Archive for September, 2008

Please bring your books to class October 1 and 2

Please bring your books with you to the next class.

And if someone would post the words of the day that I have used for the last week in the comments section here, I will add them to that page.

Jefferson’s First Inaugural Address

Thomas Jefferson

The election of 1800 was contentious and uncertain—much like the election of 2000. In both cases, there was no clear winner in the Electoral College, so a different public body was called upon to resolve the question. The outcome of the election of 1800 had been in doubt until late February because Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr, the two leading candidates, each had received 73 electoral votes. The House of Representatives met in a special session to resolve the stalemate, as was required by the Constitution as described in Article II, section 2. . After 30 hours of debate and balloting, Mr. Jefferson emerged as the President and Mr. Burr the Vice President. Jefferson was the first person to take the oath of office in Washington, DC, even though the Capitol building was incomplete. President John Adams, having been denied a second term, left Washington on the day of the inauguration without attending the ceremony. Due to the potential chaos which had been exposed by the uncertain election, the Constitution was amended in an attempt to prevent any similar confusion in future elections.

Friends and Fellow-Citizens:
Called upon to undertake the duties of the first executive office of our country, I avail myself of the presence of that portion of my fellow-citizens which is here assembled to express my grateful thanks for the favor with which they have been pleased to look toward me, to declare a sincere consciousness that the task is above my talents, and that I approach it with those anxious and awful presentiments which the greatness of the charge and the weakness of my powers so justly inspire. A rising nation, spread over a wide and fruitful land, traversing all the seas with the rich productions of their industry, engaged in commerce with nations who feel power and forget right, advancing rapidly to destinies beyond the reach of mortal eye–when I contemplate these transcendent objects, and see the honor, the happiness, and the hopes of this beloved country committed to the issue, and the auspices of this day, I shrink from the contemplation, and humble myself before the magnitude of the undertaking….
During the contest of opinion through which we have passed the animation of discussions and of exertions has sometimes worn an aspect which might impose on strangers unused to think freely and to speak and to write what they think; but this being now decided by the voice of the nation, announced according to the rules of the Constitution, all will, of course, arrange themselves under the will of the law, and unite in common efforts for the common good. All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression. Let us, then, fellow-citizens, unite with one heart and one mind. Let us restore to social intercourse that harmony and affection without which liberty and even life itself are but dreary things. And let us reflect that, having banished from our land that religious intolerance under which mankind so long bled and suffered, we have yet gained little if we countenance a political intolerance as despotic, as wicked, and capable of as bitter and bloody persecutions. During the throes and convulsions of the ancient world, during the agonizing spasms of infuriated man, seeking through blood and slaughter his long- lost liberty, it was not wonderful that the agitation of the billows should reach even this distant and peaceful shore; that this should be more felt and feared by some and less by others, and should divide opinions as to measures of safety. But every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle. We have called by different names brethren of the same principle. We are all Republicans, we are all Federalists. If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it. I know, indeed, that some honest men fear that a republican government can not be strong, that this Government is not strong enough; but would the honest patriot, in the full tide of successful experiment, abandon a government which has so far kept us free and firm on the theoretic and visionary fear that this Government, the world’s best hope, may by possibility want energy to preserve itself? I trust not. I believe this, on the contrary, the strongest Government on earth. I believe it the only one where every man, at the call of the law, would fly to the standard of the law, and would meet invasions of the public order as his own personal concern. Sometimes it is said that man can not be trusted with the government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others? Or have we found angels in the forms of kings to govern him? Let history answer this question.
