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Jefferson Would Have Stood With Cindy Sheehan

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Nationally, it was clearly a phenomenon when several truckers called into a radio show on Sirius Satellite to say that they were interrupting trips through central parts of the USA to head to Crawford, Texas. One even reported live as he experienced a (friendly) reception by the local sheriff, who helped him find a place to park his rig. Locally here in Oregon, it's not unusual to see cars with signs taped to their rear windows - printed in inch-high letters on an 8 1/2" x 11" piece of paper - that say variations on: "We're With Cindy!" or "Answer Her Questions!"
Ambassador Joe Wilson represented a political threat to Bush by credibly exposing part of Bush's lie and its methodology, and so Wilson had to be taken out by destroying his wife's career. Cindy Sheehan now represents a similar political threat, and for this job right-wing hate radio, Drudge, and extremist bloggers have zeroed in on her. Meanwhile, thousands of patriotic Americans, tired of being lied to by the Bush regime, are heading to Crawford, or visiting www.meetwithcindy.com or www.crawfordpeacehouse.org.

Often history tells us how the future may turn out: Bush Junior isn't the first president to have lied to us about foreign affairs and war, or to use lies to justify eviscerating the Constitution. For example, Lyndon Johnson lied about a non-existent attack on the US warship Maddox in the Vietnamese Gulf of Tonkin. William McKinley (the presidency after which Karl Rove has said he's modeling the Bush presidency) lied about an attack on the USS Maine to get us into the Spanish-American war in The Philippines and Cuba.

But most relevant to today's situation were John Adams' version of Bush's Saddam stories when Adams sent three emissaries to France and criminals soliciting bribes approached them late one evening. Adams referred to these three unidentified Frenchmen as "Mr. X, Mr. Y, and Mr. Z," and made them out to represent such an insult and a threat against America that it may presage war.

Adams' use of "The XYZ Affair" to gain political capital nearly led us to war with France and helped him carve a large (although temporary) hole in the Constitution. Similarly, much like Bush's corralling of protesters at gunpoint into so-called "Free Speech Zones," and saying he has the power to lock up Americans (like Jose Padilla) without charges and without access to a lawyer, John Adams jailed newspaper editors and average citizens alike who spoke out against him and his policies.

At that time in the late 1790s, Adams was President and Jefferson was Vice President. Adams led the Federalist Party (which today could be said to have reincarnated as the Republican Party - thus the attempts by Republican historians to rehabilitate Adams' legacy and trash Jefferson), and Jefferson had just brought together two Anti-Federalist parties - the Democrats and the Republicans - into one party called The Democratic Republicans. (Today they're known as the Democratic Party, the longest-lasting political party in history. They dropped "Republican" from their name in the 1820-1830 era).

Adams and his Federalist cronies, using war hysteria with France as a wedge issue, were pushing the Alien & Sedition Acts through Congress, and even threw into prison Democratic Congressman Matthew Lyon of Vermont for speaking out against the Federalists on the floor of the House of Representatives. Adams was leading the United States in the direction of a fascistic state with a spectacularly successful strategy of vilifying Jefferson and his Party as anti-American and pro-French. Adams rhetoric was described as "manly" by the Federalist newspapers, which admiringly published dozens of his threatening rants against France, suggesting that Jefferson's Democratic Republicans were less than patriots and perhaps even traitors because of their opposition to the unnecessary war with France that Adams was simultaneously trying to gin up and saying he was working to avoid.


On June 1, 1798 - two weeks before the Alien & Sedition Acts passed Congress by a single vote - Jefferson wrote a thoughtful letter to his old friend John Taylor.

"This is not new," Jefferson said. "It is the old practice of despots; to use a part of the people to keep the rest in order. And those who have once got an ascendancy and possessed themselves of all the resources of the nation, their revenues and offices, have immense means for retaining their advantage.

"But," he added, "our present situation is not a natural one." Jefferson knew that Adams' Federalists did not represent the true heart and soul of America, and commented to Taylor about how Adams had been using divide-and-conquer politics, and fear-mongering about war with France (the "XYZ Affair") with some success.

"But still I repeat it," he wrote again to Taylor, "this is not the natural state."

Jefferson did everything he could to stop that generation's version of the PATRIOT Act, but Adams had the Federalists in control of both the House of Representatives and the Senate, and pushed through the Alien and Sedition Acts. Jefferson left town the day they were signed in protest.

Jefferson later wrote in his diary, "Their usurpations and violations of the Constitution at that period, and their majority in both Houses of Congress, were so great, so decided, and so daring, that after combating their aggressions, inch by inch, without being able in the least to check their career, the [Democratic] Republican leaders thought it would be best for them to give up their useless efforts there, go home, get into their respective legislatures, embody whatever of resistance they could be formed into, and if ineffectual, to perish there as in the last ditch."

Democratic Republican Congressman Albert Gallatin submitted legislation that would repeal the Alien & Sedition Acts, and the Federalist majority in the House refused to even consider the motion, while informing Gallatin that he would be the next to be imprisoned if he kept speaking out against "the national security."

But a new force arose.

When Adams shut down the Democratic Republican newspapers, pamphleteers - like those who had helped stir up the American Revolution - went to work, papering towns from New Hampshire to Georgia with posters and leaflets decrying Adams' power grab and encouraging people to stand tall with Thomas Jefferson. One of the best was a short screed by George Nicholas of Kentucky, "Justifying the Kentucky Resolution against the Alien & Sedition Laws" and " Correcting Certain False Statements, Which Have Been Made in the Different States" by Adams' Federalists.

On February 13, 1799, then-Vice President Jefferson sent a copy of Nicholas' pamphlet to his old friend Archibald Stuart (a Virginia legislator, fighter in the War of Independence, and leader of Jefferson's Democratic Republicans).

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http://www.thomhartmann.com

Thom Hartmann is a Project Censored Award-winning New York Times best-selling author, and host of a nationally syndicated daily progressive talk program on the Air America Radio Network, live noon-3 PM ET. www.thomhartmann.com His most recent books are "The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight," "Unequal Protection: The Rise of Corporate Dominance and the Theft of Human Rights," "We The People," "What Would Jefferson Do?," "Screwed: The Undeclared War (more...)
 

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Wow. Great article. I never knew the real orgins o... by Dom Jermano on Wednesday, Aug 24, 2005 at 7:08:15 PM