Re: History Comes Alive

1

Hm. What would have become of slavery without the Louisiana Purchase?


Posted by: Anderson | Link to this comment | 12-20-07 7:19 PM
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Just out of curiosity, how is this taught in American high school history classes?


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 12-20-07 7:33 PM
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how is this taught in American high school history classes?

Generally in about five minutes or less.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 12-20-07 7:34 PM
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2. HS U.S. History was '97-'98 for me, so my memory is a bit foggy at this point, but I feel like my main takeaway at the time was simply, "Dude, Jefferson got a lot of land for a low, low price!"


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 12-20-07 7:39 PM
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1: The Lousiana Conquest Cession.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 12-20-07 8:03 PM
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They would have misspelled Louisiana.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 12-20-07 8:04 PM
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I don't know if it was all that cheap. Jefferson ended up paying higher than Manhattan real-estate prices.


Posted by: ed bowlinger | Link to this comment | 12-20-07 8:18 PM
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What would have become of slavery without the Louisiana Purchase?

This is actually a really good question, and one I thought about for a while, but it turned out to be harder to think about it than to take cheap shots at Thomas Jefferson.


Posted by: Eric Rauchway | Link to this comment | 12-20-07 8:21 PM
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(Unfogged has no official position on the Louisiana Purchase.)

Pussy.


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 12-20-07 8:55 PM
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but it turned out to be harder to think about it than to take cheap shots at Thomas Jefferson.

And more enjoyable for you and me both, surely.



Posted by: Anderson | Link to this comment | 12-20-07 9:36 PM
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Surely this is simply additional evidence that the McManus Theory is correct?


Posted by: PDub | Link to this comment | 12-20-07 9:57 PM
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FWIW, I'm certain that we were taught that the Louisiana Purchase was marginally legal at best. But, in the best tradition of American Exceptionalism - even exceptional to our own Constitution - no one got very het up on it.

As for the future of slavery, the Purchase certainly ended up containing a lot more free soil than slave. The Kansas portion was, um, contested, but I'm not sure that the post-1850 slave/free dynamic would have been any more amenable to peaceful resolution in a nation bounded to the west by the Mississippi. I'm not sure that I believe that Jefferson's bad Constitutional precedent led in any meaningful way to subsequent slave/free tensions or irresolutions. But I'm willing to hear arguments on any of these points.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-20-07 10:10 PM
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I was taught:

(1) The Purchase was not really legal, but awesome enough that we don't care

(2) Westward expansion kicked the Question of Slavery can down the road a bit every time new frontier opened up.

A related question: does the Union's potential margin of victory grow with each year the war is postponed? How late would it have to have been fought to make radical reconstruciton work or do civil rights the first time around?


Posted by: Lambent Cactus | Link to this comment | 12-20-07 10:17 PM
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13 is also basically what I was taught, though perhaps with a bit more quibbling about the legality ("some claimed..." etc.). The basic message of awesomeness was totally there, though.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12-20-07 10:24 PM
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does the Union's potential margin of victory grow with each year the war is postponed? How late would it have to have been fought to make radical reconstruciton work or do civil rights the first time around?

That is one hell of an interesting question. I see no reason not to accept the premise, except: Does the Union struggle without Lincoln? Or is the tradeoff that Lincoln plus all those brilliant, traitorous generals are all off the scene? Plus, I don't know if international allies for the South are more likely at later time periods.

The most shocking thing to me, as I've learned more about the time period, was the extent to which, even though Northerners were pretty racist and supremacist, they really did accept blacks in their midst in the postwar years. Active, widespread Northern racism (sunset towns and lynchings and the like) didn't come about for 30 years after the war. Which makes me think that a less intransigent South could have facilitated a more rapidly tolerant North.

Then again, a rapid Northern victory might not have allowed for abolition at all - the Radical Republicans came into power partly because the war dragged on so long. Maybe the Civil War of 1875 lasts 18 months (like they thought it would in 1860), and the result doesn't include any amendments, just some sort of legislative resolution of slavery.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-20-07 10:26 PM
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Jefferson ended up paying higher than Manhattan real-estate prices.

