FT212: “If liberals keep winning elections the United States will fall like the Roman Empire.” —Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 7th, 2014

Fundamental Truth

The Roman Empire survived for about 1500 Years

The Roman Empire was one of the greatest empires of all time.  It lasted some 500 years in the West.  And another thousand years in the East.  Give or take.  As empires go they don’t come much bigger.  Or last longer.  The Romans ruled the world.  It stretched from Northern Africa to Britain.  And from Spain to the Middle East.  It was huge.

There have been bigger empires.  The British Empire.  The Mongol Empire.  The Russian Empire.  The Spanish Empire.  And others.  But none of them lasted as long as the 1500 years of the Roman Empire.  The British Empire lasted about 400 years.  The Mongol Empire lasted about 50 years.  The Russian Empire lasted about 200 years.  And the Spanish Empire lasted about 500 years.  Adolf Hitler said the Third Reich would last a thousand years.  But it lasted only 12.  Proving that empire building—and empire maintaining—are easier said than done.

Yet the Romans did it for 1500 years.  Give or take.  So they knew a thing or two about empire building.  And maintaining that empire.  Yet even this mighty empire fell.  Why?  Historians still debate this question today.  As do the laymen.  With a person’s political persuasion sometimes determining what they believe.

A Debased Coin and High Taxes made the Roman Citizenry very Unhappy

Empires are costly.  As Rome built her empire she paid for it by conquering new lands.  So as her borders pushed out treasure flowed back the other way to Rome.  Which paid for her massive military.  And her massive bureaucracy to govern that sprawling empire.  So the Roman people went about their business.  Shielded from the cost of empire.  Farming and taking their goods to market.  Safe within their empire.  For her enemies were outside the borders of the empire.  And those borders were pushed a very long way out.

But then something happened.  Those borders stopped moving.  They were not conquering new lands.  And there was no more treasure flowing back to Rome.  Which was a problem.  For the Roman Empire covered a lot of land that they had to govern.  And defend.  So the cost of the Roman Empire was never higher than when her borders stopped pushing out.  While her revenue to pay for that empire was never smaller.  So they had to do something.  And that something was taxes.  Lots of them.  All of a sudden the Roman citizenry was feeling the cost of their bloated bureaucratic state.  And the cost of that massive military that defended the frontier.

So taxes soared.  Making the Roman citizenry unhappy.  But the tax revenue proved to be insufficient.  So they started debasing their currency.  Adding more and more lead to their silver coins.  But not their gold coins.  For they used gold to pay the military and to pay the government bureaucrats.  So they only debased the silver coin.  The coin of the Roman citizenry.  Which, of course, resulted in inflation.  As the coins had less and less silver in them they bought less and less.  So prices soared.  As did taxes.  Making the Roman citizenry very unhappy.

The Cost of Mercenaries and the Roman Bureaucracy and Welfare State bankrupted the Roman Empire

So the Romans started building things to entertain the people.  And they grew a welfare state to help feed those who could not afford to buy food.  Public works and the new welfare state may have eased some of the animosity towards the state.  But it only increased the costs of the state.  Requiring higher taxes.  So high that people lost money on their farms and businesses.  So they quit.  Causing food and goods shortages.  So the Romans passed laws forcing them to stay in their jobs.  And forcing their children to do the same work their parents did.  Which eventually evolved into feudalism.

Eventually the Roman citizenry no longer wanted to serve the empire.  Leading to the use of mercenary armies.  Which were costly.  And only increased the cost of empire.  With the silver coin so debased the Roman government would not even accept it in payment of taxes.  So the government took a portion of the food grown and goods made.  Making it more difficult to pay for the welfare state (just imagine your employer paying you in food, toilet paper, soap, etc.).  And the mercenary armies guarding the frontier.  Which could prove troublesome.  As they had no loyalties to the Roman Empire.  They were just hired muscle.  Their blood loyalties were often to people on the other side of the border they were guarding.  Having come from those people.

So the massive cost of hired mercenaries and the massive cost of the Roman bureaucracy and welfare state basically bankrupted the Roman Empire.  Of course the American left prefers not to think about this.  As they are very fond of their large welfare state.  So some on the left often cite the decadence of the Roman Empire that caused her fall.  They talk about the feasts, the drink, the gladiators, the orgies and other acts of debauchery that caused a societal decay that eroded the empire from within.  Even while they are in the business of societal decay themselves.  Free birth control, abortion on demand, the decriminalization of marijuana, the rejection of virtue and morality, their extreme secularism to remove any vestige of restraint from their lives of excess, etc.  The kind of things a debauched Roman citizenry no doubt would have enjoyed.  So either way the Roman Empire fell because of principles the American left embraces.  Which means if liberals keep winning elections the United States will fall like the Roman Empire.

