Wednesday, August 3, 2016

A little American History

The first colony was founded at Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607. Many of the people who settled in the New World came to escape religious persecution. The Pilgrims, founders of Plymouth, Massachusetts, arrived in 1620. In both Virginia and Massachusetts, the colonists flourished with some assistance from Native Americans.
[Picture of Professor Maier]

http://claver.gprep.org/fac/sjochs/imperial-lcrisis.htm

The Boston Massacre
By then, however, many colonists' old confidence in the British government had been shaken. Taxes were not the only reason. In 1768, the Crown had sent two regiments of troops to Boston to support royal officials there whose customs commissioners had sparked riots when they seized John Hancock's sloop, the Liberty, on trumped up charges. Bostonians said the troops were unnecessary and, like all Englishmen, distrusted governments that used "standing armies" against their own people. Free men, they said, are not governed at the point of a gun.
[Picture of Paul Revere's painting 'The Boston Massacre']It seemed as if the soldiers and civilians were always scuffling with each other. Finally, on March 5, 1770, a contingent of troops fired into a crowd, killing five people.
In 1773, however, trouble began again after Parliament tried to help the East India Company sell tea in the colonies at a price lower than that of smuggled tea. (Because it was sold directly to customers, the tea, even with the still-existing tax, was cheaper than before.) Colonists saw this "poisoned cheap tea" as an attempt by Parliament to lure them into accepting Parliament's right to tax them -- to raise a revenue, as the colonists said. They also objected to Parliament's actions in wiping out a whole class of American merchants. Parliament  refused, however, to remove the old duty on tea, which, from the colonists' perspective, "poisoned" the East India Company's cheap tea. Again they resisted, but in as peaceful a manner as they could.

The First Continental Congress
If Boston and Massachusetts could be punished so severely , how could New York or Pennsylvania or South Carolina feel safe?
Their response was to meet in a Congress. 55 delegates met in Philadelphia in 1774 in the 1st Continental Congress. It was called to respond to the Intolerable Acts. Up to this point, there had been 13 separate protest movements against British policies that cooperated at certain times. At the First Continental Congress, “13 (actually twelve) separate clocks began to strike as one.” Twelve colonies, every one but Georgia, sent delegates to the "Continental Congress" in Philadelphia to coordinate their response.

The Battles of Lexington and Concord
The blows began on April 19, 1775 after General Gage sent troops to seize colonial arms stored at the town of Concord, some twenty miles outside Boston. On the way they went through Lexington, where local militiamen on the town green began to disperse once they saw how outnumbered they were. Somewhere, someone fired a gun. Then the regulars emptied their muskets into the fleeing militiamen, killing eight and wounding ten.


The Second Continental Congress
[Picture of George Washington]Within weeks of Lexington and Concord, a Second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia. It appointed one of its members, an uncommonly tall, dignified Virginian named George Washington, to take charge of the army at Cambridge. The Second Continental Congress became the first government of the United States.

The Declaration of Independence
On July 4th, the delegates finished their editorial work and ordered the declaration printed and distributed so it could be read "at the head of the Army" and "proclaimed" throughout the land. In that way the people learned that a new nation, the United States of America, had assumed a "separate and equal station" among the "powers of the earth." 
When Americans of 1776 cited the Declaration of Independence, they quoted the last paragraph, the one in which Congress declared that "these united colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states." Little attention, indeed, so far as I can tell, none at all, was given to the document's second paragraph, which began: "We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal." Those ideas were expressed in many other contemporary writings. But only the Declaration announced American independence.

The War for Independence
To declare independence was one thing; to win it was another. While Congress whittled away at Jefferson's prose, a massive British fleet arrived at New York. After evacuating Boston, the British had assembled one of the largest sea and land forces ever seen in North America.


How revolutionary was the American Revolution?
The American Revolution was not a great social revolution like the ones that occurred in France in 1789 or in Russia in 1917 or in China in 1949. A true social revolution destroys the institutional foundations of the old order and transfers power from a ruling elite to new social groups.
Nevertheless, the Revolution had momentous consequences. It created the United States. It transformed a monarchical society, in which the colonists were subjects of the Crown, into a republic, in which they were citizens and participants in the political process. The Revolution also gave a new political significance to the middling elements of society--artisans, merchants, farmers, and traders--and made it impossible for elites to openly disparage ordinary people.

