Monday, July 05, 2010

Thoreau Moves to Walden Pond

Today is Sunday, 4 July 2010.

Commenting on my column, “In Memory: Hesse and Marshall”, “weinerdogzrule” wrote:

“Yes, the Second Continental Congress did pass the resolution of independence on July 2, 1776. The Lee Resolution (Richard Henry Lee of Virginia) was first proposed on June 7 of that year, but voting was delayed whilst the representatives continued to consolidate support for independence throughout the colonies. Although the Lee Resolution was adopted on July 2, 1776, the text of the document formally announcing the colonies' separation from the British Crown (and setting forth the "reasons which impel the separation"), the Declaration of Independence, was not signed and approved until July 4. SO... although the Resolution had, indeed, passed, the document formalizing and announcing the Congress' passage of the Resolution was signed and adopted on the Fourth. Hence, the celebration on that date.”

However, until the Lee Resolution was adopted, the cat could have been walked back. Many times in history monarchs have found it expedient to welcome former dissidents back into the fold. But 2 July 1776 was a horse of a different colour entirely. By adopting the Lee Resolution, the Congress stated to George III: “You’re not the king of us. We are now the King of the Colonies.” Before that moment, the members of the Congress were not rebels; after that moment, they were in rebellion, and had by their own vote earned the penalty of hanging.

The Declaration was merely the spin of an event which had already happened. The vote in Congress was the deciding legal event: signing of the Declaration was simply for show. Substitution of the 4th for the 2nd, of the spin for the reality, was merely a propaganda choice, and one which worked.

And did it ever work! Jefferson wrote: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

But Blacks were slaves, Native Americans were targets for mass murder, and even white women were 10th-class subjects. The same elite which staged the Coup of ’76 would write the Constitution of 1789, with every intention of permanently concentrating power in the hands of white Protestant males of above-average net worth. (Read the debates of the Constitutional Convention. Read The Federalist Papers.) (Sorry, Teabaggers: the Founding Fathers regarded “your type” as the rabble whom they feared.)

Whatever elements of democracy have crept into the USA/USE, the coup makers didn’t intend.


On this date in 1845, Henry David Thoreau moves to Walden Pond.

On this date in 1855, Walt Whitman publishes Leaves of Grass.

On this date in 1934, the great physicist Leo Szilard patents the process of the nuclear chain reaction.


Blogger darwinbeaglefan said...

“Read the debates of the Constitutional Convention. Read the Federalist Papers.” Done. And done.

It seems the Herculean efforts of, and the risks undertaken by, the Founding Fathers do not overly impress you, HH. While it is true that the Declaration of Independence was written at a time when blacks, Indians and women were hardly accorded the status of white land-owning men (indeed, hardly accorded any status at all), it must also be noted that these men were products of their culture and of their time. Had they not been gentlemen of “above-average net worth” they scarcely would have had time to meet, discuss, deliberate or vote on anything. Their time would rightly have been consumed by toiling in the fields, taking care of daily business and raising and educating children. Their wealth allowed them the luxury of thinking how a new republic might be conceived, taking steps toward forming it and defending it, forming international alliances and securing its continuation.

Jefferson himself proposed a system of public education and public libraries (and, with the donation of his collection began the Library of Congress), sought to expand the vote to other (lower) classes, and proposed that no slaves be brought into the country after 1800. None of these proposals were adopted; the newly-formed country as a whole just wasn’t ready for such change. You can’t move so fast that you try to change the mores faster than people can accept it. That doesn’t mean that you do nothing, but it means that you do the things that need to be done according to priority.

As to their thoughts on slavery, etc., Jefferson ably penned the beliefs of many of the members of the Continental Congress…

“For in a warm climate, no man will labour for himself who can make another labour for him. This is so true, that of the proprietors of slaves a very small proportion indeed are ever seen to labor. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep for ever…”


“The whole commerce between master and slave is a perpetual exercise of the most boisterous passions, the most unremitting despotism on the one part, and degrading submission on the other.” T. Jefferson

3:28 PM  
Blogger weinerdogzrule said...

What does "BOOM!" mean - in the context of your blog?

10:58 AM  
Blogger weinerdogzrule said...

HH, I'm certain that you're aware that a "coup" is the sudden overthrow of a government, usually done by a small group that simply replaces the top power figures. It is different from a revolution, which is staged by a larger group and radically changes the political system.

Tactically, a coup usually involves control of some active portion of the military while neutralizing the remainder of a country's armed forces. This active group captures or expels leaders, seizes physical control of important government offices, communication, and the physical infrastructure. Coups typically use the power of the existing government for its own takeover. Thus, I believe that your defining the American Revolution, or the act of separation from the British Crown by the colonists and their elected representatives, is ill-considered and erroneous.

12:38 PM  
Anonymous HH said...

As to "BOOM!": sometimes an exploding cigar is just a cigar. "BOOM!" equals virtual fireworks, as far as I'm willing to go in recognition of the "holiday".

As to "coup", I'm working hard to clear the backlog of thoughtful comments and my own original thoughts, created by the extra demands of the long holiday. I'll get there.

1:27 PM  
Blogger weinerdogzrule said...


4:19 PM  

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