Huh? I work it out as $28 a square mile. I'd like to buy some Manhattan real estate for that price. Or are you comparing it to the original "Beads for Land" deal?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 12-20-07 10:27 PM
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Active, widespread Northern racism (sunset towns and lynchings and the like) didn't come about for 30 years after the war. Which makes me think that a less intransigent South could have facilitated a more rapidly tolerant North.

Or an independent South?


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 12-20-07 10:31 PM
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I work it out as $28 a square mile.

That's 4.375 cents an acre. Wasn't it even lower than that?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12-20-07 10:32 PM
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In my high school AP course ('90-'91) I was taught that it was completely illegal but it was strongly suggested that it rocked. IIRC, there was a hint of 'back in yon olden days, the founding fathers had to be huge hypocrites to get anything done.'


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 12-20-07 10:33 PM
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The war wasn't so much about slavery per se as it was about the expansion of slavery and the maintenance of a 8/5 voting bloc. IIRC there was a proposed amendment that would have guaranteed the maintenance of slavery in the slave states forever, but it didn't include the western territories, so the South said "Fuck you, I'm seceding." I could be wrong about this, but that's what I remember.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 12-20-07 10:34 PM
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I don't remember ever being told it was illegal.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 12-20-07 10:36 PM
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20: There were some very conciliatory offers and noises coming from the North, but the Fire-eaters would have none of it. In one state - Virginia? - they kept moving the Convention from city to city until they got a majority for secession. Not to say that the North was all peacenik, but there was some serious political insanity going on down South.

Fortunately, I feel certain that my countrymen will never again make the mistake of overreacting to perceived threats in a way that is counterproductive and, frankly, crazy.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-20-07 10:40 PM
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Actually, if I recall the spin correctly, it was less "USA! USA!" and more "it was becoming apparent that the Constitution might not be enough of an improvement over the Articles to survive." Aside from Adams' crazy sedition shit, all sorts of issues were coming up - like with Jefferson's stupid ideas about the Navy - that didn't seem handle-able under a narrow (or "strict") reading of the Constitution.

It's a bit of special pleading, and it doesn't let Jefferson off the hook, but I'm basically comfortable with things having been pushed towards a more expansive reading of the doc. It's not as if Louisiana Purchase==Guantanamo. There was 130 years of Congressional dominance after 1803, so I don't blame Jefferson for the Imperial Presidency.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-20-07 10:46 PM
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21: Try to point to the place in the Constitution where it says that Presidents can buy real estate.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 12-20-07 10:47 PM
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Buying real estate is conquering real estate in wars by other means.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 12-20-07 10:51 PM
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Try to point to the place in the Constitution where it says that Presidents can buy real estate.

Article II, Section 2, Paragraph 2.

(Not that I necessarily endorse this argument, but I believe it's the standard rejoinder.)


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12-20-07 10:51 PM
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He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, without the provided two thirds of the Senators present concur? Is this the argument? Pretty weak shit, if you ask me.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 12-20-07 10:59 PM
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Is this the argument? Pretty weak shit, if you ask me.

Yes, and yes.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12-20-07 11:00 PM
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there's often a spirit/letter distinction made in cases of laws and rules. Usually it's invoked when one upholds the letter but not the spirit. This seems to be a case where Jefferson may have broken the letter of the law, but not necessarily the spirit. The idea, after all, is that before taking such a move, the President has to have a substantial proportion of the people on his side. Did Jefferson have that? Of course today history, and us, sort of, have supported his decision.

There's an odd intersection with the ticking-time-bomb scenario here. A lot of people argue that in such cases you don't have to worry about the letter of the law in such situations. If you need to do what's necessary, do it. There's an overriding principle, or spirit, such that the law as written isn't the supreme authority.


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 12-20-07 11:13 PM
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Teo, wanna come get a PhD in history? I'll hold a spot for you.


Posted by: Ari Kelman | Link to this comment | 12-20-07 11:13 PM
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sorry about the writing quality of the above


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 12-20-07 11:14 PM
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32

Don't do it, teo! It's a trap!


