the Supreme Court became much more compliant, and upheld new legislation that replaced the voided components of the original New Deal. In particular, the Court surprised many business owners by upholding the constitutionality of the National Labor Relations Act in April 1937. A month later the Court gave its blessing to the Social Securities Act as well, and Roosevelt decided to drop his controversial plan. The spirit of his New Deal survived, and a costly constitutional crisis had been avoided.

We can see two of the several strands of opposition to FDR's New Deal, and more particularly opposition to the National Recovery Administration (NRA) created by the National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA): opposition from the business community, which saw that the program would hurt the economy and stifle job creation, and opposition from the Supreme Court, which saw that Roosevelt had exceeded the constitutional authority given to the office of the president. Roosevelt, in turn, responded to each of these: among business leaders, he supported the crony capitalists against the free-market capitalists; against the Supreme Court, he used threats and bullying. To what extent FDR succeeded is debatable: although some of his programs were nixed, he succeeded in creating more debt than had every been imagined, and he succeeded in allowing government to interfere with the daily life of ordinary citizens to an extent imagined only perhaps by Woodrow Wilson. Historian John Steele Gordon writes:

When the new Supreme Court building opened in 1935, the New Yorker magazine praised its architecture, saying it was "a magnificent structure, with fine big windows to throw the New Deal out of." But even Justice Louis Brandeis, hardly a member of the court's then-dominant conservative wing, told members of the administration, "This is the end of this business of centralization, and I want you to go back and tell the president that we're not going to let this government centralize everything." Free enterprise, and its sine qua non, competition, had been rescued by the court.

The tug-of-war between Roosevelt's desire for government control and the Supreme Court's desire to preserve individual freedom had mixed results. The Supreme Court was able to preserve some economic liberty, although not as much as Americans had enjoyed before 1933; Roosevelt increased the government's intervention into the economic choices of ordinary Americans, but not to the extent he wanted. This tension continues in American politics today.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

FDR's Disaster

Historians and economists have debated the causes of the Great Depression: there is more than one plausible explanation for the economic downturn which started in late 1929 or early 1930. But in any case, it is clear that one set of causes created the Great Depression, while a second set of causes exacerbated it. If FDR had not instituted his slate of New Deal programs, the Great Depression would not have lasted as long, nor been as severe.

One example is the famous National Recovery Act. Generating cognitive dissonance on a grand scale, Roosevelt argued that the economy would blossom if industry groups were exempted from antitrust laws and allowed to set wages and prices. President Roosevelt was essentially saying that we should build monopolies: an odd enough thought on its own, but even stranger coming from a self-proclaimed progressive who'd supported his uncle's creation of the antitrust legislation. Historian John Steele Gordon writes:

As the disaster of the Great Depression deepened, many economists of the day thought that a major cause was "excess competition." As companies fought for market share, they drove down prices, which put pressure on wages, which reduced purchasing power among consumers, creating a vicious circle. The solution, these economists argued, was the establishment of industry associations that would set minimum prices and standardize work rules and labor conditions.

Essentially, Roosevelt's economic advisors were hoping that across-the-board price increases would stop the Great Depression: inflation as the cure. Government-sanctioned price-gouging of American consumers would, however, only make raise the unemployment rate by reducing demand, and stifle any attempts at economic growth by discouraging new businesses, or innovations in old businesses. Although not an actual monopoly, federally-approved collusion on prices across entire industry groups had the same effect.

The act, signed on June 16, 1933, authorized industrial and trade associations — exempting them from the antitrust laws — to agree on prices, and negotiate among themselves such matters as maximum work hours, minimum wages and labor conditions. The codes that resulted in each industry would have the force of law, as long as President Franklin D. Roosevelt agreed to them. The NIRA, in short, provided for the cartelization of much of the American economy.

Looking for support, Roosevelt found little among free-market capitalists, but was embraced by crony capitalists. Those capitalists who reject the principle of competition in a free market, and instead embrace opportunism - including a willingness to benefit from government regulations which favor them - saw that the National Recovery Act (NRA) would provide them with a windfall.

Many of the biggest and most powerful corporations, or at least their CEOs, endorsed the plan, including Gerard Swope of General Electric and Charles Schwab of Bethlehem Steel. Henry Harriman, the president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, actually helped draft the legislation.

Those industrialists who clung to the notion of a truly free market saw the NRA as a sweeping violation of economic freedom, dictating prices to corporations and consumers alike.

But, of course, there were other industrialists who were adamantly opposed, including Henry Ford and Alfred P. Sloan of General Motors. The National Association of Manufacturers also opposed the bill.

