Skip to comments.Debunking the Myths of the Founding Fathers (New Book refutes the silly postmodern spin)
Posted on 08/04/2009 10:18:02 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
This countrys Founding Fathers were racist, sexist white men whose opinions dont matter in todays world -- unless they can be used to bolster liberal talking points.
The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Founding Fathers by Brion McClanahan smashes those misguided notions by re-examining the men who helped forge this countrys government without falling back on postmodern spin.
Founding Fathers is a painstaking look at how the country began, where the Founders stood on key issues like freedom of religion, as well as how they came to their political philosophies.
It also details the spirited debates behind some of the major principles which still guide American citizens in 2009.
Despite everything thats already been written on the subject, nagging myths still cloud the images we have of these historic men. Founding Fathers debunks many of these tall tales with alacrity.
Some myths were born from elements of truth, or evidence sharply pointing toward a popular conclusion, such as Thomas Jeffersons connection to slave Sally Hemings. Others, like Alexander Hamiltons gay love story, appear to be concocted from whole cloth.
But such is the power, and the lure, of the Founding Fathers till this day. Attach a cause to them and, voila, instant gravitas. For the gay rights movement, Hamiltons alleged sexual behavior was used by some to advance gay causes, the author says.
The book also sprinkles copious sidebars along with the main text, including features like PC-shattering Books They Dont Want You to Read and pull-out quotes that remind us of the wisdom the Founders brought to their task.
Is it any wonder that were still liberally quoting from the likes of Benjamin Franklin (Haste makes waste)?
The book doesnt shy away from the Fathers flaws. Yes, they owned slaves -- as did many of their peers during that era. But most of the Founders were deeply uncomfortable with the practice, and some went on to help eradicate the stain of slavery from the young nation.
The fact that many of these men owned slaves should not denigrate their achievements, McClanahan writes.
Slavery certainly dominated life in the Southern states during their era, but it was by no means restricted to that part of the country. Nor was anti-black legislation, which ruled over both the North and the South.
To some, the Founders were petulant (James Madison), irritable and vain (John Adams) and dim-witted demagogues (John Hancock).
But their work continues to speak for itself.
If theres one message the book returns to over and again with its colorful portraits of the Fathers and their political battles, its their embrace of states rights.
McClanahan recalls how strongly the Founders wanted states rights as a measure against a too-powerful executive branch. Its a message modern-day conservatives still rally around, and its one which can be traced directly back to the Founders.
The Founders comes off as real people here, not men put on a pedestal for the remarkable documents they forged. They led lives filled with drama and didnt always live up to societal ideals. Adams wore a sword to Senate sessions, and Franklin was a bit of a ladies man despite his less than traditional looks.
But he didnt father nearly as many illegitimate children as some have argued.
McClanahan always serves up some juicy information not readily known about the subject matter. Jefferson didnt want to become president and, given his humble nature, he is buried under a simple obelisk. Franklin sought divine intervention during a breakdown in talks while at the Constitutional Convention.
We also learn about Samuel Adams, one of several forgotten Founders profiled in the book.
Whats most astonishing about the new book is how it touches on issues more than 200 years old that still apply, often directly, to the current culture. Newspaper bias. Freedom of religion. The right to bear arms -- and for what purpose. All these issues were considered, debated and decided upon by the Founders, and to push aside their wisdom on the issues seems a foolish gambit.
McClanahan embellishes that point with his final chapter -- What The Founding Fathers Would Do -- a look at how Washington, Adams and Jefferson might address some of today's seemingly intractable problems Its likely the Founders, who saw running for office as a civil duty, not a career path, would trim federal spending, end commitments to NATO and the United Nations and put limits on immigration.
Some of those solutions sound positively conservative, while others, like amending the Patriot Act, could be gleaned from a liberal blog site.
The Founding Fathers care more about principle than ideology, something The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Founding Fathers understands better than some other history texts.
Christian Toto is a freelance entertainment writer and contributing film critic for The Washington Times. His work has appeared in People magazine, MovieMaker Magazine, The Denver Post, The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and Scripps Howard News Service. He also provides movie radio commentary to three stations as well as the nationally syndicated Dennis Miller Show and runs the blog What Would Toto Watch?
Really...I thought SLAVERY was a product of the British rule in the Colonies. WHO KNEW
Human Events is a good publication. I’m going to look for that book. Should be interesting.
Human nature, good and bad, has not changed in 200+ years. Who would have thought it?
Bump and save.
Most serious Jefferson scholars now believe that an intimate relationship between Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson was highly unlikely. A number of specific claims that (Thomas) Jefferson fathered certain children of Hemings’ have been shown to be false, even to the satisfaction of those who still suspect that he was the father of at least one of her children.
Heck, I’ve been reading thru the Bible this year, and I am constantly reminded that human nature hasn’t changed in over 3000 years!
Oh, for crying out loud. He would have had to have been an extremely busy and stealthy boy to have escaped public scrutiny and approbrium, not to mention the wrath of his political allies and enemies, as well as the ladies. And had anyone accused him of "degeneracy", Hamilton might certainly have challenged him to a duel:
In spring 1779, Hamilton asked his friend John Laurens to find him a wife in South Carolina:
"She must be younghandsome (I lay most stress upon a good shape) Sensible (a little learning will do) well bred... chaste and tender (I am an enthusiast in my notions of fidelity and fondness); of some good naturea great deal of generosity (she must neither love money nor scolding, for I dislike equally a termagant and an economist)In politics, I am indifferent what side she may be ofI think I have arguments that will safely convert her to mineAs to religion a moderate stock will satisfy meShe must believe in God and hate a saint. But as to fortune, the larger stock of that the better."
Hamilton found his own bride on December 14, 1780 when he married Elizabeth Schuyler, daughter of General Philip Schuyler, and thus joined one of the richest and most political families in the state of New York. The marriage took place at Schuyler Mansion in Albany, New York.
Hamilton grew extremely close to Eliza's sister, Angelica Church, who was married to John Barker Church, a Member of Parliament in Great Britain; some historians argue that the two may have had an affair, although, due to extensive editing of much HamiltonChurch correspondence by Hamilton's later descendants, it is impossible to know for sure.
In 1791, Hamilton became involved in an affair with Maria Reynolds that badly damaged his reputation. Reynolds' husband, James, blackmailed Hamilton for money, threatening to inform Hamilton's wife. When James Reynolds was arrested for counterfeiting, he contacted several prominent members of the Democratic-Republican Party, most notably James Monroe and Aaron Burr, touting that he could expose a top level official for corruption. When they interviewed Hamilton with their suspicions (presuming that James Reynolds could implicate Hamilton in an abuse of his position in Washington's Cabinet), Hamilton insisted he was innocent of any misconduct in public office and admitted to an affair with Maria Reynolds. Since this was not germane to Hamilton's conduct in office, Hamilton's interviewers did not publish about Reynolds. When rumors began spreading after his retirement, Hamilton published a confession of his affair, shocking his family and supporters by not merely confessing but also by narrating the affair in detail, thus injuring Hamilton's reputation for the rest of his life.
At first Hamilton accused Monroe of making his affair public, and challenged him to a duel. Aaron Burr stepped in and persuaded Hamilton that Monroe was innocent of the accusation. His well-known vitriolic temper led Hamilton to challenge several others to duels in his career.
bump and read
You have an excellent about page! my FRiend :-)