Let us, then, with courage and confidence pursue our own Federal and Republican principles, our attachment to union and representative government. Kindly separated by nature and a wide ocean from the exterminating havoc of one quarter of the globe; too high-minded to endure the degradations of the others; possessing a chosen country, with room enough for our descendants to the thousandth and thousandth generation; entertaining a due sense of our equal right to the use of our own faculties, to the acquisitions of our own industry, to honor and confidence from our fellow-citizens, resulting not from birth, but from our actions and their sense of them; enlightened by a benign religion, professed, indeed, and practiced in various forms, yet all of them inculcating honesty, truth, temperance, gratitude, and the love of man; acknowledging and adoring an overruling Providence, which by all its dispensations proves that it delights in the happiness of man here and his greater happiness hereafter–with all these blessings, what more is necessary to make us a happy and a prosperous people? Still one thing more, fellow-citizens–a wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government, and this is necessary to close the circle of our felicities.
About to enter, fellow-citizens, on the exercise of duties which comprehend everything dear and valuable to you, it is proper you should understand what I deem the essential principles of our Government, and consequently those which ought to shape its Administration. I will compress them within the narrowest compass they will bear, stating the general principle, but not all its limitations. Equal and exact justice to all men, of whatever state or persuasion, religious or political; peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none; the support of the State governments in all their rights, as the most competent administrations for our domestic concerns and the surest bulwarks against antirepublican tendencies; the preservation of the General Government in its whole constitutional vigor, as the sheet anchor of our peace at home and safety abroad; a jealous care of the right of election by the people–a mild and safe corrective of abuses which are lopped by the sword of revolution where peaceable remedies are unprovided; absolute acquiescence in the decisions of the majority, the vital principle of republics, from which is no appeal but to force, the vital principle and immediate parent of despotism; a well disciplined militia, our best reliance in peace and for the first moments of war, till regulars may relieve them; the supremacy of the civil over the military authority; economy in the public expense, that labor may be lightly burthened; the honest payment of our debts and sacred preservation of the public faith; encouragement of agriculture, and of commerce as its handmaid; the diffusion of information and arraignment of all abuses at the bar of the public reason; freedom of religion; freedom of the press, and freedom of person under the protection of the habeas corpus, and trial by juries impartially selected. These principles form the bright constellation which has gone before us and guided our steps through an age of revolution and reformation. The wisdom of our sages and blood of our heroes have been devoted to their attainment. They should be the creed of our political faith, the text of civic instruction, the touchstone by which to try the services of those we trust; and should we wander from them in moments of error or of alarm, let us hasten to retrace our steps and to regain the road which alone leads to peace, liberty, and safety.
I repair, then, fellow-citizens, to the post you have assigned me. With experience enough in subordinate offices to have seen the difficulties of this the greatest of all, I have learnt to expect that it will rarely fall to the lot of imperfect man to retire from this station with the reputation and the favor which bring him into it. Without pretensions to that high confidence you reposed in our first and greatest revolutionary character, whose preeminent services had entitled him to the first place in his country’s love and destined for him the fairest page in the volume of faithful history, I ask so much confidence only as may give firmness and effect to the legal administration of your affairs. I shall often go wrong through defect of judgment. When right, I shall often be thought wrong by those whose positions will not command a view of the whole ground. I ask your indulgence for my own errors, which will never be intentional, and your support against the errors of others, who may condemn what they would not if seen in all its parts. The approbation implied by your suffrage is a great consolation to me for the past, and my future solicitude will be to retain the good opinion of those who have bestowed it in advance, to conciliate that of others by doing them all the good in my power, and to be instrumental to the happiness and freedom of all.
Relying, then, on the patronage of your good will, I advance with obedience to the work, ready to retire from it whenever you become sensible how much better choice it is in your power to make. And may that Infinite Power which rules the destinies of the universe lead our councils to what is best, and give them a favorable issue for your peace and prosperity.