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12-20-07 11:15 PM
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29: Two problems with this argument: First, Jefferson cast himself as a strict constructionist and an advocate of very limited federal power. And second, had he tried to get congressional consent prior to the Purchase, he would have been slapped down. By the Federalists, for certain, but also by many Republicans.


Posted by: Ari Kelman | Link to this comment | 12-20-07 11:16 PM
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32: And? Your point?


Posted by: anmik | Link to this comment | 12-20-07 11:17 PM
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35

Ought part of 34 be redacted?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12-20-07 11:20 PM
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Teo, wanna come get a PhD in history? I'll hold a spot for you.

A spot? How about you just give me the degree without me having to do any work for it?

Don't do it, teo! It's a trap!

I am aware.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12-20-07 11:21 PM
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had he tried to get congressional consent prior to the Purchase, he would have been slapped down.

that is interesting! can you elaborate on why? or maybe i should do my own damn research on wikipedia...


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 12-20-07 11:23 PM
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yep, wikipedia was helpful:

The Federalists strongly opposed the purchase, favoring close relations with Britain over closer ties to Napoleon, believing the purchase to be unconstitutional, and concerned that the U.S. had paid a large sum of money just to declare war on Spain. The Federalists also feared that the political power of the Atlantic seaboard states would be threatened by the new citizens of the west, bringing about a clash of western farmers with the merchants and bankers of New England. There was concern that an increase in slave holding states created out of the new territory would exacerbate divisions between north and south, as well. A group of Federalists led by Massachusetts Senator Timothy Pickering went so far as to plan a separate northern confederacy, offering Vice President Aaron Burr the presidency of the proposed new country if he persuaded New York to join

Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 12-20-07 11:26 PM
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Ari just now wrote that, Michael.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12-20-07 11:27 PM
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There's no work involved. I promise. But you will have to spend hundreds of hours in the archives and write a dissertation that nobody but you will ever read. And grade lots of paper in classes taught by professors on auto-pilot. And apply for countless jobs at institutions located in places that you don't want to live. And get rejected by said institutions. And apply again the next year to still more insitutions in still more undesirable locales. And look for part-time work that pays poorly and often has no benefits. And apply for tenure-track jobs yet again. And then get one. At which point, if you come study with me, you won't be my problem any more. But I'll still claim credit for every brilliant thing you ever publish, every smart thing you ever say, and all of your best blog comments.

So maybe there's a bit of work. But not really all that much. And it's totally worth it. I promise.


Posted by: Ari Kelman | Link to this comment | 12-20-07 11:28 PM
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Sorry, Ari, I've learned from my father's mistakes.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12-20-07 11:30 PM
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37: Um, what Wikipedia said.


Posted by: Ari Kelman | Link to this comment | 12-20-07 11:30 PM
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Pickering was a fascinating guy. It's too bad he's been so thoroughly consigned to obscurity.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12-20-07 11:31 PM
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You're just playing hard to get. Like I said, I'll hold a spot for you. When you inevitably change your mind, Rauchway and I will wrassle to see who gets to exploit your labor.


Posted by: Ari Kelman | Link to this comment | 12-20-07 11:32 PM
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Congress didn't seem to mind the purchase once it was done, though:

United States Senate ratified the treaty with a vote of twenty-four to seven on October 20; on the following day, it authorized President Jefferson to take possession of the territory and establish a temporary military government.

I realize, though, that there are a few months between July 4 (announcement) and the ratification.


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 12-20-07 11:32 PM
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46

Resistance is futile.


Posted by: Ari Kelman | Link to this comment | 12-20-07 11:34 PM
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39. i guess i'll wait till he goes to bed to edit it


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 12-20-07 11:34 PM
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46. Academia is like the borg, but without as good of a meal plan?


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 12-20-07 11:35 PM
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You're just playing hard to get. Like I said, I'll hold a spot for you.

It was a pretty huge mistake.

When you inevitably change your mind, Rauchway and I will wrassle to see who gets to exploit your labor.

