Friday, July 06, 2018

No, The Founding Fathers Weren't "Ordinary Men," Not In The Way Scott Walker Means It


Trump's knowledge of American history is as thorough as his knowledge of everything other than grifting. That's why so many morons love him so much; they see themselves in him. I guess there's nothing we can do about that. Even when Max Boot speculated in his Post column yesterday that "If Trump announced he were going to spit-roast immigrant kids and eat them on national TV (apologies to Jonathan Swift), most Republicans probably would approve of that too," he was right on target. Anyone-- including Boot-- who thinks there is anything Robert Mueller could find that will that will shatter his hold on the affections of his moron followers is just whistling Dixie. "Imagine," wrote Boot, "what would happen if special counsel Robert S. Mueller III finds clear evidence of criminality or if Trump’s trade wars tank the economy... if it does, it might-- just might-- shake the 88 percent GOP support that Trump currently enjoys. That, in turn, could open the way for a credible primary challenge... To use one of Boot's own metaphor sources, Wrong 'Em Boyo.

Remember when the idiot talked about what a great future he saw for Frederick Douglass? That's his knowledge of history. I don't want to say that the whole party don't know much about history... but... scholar's they don't tend to be these days. Another genius, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, getting his voters ready for some unconstitutional activities, has been a big proponent of spreading the idea that the founding fathers were "ordinary people."

Well, is some ways Scott Walker was correct. Here's half a dozen:
each one had a nose from which he breathed
each one ate food through a mouth
each one got tired and slept
each one had feet to walk with
each one was born of a mother
each one was, in Walker's own words, a patriot who risked his life for the freedoms we hold dear today
There are reasons their collective endeavor-- the founding of our country including the war for independence and then the Constitution-- has held up, had something to do with just how extraordinary these men were. PolitiFact Wisconsin though, decided that instead of contradicting Walker, they would give him and other Republicans a little history lesson about who the Founding Fathers' fathers were.
After consulting several scholars and other sources, we found that-- with some exceptions-- central figures in the nation’s founding generally came from privileged backgrounds, attended college at a time when very few people did and, by 1776, were prominent and wealthy.

"They weren't ordinary," said Brown University emeritus history professor Gordon Wood, author of Creation of the American Republic, Revolutionary Characters: What Made the Founders Different and other books. "They were the elite of the day, involved in highest levels of the society."

Paul Finkelman, a scholar-in-residence at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, was among the historians who agreed with that assessment. But noting that Benjamin Franklin’s formal education ended when he was 10, Finkelman added, "the notion that some of the founding fathers were self-made is true."

While there is no set group of founding fathers, lists of the major ones usually include the following six, as listed by the National Archives’ Founders Online.

Here’s a look at their early years, as well as where they were by 1776:
John Adams

Adams was born into a "comfortable, but not wealthy, Massachusetts farming family," according to the University of Virginia’s Miller Center, which specializes in political history. His father earned a living as a farmer and shoemaker. His early education was strong enough that he entered Harvard College at the age of 15.

Adams became the lawyer with the largest number of clients in highly competitive Boston, said University of West Georgia history professor emeritus John Ferling, the author of 11 books on the American Revolution and its leaders.

In the Continental Congress-- the body of delegates who represented the people of the colony-states that later became the United States of America-- he was the leader of the faction pushing for independence in 1776. He later became vice president and then the nation’s second president.

Benjamin Franklin

Franklin was the son of a man who made soap and candles, which Encyclopedia Britannica terms "one of the lowliest of the artisan crafts" at the time. Franklin learned to read very early and had one year in grammar school and another under a private teacher, but his formal education ended at age 10. At 12, he was apprenticed to one of his brothers as a printer and "taught himself to write effectively." He founded a weekly newspaper at age 16.

