Friday, February 16, 2007

Jefferson, Adams, and War

In 1787, Jefferson argued very clearly that the United States should stay out of European affairs. He saw a war coming in europe between Engalnd and France. He saw that, over time, France and the other nations of Europe would have their own internal revolutions that would bring about republican governments in those societies. What he feared was being dragged into a European war on the side of England, and to end up defending a government that was, to some degree, behind the times. Jefferson advocated neutrality. Adams was ambiguous. His response to Jefferson was that Force and power will prevail, and that America will come out richer in the end. By implication, he was open to an alliance wtih England. This ambiguity on the part of Adams helped forge one of the first major poliltical divides in the United States.

We face a similar problem now, how should the United States see itself in the Middle East? Only now, we have become what Engalnd was in the 1780s. We should learn from the wisdom of Jefferson. If we were to leave the Middle East alone, the nations there, over time, would develop republican forms of government, including Iran and Israel. Otherwise, we risk fighting wars, expanding the Empire, and destroying our way of life.

Below, is a summary that explains the previous two paragraphs.

Before 1789, we see Jefferson and Adams exchanging impressions on the events in Paris, the upcoming revolution, and their hopes and fears for its final outcome. By 1785 Jefferson was in Paris to negotiate on behalf of the United States a treaty with France on commerce. Adams was in London for a similar purpose. Within the context of negotiating this treaty, Adams and Jefferson began what became a life-long conversation about France and the French Revolution. To begin, Jefferson and Adams both sense that great changes are about to take place in the country. Jefferson notes its poverty. He also notes that the situation in Paris was growing more tumultuous over the summer of 1785. The government, which was actually fairly moderate, was putting more people in jail, especially those who were infiltrating France with radical ideas that were coming from England and the German states. He also notes the hostility that the French Court was expressing to English ideas. As an example, he observed how the Queen refused to weak clothing made from English wool (Cappon, 20-100).

By 1787, the unrest seemed to have grown. Jefferson over the summer of 1787, lots of mobs were gathering in the streets of Paris. The mobs hissed at the nobles when they saw them. The King was perceived as being aloof, as he was drinking wine rather than addressing the problems of the nation. But, Jefferson thinks that a revolution had already taken place in France, a revolution that outstripped any revolution in England: “I think that in the course of three months the royal authority has lost, and the rights of the nation gained, as much ground, by a revolution of public opinion only, as England gained in all her civil wars under the Stuarts” (Paris, August 30. 1787. Jefferson to Adams, 196-197). Jefferson does not think that the ground gained by the nation will ever be lost. At the same time, Jefferson feared that London and Berlin might have been pining for a war against France. France did not want such a war, and France would look for ways to change Europe rather than submit to the aggression of the English and the Prussians. France, he predicted, would change all of Europe, making it conform to her laws.

Jefferson indicates that the French clearly saw England as her enemy, and was making diplomatic efforts to unite Russia and Austria against England (Jefferson to Adams, Paris, Sept 28 1787). In this letter, Jefferson explains to Adams the principles of good government, and how the affairs of Europe represent a potential threat to the American system of government. Jefferson says that “the first principle of good government is certainly a distribution of it’s powers into executive, judiciary, and legislative, and a subdivision of the latter into two or three branches.” He admits that the English constitution is better than previous constitutions, but that it is only better in relation to this standard. Jefferson then comments on the situation in Holland, which he thinks shows that it is better to never have hereditary offices. Overall, Jefferson hopes that the nations of Europe will be able to chasten England, if only a little. He fears that a conflict is coming with England, and that the nations of Europe are hesitating before confronting England. Jefferson hopes that, in this coming conflict, America will be able to remain neutral. He fears that the English, or rather the King, will force America to take the side of the English. Jefferson thinks that common sense would lead the English to leave America neutral, and so she would not.