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2012 Endorsements: George Washington

Posted by PITHOCRATES - October 16th, 2012

2012 Election

At first the Six Nations feared the French taking their Land more than the British

George Washington entered the history books when he entered the Ohio Country.  Where the French and the British were claiming the same land in North America.  While his contemporaries went to college Washington went to war.  Over the Blue Ridge Mountains.  In the harsh frontier lands of the Ohio Country.  Fighting for the British against Britain’s archenemy.  France.  Who had seized a half-built fort near the junction of the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers.  Renamed it Fort Duquesne.  And proceeded to turn the surrounding area French.  Until, that is, Washington arrived on the scene.

It is much debated about what happened when the British fell upon a French force outside of Fort Duquesne.  Especially who fired first.  Or what happened after the French surrendered.  The French commander, Joseph Coulon de Villiers, sieur de Jumonville, was wounded.  And as he explained he was on a diplomatic mission to deliver a message to the British Washington’s Indian ally, Tanacharison, who was the diplomatic representative of the Six Nations (Iroquois Confederation), brutally murdered Jumonville while he was explaining his diplomatic mission.  Tanacharison spoke fluent French.  And had apparently heard enough.  For he feared the French taking their land more than the British at that time.

So this international incident brought war once again between the French and the British.  The Seven Year’s War as they called it in Europe.  Or the French and Indian War as they called it in British North America.  Even though the British also had Indian allies.  There were more French in the area.  So Washington built a fort to wait for their counter attack.  Fort Necessity.  The French came.  And after a brutal fight the British surrendered.  The Articles of Capitulation Washington signed included the word ‘assassination’.  Of Joseph Coulon de Villiers, sieur de Jumonville.  Washington later claimed the document was poorly translated from French and that he did not know he was admitting to assassinating a French diplomat.  Whether he did or not it put the blame of the French and Indian War on the British.  Not a very auspicious start for America’s indispensible Founding Father.

Washington felt that the British looked down on him and his Fellow Americans

The British came up with a bold plan to remove the French from North America.  By marching into the Ohio Country.  And taking Fort Duquesne.  Then capturing the forts along the Great Lakes.  And then capturing French Canada.  A bold plan.  Executed by a very experienced general.  Edward Braddock.  A veteran of European battles.  But without a clue of what it was like fighting in the American wilderness.  He had at his disposal the largest military force ever assembled in America.  Equipped with the finest arms.  So confident of victory he told the Indians that were friendly to the British that he didn’t need their help.  And that he was going to take all their land for the British Crown.  Making most switch sides and fight alongside the French against the British.

Washington requested to join General Braddock.  Hoping to get a good military career out of this great military expedition.  And a commission in the British Army.  Braddock took him along.  But disaster fell upon the expedition.  A force of French and Indians fell onto the lumbering column and attacked.  The British regulars formed into ranks as they would on any European battlefield.  And were shot down in droves.  Then broke and ran.  Braddock fell mortally wounded.  Washington then took command and rallied the troops and made an orderly retreat.  While having two horses shot out beneath him.  And four musket ball holes in his jacket.  But he didn’t suffer a scratch.  Washington learned a lesson that day.  You didn’t win battles in the American wilderness with European tactics.  No matter how superior you numbers and arms.

He never would receive that British commission.  Feeling in part that the British looked down on him and his fellow Americans.  They may have been part of the British Empire.  But they were not truly British.  Which made it difficult for Washington to respect his British superiors.  In fact, though he was a good soldier who followed orders he often felt superior to his superiors.  And preferred giving orders.  With the future of a British commission not in the cards he retired from the army.  Married Martha Dandridge Custis.  Thanks to her wealth he became one of the wealthiest men in Virginia.  As well as becoming one of the more successful planters in Virginia.  He had wealth (through his marriage to Martha).  Land.  And leisure time.  He lived the good life.  And spent the money.  And why not?  He married into great wealth.  And had vast land holdings earning wealth.  Life was good.