Unfortunately for both of you, one of your colleagues is possibly my favorite living historian.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12-20-07 11:36 PM
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46 to 43. And yes, ratification came rather easily. As is the way with such things. By the fall, Congress had been swept up in the tide of public opinion. But Jefferson's reputation still suffered terribly. Not that I'm shedding tears for him.


Posted by: anmik | Link to this comment | 12-20-07 11:36 PM
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49: Who? C'mon, spill. Taylor? If so, good choice. Brilliant, immensely driven (in the good way), doens't wear his Super Bowl ring. All around wonderful guy.


Posted by: Ari Kelman | Link to this comment | 12-20-07 11:38 PM
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51: Yep.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12-20-07 11:39 PM
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See, I can't even spell. You're better off with someone else anyway. (Ari stalks off until he's just out of sight and then begins weeping softly.)


Posted by: Ari Kelman | Link to this comment | 12-20-07 11:40 PM
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I had no idea I was this beloved.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12-20-07 11:42 PM
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Now I have to go write before drifting off to sleep. I'll dream of what could have been, Teo.


Posted by: Ari Kelman | Link to this comment | 12-20-07 11:42 PM
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Just for your trenchant analysis of Constitutional issues. Don't let it go to your head. The first lousy answer you give about the Reconstructon amendments, and it's over.


Posted by: Ari Kelman | Link to this comment | 12-20-07 11:43 PM
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Darn, and I was hoping to see Ari and Eric wrestle.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12-20-07 11:46 PM
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How come teo gets the cushy job? I'm bitter.

ratification came rather easily
Did Congress really retroactively legitimize the executive's illegal actions? I am shocked, shocked, that such an independent body should cede its power so easily.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 12-20-07 11:48 PM
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57: If you have a spare steel cage, I'm sure something can be arranged.


Posted by: Ari Kelman | Link to this comment | 12-20-07 11:51 PM
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Do any of you history people have any advice on searching the Congressional Record before THOMAS?


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 12-20-07 11:57 PM
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59: I'm on it. Preferred dates?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12-21-07 12:00 AM
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Anyway, Ari, aren't you supposed to be writing? Since you have one of those academic-type jobs and all?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12-21-07 12:01 AM
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61: I'm on leave next quarter, so I'm at your disposal. And yes, I was writing (a whole paragraph about a strange couple living in Southeastern Colorado -- boy this project is different from anything I've done before). But now I'm back for a quick break. Alas, Teo doesn't seem to have come around.


Posted by: Ari Kelman | Link to this comment | 12-21-07 12:44 AM
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Also, I'd better do some push-ups if I'm going to best Rauchway in honorable combat.


Posted by: Ari Kelman | Link to this comment | 12-21-07 12:47 AM
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65

Better get on it.

There's a house right across the street from PK's school for 500k. It's been on the market for months, and the price has dropped about 89k. It's a little smaller than ideal, but I think big enough. I wonder if the bank would finance it with only 2% down.....?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12-21-07 12:48 AM
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If nothing else, it would be interesting to see. A year ago, I would have said sure, they'll loan you the money. Three years back, when we lived in Denver, we were being told to buy $1.7 million dollar homes. At the time, we made, between the two of us, about $110,000/year. But I have no idea what the mortgage meltdown now means for individual borrowers. Regardless, we live about a block from our older son's school. Being able to walk with him every day is worth a lot of money. To a bank, though, not so much.


Posted by: Ari Kelman | Link to this comment | 12-21-07 1:17 AM
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But why would you want to be able to walk your son to the bank, anyway?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-21-07 1:25 AM
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Our bank has Gameboys for the kids, so he likes going there.


Posted by: Ari Kelman | Link to this comment | 12-21-07 1:42 AM
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"cheap shots at Thomas Jefferson"

They offer minors in that now at various colleges, we hear: it's covered in "Phuck that krackur mutha-f-er 300."

(Burr in a sense appears to be the center of gravitas, more so than TJ or the Hamilton gang).


Posted by: 01011010 | Link to this comment | 12-21-07 5:23 AM
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Being conspiracy-minded and an economic determinist, I went to Wikipedia to research...cotton. Eli Whitney cotton gin 1793, with a probable first claim in India. American cotton production surpassing Indian production (all for British textile mills) around 1840. I would much further research than I want to do at 6 AM to develop the LA purchase as evidence.