Like many New Deal programs, and many progressivist initiatives of earlier eras, the NRA was carried out with a military spirit. Propaganda spread the idea. Enforcement, even though part of the code were supposed to be voluntary, was heavy-handed.

The act established the National Recovery Administration, headed by Hugh Johnson, and its symbol, the blue eagle, and motto, "We Do Our Part," soon became ubiquitous, found in advertisements and store windows across the country. The NRA also produced a blizzard of codes (more than 750 of them, covering 23 million workers) and regulations. Thousands of business practices that had been standard were now forbidden.

Roosevelt's NRA faced a number of difficulties: it represented a repressive curtailment of individual economic freedom; it was unconstitutional; its directives, if followed, would not help the economy, but rather make the Great Depression worse; and it relied on voluntary compliance, which meant that either nobody would comply, or that it would eventually be enforced surreptitiously by Hugh Johnson's ruffians. Cengage's history textbook tells us that

the government decided to limit production through persuasion and association - techniques that Hoover had also favored. To head the National Recovery Administration (NRA), authorized under the National Industrial Recovery Act, Roosevelt chose General Hugh Johnson, a participant in industrial planning experiments during the First World War.

Roosevelt's New Deal wasn't so new: first, he followed in the footsteps of President Hoover, who'd tried the same thing - an attempt at voluntary regulation. Relying on Hoover's notion of associationalism inevitably resulted in either utterly toothless regulations, or a tough persuasiveness which amounted to extortion. Second, FDR hired Hugh Johnson, whose wartime lockdown on economic freedom under Woodrow Wilson amounted to an unconstitutional imposition of a command economy, with freedom of speech being revoked as well. Johnson organized conferences or groups to oversee each industrial sector and

specify prices, wages, and hours throughout the sector. He also asked each conference to restrict production.

The results were predictable: what didn't work during World War One also didn't work during the Great Depression. Constricting economic freedom can only hurt the economy.

In winter and spring 1934, economic indicators plunged downward once again, and manufacturers began to evade the code provisions.

Individuals were willing to risk a physical beating from one of Hugh Johnson's thugs - there was no official government enforcement, since NRA regulations were allegedly voluntary - because there was no other way to put bread on the table, except to violate the NRA guidelines. To try to preserve hope for both economic recovery and for preserving some degree of individual freedom, voters filed a lawsuit, hoping that the Supreme Court would help. John Steele Gordon writes:

Naturally, opponents of the NRA went to court. The case that made it to the Supreme Court was formally titled A.L.A. Schechter Poultry v. United States. The Schechter company was one of a group of New York City kosher wholesale butchers who had been charged with violating the rules established under the NRA code covering the poultry industry. Among the charges that reached the Supreme Court were those involving the sale of an unfit chicken to a local butcher, and the sale of two uninspected chickens. This led Hugh Johnson to dub it "the sick-chicken case."

The Supreme Court's decision in this case would be crucial. If it did not find a way to stop FDR's attempt to control the economy, a major chunk of personal freedom would be permanently lost.

Although the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had upheld the National Industrial Recovery Act, the Supreme Court reversed, and did so unanimously. Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes wrote that while Congress had the authority to regulate interstate commerce, it could not delegate that power to the NRA, let alone to private industry. In his concurrence, Justice Benjamin Cardozo called it "delegation run riot."

Not only did the Supreme Court stop FDR's power-grab, but it did so unanimously - a rare show of unity on the divided bench. The opinion made it clear that the federal government had no place in attempting to regulate such businesses:

Further, Hughes ruled that the Schechters' business was too small and inconsequential to have a real affect on interstate commerce, and therefore could not be regulated by the federal government at all.

At this point, the NRA had been ruled unconstitutional, had failed to achieve any positive economic result, and had become widely disliked by the public. Cengage tells us that

by fall 1934 it was clear that the NRA had failed. When the Supreme Court declared the NRA unconstitutional in May 1935, the Roosevelt administration allowed the agency to die.

The NRA, which had become extremely unpopular, was gone, and the voters were glad to see it go. The American public, at first hopeful that something good might come of FDR's New Deal, began to dismiss his bewildering jungle of government programs as "alphabet soup," of which the NRA was the worst.

Friday, May 11, 2012

European Settlers Americanize

Thousands of Germans arrived in the New World, starting in 1683. Most of them started on the mid-Atlantic coast. They sought religious freedom, economic opportunity, and political participation. They brought with them the richness of their culture - everything from music to recipes. They took part in the shaping of the United States, contributing their expertise in various fields.

