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What you need to know about American History

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A Short History of America

The Revolution was fought, capitalized by real men and women who understood why they were fighting and sacrificing, to secure a truly evolutionary understanding of humanity's relationship with God, each other, and with the curious tool of human organizing we call government. America had been founded by four distinct groups with very different views of their spiritual relationship with God and very different cultures. These were Puritans, Quakers, Scots-Irish (Scots evicted from Scotland by the English many of whom briefly lit down in Ireland before moving on to the Colonies), and the second and third sons of the English Aristocracy looking to establish themselves.

All people bring with them when they move their culture and the technologies for survival and beliefs they accepted as true. These people took their beliefs and built a world that enunciated those beliefs through action.

Accidentally, the Puritans and Quakers settled mostly in the New England area. The Scots-Irish and Chesapeakes (2nd and 3rd sons) settled mostly in the South. After the initial settlements were in place this reinforced itself, new immigrants moving where the culture was most familiar to them.

The New England culture, derived from Puritan and Quaker, had at its foundation the belief that each human soul is directly connected to God and sovereign. This was the basis of the original Puritan settlement of Massachusetts. That belief, then echoed in Locke and other later more secular philosophers, was accepted by many of the Founders, especially those who were intellectuals. This included Thomas Jefferson. Natural Rights Theory, the view that all of us possess inherent rights at birth and that these are not given by government is a profound departure from earlier assertions on the basis of government.

In the immediate wake of the Revolution a bait and switch took place.

To secure something the Founders believed to be essential, a common, central government, they compromised on the issue of the inherent rights of all. Blacks and women were excluded; their inherent rights were reduced to legislated privileges and they had few, of any, of those.

The Founders sincerely believed this would be of short duration. The Great Compromise was seen as a transitional step. Most men at that point in time may have actually believed the disinformation campaigns that characterized women variously as 'uncontrollably sexual,' 'inherently unable to reason,' and 'needing moral guidance.' We hear echoes of this today though it is now a marginal belief system. Most people still holding these beliefs are uneducated and do not express these thoughts because they become subject to ridicule.

There was a lot the Founders, necessarily, did not know because no one knew. The concept of economics as a system of study, genetics, germ theory, anthropology, neurobiology, and other more accurate ideas on human development were not yet in existence. They did the best they could. They also trusted the South to honor its promises. That was a mistake. They had no preset means for enforcement. People do not voluntarily give up stolen goods.

It would have been better if the Constitution had not ratified at the cost of compromising on the foundation on which government would then operate The divisions we face today all have their origin from that point in time.

Those Chesapeakes went on to replicate the economy and cultural forms most familiar to them. So, ironically, the estate system of England, which was then dying because of pressures that ended serfdom and untying people from the land, sprang up in the South. The new serfs, black slaves, had even few rights than had their English equivalents. Southern States forced the less wealthy among them to subsidize slave holding by establishing a militia who enforced the laws they legislated that kept them in power.

In the immediate wake of the Revolution a huge migration took place. A half a million Southerners, mostly Abolition oriented, left the South for the North or North West. At the same time 350,000 slaveholders from the North left there for the South or South West. The people voted on the issue. This homogenized opinion in each area and delayed the conflict.

The Civil War was not fought over slavery; each governmental entity used those issues that worked best to quash dissent and whip up patriotic fervor. Both sides actually were focused on the wrongful preservation of the means by which a small, powerful elite was profiting. This is true of all the wars, except the Revolution, that America has fought.

In the interim women had been busy. Denied their proper rights they used those tools available to them to increase their ability to run their own lives and improve their communities. All social justice movements come from the consistent, and determined work of women. Women entered education; the first generation of the women's movement must be counted as those first teachers of Dame schools, mostly in New England. From there graduates began to seek jobs as teachers themselves. Through arguments that teaching children was a natural corollary of women's natural role in the home women teachers were allowed to have jobs – at 1/3 to ½ the wages paid to men. The only tool open to women to increase their participation in the economy and in the exercise of their rights was through legislation. A Constitutional Amendment that affirmed their status as people included under the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution was out of their reach. But the use of statute to modify the inherent rights of individuals had become accepted and soon had begun to impact men as well.

Through the back door the State had achieved the sovereign status that the Revolution had been fought to deny.

In the wake of the Civil War and the reign of the Robber Barons the predatory behavior that took place appalled and disgusted decent people. The philosophy of Natural Rights was questioned because if a tool does not work rational people discard it and find something that will work.

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Melinda Pillsbury-Foster is the author of GREED: The NeoConning of America and A Tour of Old Yosemite. The former is a novel about the lives of the NeoCons with a strong autobiographical component. The latter is a non-fiction book about her father (more...)
 
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