13 July 2015

Jill Lepore and the Tea Party

     Jill Lepore writes well.  She is an historian, a professor of American History at Harvard.  Her book, The Whites of Their Eyes:  The Tea Party's Revolution and the Battle over American History is entertaining, edifying, and an intelligent investigation of the current Tea Party's view of the American Revolution.  Her view that the American Revolution in the minds of Americans has become fable with little or no basis in fact is amply illustrated.  The American Revolution has become what any particular group of people want it to be without regard of facts; facts become a part of the vast liberal conspiracy in the minds of the Tea Party people.  She refers to Glen Beck reflecting that George Washington was against socialism as a instance of complete disregard for anything resembling Washington's thought processes or the fact that socialism did not exit as an political concept when George was among us.

      A very amusing detail related by Professor Lepore is the author of the Pledge of Allegiance.  It was written by Frank Bellamy who intended it for school children.  The "under God" provision was not added until the 1950's.  Most ironic, Mr. Bellamy, was a pastor of a Baptist church and the vice president of the Society of Christian Socialist.  The Pledge was written in 1892 when socialists actually exited.  Pastor Bellamy not only was a socialist but had a firm belief that Jesus was as well.

      Another amusing "fact" brought into the discussion is the Treaty of Tripoli wherein the Senate of the United States in 1797 ratified the Treaty, Article 11 of which reads as follows:

          "As the government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian     Religion...."

Many of us have the notion that the United States was indeed founded upon Christian principles which need to be re-established in order to avert catastrophe.  At the time the first ten amendments were adopted more than half the states had a state religion.  The denominations within a state who were not blessed to be the state religion didn't think much of this arrangement and were much in favor of separating church from state.

     The founding fathers, whoever they might have been, were in no sense conservatives; they did not do as their fathers had done before them; they created a new country in every sense of the word "new".  We can assume the negotiations resulting in our constitution were long and difficult and resulted in compromise in almost every facet.  The goal was the same for all of them--to make a new country.  They accomplished that.  They weren't perfect and the process is not complete.  Slavery was not addressed for the reason that no union would have resulted had the northern states insisted that slavery be abolished.  It took a long, bitter, and deadly civil war to resolve that issue.  Women could not vote until 1920.  The United States continues to be a work in progress; the founding fathers began the process, they will not finish it.