If George Washington were around Today he would Likely Endorse Republicans Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan

He bought the finest things from London from Robert Cary.  Who ran London’s largest mercantile houses.  Cary & Company.  Washington also sold his tobacco crop to Cary.  And early on he complained about the price he was getting for his tobacco.  And all the charges on his invoices.  But he had even bigger problems.  He was spending more than he was earning.  With the balance due coming from the wealth he got from his marriage.  Worse, his account at Cary & Company was in arrears.  The price for those fine things continued to go up while the price he was getting for his tobacco did not.  He didn’t trust Cary.  But he recognized the real problem was tobacco.  And mercantilism.  Where American colonists sent raw material to the mother country.  And bought finished goods from the mother country with the proceeds.  Making the planters dependent on people like Robert Cary.  Well, after this revelation Washington made some changes.  He planted wheat instead of tobacco.  Wheat he ground into flour in his own mill.  Which he sold locally.  Without going through Cary.  He built a ship to fish the Potomac.  And bought a ship to transport his goods to markets in the Caribbean.  Even all the way to Europe.  He set up a small textile shop to produce linen and wool fabric.  These changes helped Washington return to profitability.  Unlike some of his fellow planters.  Like Thomas Jefferson.  Who would die in debt.

Washington was an astute business man.  Who did not like being controlled by men in faraway places.  Around this time Parliament passed the Stamp Act to raise revenue to help pay the costs of the British Empire.  While he agreed with his fellow colonists that this was taxation without representation he did see something good in it.  The higher tax would reduce British imports.  As Americans gave up on British luxuries and provided for their own needs.  Which would help the Americans get away from the control of people in faraway places.  Something he was more and more interested in.  Economic independence.  Then came the Royal Proclamation of 1763.  Which shut off the Ohio Country to American settlers.  To ostensibly keep the peace with the Indians on the frontier.  Which stung Washington particularly hard.  Having helped to defeat the French to clear them from the Ohio Country King George was now denying this land to those who won it.  Still, they did promise to give some land to the veterans who fought there.  As long as they were a veteran of the British Army.  Yet another British slight directed at Washington.  And evidence of British cronyism when it came to the rule of the American colonies.  Then came the Intolerable Acts.  The Quebec Act.  The Townshend Acts.  Further encroachments by men in faraway places.  Washington had had enough.  And joined those demanding independence from Great Britain.

So if George Washington were around today who would he endorse in the 2012 election?  Well, he would not like the party that wanted to reach further into business affairs from faraway places.  Or that raised taxes and increased the regulations on business.  Or one that elevated the state over businesses.  Where the government picks winners and losers in the market place.  Like the mercantilism of old.  He would not like the smug, elitist politicians who know better than we do.  And change things in our lives to what they perceive as being for our own good.   Such as telling us what cars to drive or what fuels to use to make our electric power.  He would not like the massive spending.  Or the debt it gave us.  As his brief brush with inundating debt shook him to his core.  Making him turn away from the governing powers, returning to his rugged individualism of his days in the Ohio Country.  And so on.  Clearly the party he would not endorse would be the Democrat Party with their oppressive rules and regulations and their nanny state.  So it is likely that if he were around today he would endorse the Republican ticket of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.

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Jefferson, Hamilton, Washington, Whiskey Rebellion, French Revolution, New French-British War and Proclamation of Neutrality

Posted by PITHOCRATES - August 23rd, 2012

Politics 101

America’s First Tax was a 25% Excise Tax on American Whiskey made from Corn

Thomas Jefferson held a dinner party where he, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison met to resolve some issues.  Hamilton was stressed out.  He was facing strong opposition for his assumption plan.  Secretary of the Treasury Hamilton wanted to assume all the states’ debts and lump them into the federal debt.  To get the nation’s finances in order.  Establish good credit.  And raise revenue for the new nation.  The Virginians, Jefferson and Madison, offered their assistance if Hamilton would give them the nation’s capital.  Hamilton got his assumption.  And the Virginians got the nation’s new capital on the Potomac River.  Across from Virginia.  Where they could keep a close eye on the nation’s business.  And everyone lived happily ever after.

Well, not exactly.  There was already growing discontent across the land.  Hamilton understood business and commerce.  And banking.  Farmers don’t like bankers.  Or commerce.  Or business.  Many in the south and on the frontier worked the land.  As yeoman farmers.  Families working small farms that they owned.  They believed, as Jefferson believed, that the most honorable work in America was farming.  And that America’s future was the growth of farming.  Small farms.  Owned by families working the land.  Yeoman farmers.  Proud.  Pure.  And wholly American.  This despite Jefferson being a member of the slave-owning planter elite.  Who indulged in little physical labor.

