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Month: September, 2012

The Story of Democraczy: Chapter Twelve

Genesis                         1,787 AD

Revolution                     1,775 AD

Enlightenment                1,700 AD

and Romanticism

Very Early Modern         1,500 AD

Late Middle Ages            1,300 AD

High Middle Ages            1,000 AD

Early Middle Ages              400 AD

Pericles:                             450 BC

Ephialtes:                           465 BC

Cleisthenes:                       500 BC

Solon:                                600 BC

Hammurabi:                    1,800 BC

Ur Nammu:                     2,000 BC

Gilgamesh:                     2,500 BC

Sumeria:                          5,300 BC

Lascaux:                        30,000 BC

Religious activity:          100,000 BC

Homo sapiens:               130,000 BC

Homo erectus:            1,500,000 BC

Homo habilis:              2,500,000 BC

Put yourself in the moment. You have been a revolutionary, energized by your anger at being subjected to and controlled by rules and situations conceived and authored by those with whom you violently disagree. Suddenly you realize that you have accomplished the practically impossible and have won!  Now what?

It is fascinating to try to imagine, or even conjure, the “now what?” moment when Revolutionary leaders realized they had actually achieved this surprising and perhaps unexpected military victory. It was almost enough fulfilled in gathering the momentum and carrying out such an insane, perhaps impossible, venture. But then to prevail unexpectedly may leave one in a state of bewilderment. It is not unusual in history for revolutionaries to lack the skills to transition into domestic leadership. As determined as it was and by knowledgeable people, one still feels the impression, in the thoughts following their victory, of a certain amount of naive flailing – as if blind will were carrying their efforts toward an optimistic conclusion.

One can sense, in the records of the various meetings and in the Federalist Papers, outlined below, that those, suddenly responsible, representatives had to devise a system that played to all of their various needs, requirements, and prejudices. What was of course unique to the American ex-colonies was that there was no historic system already in place. There was no royalty to take into account nor was there was an instituted military to contend with. There were only landowners, shopkeepers, politicians, and theorists (which, in my book, were already quite enough).

So there was a blank slate with only the histories and unproven philosophies of others to reference, and their own prejudices, both personal and represented. You can see the intense and unsettling struggle between those who felt a largely centralized system would be more effective (as evidenced by the heavy hitters John Jay, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison below) and those who desired a more localized, separate, and independent existence (backed by an equally heavy lineup). One can also see, from the vantage point of 225 years later, that the issue was never fully resolved – or shall I say: agreed to.

All this is just to say that when one thinks about democracy in the United States of America, that is the system, there were perhaps a half dozen basic issues that tilted the balance toward a primarily, though much less in those days, centralized system, while still providing cover for those who were concerned about individualism and localized control. From today’s perspective what was explained to me in early education as the “flexibility and adaptability” of the system, I now see as really the perpetuation of the original struggle.

