2012 Endorsements: Aaron Burr

Posted by PITHOCRATES - October 23rd, 2012

2012 Election

Hamilton knew that a Republican Government needed Men of Virtue for it to Survive

Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus left his plough to defend the Roman Republic.  Became dictator.  Defeated the enemy.  Resigned the dictatorship.  And returned to his plough.    The epitome of a republican ruler.  Voluntarily giving up absolute power to preserve the republic.  America had its own Cincinnatus.  George Washington.  Lucius Sergius Catilina (Catiline) was basically the anti-Cincinnatus.  Whereas Cincinnatus was honorable, virtuous, principled and selfless Catiline was not.  Where Cincinnatus tried to save the Roman Republic Catiline tried to overthrow it.  America had its own Catiline.  Aaron Burr.

Burr was an unprincipled opportunist.  While George Washington approached politics by asking what was best for the country Aaron Burr asked what was best for Aaron Burr.  Washington loathed politics and tried to stay above it.  Whereas for Burr politics were the only good thing about governing.  Burr entered politics at the birth of political parties in the US.  As the tensions were building up between Hamilton’s Federalists and Jefferson’s Republicans.  Burr started out as a Federalist.  But chafed in a subordinate role to Hamilton.  The titular head of the Federalist Party.  So he left the Federalist Party and became a Republican.  He accepted an appointment from Republican New York governor George Clinton as attorney general.  New York had two Federalist senators in Congress.  And Hamilton wanted to keep those seats Federalist.  He tried to appeal to Burr’s principles to get him to return to the Federalist Party.  But Burr had no principles.  And when Governor Clinton backed him for Senator he stayed Republican.  And won one of those seats.

Being Senator was nice but Burr wanted to be governor of New York.  He tried to make a deal with the Federalists.  He knew they wanted to get rid of Republican Governor Clinton and replace him with a Federalist governor.  He wanted to be that Federalist governor.  But Hamilton was a lot like Washington.  He had principles.  And put the country first.  Hamilton knew that a republican government needed men of virtue for it to survive.  And Burr had no virtue.  So he was not interested in making any deals with Burr.

Alexander Hamilton called Aaron Burr the American Catiline

In the election of 1800 Thomas Jefferson needed New York.  And Burr had connections.  So Jefferson asked for his help.  And he delivered.  By changing the New York electors from Federalist to Republican.  Jefferson then added Burr to the Republican ticket in the 1800 election.  At that time the president was the candidate who won the most votes.  And the vice president was the candidate who won the second most votes.  Burr and Jefferson tied.  Instead of conceding the election to Jefferson (the whole point in enlisting Burr’s help was to get Jefferson elected president) he forced the House of Representatives to vote 36 times until the tie was finally broken.  Thus alienating Burr from Jefferson forever.  Knowing that Jefferson would drop him from the Republican ticket in the 1804 election he began talking to New York Federalists again.  Who wanted Burr to run for New York governor.  And he was more than willing to switch parties again as he was completely unprincipled and offered himself to the party that made it most worth his while.  It was at this time that Hamilton called Burr the American Catiline.

Also at this time there was a Federalist plot in New England.  Should Jefferson win reelection in 1804 there were plans for New England to secede from the union.  With Burr’s help New York would secede and join in a northern confederacy.  Hamilton knew of the plot.  And desperately wanted to stop it.  For it was the last thing he wanted was for the American union to dissolve.  He turned up his public attacks on Burr.  Which helped Burr lose the election in New York.  Attacks that Burr took exception to.  Challenging him to a duel to restore his honor besmirched by Hamilton’s attacks.  So on July11, 1804, Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton crossed the Hudson River to Weehawken, New Jersey.  And exchanged pistol shots at 10 paces.  Hamilton reportedly fired his shot harmlessly past Burr.  Not wishing to hurt him while at the same time exposing himself to danger so as not to besmirch his honor.  Burr’s shot, though, found Hamilton.  He died the following day.  Burr won the duel.  But he lost his reputation and his political future.

