Thursday, October 30, 2008
JOHN ADAMS AND HISTORICAL EVENTS
I love American History. I really think I would have loved to teach it. Many people have absolutely no idea just how it affected so many things we have in our country today. Today would have been the birthday of John Adams, the second president of our dear country. Adams was an absolute defender of freedom and was the one leader of our country who was most responsible for The Declaration of Independence, itself. But then there is the word "politics". Even way back in 1796 when Adams ran for the presidency. Back then, we had The Federalists -- who advocated strong controls by the Federal Government over the entire country. The big opponent here was Thomas Jefferson who was then a member of what was called The Democratic-Republican party. Federalists had two candidates to choose from -one was Adams and the other was Alexander Hamilton, the first Secretary of the Treasury and the man who died in the duel with Aaron Burr. (Remember those "Got Milk" commercials that featured a question about them both?) Adams was considered the less of two evils. But this amazing man who did so much for our country was also a tremendously vain and pompous kind of guy as well. And in 1798 signed four very anti-constitutional laws called The Alien and Sedition Acts. Believe or not, one of these horrible laws is still in effect today in 2008. One doubled alien residence from seven to fourteen years before you could become a citizen. The Alien Enemies Act (still in effect) allows the deportation of aliens back to their home country if we happen to be at war with that country. Think back to World War Two-- not confinement, but deportation itself could have been effected. My grandfather would have been deported because he was becoming a citizen in the early 1940's when war broke out with Italy and Mussolini. During the presidential campaign of 1796 Adams was the presidential candidate of the Federalist Party and Thomas Pinckney, the Governor of South Carolina, was also running as a Federalist (at this point, the vice president was whoever came in second, so no running mates existed in the modern sense). The Federalists wanted Adams as their presidential candidate to crush Thomas Jefferson's bid. Most federalists would have preferred Hamilton to be a candidate. Although Hamilton and his followers supported Adams, they also held a grudge against him. . However, they thought Adams lacked the seriousness and popularity that had caused Washington to be successful, and also feared that Adams was too vain, opinionated, unpredictable, and stubborn to follow their directions. Adam's opponents were former Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, who was joined by Senator Aaron Burr of New York on the Democratic-Republican ticket.
As was customary, Adams stayed in his home town of Quincy rather than actively campaign for the Presidency. He wanted to stay out of what he called the silly and wicked game. His party, however, campaigned for him, while the Democratic- Republicans campaigned for Jefferson It was expected that Adams would dominate the votes in New England, while Jefferson was expected to win in the Southern states. In the end, Adams won the election by a narrow margin of 71 electoral votes to 68 for Jefferson (who became the vice president). Thomas Jefferson was elected in 1800 and in 1802 abolished these horrific laws against liberty. The grandson of Benjamin Franklin, himself , Benjamin Franklin Bache was arrested and jailed and died of Yellow Fever awaiting trial at the tender age of twenty-seven. So we must be very vigilant about the laws we pass today. Of course, the laws of Judicial Review (which would have permitted these laws to be challenged by the Supreme Court had not yet been established, but the fact that one of these terrible laws is still on the books today and NEVER challenged is horrific. Think of how easily we declare war today! Today was history also for Russia's explosion of a Hydrogen Bomb in 1961 (The Cuban Missile Crisis only a year away) and dear Rosa Parks, who stood up for her freedom on a Montgomery, Alabama transit bus was placed in casket view in the United States Capitol building on this day in 2005. I urge all of you to review American History-- we will learn many lessons from it. And let's get the left over tyranny law from the late 1790's off the books!