In this letter of Jefferson to Adams, we can see the beginning of the strain in the friendship between the two men. This strain would only be exacerbated by the coming of the French Revolution. Jefferson thinks a great war is about to take place in Europe, and that the United States should stay out of the war. He is convinced that the end result of the war will be progress in the art of free government, furthering the advances made in the British and American revolutions, as well as the revolution in public opinion that was happening in France. In a European war, England would attempt to draw the United States into a conflict to defend aristocratic constitutions, which Jefferson, overall, did not think upheld the standard of free governments.

Adams was ambiguous about America’s relationship with England. He is ambiguous about the question of whether the United States should commit to helping England or not in the upcoming conflict. Instead, he admits that only “Force, Power, and Strength” will restrain some nations. He agrees that Europe will try to draw America into its conflicts, and he hopes that the United States will come out richer for it, in the end (Adams to Jefferson, Grovenor Square, October 9, 1787).

Labels: , , , , , , , ,


Blogger Tortoise(notHare) said...

This posting and your prior one, when read together, provide an analysis that I had never seen.
The point about The Pope and how one must make decisions based on what is morally correct (vs. political expedience or self-interest as then understood) should continue to be the cornerstone of your analysis. One can raise many historical "what if" questions when events are considered with regard to the teaching of the Church.
While I understand the points you raise about Jefferson's insights (vs. the intransigence of Adams), I would also wonder if (in part) some of the attitudes were shaped by the personal prejudices of the actors. Among other posts, Adams was our Ambassador to England and seemed generally to be more favorable to the British way of life than the French (the opposite for Jefferson). We can see examples in our own times in which the "freedom fighters" in Afganistan of twenty years ago are now today's terrorists. One of the humorous examples comes in a few movies made during WWII in which the USSR is suddenly depicted as one of "the good guys". Stalin went from bad guy who carved-up Poland with Hitler to good guy and then, after WWII, to bad and horrible guy again as the Cold War started. NONE of that was based on moral principle; it was based on the cynical policy of "the enemy of your enemy is your friend."
I could go on with that...point made I hope.
One of the great ironies of the whole thing is that it was the radicals of Jefferson's party (elected to Congress in 1810) who forced Madison to join them in declaring war on England in the War of 1812. Furthermore, it was John Quincy Adams (as Secretary of State, while his father JA was still alive) who authoried "The Monroe Doctrine" for the President whom he served. In addition to W ignoring Pope JPII, ignoring his own father Bush-41, he also radicalized American policy by ignoring the Monroe Doctrine and creating the "Bush Doctrine". And yet he is surprised, shocked, that a bloody quagmire (his VietNam) has been the result.
On top of it all, if 9-11 was the real reason for our military actions...then why hasn't W yet brought to justice those who were truly responsible? They are still free to run back and forth from Afganistan, Pakistan etc. and make a video-tape every now and then.
To use another of Jesus' sharp sayings out of context: "Blind guides!"

10:25 AM  
Blogger Tortoise(notHare) said...

One more comment (really in response to your comments several postings below).

It seems to me that it is folly, but perfectly understandable, for us to continue to seek out examples of the Founding Fathers based on hagiography and myth to justify our political positions of today. If we try to make a civic Saint out of those individuals we shall be sorely disappointed because there is a huge gap between the political and military hero and an authentic Saint. And if we wanted to be fully consistent then we'd still have slaves, be anti-Papist, and so forth. This common behavior reminds me of those who will make a decision to fulfill their own will and then use a Concordance to scout out a verse in Scripture that might justify what is being done as within God's will. So in politics we play WWWD (What would Washington do?) or WWJD (What would Jefferson do?) or WWLD (What would Lincoln do?) but seemingly without asking the original question of WWJD which asked what Our Lord would have done. And so Republicans will cleverly quote FDR and JFK and Democrats will cleverly quote Lincoln or Reagan in the gamesmanship to show that the political icons of their opponents would have supported the position they espouse. Bullfeathers!
When you consider the many holy Priests and Religious and lay people down through the years vs. the tiny, tiny percentage of human beings who were ever officially Canonized we will see the folly in the political pseudo-canonizations of the Founding Fathers and other such leaders. Yes, their human greatness should be honored in our history but it is utter foolishness to engage in the "I cannot tell a lie, I chopped down the cherry tree using my wooden teeth right after I tossed a silver dollar across the Potomic River" myths about Washington and the Carl Sandburg ghostwriting of things "Lincoln once said" which he never did.
And yes I would agree that the sexual conduct of Franklin and Jefferson (and others) which had been swept under the carpet for 125+ years suddenly became an element of the revisionism which sought to justify the morals of the Roaring '20's (and thereafter) with the behavior of those individuals.
You have hit the nail on the head, Joe, with your analysis.

11:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you wish for to improve your experience simply keep visiting
this website and be updated with the latest news update posted

Feel free to surf to my site; bmi calculator female

8:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi to every , for the reason that I am genuinely keen of reading this blog's post to be updated on a regular basis. It includes pleasant stuff.

Feel free to visit my blog post: bmi calculator for adults

8:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The fitness tips for motivation we've been discussing can be very powerful if you use them. I spent hundreds of dollars trying to find that "quick fix" or magic solution that would have allowed me to drop the desired pounds and have the perfect body. Smoking can affect your health and fitness since it affects all the bodily functions and damages vocal cords and skin.

My blog ... visit this website link

8:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

choose numerous softwares that are capable enough to satisfy
your necessities. Every day many new websites are coming on the internet, which can be used for all sort of access to stuff that
can make you smile. Laughter is the finest medication, and we need to
partake in it as typically as we are ready to do so.

Review my web page ::

8:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

People are very interested to watch the latest crime news.

What is interesting is that you get to read news and analysis that give you an
entirely different perspective, rarely seen in corporate-sponsored media.
"The boys said they'd been out collecting frogs when something approached from the saw grass.

My blog; Latest Daily News

1:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Exercise can help to avoid menopause weight gain and reduce other risks including osteoporosis, heart disease, and arthritis.
Even if your small business doesn't have some sort of refrigerator (a rarity today) you can choose vegetable and fruit that do not even require refrigeration. The decisive factor is that men would want to show themselves as hot and rock solid before the fashionable ladies as ever.

My web blog ... fitness tips and workouts

1:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

" Forum Threads " Blog Comments " Corporate Blogging " Social Network Profiles " Link Baiting. But unlike their blank counterparts, custom lanyards also can proclaim a marketing or motivational message to customers and employees. As a consequence it can be contended the media is directing many persons astray moving away from what should be its aim of presenting discerning news and analytic thinking of pressing topics for this celebrity frippery.

Feel free to surf to my web blog ::

7:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

These make a kayak track very but hamper hard turns or tight turns.

You will also have to decide whether you want a
tandem kayak or single kayak. Now let us look at the specific needs of
a kayak fishermen when it comes to his craft.

Stop by my web-site; comcast

3:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pretty! This has been a really wonderful post. Thanks for supplying these details.

my blog :: latest entertainment news

3:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aw, this was a very good post. Taking a few minutes and actual effort to produce a great articleÖ but what can I sayÖ I put things off a lot
and don't manage to get anything done.

Here is my web page recent celebrity news articles

3:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some were practical, of course, but others were psychological and
emotional. I believe my exact words were "I don't want to be your dirty little secret. The buccal cavity is a small cavity that has neither jaws nor teeth.

my web-site pub quiz area

8:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

(Thank you rounds are always welcome, of course.
Anna had been looking through my phone while I was naked.

They feature almost nightly drink specials and some form of
entertainment every night of the week--DJ's, live music, trivia, you name it.

my page ... pub quiz Names

9:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In that case, this kind of question should not be taken from any show telecasted in specific country.

Anna had been looking through my phone while I was naked.

Theme Format: It is almost like standard format of the pub quiz.

My webpage :: easy pub quiz and answers

9:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also, we need to determine the rounds of the quiz according to it.
Local country clubs are offering trivia fun
for as little as forty dollars per couple. 8.

my website :: free pub quiz and answers

12:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think this is one of the mst vital information for me.
And i am glaqd reading your article. But wanna remark on some general things,
The site style is wonderful, the articles is
really great : D. Good job, cheers

Here is my blog post; dvdlair.Com

12:04 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home