Burr then headed west.  Where he had planned to set himself up in an independent nation formed by parts of Mexico, Louisiana and Texas.  He may have tried to get Great Britain involved.  And he may have had plans of going to war with Spain.  The details are a little sketchy.  But he was up to something.  When President Jefferson learned of his activities he had Burr arrested and indicted for treason.  He was acquitted of treason at his trial.  But the trial destroyed whatever was left of his political career after killing Hamilton.

If Aaron Burr were Alive Today he would likely endorse the Democrat Candidates Barack Obama and Joe Biden

If Burr were alive today he would be in awe of what the federal government became.  Back in his days there were few federal jobs available.  But today?  He could live the life he always wanted.  And he wouldn’t even have to win an election.  All he would need to do is use his political connections to obtain a position in the federal bureaucracy.  A post for life.  And with an ever expanding federal government there would always be a post for life somewhere in that magnificent bureaucracy.  Where politics ruled.  Not principles.  Where government spending soars regardless of the consequences.  And class warfare creates a new aristocracy.  Not the top 10% earners who pay 70% of federal income taxes.  Or the bottom 50% who pay no federal income taxes.  No, the new aristocracy is the federal bureaucracy that sits on top of this great wealth transfer.  Like the nobility of old.  Only without the need of having a good last name.

Had Burr lived today he would have looked at the federal government and cried out, “Where have you been all my life?”  He would support anyone furthering this massive government expansion.  Especially those practitioners of class warfare.  The Democrat Party.  If Aaron Burr were alive today he would likely endorse the Democrat candidates Barack Obama and Joe Biden.

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Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, Governor Clinton, Livingstons, Schuylers, James Duane, Rufus King and the Hamilton-Burr Feud

Posted by PITHOCRATES - October 4th, 2012

Politics 101

Alexander Hamilton was an Illegitimate Child whose Father abandoned his Family

America is the land of opportunity.  Where anyone can achieve great success.  In America you can be self-made.  You don’t need a good last name to get you places.  We have no nobility here.  No aristocracy.  Here, everyone has an equal chance.  If you have drive and ambition and talent and patience the sky is the limit.  You can go from rags to riches if you have the desire and refuse to give up.  You may fail.  And a lot of people do.  But you get to try.  Something you just can’t do in many other parts of the world.

That said it often helped to have a good last name in America.  Back in the 18th century people still married to improve their social standing, political power and wealth.  That’s why powerful families often held most of the power in cities and states.  Especially around the Founding.  And if you crossed some of these families there was going to be some payback.  So people were careful to cultivate good relationships with people that ‘mattered’.  Especially in the military.  Where the gentlemen of the finest families filled the officer corps.  Including a young Alexander Hamilton.

Hamilton’s father, James, had a good last name but he long destroyed it before Alexander could profit from it.  Worse, Alexander Hamilton was an illegitimate child.  A child of adultery.  Fathered by James.  Then James lost the family money.  And abandoned his family.  Forcing eleven year old Alexander to get a job as a clerk at Cruger and Beckman, a New York trading house on the Caribbean island of St. Croix.  Where he advanced to bookkeeper.  Then to manager.  Helping him to master the skills of business and finance.  As he grew into a young man he was smart, dashing, talented and ambitious.  He had everything to succeed in the finest social circles.  Except a good last name.

Everything Hamilton was Denied by his Birth Burr was Given

That changed in the United States.  During the American Revolution.  After leaving St. Croix he arrived in New York.  And fell into the good graces of the Livingston family of New York.  A very good last name.  One of the best in the state.  Having been accepted in this circle of aristocracy made Hamilton a true gentleman.  Which qualified him for the most esteemed duty in the Revolutionary War.  Aide-de-camp to General George Washington.  Confidant and advisor to the Commander in Chief.  A very restricted inner circle.  Restricted to only the best of the best of last names.