The Muhlenberg family is an example: born near Hanover, Henry (Heinrich) Muhlenberg arrived in America in 1742, having been requested by settlers in Pennsylvania to be their spiritual leader; they wanted a German-speaking Lutheran pastor. Henry's son, Peter, was a major general in Washington's army and commanded the first brigade at the Battle of Yorktown in 1781; he later was elected to both the House of Representative and the Senate, before President Thomas Jefferson appointed him to a job in the executive branch. Peter's brother, Frederick Muhlenberg, was a member of the Continental Congress before being elected to the House of Representatives, where he became Speaker of the House. Peter's other brother, Gotthilf Heinrich Muhlenberg, avoided politics, and instead studied botany, becoming one of America's first noted scientific authorities on the subject. All three Muhlenberg brothers, Peter, Frederick, and Gotthilf, were trained as clergymen and served as Lutheran pastors early in their careers. Their brother-in-law, married to their sister Maria, was Matthias Richards, who was likewise elected to the House of Representatives after serving as a major from 1777 until the war's end.

The next generation of the family continued the tradition of excellence. Peter's son, Franz (Francis) Muhlenberg was elected to the House of Representatives. Gotthilf's first son, Henry Augustus Philip Muhlenberg, was ambassador from the United States to the Austrian Empire, after having served in the House of Representatives; Gotthilf's second son, Frederick Augustus Muhlenberg, avoided politics and was a professor at Pennsylvania College. John Andrew Shulze was the son of Eve, who was a sister to Maria, Peter, Frederick, and Gotthilf; he was elected governor of Pennsylvania.

The Muhlenberg family provided generation after generation of scientists, military officers, and political leaders for the United States. They are merely one example of the many German families who settled here and worked for the common good. Historian Thomas Sowell writes:

With the passage of time, most German settlers spread out geographically, learned to speak English, and both absorbed and contributed to American culture. Philadelphia scrapple, German chocolate cake, cole slaw, and sauerkraut were among their many contributions to American cooking. German farming settlements spread north and south through the great fertile valleys of the Appalachian mountain range. By the late eighteenth century, there was an almost unbroken chain of German settlements stretching from the Mohawk Valley in upstate New York down through western New Jersey, central Pennsylvania, western Maryland, on down through the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, through the Piedmont region of the Carolinas, and into Savannah, Georgia. Names scattered through this region still reflect those early German settlements. Upstate New York has communities with such names as Palatine Bridge, Germantown, New Hamburg, and Rhinebeck, as well as a region of the Mohawk Valley known as German Flats. New Jersey has its German Valley area and Pennsylvania its Heidelberg, Germantown, Muhlenberg Park, and King of Prussia. Maryland has its Frederick and cities named for early German settlers, Hagerstown and Creagerstown. The name of the German province of Mecklenburg was repeated in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, and the village of New Mecklenburg in Virginia. Not all the communities established by Germans had German names. Harper's Ferry in Virginia, Bethlehem in Pennsylvania, and Hope Settlement and Ebenezer in Georgia were among many German communities with non-German names.

The names of both places and people tell the story of families, stretching back to 1683, but stretching forward to today and tomorrow - these same families are still serving as leaders and scientists.

Friday, April 20, 2012

FDR Unaware of Danger

The end of WWII and beginning of the Cold War are not clearly defined. It became clear to American military intelligence during the war that the Soviet Union could not be trusted. While Stalin was making promises, he was already planning to break them. As Stalin was signing various treaties and documents, he was already planning to violate them. Worse, decrypted KGB communications revealed a network of Soviet intelligences agents planted - as "moles" - inside the U.S. government.

Communist spies working for Stalin held positions which allowed them access to confidential information, and positions which gave them some measure of influence in decision-making. American army intelligence, however, kept much of this secret. To communicate it to upper-level members of FDR's administration would be to risk further security leaks: the KGB would discover that the Americans had broken their codes.

Eventually, non-military branches of the government learned independently of the security breaches. Whittaker Chambers, a former Soviet agent, revealed information about the spy network to a member of FDR's administration. Historian Ann Coulter writes:

A friend of Chambers had arranged a private audience with President Roosevelt's assistant secretary of state, Adolf Berle. After dinner at Berle's home, Chambers spent several hours detailing the Communist espionage network of which he had been a part. He gave Berle the names of at least two dozen Soviet spies, working for the Roosevelt administration. Among them was Alger Hiss, a top State Department official, as well as his brother Donald Hiss. Berle urgently reported to President Roosevelt what Chambers had said, including the warning about Hiss. The president laughed.