11:There are two (at least) McManus Theories about America.
a) Born & bred expansionist & imperialist unto the present day, the most successfully aggressive empire like, ever
b) That all English-speaking peoples could see the Wilberforce, and that America owes its existence as a refuge for slavers. Whether the PTB saw the future cotton industry in 1776 (India was always distant trouble) or whether tobacco (sugar?) was labor-intensive and only profitable with slavery, or whether it was in part British expansion in Africa...all factors seem a little premature for 1776, but our great nation & our special relationship has always been blessed with forward-looking giants.

I spose I should also re-read Beard.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-21-07 5:59 AM
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Ok, ok Wilberforce was like 17 in 1776, but:

"In his judgement of 22 June 1772 he declared: "Whatever inconveniences, therefore, may follow from a decision, I cannot say this case is allowed or approved by the law of England; and therefore the black must be discharged." It was thus declared that the condition of slavery did not exist under English law. This judgement emancipated the 10 to 14 thousand slaves in England" ...Wiki, Abolitionism

"Give me slaves or give me death" ...Patrick Henry


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-21-07 6:16 AM
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As Johnson said, "A race of Convicts!" No scheisse.

Do ye olde compare and contrast of rum-running yankee slavers to say the last 50 years of world history. Compared to Maoist liquidation from 40s to 70s, even the hypocritical fiend TJ seems nearly pious.


Posted by: 01011010 | Link to this comment | 12-21-07 7:04 AM
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zut alors! it is working for me...


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12-21-07 7:36 AM
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Wait, if the Senate later approved it, couldn't it just be considered a treaty whose terms were a purchase?


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12-21-07 7:42 AM
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By the fall, Congress had been swept up in the tide of public opinion

I just want to highlight this. So the anti-TJ claim seems to reside in the idea that he couldn't have gotten the Senate to go along in real time, because the Senate was opposed to the popular will.

I realize there are actually 2 anti-TJ claims:
1. This makes him a hypocrite.
2. This was illegal and bad.

1 is pretty much a given these days. When I was young, I resented his hypocrisy. Then I grew the fuck up and realized that they were all hypocrites.

And 2 I think is kind of washed away by what I said above. I can't really get wound up about the anti-democratic elements of the Constitution being inadequately upheld, especially when it's not at the expense of anyone's civil rights (you've got a lot of work to do if you want to convince me of a story where a French-owned Louisiana is a freer place than the US that also never gets conquered by the US).


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-21-07 7:46 AM
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65: They might, but 2% is not a lot down and it might be a bad risk if the value of the house continues to fall. Do you have a sense of whether the market has bottomed out yet in your area?


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12-21-07 7:52 AM
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75: It's one thing that's hard to get worked up over because from an American-interests perspective it really went pretty well. Control of the Mississippi, punting on the slavery question. (If you're a Native American, not so much.) I'm also not sure what happens if the slavery question is decided earlier. War? Who wins? Peaceful abolition? No war, but some states secede and since the Constitution's only been around 30 years, no one gets too upset?


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12-21-07 7:59 AM
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(If you're a Native American, not so much.)

Clearly the most egregious part. And certainly French policy towards NAs was better than US. But as I say, I'm unconvinced by the plausibility of a stable, Francophone Louisiana. I think the counterfactual of better US treatment of NAs is about as likely.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-21-07 8:14 AM
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IMO the constitutional argument is silly. All treaties are entered into by the executive before they are ratified. had the Senate said no, or had Congress failed to authorize the raising and expensiture of the purchase price, then there would have been a problem. As it is, though, this is utterly unexceptionable.

And the argument that the US cannot acquire territory was frivolous when made. I was talking with a junior colleague the other day who'd just come back from depositions in Dallas, about Texans. He pointed out that Texas is the only state that was an independent republic prior to joining the US. I asked what he thought the government of Vermont was doing between July 1777 and statehood in 1791. It wasn't a territory under US control, like, say, Ohio, but had a government all this time, of its own creation. Independent republic.