Included in that inner circle was another ambitious young officer.  Aaron Burr.  Who was very similar to Hamilton in many ways.  But very different in one way.  Burr had a very good last name.  Everything Hamilton was denied by his birth Burr was given.  And there was one more difference.  Though both were ambitious Hamilton was driven by principle while Burr was driven by pride.  For Burr everything was about what was best for Burr.  While Hamilton put the country first.  Even though he was just as ambitious as Burr.

Burr would leave his post as aide-de-camp following a clandestine love affair.  It was the kind of thing General Washington would frown upon.  But there was another reason for leaving than avoiding a potential falling out with the general.  Burr just didn’t like Washington.  Who was very dignified, proper and reserved.  Which Burr found boring.  He was a dashing figure.  He was an officer who sought glory.  And the ladies.  Something he took great pride in.  His reputation as a lover.

When General Schuyler came up for Reelection the Livingstons wanted their Revenge and backed Burr

Fast forward to the Washington administration.  And the Hamilton and Jefferson feud.  The war between the Federalists and the Republicans.  Hamilton and his Federalists were losing their hold of power to Jefferson’s Republicans.  Jefferson had done a good job in his attacks against Hamilton and caused some defections in the Federalist Party.  The farmers in the South and out west did not like Hamilton’s designs for the country.  Based more on commerce and manufacturing.  And less on farming.  Worse, it was commerce and manufacturing supported by banking.  Even Federalist support was waning in his own state.  New York.  Which Hamilton needed to keep control of the Congress.  He had to have Federalist win the upcoming elections in New York so they would select Federalist Senators to the U.S. Senate.  There was only one problem.  Governor Clinton.

Clinton fought against the ratification of the U.S. Constitution.  But he lost.  And his power was on the wane.  He had the support of the farmers.  But not the Livingstons or the Schuylers.  The two most powerful families in the New York aristocracy.  Who were aligned against him.  And they were Federalists.  While he was a Republican.  Hamilton gave the Federalists their campaign slogan for the upcoming election.  Unanimity and Exertion.  To emphasize the importance of being unified.  So the Livingstons and the Schuylers unified.  And it worked.  The Federalists won both the state assembly and the state senate.  Which meant the Federalists would be choosing the state’s senators to Congress (prior to the 17th Amendment a state’s legislature chose their senators).  And the Livingstons and the Schuylers having done their part they were ready to have one of their own fill those two seats.  The Livingstons wanted James Duane.  The Schuylers wanted General Schuyler.  There was only one problem.  Hamilton.  Who wanted Rufus King to be one of those senators.

Hamilton had connections to both families.  The Livingstons helped him start his career.  And General Schuyler was his father-in-law.  Yet King was a loyal Hamiltonian.  And that’s who Hamilton wanted.  He even got his father-in-law to support Rufus King over James Duane.  Which did not go over well with the Livingstons.  So much for unity.  The Livingstons not only broke with the Schuylers.  They joined forces with Governor Clinton.  Greatly bolstering his power.  It was a whole new game in New York.  Tilting the power from the Federalist to the Republican.  Then another player entered the picture.  Aaron Burr.  Who was a lawyer like Hamilton.  Even got along well with him.  Until the ratification of the Constitution.  And Burr took an interest in politics.  Becoming a Federalist.  Along with Hamilton.  But always subordinate to Hamilton within the party.  Something his ego just couldn’t have.  So he switched parties.  And accepted a Clinton appointment as attorney general.  Hamilton tried to win him back to the Federalists by appealing to his principles.  But Burr had no principles.  He was strictly out for himself.  So he stuck by Clinton for the time being.  Because he had more to offer at the time.  Like a U.S. Senate seat.