Above all, the Revolution popularized certain radical ideals-especially a commitment to liberty, equality, government of the people, and rule of law. The spirit of equality weakened further old habits of deference. As related in the text, America, one Colonel Randolph of Virginia told of being in a tavern when a rough group of farmers came in, spitting and pulling off their muddy boots without regard to the sensibilities of the gentlemen present" "The spirit of independence was converted into "equality," Randolph wrote, "and everyone who bore arms, esteems himself upon a footing with his neighbors. . . . No doubt each of these men considers himself, in every respect, my equal." .
The Revolution also set into motion larger changes in American life. It inspired Americans to try to reconstruct their society in line with republican principles. The Revolution inspired many Americans to question slavery and other forms of dependence, such as indentured servitude and apprenticeship. In 1780, Pennsylvania provided for gradual emancipation, while in Massachusetts,  Elizabeth Freeman, a native of Africa, won her freedom by suing in a Massachusetts court, claiming that "the inherent liberty" [her words] of the Declaration applied to all. By the early 19th century, the northern states had either abolished slavery or adopted gradual emancipation plans. Meanwhile, white indentured servitude had virtually disappeared.
The Revolution encouraged the movement toward the disestablishment of official churches in the states and the provision for religious freedom -- separation of church and state. Thomas Jefferson and James Madison spear-headed this movement in Virginia. In 1785, the Virginia legislature passed the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, which provided for separation of church and state.
The Revolution was accompanied by dramatic changes in the lives of women.


Ten of the proposed 12 amendments were ratified by three-fourths of the state legislatures on December 15, 1791.



If there is one outcome of liberty that makes possible all the rights Americans hold dear, it is prosperity. Prosperity gives us the chance to thrive and enjoy the blessings of liberty. Its precondition is economic freedom, the ability to profit from our own ideas and labor as we choose. Not only Americans but all people enjoy a right to economic freedom and the prosperity it brings. No authoritarian government has ever succeeded in delivering prosperity to successive generations.
The “Way to Prosperity”
“What more is necessary,” Thomas Jefferson asked, “to make us a happy and a prosperous people?” His answer rings true: “a wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned.”

American prosperity in the early 1800s
Before 1820, the prosperity of the united states depended primarily on its agriculture and trade. Jeffersonian America was by no stretch on the imagination an industrial economy.

From the era of Reconstruction to the end of the 19th century, the United States underwent an economic transformation marked by the maturing of the industrial economy, the rapid expansion of big business, the development of large-scale agriculture, and the rise of national labor unions and industrial conflict. 
An outburst of technological innovation in the late 19th century fueled this headlong economic growth.

AMENDMENT XVI
Passed by Congress July 2, 1909. Ratified February 3, 1913.
Note: Article I, section 9, of the Constitution was modified by amendment 16.
The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.

AMENDMENT XVII
Passed by Congress May 13, 1912. Ratified April 8, 1913.
Note: Article I, section 3, of the Constitution was modified by the 17th amendment.
The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote. The electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State legislatures.
When vacancies happen in the representation of any State in the Senate, the executive authority of such State shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided, That the legislature of any State may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct.
This amendment shall not be so construed as to affect the election or term of any Senator chosen before it becomes valid as part of the Constitution.

The bill did not come forward until 1912, it had been under development for years, going back to a November 1910 meeting investment banker Paul Warburg, Treasury official Abram Piatt Andrew, and others on Jekyll Island, Georgia. The then-secret meeting was organized by financiers and bankers who recognized the nation’s need for a central bank and wanted to begin the process. Because they did not think the public would welcome a plan crafted in part by bankers, they made extraordinary efforts to keep the meeting secret, using only first names and telling others they were on a duck hunting trip.
The proposal was attacked by committees in both chambers for giving too little control to the government and too much power to bankers, especially those who ran the largest institutions. Among other features, the plan called for a forty-six-member Board with only six appointed by the government and one of those – the head of the organization – selected from a list of three names supplied by the association. Unlike the First and Second Banks of the United States, the government would have no stake in the National Reserve Association.
Much of the early congressional criticism of the bill focused on the fact that Glass’s subcommittee had largely done its work secretly, with Republicans having little involvement in crafting the legislation. The more substantive debate, however, focused on the issues of control, especially the power of the central board.
The secretary of agriculture was removed from the Federal Reserve Board.
As far as the terms of the Federal Reserve governors, they agreed on staggered terms and extended them from the six or eight years in the approved bills to ten to ensure no president could appoint all governors during a two-term presidency.

America's "Great Depression" began with the dramatic crash of the stock market on "Black Thursday", October 24, 1929 when 16 million shares of stock were quickly sold by panicking investors who had lost faith in the American economy.
During the economic boom of the Roaring Twenties, the traditional values of rural America were challenged by the Jazz Age, symbolized by women smoking, drinking, and wearing short skirts. The average American was busy buying automobiles and household appliances, and speculating in the stock market, where big money could be made. Those appliances were bought on credit, however. Although businesses had made huge gains — 65 percent — from the mechanization of manufacturing, the average worker’s wages had only increased 8 percent.
The imbalance between the rich and the poor, with 0.1 percent of society earning the same total income as 42 percent, combined with production of more and more goods and rising personal debt, could not be sustained. On Black Tuesday, October 29, 1929, the stock market crashed, triggering the Great Depression, the worst economic collapse in the history of the modern industrial world. It spread from the United States to the rest of the world, lasting from the end of 1929 until the early 1940s.