College Fair TONIGHT!

See the Upcoming deadlines page on this blog– it’s a tab along the bottom of the header picture– for a list of colleges coming!

Tonight! 6:30-8 pm! Be THERE!

The Model Treaty

As soon as the colonists became resolutely determined to become independent (and remember, the penalty for those who rebelled against the king as described in your book on p. 146 in the brown text box– it wasn’t pretty), they knew they needed foreign alliances and assistance. Therefore, a generic treaty outlining the kinds of general things the Congress would be looking for in an alliance with a foreign power was created. This was known as “The Model Treaty.” The Model Treaty was crafted with Spain and France in mind as the countries most likely to support the colonists against their long-running enemies, the British. (The enemy of my enemy is my friend….)

In 1778, the US and France agreed to the Treaty of Amity and Commerce, based upon the Model Treaty, which formalized a trade relationship between these two countries. The State Department website explains this treaty with these words

“The United States would have to wait until early 1778 for France to formally agree to a treaty. The formal treaty differed from Model Treaty in that the two countries granted each other most favored nation trading privileges, and also allowed for the presence of consuls in each others’ cities. In addition, the Treaty of Alliance provided additional military stipulations relating to the terms of the alliance, ceding any military gains in North America to the United States, and those in the Caribbean to France. More importantly, France agreed not to seek peace with Great Britain without British acknowledgement of American independence, and neither allied country was to seek peace without the others’ consent. Other countries were encouraged to join the alliance, but only if both French and American negotiators were present. The 1778 treaty also included a secret clause allowing for articles to be altered if Spain chose to join the alliance.”

This treaty between France and the US would remain in effect until the so-called Quasi-War with France broke out in 1798-1800, long after our independence had been acknowledged in the Treaty of Paris in 1783. I’m sure the French thought that we weren’t being very grateful, there, but we’ll explain that later….)

The Model Treaty would ask the signatory to agree to granting the Americans most-favored nation status in trade. This meant each side would grant lower tariff rates on each other’s goods than countries that did not have this designation (nowadays, practically every nation with which we do business has been granted MFN status, and here in the US this status has actually been renamed “Normative Trade Relations” since 1998, which implies that a country is actively being penalized if they do not have it). All countries granted MFN status receive the same duty or tariff rate, so this policy effectively keeps tariff levels uniform for everyone who has a trade relationship with the US.

An ironic point to make here is that later, under the administration of George Washington, Americans become suspicious of foreign “entanglements” and declare neutrality in the problems of Europe. Why do you think this is so? (Hint: look back to p. 111 in your text.)

More information here from the State Department

Bring your textbooks to class tomorrow

Bring your textbooks the next time you have class, because one of the skills we are going to cover is notetaking.

Questions over the Regulator Movement posts

The Regulator Movement Questions– due next class– Wednesday/Thursday.

1. What is the “Piedmont” and where is it?

2. Why were the settlers of the Piedmont so independent-minded?

3. What class and social divisions were extant within the population of North Carolina?

4. What factors led to the rise of the Regulator Movement?

5. Why would some of those problems be common on the frontier?

6. What happened to the Regulators who were captured?

Who were the Regulators?


From The Commemorative Souvenir Program Bi-Centennial of the Battle of Alamance, 1971

During the mid-1700s, many settlers left Pennsylvania and the other middle-Atlantic colonies, moving south over the Great Philadelphia Wagon Road and other wilderness trails. These people searched for better and cheaper land, and many of them found it in the hilly Piedmont “backcountry” of North Carolina. These new North Carolinians were mostly Germans, Scotch-Irish, or Welsh; their religion was likely to be Presbyterian, Quaker, Lutheran, or German Reformed—nationalities and religious beliefs that stressed the simple, independent life. Their land agreed with them, giving more than food—animals and plants also furnished the raw materials for clothing, housewares, and shelter. Moreover, any backcountry man who was not his own blacksmith, cooper, or cobbler, had neighbors who could perform these services in trade for work or produce. Thus, the Piedmont settlers were almost totally self-sufficient, needing only a few precious goods—salt, needles, and the like—from the outside world. Obtaining even the few needed trade goods was sometimes a difficult task for the Piedmont settler, for transportation in the backcountry was confined to the land. Here, the rivers and creeks run shallow and swift, with the few short navigable stretches abruptly ending in sandbars and rapids, or blocked by fallen trees. The valleys created by these waterways run northeast to southeast, and in the eighteenth century, it was much easier to follow these valleys than to traverse the ridges. So, moving either northwest or southeast, the backcountryman made long and infrequent trade journeys to Virginia or South Carolina. He had little contact with North Carolinians in the east.

Settlement of eastern North Carolina had taken place earlier, and the life style of the east was considerably different from that of the backcountry. In the east, there were many port towns, and creeks and rivers offered easy water transportation inland. Huge plantations had grown up on these waterways; farms based on slave labor and the relative ease of cultivating the flat land. Merchants and government officials headquartered in the east; there were fine homes and finer furnishings. The coastal plain was the home of many colonists of English birth or descent; the Church of England was strong; there was a natural feeling of unity with the mother country. Just as in the backcountry, the east had its share of poor farmers, but here such men were a minority. Thus, within the single colony of North Carolina, there was a division of population, bridged only by the few settlers in the piney-woods plains separating east and west. There were two life styles, two generally different levels of education, two ideas of the good life. And because there was so little trade or communication between the two groups, the gulf widened rather than narrowed. Although there were fundamental differences between the population of the east and west, there was one government for the colony. By the mid-1700s this government was controlled by the British crown and its agent, the royal governor. The king and his council issued instructions to the governor, who carried out these instructions through a variety of colonial agencies. The governor also maintained a council, composed of men selected by the king or appointed on the governor’s recommendation. The council met with the governor to decide important matters of state; it also served as the upper house of the colonial assembly.