The Federalist Papers

1 General Introduction Hamilton For the Independent Journal – –
2 Concerning Dangers from Foreign Force and Influence Jay For the Independent Journal – –
3 The Same Subject Continued:
Concerning Dangers from Foreign Force and Influence
Jay For the Independent Journal – –
4 The Same Subject Continued:
Concerning Dangers from Foreign Force and Influence
Jay For the Independent Journal – –
5 The Same Subject Continued:
Concerning Dangers from Foreign Force and Influence
Jay For the Independent Journal – –
6 Concerning Dangers from Dissensions Between the States Hamilton For the Independent Journal – –
7 The Same Subject Continued:
Concerning Dangers from Dissensions Between the States
Hamilton For the Independent Journal – –
8 The Consequences of Hostilities Between the States Hamilton From the New York Packet Tuesday, November 20, 1787
9 The Union as a Safeguard Against Domestic Faction and Insurrection Hamilton For the Independent Journal – –
10 The Same Subject Continued:
The Union as a Safeguard Against Domestic Faction and Insurrection
Madison From the New York Packet Friday, November 23, 1787
11 The Utility of the Union in Respect to Commercial Relations and a Navy Hamilton For the Independent Journal – –
12 The Utility of the Union in Respect to Revenue Hamilton From the New York Packet Tuesday, November 27, 1787
13 Advantage of the Union in Respect to Economy in Government Hamilton For the Independent Journal – –
14 Objections to the Proposed Constitution from Extent of Territory Answered Madison From the New York Packet Friday, November 30, 1787
15 The Insufficiency of the Present Confederation to Preserve the Union Hamilton For the Independent Journal – –
16 The Same Subject Continued:
The Insufficiency of the Present Confederation to Preserve the Union
Hamilton From the New York Packet Tuesday, December 4, 1787
17 The Same Subject Continued:
The Insufficiency of the Present Confederation to Preserve the Union
Hamilton For the Independent Journal – –
18 The Same Subject Continued:
The Insufficiency of the Present Confederation to Preserve the Union
Hamilton and Madison For the Independent Journal – –
19 The Same Subject Continued:
The Insufficiency of the Present Confederation to Preserve the Union
Hamilton and Madison For the Independent Journal – –
20 The Same Subject Continued:
The Insufficiency of the Present Confederation to Preserve the Union
Hamilton and Madison From the New York Packet Tuesday, December 11, 1787
21 Other Defects of the Present Confederation Hamilton For the Independent Journal – –
22 The Same Subject Continued:
Other Defects of the Present Confederation
Hamilton From the New York Packet Friday, December 14, 1787
23 The Necessity of a Government as Energetic as the One Proposed to the Preservation of the Union Hamilton From the New York Packet Tuesday, December 17, 1787
24 The Powers Necessary to the Common Defense Further Considered Hamilton For the Independent Journal – –
25 The Same Subject Continued:
The Powers Necessary to the Common Defense Further Considered
Hamilton From the New York Packet Friday, December 21, 1787
26 The Idea of Restraining the Legislative Authority in Regard to the Common Defense Considered Hamilton For the Independent Journal – –
27 The Same Subject Continued:
The Idea of Restraining the Legislative Authority in Regard to the Common Defense Considered
Hamilton From the New York Packet Tuesday, December 25, 1787
28 The Same Subject Continued:
The Idea of Restraining the Legislative Authority in Regard to the Common Defense Considered
Hamilton For the Independent Journal – –
29 Concerning the Militia Hamilton From the Daily Advertiser Thursday, January 10, 1788
30 Concerning the General Power of Taxation Hamilton From the New York Packet Friday, December 28, 1787
31 The Same Subject Continued:
Concerning the General Power of Taxation
Hamilton From the New York Packet Tuesday, January 1, 1788
32 The Same Subject Continued:
Concerning the General Power of Taxation
Hamilton From the Daily Advertiser Thursday, January 3, 1788
33 The Same Subject Continued:
Concerning the General Power of Taxation
Hamilton From the Daily Advertiser Thursday, January 3, 1788
34. The Same Subject Continued:
Concerning the General Power of Taxation
Hamilton From the New York Packet Friday, January 4, 1788
35 The Same Subject Continued:
Concerning the General Power of Taxation
Hamilton For the Independent Journal – –
36 The Same Subject Continued:
Concerning the General Power of Taxation
Hamilton From the New York Packet Tuesday, January 8, 1788
37 Concerning the Difficulties of the Convention in Devising a Proper Form of Government Madison From the Daily Advertiser Friday, January 11, 1788
38 The Same Subject Continued, and the Incoherence of the Objections to the New Plan Exposed Madison From the New York Packet Tuesday, January 15, 1788
39 The Conformity of the Plan to Republican Principles Madison For the Independent Journal – –
40 The Powers of the Convention to Form a Mixed Government Examined and Sustained Madison From the New York Packet Friday, January 18, 1788
41 General View of the Powers Conferred by the Constitution Madison For the Independent Journal – –