Posted by: NĂ¡pi | Link to this comment | 12-21-07 8:16 AM
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It's hard to deal with politics after you've figured out that most of the time the high principles people enunciate are only nominally held. Scalia is one of the deep thinkers of the Court, but his Bush-Gore opinion (probably his most important one in constitutional effect) was almost without legal content. Strict constructionism, originalism, and the rest down the tubes in the snap of a finger, and we immediately jump to emergency powers.

I just had a dream of Mao Tse Tung, Karl Schmitt, Leo Strauss, and some contemporary Christian smarter than Pat Robertson getting together for a "Combat Liberalism" unity seminar, ending with group hugs all around. (Except for Strauss, probably, but he would try to hug the others anyway, on his way to being burned at the stake.)


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-21-07 8:23 AM
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French America stretched from Quebec through Minnesota (and North Dakota) to Louisiana until 1759 when Quebec was conquered. The Louisiana Purchase was a sort of mopping-up operation. There still are a fair number of old French names in Minnesota, both family names and place names (though the families seldom speak French, though there was a French-speaking county in the north as late as 1880 or so), and the Minnesota constitution was first promulgated including a French version. At that time MN was estimated to be 5% French.

There used to be a French-speaking town in Illinois on the Mississippi, and there's an area called "Old Mines" in Missouri where there are a few old French speakers still around.

The history of the French in the West seems to be somewhat neglected. The usual answer is "fur trade", but I'm pretty sure it was more than that. I'd imagine that some French speakers went west just to get away from the brutal hosers who were ravaging their homeland.



Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-21-07 8:35 AM
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On the subject of counterfactual history, has anyone seen Kevin Willmott's CSA: Confederate States of America?

It's a mock historical documentary about contemporary America in an alternative universe where the South won the Civil War and annexed the northern states into the Confederacy. At various points in the film, the purported documentary is interrupted by television commercials for various offensively racist products (most of which were real products from the early 20th century). At one point, there is a pitch perfect parody of one of those "ask your doctor" pharmaceutical commercials, except that the product being advertised is a tranquilizer to return your uppity darkies to a proper state of submissiveness. When I saw that fake advertisement, I thought "this director has really glimpsed the dark soul of America."


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 12-21-07 8:36 AM
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Insta-criteria for Americana history-as-ethics: R.E. Lee vs. Abe Lincoln. The south is gonna rise again!


Posted by: 01011010 | Link to this comment | 12-21-07 8:40 AM
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The alternative military history would be interesting; now, the civil war was just about the cusp of modern warfare anyway (canned food! repeating carbines! machine guns! lots of trains! really big huge piles of corpses! oh, and meaningful cavalry).

Put it off and it gets more so; everyone has a repeating rifle, more machine guns, more railways, barbed wire. Now, the first consequence of this is that a lot more people get killed; or alternatively the same number get killed faster. That's a cert.

But the 19th century tech changes had very different effects; it could have gone like Plevna in 1877 or Neuve Chapelle in 1915 (i.e. stalemate, desperate assaults into enfilading machine gun fire, mud, war poetry), or also like the Franco-Prussian war in 1870 or the WW1 eastern front - lots of dramatic manoeuvring along railway lines with really big piles of corpses and maybe a quick finish.

See, I told you this war stuff was fun.