When General Schuyler came up for reelection the Livingstons wanted their revenge.  So they joined with the Clintonians and backed Burr for Schuler’s seat.  Burr won.  A humiliating defeat for Hamilton and the Schuylers.  Trying not to burn his bridges back to the Federalist Party Burr said he would challenge Clinton one day for the governorship.  If they’d support him.  Which he thought they would.  For they wanted to throw Clinton out of office.  But Hamilton was a man of principle.  Burr was not.  Hamilton would provide no Federalist support for Burr.  So Burr gave up on that idea.  And set his sights on the vice presidency of the United States.  As unprincipled as Burr was Hamilton could not let that happen.  And actively opposed Burr.  Thus beginning the great feud that would end on the heights of Weehawken in New Jersey.  The favorite dueling ground for New Yorkers.

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War Debt, Seven Years War, Revolutionary War, Articles of Confederation, U.S. Constitution, Central Government, Federal Spending and Fiscal Policy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 7th, 2012

History 101

Americans don’t like Paying Taxes

Americans don’t like paying taxes.  A dispute over taxation without representation led to American independence from British rule.  For Britain had been fighting for many years in many wars.  And ran up an enormous war debt.  Which they had to repay.  Because some of that debt was incurred protecting the American colonists from the French and Indians during the Seven Years War, some had a bright idea.  “Here’s a thought,” they said, “Let’s have the Americans pay their fair share.  I mean, fair is fair, right?  Besides, it’ll be a lot easier getting money from the Americans than it will be getting it from Parliament, eh wot?” 

The Seven Years War, though, was a world war.  Fought in many countries and on many seas.  Costing lots of money.  Which Parliament was financing with lots of taxes.  But the British taxpayer had tax fatigue.  And felt they had no more taxes to give.  Or wanted to give.  As they had a say in Parliament raising taxes further was a nonstarter.  But the Americans had no representation in Parliament.  So what could they do?  Turns out they could do a lot.  Now the Americans weren’t unreasonable.  They just didn’t appreciate the, “Oh, by the way, here’s your share of the war debt.  We’ll tax you accordingly.”  Which the British did.  Without so much a by-your-leave.  Rubbed the Americans the wrong way.  If the British had shown them the numbers and gave them a chance to agree on what their ‘fair share’ was they probably would have paid.  And stayed loyal to the Crown.  But the British didn’t.  So the Americans didn’t.

Now fighting wars is expensive.  Especially long ones.  And the Revolutionary War was a long one.  Eight years until they penned their names to the Treaty of Paris (1783) officially ending it.  In these eight years the Americans ran up a great war debt.  And needed to repay it.  Just like the British.  The very thing that started the Revolutionary War.  Now it was the Americans’ turn to raise taxes.  They tried taxing whiskey.  Which led to another tax rebellion.  The Whiskey Rebellion.  For Americans still didn’t like paying taxes.  This time, though, it was a tad different.  Because those they were taxing had representation.  And the new ‘nation’ (a confederation of ‘equal’ states) had the legal authority to impose this tax.  And to put down the rebellion.  Which General Washington did.  To the howls of liberty-loving patriots everywhere.  The tax quietly went away.  But it didn’t solve the nation’s problems.  They were broke.  Needed money.  And they had to get a handle on the massive sums they owed for the world of nations to take them seriously.

Hamilton thought both Jefferson and Burr were Scoundrels but at least Jefferson was a Principled Scoundrel

The new ‘nation’ (that confederation of ‘equal’ states) was the problem.  Just as the world of nations didn’t take the Americans seriously these ‘equal’ states didn’t take the new national government seriously.  There was no taxing authority.  So the federal government could only ask for contributions from the states.  Which often came in late.  And when they did they were often less than they requested.  Some states even refused to pay anything.  Worse, the states were making their own treaties with other nations as well as the Indian Tribes.  Or reneging on the treaties the federal government made with other nations and the Indian Tribes.  The confederation wasn’t working.  They needed something new.  And once George Washington was onboard they called a meeting in Philadelphia (1787) to rework the Articles of Confederation.