So the south and the frontier were no Hamilton supporters.  They didn’t like his high finance ideas for the new nation.  And they especially didn’t like his whiskey tax.  A tax of 25% on western corn products.  Which you made whiskey from.  The new American alcoholic beverage of choice after they eschewed beer.  The beverage of choice before the rebellion.  When they were all content British citizens.  But an excise tax on corn products was little different from the excise taxes that caused the colonies to rebel against Great Britain in the first place.  Sure, there was one subtle difference this time.  The whiskey tax was taxation with representation.  And, technically speaking, legal.  But on corn?  The new tax seemed to fall unfairly on the West.  Which had a corn economy.  And used the whiskey they made from it for money.  So these frontier people were not just going to sit idly by and take this new taxation without a fight.

The Washington Administration took Decisive Action in Suppressing the Whiskey Rebellion

This first tax was to help finance Hamilton’s assumption.  But it was more important than the revenue it would raise.  The whiskey tax was a matter of principle.  It was probably poor policy.  And probably not the smartest thing to do.  Picking a fight with the toughest and most fiercely independent people in the country.  Frontier people.  Who lived off the land without any of the city comforts enjoyed back east.  But the tax was the law.  And the first test of the new nation.  If the government retreated in the face of opposition to a law passed by Congress their experiment in self-government would fail.  For as unpleasant as taxation was it was the reason they formed a new nation in 1787.  To levy taxes so they could pay their past debt.  And their current bills.  So President Washington and Hamilton hunkered down on the tax.

And the riots came.  The Whiskey Rebellion.  Around Pittsburg.  Kentucky (aka bourbon country).  The backcountry of the Carolinas.  And elsewhere.  They refused to pay the tax.  And attacked the tax collecting apparatus.  Even the courts.  It was war.  The spirit of ’76 was alive again.  Protesting a distant central power trying to impose a tax on them.  Washington offered amnesty if they just dispersed and went home.  They refused.  So Washington raised an army of some 13,000 strong.  Larger than any army he commanded during the Revolutionary War.  And led the army west with Hamilton to meet the insurrection.  The first and only time a sitting president led an army.  As the army approached resistance melted away.  So Washington handed command over to Henry “Lighthorse Harry” Lee (a Revolutionary War veteran and hero) and returned to the capital in Philadelphia.  Hamilton remained with the army.  As the army arrived the insurrection collapsed.  The army caught some rebels and tried them.  And two received death sentences.  Who Washington later pardoned.

Score one for the rule of law.  Washington was pleased with the outcome.  Hamilton, too.  They took decisive action to subdue an insurrection.  The people in general were happy that they restored peace.  And that the country didn’t collapse into anarchy.  All in all a win-win for the people and the government.  Almost.  Not everyone saw it in this light.  Some saw a king leading an army against his own people.  A professional army.  Little different from British redcoats.  Or Oliver Cromwell’s New Model Army a century or so earlier.  A professional standing army squashing those who disagreed with the government.  And Jefferson did not like it.  Nor did a lot of those in the south.  Or on the frontier.

President Washington issued a Proclamation of Neutrality in the New War between Great Britain and France

Seeing Hamilton ride at the head of an army only reinforced Jefferson’s opinion of him.  A power-hungry, British-loving puppet master.  And the puppet was President Washington.  The dislike between Hamilton and Jefferson turned into outright hostility.  They had two different visions of America.  And these two visions were mutually exclusive.  Cabinet meetings became insufferable as Hamilton and Jefferson constantly fought.  And the French Revolution didn’t help matters any.  The radical Jefferson supported the radical French.  Who he knew and sat with in the Jacobin clubs while he was in France.  Jefferson was all for overthrowing monarchies.  So when the French and British declared war on each other it was a no brainer who to support for Jefferson.  Vive la France!

Of course there was only one problem with that position.  About 75% of U.S. exports went to Great Britain.  Even more of her imports (approximately 90%) came from Great Britain.  And then there was the Royal Navy (RN).  Who still ruled the high seas.  And all the international trade routes.  In addition to the RN there was the British Army.  Who still occupied forts on the American western frontier.  And who were still in contact with their Indian allies from the Revolutionary War.  Couple this with the fact that the U.S. had no comparable army or navy.  And was already having trouble on the frontier with the Indians (from the influx of settlers into the western territories).  So siding with France against Britain was not the smart move.  Yes, the French were instrumental in helping the Americans achieve their independence from Great Britain.  But America was a country emerging from 8 years of war that just had to suppress a tax rebellion over a sin tax.  She did not have the wealth to enter a European war.  Besides, the Americans were supported by the monarch (King Louis XVI) the French were overthrowing.  Which complicated matters.

