Thursday, January 16, 2014

No. 79 – January 9, 2014 - A Republic, if you can keep it.

by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster

Leonidas Polk was born Thursday, April 10, 1806 in Raleigh, North Carolina. For him and his generation, the Revolution and the Constitution, signed, September 17, 1787, were recent history, events witnessed by those they knew.

After graduating from West Point Leonidas returned home to run his plantation and to become active in the Episcopal Church, to which he was drawn during the spiritual revivals of the 1820s, eventually being elected Bishop of Louisiana. He is buried behind the podium in Christ Church Cathedral in New Orleans, which he founded.

Leonidas died standing up for the Constitution. More Americans were killed during the War Between the States than would die in all other American wars combined.

With others of his generation, Leonidas, a General of the Confederacy, died attempting to exercise the right every major northern publication and all major figures, including Thomas Jefferson, had affirmed, the right to leave the union of states. The first talk of secession took place in New England by its Federalists less than 15 years after the Constitution was signed.
Emerging from the concluded Constitutional Convention Benjamin Franklin answered the query of a lady who asked, Well Doctor, what do we have a Monarchy or a Republic?” Franklin responded with,  A Republic, if you can keep it.”

The form of government now existing in America is a serial Monarchy, not a Republic. 
In a Republic the people are the government, delegating power to those elected to serve them. The people, not elected officials or government are sovereign.

This fact has been recognized by insightful observers since the ground was laid for the conversion of America to centralized Federalism at the time of the Civil War. Slavery, an emotionally volatile issues, was used as an issue because the Northern states could not have taken up arms to force other states to remain.

H. L. Mencken said of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, It is poetry not logic; beauty, not sense.” (I)t was the Confederates who fought for the right of people to govern themselves.”

The conflict of 1861 – 1865 was actually a war against the Constitution and the attempts to re characterize this event continues to this day. During the Lincoln Administration the ground was laid for the Federal Reserve System and the Income Tax, both passed into law in 1913.
A Republic, can we return to it? Next Memorial Day put a flower on Leonidas' grave.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Slave Trade. Journey to Salvation?

by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster 

Charles is a Southerner, though he spent little time there after he was six months old. His mother preferred Paris and his grandmother, who eventually took over his raising, was globally minded. Charles is one of the few people I know who actually took a Grand Tour between High School and college. He was 16 at the time so his grandfather accompanied him.
A life-long Episcopalian, Charles earned his PhD at Harvard in Anthropology and History. From there he became a working archeologist in MezoAmerica. 
Charles is easy going. He calls me to compare reflections on the Lesson for each Sunday, as I am also a practicing Episcopalian. But while I attend in Ashtabula, he generally is in Los Angeles, New Orleans, or elsewhere in his travels. 
In early October last year he called me to discuss not the lesson but an announcement for an event of Reconciliation made by the Canon of Christ Church Cathedral in New Orleans. 
The event for Reconciliation was to focus on celebrating the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. by apologizing for slavery. Since all of those involved are now long dead this seemed to me a bit like beating a dead horse. Then a tsunami of emails with links hit my INBOX. Charles is a very prolific researcher. 
My family is actually Puritan and were solidly anti-slavery to the extent they served as a stop on the Underground Railroad. 
The links gave me nightmares for days. From the first hand reports of merchants and travellers to Africa during the time of slavery I read stories of rampant cannibalism, human sacrifice, and torture, routinely accompanying the herding of people captured as a food source during the then endemic wars. 
Some part of the available 'stock' were reserved for sale to slavers ending up in South America, the Caribbean and the United States. Nothing I read bore any resenblence to the scenes from Roots, which had informed me previously. According to the enormous number of independent reports this went on throughout the 19th Century. 
Slaves, able to communicate with slavers, sometimes asked if they were going to be eaten, relieved when this possibility was negated. 
When Charles and I talked again he said all anthropologists know this but somehow it has not made it into the general population. 
Indeed. How would you explain this to the children? Reality can be scary.