Of course they didn’t rework the Articles of Confederation.  They replaced them with a new U.S. Constitution.  And a new nation.  The Preamble to the U.S. Constitution began with “We the people.”  The sovereignty of the new nation wasn’t with the states.  It wasn’t with the new federal government.  It was with the people.  It was a nation of the people, by the people and for the people.  To borrow some words from Abraham Lincoln.  Which meant that although the thing they created had more power than the confederation of states it replaced, its power was limited.  Very limited.  The Framers designed it to do only those things the states could not do well individually.  National defense.  Coin uniform money.  Establish post offices and post roads.  Make national treaties with other nations and Indian Tribes.  Declare war.  Create a standard of weights and measures.  But little more.  In fact, the Constitution listed more things the new government couldn’t do than listed what it could do.  To quell everyone’s fear that they just replaced one far away central power (the British Crown) with another far away central power (the central government of the United States).  Especially when it came to taxes.  Raising taxes required approval by two houses of Congress and by the President.  Making it difficult to raise taxes.  The way Americans liked it.  For Americans didn’t like paying taxes.  And still don’t.

Getting the new Constitution ratified wasn’t a walk in the park.  The size and power of the new central government appalled those Patriots who worked so hard during the Revolution.  James Madison, the Father of the Constitution, joined forces with Alexander Hamilton and wrote a series of articles arguing for ratification.  The Federalist Papers.  And were successful.  Then when Alexander Hamilton was putting the Constitution into action as Secretary of the Treasury in the Washington administration, Madison didn’t like what he saw.  For Hamilton wanted to use the power of government to make the United States an economic superpower like Britain.  His opponents, though, saw a man who wanted to be king.  So Madison joined the opposition.  Led by Thomas Jefferson.  And the politics got ugly.  Before it was done the Jefferson camp would write about an affair Hamilton had.  And the same muckraker who exposed this affair would later write about a Jefferson affair with a slave.  Sally Hemming.  The people in the different camps hated each other.  Especially Hamilton and Jefferson.  They hated each other with a passion.  But they were principled men.  For when the election of 1800 came down to either Thomas Jefferson or Aaron Burr, Hamilton backed his archenemy.  Thomas Jefferson.  Both Jefferson and Burr were scoundrels as far as Hamilton was concerned.  But at least Jefferson was a principled scoundrel.  Burr took great offense to some things Hamilton said about him around this time.  And challenged him to a duel.  In which Hamilton suffered a mortal wound.  Pity.  For Hamilton was a true Patriot.  And perhaps the greatest treasury secretary the United States ever had.

It’s not the Spirit of Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson or James Madison that lives on in Politics but Aaron Burr

Funny how things change.  The new nation almost didn’t survive because of the opposition towards a strong central government.  And towards federal taxes.  Now federal spending includes just about everything under the sun.  Most of which the Framers excluded from the Constitution.  And the taxes!  They have reached a level none of the Founding Fathers thought would ever be possible.  Even Hamilton.  He was ‘big government’ for his day but he would be disgusted to see what became of his beloved Treasury Department.  And the money they pull out of the private sector economy.  Not to make America an economic superpower.  But to buy votes.  And for personnel gain.  The true underbelly of democracy.  Where people come to public service not to serve.  But to enrich themselves at the expense of the taxpayer.  Like that scoundrel that killed him.  Aaron Burr.

Even worse they use fiscal policy to further their spending ways.  The federal debt grows.  And now whenever a recession rolls around they use Keynesian fiscal policy to ‘lessen’ the affects of the recession.  Which is just a clever way to keep on spending after they’ve run out of money.  Because this spending is now stimulus.  And if the government stops spending it will make the recession worse.  Clever.  And it’s just coincidental that friends of the administration benefit most by this Keynesian stimulus spending.

It would appear it’s not the spirit of Alexander Hamilton that lives on in Washington.  Or Thomas Jefferson.  Or James Madison.  It’s the spirit of Aaron Burr.  Scoundrel extraordinaire.  And role model for the political elite.

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