Washington and Hamilton saw things differently than Jefferson.  More like realists than the idealist Jefferson.  The Revolution was over.  The British and Americans were no longer enemies.  But important trade partners.  That shared a common British past.  Of laws and traditions firmly established in what was once British America.  So Washington issued his Proclamation of Neutrality (1793).  They would support neither in this European war.  Which infuriated the French.  And Jefferson.  For though they were neutral it was clear that their neutrality would favor the British.  As well as Hamilton.  And it did.  But it also favored America’s best interests.  For another long war would have probably bankrupted the nation.  And perhaps resulted with her partitioned among the European nations.  For the French Revolution lasted for a decade.  And the Napoleonic Wars it begot lasted another 11 years.  Which let us not forget the French lost.  In large part due to the Royal Navy.  And Great Britain’s wealth generated by her international trade.  Something the Americans could not have altered had she entered the war on France’s side.  A wise foreign policy call by President Washington (and yet another time he saved his country).  But it was one that tore his administration apart.  Firmly establishing the opposition party.  With Jefferson at its head.  With but one purpose.  To destroy Hamilton.  And to lead the nation away from where Hamilton was taking it.

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Mercantilism, North America, Pontiac’s Rebellion, American Revolution, Northwest Territory, George Rogers Clark, Louisiana Territory

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 31st, 2012

Politics 101

The French claimed great Territories in the New World but they did not Settle them nor could they Defend Them

In the Age of Discovery the Old World discovered the New World.  The Portuguese bumped into Brazil while sailing around Africa.  And they stayed awhile.  Which explains how the language from tiny Portugal is one of the top ten spoken languages in the world today.  Because of Brazil.  Population 205,716,890 in 2012.  The Spanish pretty much discovered and settled the rest of South and Central America.  Working their way up the Pacific coast of North America.  And into Mexico, Texas and Florida.  Because of this Spanish is now the 4th most spoken language in the world.  The British discovered and settled North America east of the Appalachians between Maine and Georgia.  They also settled parts of Canada south of the Hudson Bay.  And some of the Maritime Provinces.  Today English is the 2nd most spoken language in the world.  The French also came to the New World.  But they weren’t as successful.  Today French is only the 10th most spoken language in the world.

The Age of Discovery was also the age of mercantilism.  Which is why the Old World was racing to settle the New World.  So they could establish colonies.  And ship back raw materials to the mother country.  And in Spain’s case, all the gold and silver they could find.  Which they found a lot of.  Mercantilism is a zero-sum game.  To maximize the export of manufactured goods.  And to maximize the import of raw materials and bullion.  To always maintain a positive balance of trade.  And whoever had the most overseas colonies sending raw material back to the mother country won.  And as they expanded throughout the New World they eventually began to bump into each other.  As well as the Native Americans.  Who weren’t mercantilists.  But hunters and gatherers.  Like all Europeans were some 5,000 years or so earlier.  Before they became farmers.  Moved into cities.  Where they took control of their environment.  And became more efficient.  Growing ever larger populations on smaller tracts of land.  Which proved to be a great threat to the Indians.  For when these Europeans took their land they also increased their numbers.  Greatly.  And this fast growing population had the latest in war-fighting technology.

Soon they were stepping on each others’ toes in the New World.  The British and the Spanish north of Florida.  The British and the French between the Mississippi River and the Appalachians.  In New Brunswick.  And large parts of Ontario and Quebec.  A lot more territory was in dispute between the British and the French.  And that’s because the French claimed so much territory in North America.  Their claims included the lands around the St. Lawrence Seaway.  All the land around the Great Lakes.  And pretty much the total watershed into the Mississippi River.  The French had profitable business in the fur trade.  They used the rivers in North America for that trade.  With a few forts scattered along the way.  Where they traded with the Indians.  But the big difference between the French and everyone else is that the French claimed the land.  But they didn’t settle it.  Which made the Native Americans tolerate them more than the other Europeans in the New World.  But in the days of the mercantilist empires that was a problem.  Because everyone wanted everyone else’s land.  And if it wasn’t settled with large and growing populations, someone else was just going to take it.