42 The Powers Conferred by the Constitution Further Considered Madison From the New York Packet Tuesday, January 22, 1788
43 The Same Subject Continued:
The Powers Conferred by the Constitution Further Considered
Madison For the Independent Journal – –
44 Restrictions on the Authority of the Several States Madison From the New York Packet Friday, January 25, 1788
45 The Alleged Danger From the Powers of the Union to the State Governments Considered Madison For the Independent Journal – –
46 The Influence of the State and Federal Governments Compared Madison From the New York Packet Tuesday, January 29, 1788
47 The Particular Structure of the New Government and the Distribution of Power Among Its Different Parts Madison From the New York Packet Friday, February 1, 1788
48 These Departments Should Not Be So Far Separated as to Have No Constitutional Control Over Each Other Madison From the New York Packet Friday, February 1, 1788
49 Method of Guarding Against the Encroachments of Any One Department of Government by Appealing to the People Through a Convention Hamilton or Madison From the New York Packet Tuesday, February 5, 1788
50 Periodic Appeals to the People Considered Hamilton or Madison From the New York Packet Tuesday, February 5, 1788
51 The Structure of the Government Must Furnish the Proper Checks and Balances Between the Different Departments Hamilton or Madison From the New York Packet Friday, February 8, 1788
52 The House of Representatives Hamilton or Madison From the New York Packet Friday, February 8, 1788
53 The Same Subject Continued:
The House of Representatives
Hamilton or Madison From the New York Packet Tuesday, February 12, 1788
54 The Apportionment of Members Among the States Hamilton or Madison From the New York Packet Tuesday, February 12, 1788
55 The Total Number of the House of Representatives Hamilton or Madison From the New York Packet Friday, February 15, 1788
56 The Same Subject Continued:
The Total Number of the House of Representatives
Hamilton or Madison From the New York Packet Tuesday, February 19, 1788
57 The Alleged Tendency of the Plan to Elevate the Few at the Expense of the Many Considered in Connection with Representation Hamilton or Madison From the New York Packet Tuesday, February 19, 1788
58 Objection that the Number of Members Will Not Be Augmented as the Progress of Population Demands Considered Madison – – – –
59 Concerning the Power of Congress to Regulate the Election of Members Hamilton From the New York Packet Friday, February 22, 1788
60 The Same Subject Continued:
Concerning the Power of Congress to Regulate the Election of Members
Hamilton From the New York Packet Tuesday, February 26, 1788
61 The Same Subject Continued:
Concerning the Power of Congress to Regulate the Election of Members
Hamilton From the New York Packet Tuesday, February 26, 1788
62 The Senate Hamilton or Madison For the Independent Journal – –
63 The Senate Continued Hamilton or Madison For the Independent Journal – –
64 The Powers of the Senate Jay From the New York Packet Friday, March 7, 1788
65 The Powers of the Senate Continued Hamilton From the New York Packet Friday, March 7, 1788
66 Objections to the Power of the Senate To Set as a Court for Impeachments Further Considered Hamilton From the New York Packet Tuesday, March 11, 1788
67 The Executive Department Hamilton From the New York Packet Tuesday, March 11, 1788
68 The Mode of Electing the President Hamilton From the New York Packet Friday, March 14, 1788
69 The Real Character of the Executive Hamilton From the New York Packet Friday, March 14, 1788
70 The Executive Department Further Considered Hamilton From the New York Packet Friday, March 14, 1788
71 The Duration in Office of the Executive Hamilton From the New York Packet Tuesday, March 18, 1788
72 The Same Subject Continued, and Re-Eligibility of the Executive Considered Hamilton From the New York Packet Friday, March 21, 1788
73 The Provision for Support of the Executive, and the Veto Power Hamilton From the New York Packet Friday, March 21, 1788
74 The Command of the Military and Naval Forces, and the Pardoning Power of the Executive Hamilton From the New York Packet Tuesday, March 25, 1788
75 The Treaty Making Power of the Executive Hamilton For the Independent Journal – –
76 The Appointing Power of the Executive Hamilton From the New York Packet Tuesday, April 1, 1788
77 The Appointing Power Continued and Other Powers of the Executive Considered Hamilton From the New York Packet Friday, April 4, 1788
78 The Judiciary Department Hamilton From McLEAN’s Edition, New York – –
79 The Judiciary Continued Hamilton From McLEAN’s Edition, New York – –
80 The Powers of the Judiciary Hamilton From McLEAN’s Edition, New York – –
81 The Judiciary Continued, and the Distribution of Judicial Authority Hamilton From McLEAN’s Edition, New York – –
82 The Judiciary Continued Hamilton From McLEAN’s Edition, New York – –
83 The Judiciary Continued in Relation to Trial by Jury Hamilton From McLEAN’s Edition, New York – –
84 Certain General and Miscellaneous Objections to the Constitution Considered and Answered Hamilton From McLEAN’s Edition, New York – –
85 Concluding Remarks Hamilton From McLEAN’s Edition, New York
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The Story of Democraczy: Chapter Eleven