Roosevelt either didn't believe that the Soviets could do this, or he felt that any Communist infiltration was slight and benign and not worth worrying. Perhaps he thought Stalin wouldn't do it. Historians have long debated the extent to which Stalin was able to deceive Roosevelt. FDR was certainly aware that Stalin was deceptive, but was Roosevelt aware of the full extent of Stalin's willingness to mislead?

As it turns out, Alger Hiss was indeed a Soviet agent, sending secret information to Moscow, and receiving payment from the KGB. During Roosevelt's administration,

no action was ever taken against Hiss. To the contrary, Roosevelt promoted Hiss to the position of trusted aide who would go on to advise him at Yalta. Chambers's shocking and detailed reckoning of Soviet agents in high government positions eventually made its way to William C. Bullitt, former ambassador to Russia and confidant of the president. Alarmed, Bullitt brought the news to Roosevelt's attention. He, too, was laughed off.

Finally, after FDR's death in 1945, Hiss was convicted, confessed, and sent to prison.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Saving Tombstone

The "Wild West" earned its name - a shortage of women, children, and old people set up a social dynamic which could only lead to trouble. Add in a shortage of law enforcement officers, and a plethora of opportunities to steal cattle, gold, and silver - the west needed to be tamed. The men who did it earned their places in American memory as heroes.

Among those who made the west safe for settlers, and who stopped the rampant criminal behavior, were Wyatt Earp, his brothers, and his friends. Historian William Weir writes:

Say "O.K. Corral" and the same picture pops into the minds of millions of people. It's a cold, blustery day in the high desert town of Tombstone, Arizona. Three tall, broad-shouldered men who long frock coats do not hide their holstered six-guns slowly walk down the dusty street. With them is a skinny man with a shotgun. Waiting for them are four grubby men in cowboy outfits. They, too, have holstered six-guns.

Images, however, do not always make for accurate history. At least four major motion pictures and a TV series have been made about Wyatt Earp in Tombstone. None of them are totally accurate, and some of them have bent the story so far from the actual facts that they count as fiction.

Accurate history doesn't always make for good movies. The gunfight at the O.K. Corral lasted, in fact, only thirty seconds. It's difficult to make a movie about an event that short, so Hollywood has stretch the fight out to ten or twenty minutes in most movies, and changed the outcome. In real life, Old Man Clanton was not at the gunfight, having died previously. One movie version adds Johnny "Ringo" Ireland to the gunfight - but in actuality, he wasn't there.

But an accurate history of Wyatt Earp's activities is still fascinating, and justifies his status as an important figure in civilizing the west.:

The head of the frock-coated crew, U.S. Marshall Wyatt Earp, leading his brothers, Virgil and Morgan, and their friend, Doc Holliday, tells the cowboys to throw up their hands. Instead, the cowboys draw their guns, and both sides begin shooting. When the smoke clears, the evil Clanton-McLaury Gang, which had been terrorizing Tombstone, is kaput, and the lawmen led by Wyatt Earp have established law and order.

The build-up had been a series of incidents, involved the stealing of horses or ponies from the army and the robbery of a stage coach. But the Hollywood image needs more correction:

In reality, Wyatt Earp was wearing a mackinaw instead of a frock coat, he carried his revolver in a coat pocket instead of a holster.

A 'mackinaw' is "a short coat or jacket made of a thick, heavy woolen cloth, typically with a plaid design," according to one dictionary. They are usually red and black, and often worn for hunting.

Wyatt Earp was once a city policeman in Wichita, Kansas, from April 1875, until ... a year later. Later, he became number two man in the four-man police force of Dodge City, Kansas. At the time of the gunfight of the O.K. Corral, he was merely a citizen deputized temporarily by his brother Virgil, Tombstone's city marshal, and the nominal leader of his group.

Wyatt Earp had wanted to leave law enforcement entirely, but conditions in Tombstone were so bad that his brother gave him the temporary status as long as needed. Record-keeping in those times and places was often spotty, so some gaps in Earp's career exist.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Hamilton Revisited

Alexander Hamilton authored a number of those newspaper articles which we now call 'The Federalist Papers' - although many of them were originally published anonymously. Together with James Madison and John Jay, they made the case for the new constitution then under consideration in 1787 and 1788.

The papers address many different questions; one major issue was the relationship of the central government to the individuals states. It was important to convince readers that the states would retain much of their own authority, and not be made slaves to the federal government:

The administration of private justice between the citizens of the same State, the supervision of agriculture and of other concerns of a similar nature, all those things, in short, which are proper to be provided for by local legislation, can never be desirable cares of a general jurisdiction. It is therefore improbable that there should exist a disposition in the federal councils to usurp the powers with which they are connected; because the attempt to exercise those powers would be as troublesome as it would be nugatory; and the possession of them, for that reason, would contribute nothing to the dignity, to the importance, or to the splendor of the national government.

