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1 posted on 05/21/2002 5:44:16 PM PDT by aconservaguy
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To: aconservaguy
Far be it from me to quarrel with the learned historian, but I don't think his representation of Madison is fair or accurate. Jefferson was a radical, no question. Madison and Jefferson were allies, this is true. They did not like or trust Hamilton, and there is evidence they had good reason not to trust him. But while Madison is closely associated with Jefferson, Madison's views were fairly consistent from '1787 all the way to 1830. IMHO. He was no radical, and he did not champion "state sovereignty" over any other form. He advocated his whole life for the system he helped build, which was one of mixed soveriegnty.

Check this out:

Madison's letter to Everett, 1830

2 posted on 05/21/2002 5:56:37 PM PDT by Huck
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To: aconservaguy
Conservative attitudes toward morality give rise to a profound concern for the necessity of freedom.

. . .

The aim of conservatives was to protect liberty,

I understand him to be casting the Federalists as the "conservatives" here. I'm not sure that "liberty," "freedom," or the "rule of law" were the objectives that the Federalists had in mind when, during the Adams presidency, they enacted the Sedition Act just a few years after the adoption of the First Amendment. Maybe I'm missing his point.

6 posted on 05/21/2002 7:29:27 PM PDT by ned
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To: aconservaguy
Looks fascinating but a tough read. "Incipiently totalitarian" seems too strong. But it is true that people tend to presume that their own path is that of liberty and progress and that of the opposing side is always that of dictatorship and darkness. The problem is that terror and obscurantism can arise from a variety of different ideological orientations and backgrounds.

Jefferson's own affection for the French Revolution explains the distrust many Founders had for him, and gives us ample reason to question the "good Jeffersonian" versus "bad Hamiltonian" view of American history. To be sure there were virtues in Jeffersonianism and dangers in Hamiltonianism. But the reverse was also true.

The article provides a good corrective to the naive worship of Jefferson. But America does benefit from the tension between Jefferson and Hamilton. Hamilton set the country on a safe path, but pure Hamiltonianism would also have been undesirable.

By the same token, republicanism is a double-edged sword. It did harken back to classical antiquity. And it did strengthen the defense of the people's liberties. But McDonald is right that there was something ferocious and utopian about it. The idea of recurrent revolutions and secessions, and "watering the tree of liberty with the blood of patriots and tyrants" every generation is not, strictly speaking, a conservative idea.

The idea of republicanism as a modernism is an intriguing one. It's something that should be explored further. But it's worth noting that ideologies were very much mixed together in those days. In time of crisis, political figures naturally strained to strike republican poses, which they relaxed when tensions eased.

Englishmen looking back over to their own Civil War commonly took it as a victory of liberty against tyranny or, less commonly, as a defeat of tradition by modernity. What we can see now is that liberty, tyranny, modernity and tradition present in both camps. Not always to the same degree, of course. There were reasons why one fought on this side or that. There is a lot at stake in such struggles and sometimes the balance of the evil is on one side.

But the idea that all has to do is pick up the banner of Cromwell or Charles, Jefferson or Hamilton to automatically be right in all subsequent political conflicts is a mistake. I don't know how far I'd go with McDonald, but his article is a potent corrective to much of what one reads about the early years of our nation's history.

7 posted on 05/21/2002 8:08:24 PM PDT by x
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To: aconservaguy
The parallel with millenialist theorizing is striking: millenialists likewise thought, "people have repeatedly failed to do so before, but now we know how to create the heavenly city on earth. Our predecessors in the endeavor are to be revered and emulated in most respects; only their errors are to be avoided. We shall achieve perfection by arranging a return to Eden." In its essence, that attitude is no different from looking forward in time to a classless, stateless paradise. Utopia is Utopia, no matter which end of the telescope one views it from.

Interesting statement. It suggests that the only anti-dote to utopian dreams slipping in and out of our contemporary pundits (LewRockwell.com) is an historical understanding of millenialism. There's homework.

11 posted on 05/23/2002 9:43:53 AM PDT by cornelis
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To: aconservaguy
Inherently, then, republicanism was at least incipiently totalitarian.

I could see how one comes to say this. The less we understand "millenialist", the less humble every political enterprise becomes, modernist or not.

12 posted on 05/23/2002 9:46:37 AM PDT by cornelis
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To: aconservaguy
Thanks for a great post. It never ceases to amaze me how informative Free Republic is.
17 posted on 05/23/2002 12:01:00 PM PDT by MattinNJ
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To: aconservaguy
bump
30 posted on 05/24/2002 3:43:11 AM PDT by WhiskeyPapa
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To: aconservaguy
But the pivotal event in the regrouping of the republican ideologues was the decision in 1791 of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison to organize a political party to oppose and ultimately undo the policies of the Washington administration - and, into the bargain, to transform the Constitution into something it was not. [Emphasis added.]

Is he referring here to the Bill of Rights?!

33 posted on 05/24/2002 4:46:01 AM PDT by lentulusgracchus
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