Revolution                     1,775 AD

Enlightenment                1,700 AD

and Romanticism

Very Early Modern         1,500 AD

Late Middle Ages            1,300 AD

High Middle Ages            1,000 AD

Early Middle Ages              400 AD

Pericles:                             450 BC

Ephialtes:                           465 BC

Cleisthenes:                       500 BC

Solon:                                600 BC

Hammurabi:                    1,800 BC

Ur Nammu:                     2,000 BC

Gilgamesh:                     2,500 BC

Sumeria:                          5,300 BC

Lascaux:                        30,000 BC

Religious activity:          100,000 BC

Homo sapiens:               130,000 BC

Homo erectus:            1,500,000 BC

Homo habilis:              2,500,000 BC

I have alluded somewhat vaguely to the merits of democracy. One of them is quite obvious: it is, perhaps, the most charming form of government ever devised by man. The reason is not far to seek. It is based upon propositions that are palpably not true and what is not true, as everyone knows, is always immensely more fascinating and satisfying . . . . . .          H. L. Mencken

This is the juncture of a narrative that has spanned at least several thousands of years. Clearly, from the list you can browse below, the American, as followed by the French, Revolution was not the first popular rebellion or revolt; but it was, at the very least, a high point in the evolution of human rights. The authors of the period of enlightenment, having drawn from the continual outcry of a multi-millennial chronicle, released a pent-up reserve that resulted in a new level of humans’ heretofore little realized expression of their desire for participation in their own destiny.

The American Revolution was induced by an array of actions that constrained the economic activity and viability of colonists and also had the effect of limiting their participation in governance. This control on the part of their British rulers was enough to cause these colonists to decide to put their bodies, and their lives, at peril. One must stand in awe of the decision to take such a step (though the commitment varied within the colonies, to wit the Virginia gentry’s willingness to be indignant about the limitations placed on them, but their hesitance, almost refusal, to offer themselves to the potential of physical risk). Still, it is important to try to apprehend the conditions that aligned in order for people to resolve to defiantly alter their circumstances.

But the story of democracy does not stop at the successful conclusion of these one or two Revolutions – immense as they were. The system of republican democracy, for it is that – a system, only began then. It was what those people determined to be appropriate toward the accomplishment of their goals . . . . and desires. We, each generation of Americans, since this system was initiated, are the beneficiaries of their determination; and each successive generation had/has the ability, if not the obligation, to look at this institution anew – as if never before seen. We get to parse it and to understand how it applies to us in the present – over 200 years later, when, as compared to the original states, the population has multiplied 100 times, the occupied land has at least quadrupled, most of us will never personally see or have a conversation with our federal representatives (much less our local ones), and the world’s opposite longitude is reached physically in hours and electronically in microseconds.

Have we, as J. L. Mencken  laughingly put it, been presented a magic trick, a sleight of hand that we believe in, as in a sacred cow, without knowing whether it actually works toward attaining those markers that we attribute to it? Is it supplying us with benefits that no other known or yet unknown system can provide? Does it fulfill the desire that we project as necessary to having a satisfactory life – that is, the existence that we attained when we each achieved original consciousness?

The History of Popular Rebellions

BC

1–999 AD

1000–1499

1500–1699

1700–1799

–  Wikipedia