The lower house of North Carolina’s colonial assembly was called the “House of Burgesses” or simply the “assembly.” Its members were elected by the male taxpayers of individual counties or towns. Lawmaking was a somewhat complicated process, since the governor, council, and house all possessed veto power over a bill. Even if all three approved of a measure, they could be overridden by the king and his councilors. They were also complications regarding land in the colony. In the southern half of the province, land was granted directly by the king’s agents. Settlers here registered their claims with the colonial government, paying small fees for surveys and certificates. But since the king owned all this land, settlers were required to pay a yearly fee for land rent. These fees were called “quit-rents,” because they “quit” the king from laying any other claim on their land. Land in the northern half of colonial North Carolina belonged to Lord Granville and the section was therefore known as the “Granville District.” Here lands were registered and quit-rents collected by Granville’s own agents. Unfortunately, these agents failed to manage the land properly—grants were not recorded, quit-rents were seldom collected, and in one area, no land office was in operation. Colonial North Carolina’s court system also operated in some confusion. Two separate courts that ruled on land grants, large debts, and certain other matters were both staffed by the governor and his council. Important civil and criminal cases were decided in the Superior Courts, which met twice per year in each colonial district. Officers of this court included the colony’s chief justice and several associate justices, and the court was officially known as the Court of Oyer and Terminer and Gaol Delivery.

The court which most directly affected the everyday lives of the colonists was the Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions held four times per year in each county. This court’s judges were justices of the peace—appointed by the governor and council after recommendation by assembly members. There were over 500 J.P.s in North Carolina in 1767; a minimum of three was necessary to hold a single court session. Other officers in the county court included the register, sheriff, and clerk of court. The latter was appointed by high colonial officials, and it was his duty to sign and certify many court records and documents. The sheriff was selected by the governor after being nominated by the justices of the peace. Sheriffs and their appointed deputies arrested and jailed suspects, supervised elections, and collected the public taxes. These taxes included the poll tax—a fixed amount collected for each white male over 16 and each slave over 12. The poll tax was increased from time to time to finance military expeditions or pay other special expenses. Also collected were county taxes imposed for the building of courthouses and roads, and the parish tax for the upkeep of Church of England ministers. The sheriff kept 8 percent of his collection in payment for his duty. The most striking differences between the colonial governmental system and later state systems was the fact that officials were not paid salaries. Instead, most of them were allowed to collect a set fee for each piece of work they performed. These fees, including some for the governor, were published in a law dated 1748, and were modified and amended throughout the colonial period.

North Carolina’s colonial government was similar to other English institutions of the period, and was not particularly unfair or unjust in its principles or organization. It granted the people certain rights few other governments offered-trail by jury, election of representatives, government by a fixed code of law, the right to petition for redress of grievances. What those in the “Regulator movement” would protest would not be the principles of the government, but the day-to-day operations, which they believed to be in violation of these principles. Indeed, the backcountry men who became Regulators had (or claimed) a firm allegiance to the crown. They also had a host of problems to face-some caused by government, some by circumstance. First, there was the basic problem of money—backcountry men saw little of it. The few items they could not grow or make-salt, gunpowder, etc. were usually paid for in trade goods. There was very little hard money in the entire province; little gold or silver coin worth its face value. Easterners traded warehouse receipts among themselves, the value of the receipt being the worth of the goods stored, but westerners had no such warehouses. Moreover, the colonies were not allowed to issue paper money for use outside the individual colony itself. Therefore, a North Carolina merchant would pay for imported goods either with agricultural or forest products, or would be forced to send hard money—a practice that drained the colony of such currency. From time to time North Carolina assemblies issued paper proclamation money to be used within the province, but such money was worth only as much as the currency that backed it. The colony attempted to back this money with the collection of extra poll tax. Not only were the extra taxes erratically collected, but the proclamation money itself was often counterfeited, so that it came to be worth only half its face value. Since backcountry men did little trade using money, even proclamation script was scarce in the west.