Franklin, Finkelman told us, "is the classic self-made American." He eventually became wealthy enough that, at age 42, he became "perhaps the first American we know of to retire," Finkelman said. He was a significant property owner, owned a successful publishing business and was an internationally known scientist. Franklin was a slave owner when he helped draft the Declaration of Independence, but became one of the early abolitionists when, at 81, he was at the Constitutional Convention in 1787, Finkelman said.

Alexander Hamilton

Hamilton was born in the British West Indies, the illegitimate son of a "poor itinerant Scottish merchant of aristocratic descent and an English-French Huguenot mother who was a planter's daughter," according to the National Archives. He received a "basic education" and became an apprentice clerk in a mercantile establishment. The proprietor and others recognized Hamilton’s "ambition and superior intelligence" and raised money to further his education, which included time at what became Columbia University in New York.

Finkelman said that after Hamilton joined the Army, he quickly became George Washington’s aide-de-camp with rank of lieutenant colonel. Hamilton wrote pamphlets and newspaper essays favoring independence in 1774 and 1775. In 1789, he became the nation’s first secretary of the treasury. In 1804, he was mortally wounded in a duel with a political rival, Aaron Burr.

James Madison

Madison’s father inherited and married into substantial wealth, according to the Miller Center. Madison was a "sickly child" who also suffered from psychosomatic, or stress-induced, seizures, similar to epileptic fits, "that plagued him on and off throughout his youth." But by the time he entered what became Princeton University, Madison had mastered Greek and Latin under the direction of private tutors.

Ferling noted that Madison was a leading figure in the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention, served as the leader in the First House of Representatives and drafted the Bill of Rights. According to Finkelman, Madison owned at least 100 slaves, inherited wealth and land from his father, and married into wealthy family. He was president from 1809 to 1817.

Thomas Jefferson

Jefferson was born on a slave plantation in central Virginia, according to His father was a planter and surveyor, and his mother was the daughter of a well-known Virginia family. When Jefferson was 14, his father died and he inherited about 3,000 acres of land and about 30 slaves. Jefferson went to the College of William and Mary, then studied and practiced law.

Jefferson was the primary author of the Declaration of Independence. According to Finkelman, he owned two major plantations and 150 to 200 slaves which, by modern standards, means he was a billionaire. Jefferson followed Washington and Adams as the third president.

George Washington

Washington was a member of Virginia’s gentry, born on his father’s plantation, according to Augustine Washington was a leading planter in the area and also served as a justice of the county court.

After Augustine died, when George was 11, "the income from what remained was just sufficient to maintain Mary Washington and her children" and George "undoubtedly helped his mother manage" the plantation where they lived. His formal education ended at age 15, before that of many gentlemen’s sons.

Washington trained as a surveyor before entering the military. Virginia’s governor appointed Washington, at age 22, to command the colony’s army in the French and Indian War, Ferling said. Washington went on to become a wealthy farmer and businessman before being appointed commander of the Continental army in 1775. Finkelman said by this time, Washington owned thousands of acres of land and hundreds of slaves. He served two terms as president.
PolitiFact added that the Founding Fathers "were all far from ordinary in terms of income, wealth, education, and social standing." But, to be fair, I don't think that's what Walker meant. Walker is an ordinary man, a profoundly flawed one. My guess is that he was trying to get across to Wisconsin voters that the Founding Fathers were also flawed-- ordinary like him in that way-- and could make mistakes that had to be corrected. And it is true that there are grievous historical errors in the Constitution, for example, errors that had to be corrected, something foreseen by the Founding Fathers, who included an amendment process, which gave us the Bill of Right, eventually abolished slavery, gave women legal equality, pohibited the denial of the right to vote based on race and then based on gender.

Constitutional Amendments generally gave more rights to people. Conservatives, Republicans, people like Scott Walker and Señor Trumpanzee aren't looking to expand rights; they look to narrow them and take them away.

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At 4:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd love to have the opportunity to educate Scott Walker with the flat side of a plank.

At 6:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's something walker won't understand:

The founding fathers were to walker what Einstein, Feynman, Bohr and Newton were to a pile of Donald trump's shit.


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