The Proclamation of 1763 and the Quebec Act of 1774 tried to make Peace with the Indians but Inflamed the Americans

And that’s what happened in the French and Indian War (1754–1763).  The European powers came into conflict with each other over their North American territories.  The British came out the big winners.  And the French were the big losers.  Losing pretty much everything east of the Mississippi to the British.  And everything west of the Mississippi to Spain.  The various Indian tribes fought alongside the various European powers.  But it is the fighting on the side of the French that we know them for in this war.  Where their fighting against the British Americans was some of the cruelest fighting in the war.  For the Indians liked the non-settling ways of the French.  While they didn’t care for the settling ways of the American colonists at all.  Who kept encroaching on their hunting grounds.  So at the conclusion of the French and Indian War the Native Americans were restless.  Something the British were keenly aware of.  And after the long and expensive war they just fought they didn’t want a return to hostilities.  So King George III issued the Royal Proclamation of 1763.  Setting the border between the British American colonists and the Indian lands along the watershed of Appalachia.  Lands where the rivers flowed to the Atlantic Ocean were the American colonists’ lands.  Lands where the rivers flowed into the Mississippi River and its tributaries (east of the Mississippi) were Indian lands. 

This did not go very well with the American colonists.  For they planned to expand west until they could expand west no further.  At the shore of the Pacific Ocean.  Especially Virginia.  Who wanted to expand into Kentucky.  And into the Ohio Country (across the Ohio River from Kentucky).  Before the Proclamation of 1763 could even go into affect the Indians rose up in the Great Lakes region, the Illinois Country and Ohio Country.  Where the British displaced the French.  Pontiac’s Rebellion (1763–66).  A rather nasty and brutal war where the Indians killed women and children as well as prisoners.  And the British used biological warfare against the Indians.  Giving the Indians smallpox-infested blankets.  In 1774 Parliament passed the Quebec Act.  Which did a lot to further annoy the American colonists.  Especially that part about extending the province of Quebec (the former French territory from Labrador all the way to the Great Lakes region) south into the Ohio and Illinois country.  Many lumped the Quebec act in with the Intolerable Acts of 1774 which were to punish the colonists for the Boston Tea Party.  All these acts of Parliament and proclamations of the Crown failed in one of their main objects.  Maintaining the peace on the frontier.  One year later there was another shooting war in North America.  And this one did not end well for the British.

The American Revolutionary War evolved into a World War.  Once the Americans defeated a British army at Saratoga the French joined the American cause and declared war on Great Britain.  Eager to get back their North American territories.  The Spanish would join the French in alliance and declared war on Great Britain.  Primarily to settle some old scores in the Old World as opposed to helping the American cause.  They had the lands west of the Mississippi and control of that same river.  They had no desire to see the Americans advance any further west.  In fact, they wanted to expand their territory at the expense of both the Americans and the British.  The Indians, meanwhile, saw the Americans as the greatest threat and allied with their two-time past enemy.  The British.

The Indians were Little More than Bystanders while the Europeans Traded their Land with each Other

The war in the frontier lands of the West was as nasty and brutal as ever.  The British coordinated their war effort against the Americans from their frontier outposts.  Where they traded with their Indian allies.  Some even paying the Indians for each scalp they brought back from their raids.  And so the Indians crossed the Ohio River into Kentucky.  Throughout the war.  And attacked these frontier settlements.  While the Americans fought a defensive war.  Until one man arose.  Who believed the strongest defense was a strong offense.  And he took the war to the Indians and the British in the West.  Saving Kentucky.  And conquered the Northwest Territory. 

George Rogers Clark’s plan for conquering the Northwest was bold.  First take Vincennes (in southern Indiana near the Illinois border).  Travel up the Wabash River.  Down the Maumee River.  And then on to Detroit.  After taking Detroit head north to Michilimackinac (on the northern tip of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula).  The Virginian authorities liked the plan.  And commissioned him colonel in the Virginian forces.  And authorized him to conquer the Northwest.  For Virginia.  So Clark led his men down the Ohio River.  And traveled all the way to Kaskaskia near the Mississippi River in southern Illinois.  Not far from St. Louis.  Took it.  And marched to Vincennes.  And took Fort Sackville at Vincennes.  Shortly thereafter Henry Hamilton (who had a reputation for buying scalps from the Indians), governor of Detroit, Left Detroit and headed to Vincennes.  Gathering Indians along the way.  Recaptured Vincennes.  Then Clark returned and in one of the most fabled actions of the entire Revolutionary War took back Vincennes.  Despite the British and Indians greatly outnumbering Clark’s force.  Detroit lay open.  But Clark did not have the men or provisions for that conquest.