So you can postulate an American WW1; the industrialised northerners are going to win in the end even if they have to invent the tank, but it's going to suck incredibly hard and probably leave a lot of ugly fascist trouble behind. You can postulate an American Franco-Prussian or Romanian campaign; the Union Army blasts its way into Richmond in six months after some really spectacular slaughter, and a fairly unsatisfactory treaty is signed. Or you can postulate an American Boer War; the Union Army isn't ready and goes through a couple of early embarrassments, but then gets its act together, there's some dramatic manoeuvre battles in which the Southerners inflict an unexpectedly big pile of corpses with their new long range rifles, but within a year or two Atlanta and Richmond are taken; but it's a real pisser cleaning up all the bitter-end guerrillas running about attacking trains. Everyone's keen to get their reconstruction on, and eventually make a Magnanimous Gesture of sorts; and the southerners eventually settle down to subverting the new order politically.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 12-21-07 9:08 AM
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I thought it was conventional to see the war in the East after the Wilderness as having a pattern very prophetic of WWI: A series of attempts to go around checked, resulting in an ever-lengthening trench line. Eventually extending from North of Richmond to South of Petersburg. And tactics attempting to break through also very suggestive, as we look back, of things to come. The "Battle of the Crater" only the most spectacular of things that would be tried again, also unsuccessfully, on the Western Front.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 12-21-07 9:17 AM
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Yes, that's pretty conventional. Part of the problem, though, is the use of "WW1" to mean static warfare and entrenchments; "WW1 Western Front between November 1914 and March 1918" would get it. Meanwhile there was a lot of very different warfare going on in Russia, Romania, the Middle East, and even Italy after the Caporetto offensive ended the static phase.

In a sense, the Western campaigns are to the ACW as the Eastern ones were to WW1; with the exception that they were decisive. Personally I quite like the Boer War analogy.

The British Army Staff College used to teach a *lot* of Stonewall Jackson's campaigns; apparently on the assumption that British officers would probably be outnumbered and had better get used to it.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 12-21-07 9:26 AM
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a pitch perfect parody of one of those "ask your doctor" pharmaceutical commercials

Actually, IIRC, the voiceover says to "ask your veterinarian." Subtle satire it was not.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 12-21-07 9:34 AM
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British interwar Military theorists, as I'm sure you know, used the Am. Civil War to engage in a kind of "analogy battle" of their own. Jackson as you say. Then Fuller's Grant and Liddell-Hart's Sherman. And partisans in the English-speaking world chose according to temperment and professional bias: Patton took a vacation in Georgia in the early thirties using Sherman as his guidebook, and wrote Liddell-Hart a fan letter about it.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 12-21-07 9:55 AM
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The most successfully aggressive empire like, ever.

The Mongols, hands-down.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-21-07 10:01 AM
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80: Agreed. I think TJ should have just attached a proactive signing statement that read "I fucking rule".


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-21-07 10:32 AM
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He pointed out that Texas is the only state that was an independent republic prior to joining the US. I asked what he thought the government of Vermont was doing between July 1777 and statehood in 1791

Ahem.

Also, I don't think the constitutional argument is as frivolous as you suggest. At the time, the question was put, could the president and Senate by treaty acquire England? If so, would the constitution follow the flag? Inasmuch as we now think the answers are "yes" and "no," that's something that the LA purchase decided, isn't it?

Vermont was hived off from part of the original thirteen colonies, and so might not count: as indeed, the Northwest Territory was deemed not to count in the debate of 1803, if I recall correctly (I left my Henry Adams at home).

Further: could the president and Senate by treaty sell Texas back to Mexico?


Posted by: Eric Rauchway | Link to this comment | 12-21-07 12:42 PM
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Further: could the president and Senate by treaty sell Texas back to Mexico?

Prohibited by post-civil war amendments, I think. Depriving citizens of their rights. But when I used them to argue against possible secession Dan Kervick called me "facile" or "trivial" or "a fucking idiot." Something like that.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-21-07 1:10 PM
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Further: could the president and Senate by treaty sell Texas back to Mexico?

Can the President sign and Senate ratify a treaty that ceded some portion of US territory to Mexico (or Canada or, for that matter, Russia)? Of course. The inducement offered by the other High Party is irrelevant. The present inhabitants of that territory would remain US citizens, though, and therefore be subject to US taxation on their world-wide income.


Posted by: jim | Link to this comment | 12-21-07 6:39 PM
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Further: could the president and Senate by treaty sell Texas back to Mexico?

I'm liking this plan.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-21-07 6:42 PM
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Sorry, it's more complicated than that. The federal government can't split or augment a state without its concurrence. So the President can't sign a treaty ceding just a portion of Texas to Mexico; he (or she) would have to cede the whole of the state.


Posted by: jim | Link to this comment | 12-21-07 6:53 PM
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