Sadly, at certain points in American history, the central government has done exactly that: transgressed its proper boundaries, and meddled in the internal affairs of local government. Such activity essentially overrides the free votes of local citizens, and oppresses them under the dictates of a distant authority. Reflecting on Hamilton's words, in 1960, Senator Barry Goldwater wrote:

Hamilton was wrong in his prediction as to what men would do, but quite right in foreseeing the consequences of their foolhardiness. Federal intervention in agriculture has, indeed, proved "troublesome." Disregard of the Constitution in this field has brought about the inevitable loss of personal freedom; and it has created economic chaos. Unmanageable surpluses, an immense tax burden, high consumer prices, vexatious controls - I doubt if the folly of ignoring the principle of limited government has ever been more convincingly demonstrated.

There is no doubt that the United States, like any other nation, needs diligent and skillful farmers. They and their farmland are essential to the nation's survival and health. But it is possible to have a surplus of farmers.

Doing something about it means - and there can be no equivocation here - prompt and final termination of the farm-subsidy program. The only way to persuade farmers to enter other fields of endeavor is to stop paying inefficient farmers for produce that cannot be sold at free-market prices.

Agriculture is perhaps one of the clearest cases for both free markets and local control. When centralized governments, instead of local ones, attempt to regulate or manage agriculture, the result is invariably bad, as we see not only in the history of the United States, but also, for example, in the Soviet Union. When markets are regulated, farms produce either too much, or too little, or inefficiently, or produce the wrong crop altogether.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Money and Freedom

Not only in American history, but in the histories of all different parts of the world, there is a curious connection between the freedom of speech and the right to use your own property as you see fit. It might seem odd that this link between the expression of beliefs on the one hand, and material objects on the other hand, is so pervasive in the human experience. But as unlikely as this bond between immaterial ideas and physical possession may appear, the modern world is based, as Mark Levin writes, on the intellectual heritage of philosophers and scholars, whose work coalesced into our modern outlook, which

is a way of understanding life, society, and governance. The Founders were heavily influenced by certain philosophers, among them Adam Smith (spontaneous order), Charles Montesquieu (separation of powers), and especially John Locke (natural rights); they were also influenced by their faiths, personal experiences, and knowledge of history (including the rise and fall of the Roman Empire). Edmund Burke, who was both a British statesman and thinker, is often said to the father of modern

revolutionary theory: he was able to clearly express the distinction between the American Revolution and the French Revolution, and clearly and accurately predicted the trajectory of the latter before it happened.

He was an early defender of the American Revolution and advocate of representative government. He wrote of the interconnection of liberty, free markets, religion, tradition, and authority.

This bond between freedom of speech and economic freedom lies at the heart of the American Revolution. The Founding Fathers - the Continental Congress, the authors of the Declaration of the Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and The Federalist Papers - believed

in the dignity of the individual; that we, as human beings, have a right to live, live freely, and pursue that which motivates us not because some man or some government says so, but because these are God-given natural rights.

In this way, the more abstract freedoms are joined to the more concrete freedoms. Among the abstract freedoms are freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly, and freedom of belief; naturally, these can all be phrased differently - represented by different words - but they all revolve around ideas and the communication of ideas. Among the concrete freedoms we find freedom from "taxation without representation," freedom from being forced to yield property or its use (quartering British troops), and the freedom to buy and sell at freely-agreed-to prices.

It is our task to remove the outdated circumstances which surrounded the ideas of the Founding Fathers, and place those ideas, without corrupting them, into new circumstances. What are the contemporary analogues of The Sugar Act of 1764, The Stamp Act of 1765, The Townshend Acts of 1767, The Tea Act of 1773, The Coercive Act of 1774, and the Quebec Act of 1774? How did these legislations harm us then, and which legislations harm us now in the same way?

When we can free society from government's intrusion, we allow people to speak and act freely, and the ordinary citizen

also recognizes in society a harmony of interests, as Adam Smith put it, and rules of cooperation that have developed through generations of human experience and collective reasoning that promote the betterment of the individual and society. This is characterized as ordered liberty, the social contract, or civil society.

Thomas Paine eloquently distinguished between government and society, as John Locke had done a generation earlier. Although not perfect, the equilibrium toward which a society moves, when unencumbered by government intervention, is continuously self-correcting, and the best achievable in this world.