Meanwhile the Spanish were looking to cash in on their alliance with France.  And moved against British outposts from New Orleans.  Taking Baton Rouge.  Natchez.  Mobile.  And Pensacola.  To turn back the Spanish Governor Sinclair of Michilimackinac gathered a force and headed to the Spanish outpost St. Louis.  With the ultimate goal of taking New Orleans.  It did not go well.  The following year the Spanish launched an offensive of their own to take Detroit.  They got as far as St. Joseph on the other side of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula.  Around the bottom of Lake Michigan from Chicago.  A lot of land changed hands in the Northwest.  But thanks to Clark much of it remained in American hands at the end of the war.  Who came out the big winners in this war.  The British ceded all their claims east of the Mississippi to the Americans.  Including all of the Illinois and Ohio country.  Including Michigan and the lands surrounding the Great Lakes south of Canada.  The French did not drive the peace as they had hoped.  And recovered none of their North American territories.  The Spanish emerged with pretty much what they had when they entered.  Only with the Americans across the Mississippi instead of the British.  Who were much more interested in westward expansion than the British.  But they didn’t have to worry about the Americans crossing the Mississippi.  For Napoleon strong-armed the Louisiana Territory from the French in exchange for some land in Tuscany.  Who would later sell it to the Americans.  While being rather vague on the exact boundaries.  Which the Spanish would have to worry about in the years to come as the Americans headed west.  Towards Spanish country on the west coast.

Of course the Indians were the greatest losers.  For they were little more than bystanders while the Europeans traded their land with each other.  Making the Native Americans ever more restless.  And unwilling to give up their hunting and gathering ways.  Which sealed their faith.  For while they retreated west the American population exploded.  Due to their efficient use of the land.  It was the New World against the Very Old World.  Modern farming civilizations displaced the hunters and gatherers everywhere in the world.  A trend that started some 5,000 years earlier.  And the history of North America would be no different.  The Indian ways since then have been fast disappearing.  The Indian languages were so rarely spoken in the 20th century that the code based on it was the one code the Japanese couldn’t crack during World War II.

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Vengeance, Loyalists, Patriots, French, British, Indians, Frontier, Ohio Country, Massacres, Washington and Westward Expansion

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 24th, 2012

Politics 101

The American Colonists kept moving into the Interior of the Country into Indian Lands

History has shown civil wars to be the bloodiest of wars.  For when people you know and grew up with kill your friends and family, well, things get a little ugly.  They escalate.  And there are a lot of opportunities for revenge when people in towns and villages join different sides in the war.   When friends and family fall in combat people retaliate by attacking the families left behind.  Those who didn’t take up arms.  The women and children.  They destroy their crops.  Burn their homes.  Force them to flee for their lives.  Then these acts are met with new acts of vengeance.  They don’t force family members to flee.  They kill them.  Then these acts are met with new acts of vengeance.  Instead of killing they rape, torture and mutilate their bodies.

When the American Revolutionary War broke out it tore families and towns apart.  People remaining loyal to the Crown became Loyalists.  Those rebelling became Patriots.  It was not uncommon to find Loyalist and Patriot in the same family.  And they hated each other.  That hatred grew as the people they knew and loved suffered the horrors of war.  Hardening them into merciless killers.  The people you were fighting were not soldiers.  They were fighting the lowest of traitors.  So there was no need for honor.   The people they were killing were no better than feral animals threatening their peaceful lives.  They deserved to die.  And worse.  This was civil war.  This was part of the American Revolutionary War.  And it got worse.

During the French and Indian War (aka the Seven Years’ War) the French allied with the various Indian tribes against their long-time foe.  The British.  The Indians fought on the French side because it was the lesser of two evils.  The French were sticking to the rivers and had small colonies.  The British had larger colonies.  And they kept moving into the interior of the country.  Which the Indians wanted to stop.  And in trying they made the war on the frontier a bloody one.  And very cruel.  The word used in official correspondence of the time used to describe them was savages.  For the unspeakable cruelties they did to white men, women and children.  They did not fight European style with bands and grand formations on the field of battle.  They made people suffer and live in fear.  The way they have always fought.