The backcountryman’s lack of money was especially distressing at tax collection times taxes could be paid only in money and not in trade goods. If the western farmer could produce no cash, the sheriff seized household or farm goods, sold them, and used the sale money to pay the tax. Usually, some neighbor could loan a small sum of money, but farmers were hesitant to borrow in advance. Moreover, taxpayers were supposed to pay at central locations. If the sheriff was forced to visit the farmer, he could legally collect an extra amount for his “distress.” In such cases, having traveled thirty or forty miles on horseback, the sheriff or his deputy was usually in no mood to wait around while the farmer scurried off to borrow money—goods would be seized and carried off. Another problem in the backcountry was the attitude of both officials and citizens. The officials usually were not dishonest, but they did owe their jobs to higher-ups, and their loyalty followed suit. The chain of governmental appointments led to the king himself, near the upper end was a group of intelligent, educated men–aristocrats. Even as they were, on the whole, dedicated to the public good, they looked on their colonial offices as means for advancement in government services. Strictly speaking, the offices themselves were gifts from the king—property—but definite responsibilities were attached to these offices. Lower down the official chain were petty officers whose basic honesty was sometimes questionable. Sheriffs, especially, were suspected of embezzlement of public tax collections and similar funds. Even Governor Tryon accused the sheriffs of fraud.

Set against the government officials were backcountry farmers. Many of these men had originally moved into the colony to escape rising property costs farther north. They had little formal education; they were stubborn and often rigidly religious. That government officials should take what seemed outrageous sums merely for doing “a little writing” was to the backcountry men basically dishonest. Though far removed from the eastern center of government, and officials were loathe to travel to the west, where roads were few and inns and taverns even fewer. Accordingly, up until the Regulation, officials did little to supervise their backcountry agents. Overall, the provincial government functioned in jerks and starts. The location of the border between North and South Carolina was a hotly-debated matter for many years; the law limiting the size of individual land grants was suspended for several influential Englishmen; Lord Granville’s land officers maintained no western district office for five years. Out of touch with the backcountry, the province’s government leaders failed to understand the extent and exact nature of the western settlers’ problems until it was too late to prevent mob actions and violence.

Links for further information:
The Battle of Alamance
Governor Tryon’s Amnesty Proclamation

Captain Benjamin Merrell and the North Carolina Regulators

Reminiscinces on the Regulator Movement
From Colonial Records from N.C. Archives

At the Battle of Alamance on 16 May 1771, the militia under the command of Royal Governor William Tryon defeated approximately 2,000 Regulators.

It may never be possible to identify all of the Regulators. Many have been lost to history. Of the six who were hanged at Hillsborough after the battle, the names of two are no longer known.

Capt. Benjamin Merrell, one of the North Carolina “Regulators” (colonial patriots opposing British tyranny) was hanged by colonial North Carolina Governor Tyron, June 19, 1771, helping plant seeds for the Revolutionary War of 1776. He was thus ahead of Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson and others in striking a blow for freedom. He went to the gallows with a song of liberty on his lips. He said he had been converted 15 years earlier, but had backslidden, yet now felt he had been truly forgiven and would not change places with anyone on the grounds. He then faced Governor Tyron’s sentence:

“You are to be hanged by the Neck; that you be cut down while yet alive, that your Bowels be taken out and burnt before your Face, that your head be cut off, your Body divided into Four Quarters, and this be at his Majesty’s Disposal; and the Lord have Mercy on your Soul.” His wife and eight children were forced to watch, including his youngest, Jonathan, 6, our continuing direct ancestor.

“In a few minutes,” he said on the gallows, “I shall leave a widow and eight children. I entreat that no reflection be past on them on my account and, if possible, I shall deem it a bounty, should you gentlemen petition the Governor and Council that some part of my estate be spared to the widow and fatherless.”

One of Governor Tyron’s militiamen, deeply moved by his speech, was heard to say, “If all men went to the gallows with a character such as Captain Merrell’s, hanging would be an honorable death.” Today at Alamance National Battlefield Park near Alamance, NC, off
Interstate 85, a granite monument marks his contribution to freedom,
near the spot he yielded up his life for it.

(By Jesse H. Merrell, for his nephew, Samuel David Brasher)