The burden of Northern history

There has been a spate of books on America’s presumed decline in recent days. Most now and ever before compare with the rise and fall of Rome. I’ve always thought we should be compared with two empires, Rome and Athens. Or better yet, Rome and Constantinople, equal and opposite cultural counter-forces for at least 1,000 years. But ours are red and blue and their capitals are New York City and Dallas.

This division was identified by Henry James in the late 1800s. “The Bostonians,” which might be seen as visionary today, contrasted the radical feminist and reformer, Olive, with the Southern cousin Basil, who dines with “a six-shooter and a bowie knife.” When asked, “Don’t you care for human progress?” he answers, “I don’t know — I never saw any.”

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From the “Left Out of the Textbook” Dept.

From a handbill that circulated in Milwaukee in the 1850s, in reference to the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 (emphasis in original): All the People of this State, who are opposed to being made SLAVES or SLAVE-CATCHERS, and to having the Free Soil of Wisconsin made the hunting-ground for Human Kidnappers, and all who are…

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‘Resisting’ Is Defined as Violence. Not the ‘Taking’

Newsweek has put together a “Tax Attacks” propaganda piece. The gist of this piece is that Joseph Stack was one of many violent protesters who “believed taxes are unjustified,” and thus reacted with violent actions. Of course, anyone who believes that taxes are unjustified necessarily gets lumped in with all of the mad bombers, shooters,…

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John Dickinson: The Penman of the Revolution

The Townshend Acts were a series of acts passed beginning in 1767 by the Parliament of Great Britain relating to the British colonies in North America. They centered primarily on the raising of revenue for the crown and asserting central authority over governors and judges in the colonies. They were widely hated and met with…

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Nullification, Secession, and the Human Scale of Political Order

For three days last week, on the third floor of the Francis Marion Hotel in downtown Charleston, SC, a group of scholars have been meeting to discuss the history of nullification and secession in American law and politics, and the continued relevance of those concepts today. I had the privilege of joining them for the…

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States Can’t Nullify, Because I Said So!

Funny to watch the establishment’s reaction to the reappearance of the idea of state nullification of unconstitutional federal laws. This isn’t allowed, of course — the right of Ivy Leaguers to impose their theories on the country shall not be infringed. The extremely conventional Sanford Levinson trots out all the old arguments. My book on…

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