The British, the Loyalists and their Indian Allies advanced out of the Frontier into the River Valleys

Well, there was another war on the continent.  This one between the British and the American colonists.  Both sides tried to get the Indians to fight on their side.  Some were friendly with the Americans.  Some remained neutral.  But a lot fought with the British because they saw them as the lesser of two evils.  The American colonists were expanding further into the interior of the country.  In violation of their British treaties that were to keep the Americans out of the Ohio country.  Something the British agreed to without consulting their American colonists.  Who had every intention of moving further west.  So once again the Indians made the war on the frontier a bloody one.  And very cruel. 

Not all the British were on board with this.  Edmund Burke denounced this policy.  As did William Pitt, Earl of Chatham.  Who said in the House of Lords, “What! to attribute the sacred sanction of God and nature to the massacres of the Indian scalping knife?  To the cannibal savage, torturing, murdering roasting and eating…Such horrible notions shock every precept of religion, divine or natural, and every generous feeling of humanity.”  Even the Americans had their reservations about using the Indians.  George Washington wrote to the Commissioners of Indian Affairs, “Gentlemen: You will perceive, by the inclosed Copy of a Resolve of Congress, that I am impowered to employ a body of four hundred Indians, if they can be procured upon proper terms.  Divesting them of the Savage customs exercised in their Wars against each other…”  Both sides were worried about using the unpredictable and uncontrollable Indians.  And for good reason.

The British had forts at Niagara, Detroit and Michilimackinac (on the northern tip of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula).  From these strongholds they controlled the Great Lakes and the frontier.  They, the Loyalists and their Indian allies advanced out of the frontier into the river valleys.  The Allegheny, the Susquehanna, the Mohawk, the Schoharie, the Monongahela.  Into the Ohio country.  And the frontier of New York.  Leaving a path of devastation in their wake.  Smoldering homes.  Ravished farms.  And a lot of dead.  The Loyalists and their Indian allies killing and torturing fleeing soldiers.  Prisoners.  Civilians.  And taking scalps.  There was a growing list of these massacres.  Wyoming.  Cherry Valley.  German Flats.  Blue Licks.  In the end these massacres did not help the British.  They just made the war more savage.  And turned anyone on the frontier who were neutral or leaning Loyalists into Patriots thirsting for vengeance.

George Washington was no Better than King George and Parliament in Restraining American Expansionist Ambition

The Americans couldn’t control their Indian allies any better than the British could.  They, too, were embarrassed by these savage acts that went counter to the rules of war and Christian teachings they were trying to adhere to.  But their embarrassments were short lived as the Americans had fewer Indian allies.  And, therefore, fewer atrocities.  For it was the Americans that were trying to expand into Indian hunting grounds.  And it was the British trying to restrain that expansion.  So more of them fought on the British side.  And thus the British had more of this blood on their hands.  Which only served to hurt their cause.

The opening and closing of the American Declaration of Independence are familiar to many people.  The stuff in the middle is not as well known.  Which is a laundry list of “repeated injuries and usurpations” committed by King George against the American people.  Including, “He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare, is undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.”  This British Indian policy was one of the items that pushed the Americans past reconciliation with the British.  And into open rebellion.

Fast forward to the Washington administration of the new United States of America.  Washington saw America’s relations with the Indians as a matter of foreign policy.  He spent more time trying to negotiate with them then he did with the Europeans.  For America’s future was in the west.  He wanted American expansion.  That would coexist with sovereign Indian lands.  Hoping in time that these lands would become future states within the new and growing union.  And the Indians would assimilate into the American way of farming and manufacturing.  Giving up their hunting and gathering ways that require such great tracts of land.  But, alas, that was not to be.  For he was no better than King George and Parliament in restraining American expansionist ambition.  The individual states ignored the new federal treaties with the Indians and negotiated their own treaties.  Or simply moved onto their land. 

Rather ironic, really.  Washington fought with the British against the French and Indians to secure American westward expansion.  He fought in the American Revolutionary War against the British to secure American westward expansion.  And the first major failure as president of the United States was over American westward expansion.  The subsequent treatment of the Indians would become what he feared.  A policy of confiscation that he worried “would stain the character of the nation.”  Which it has.  For the conflicts on the frontier were as violent and vicious as they ever were.  Forcing the Americans to send in troops to once again subdue these hostilities.  And to protect the Americans living on or near the frontier.  Which put the Americans and the Indians on the path Washington so wanted to avoid.  War.  Instead of conciliation.  And assimilation. 

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