Booknotes IV (April '14)
2 days ago
Whether the Second Amendment is incorporated into the Due Process Clause or the Privileges or Immunities Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment so as to be applicable to the States, thereby invalidating ordinances prohibiting possession of handguns in the home.
[A]s William Freehling pointed out, a president who allowed the mail to be stopped could also order that the mail be delivered. The failure of Calhoun's bill and the success of Kendall's informal policy seemed to put the future of the South in the hands of every incumbent president. This fact raised the stakes of the presidential contest to new heights in the minds of white southerners, and southern interest in the contest became and remained almost obsessive. Not the least danger Abraham Lincoln presented to the slaveholding states when elected in 1860 was the possibility that he might simply declare that the mail must go through.
A portrayal of the nocturnal raid on the Charleston post office by a mob of citizens and the burning of abolitionist mails found there in July 1835. Mail sacks are handed through a forced window of the ransacked post office, torn open and bundles of newspapers such as "The Liberator," the Boston "Atlas" and "Commercial Gazette" removed and strewn about. At left, in an open square before a church, a crowd surrounds a bonfire. A sign reading "$20,000 Reward for Tappan" hangs on the wall of the post office, referring to the bounty placed by the city of New Orleans on the head of Arthur Tappan, founder and president of the American Anti-Slavery Society.
The Constitution of the State of Mississippi, adopted in 1832, provided in the 2d section, title "slaves," as follows:
"The introduction of slaves into this state as merchandise or for sale shall be prohibited from and after 1 May, 1833, provided that actual settler or settlers shall not be prohibited from purchasing slaves in any state in this Union and bringing them into this state for their own individual use till the year 1845.
[p]olitics in South Carolina prior to nullification was remarkably similar to politics in the other Southern states, as well as several Northern ones, during the so-called “Era of Good Feelings.” . . . Indeed, a superficial glance at South Carolina politics during the mid-1820s offers the observer little reason to believe that the state was about to veer off on a remarkable and controversial tangent that would not only place it in radical defiance of the national government but would also do much to isolate it from the other southern states.
But in his [Johnson's] assessment of events in Charleston during the early 1820s, the politically minded Johnson seemed strangely unable to sense the political ground shifting under his feet. He failed to recognize that a new and intensely localist faction was emerging, one led by [James] Hamilton but drawing support from many of the area's leading politicians, who, regardless of their prior stances on the boundaries of states' rights and federal authority, now stood ready to assert state sovereignty, in its most radical forms if necessary. This new radicalism emerged as part of a concerted effort to protect the slaveholding society from both outside influence and internal unrest. This new, decidedly activist states' rights faction hardly embraced limited government in the abstract; they were willing to use the power of government, and particularly state and local government, aggressively in defense of white security and local control over slavery. They saw, or at least claimed to see, the ability to maintain maximum control over their admittedly “peculiar and local” society as a matter of survival. Former Federalists and national Republicans joined longtime states' rights Republicans to forge an assertive new coalition committed to defending the slaveholding society of the Carolina Lowcountry against all threats. This movement, embodied in the South Carolina Association, represented a counterrevolution of sorts, driven by the politics of slavery. In 1823, however, this counterrevolution, though it generated faint echos of support from black-belt enclaves scattered across the lower South, held sway only in the heavily black South Carolina Lowcountry, a region recently alarmed by an insurrection scare that had been presented to the public as one of previously unimagined proportions.
Moreover, every member of South Carolina's distinguished delegation to the Philadelphia convention had served in the 1787 legislature and only one of the four future founders, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, voted to keep the state's slave trade open. The other three, John Rutledge, Charles Pinckney, and Pierce Butler, all voted to close the state's foreign slave trade.
We took each other with our mutual bad habits and respective evils, for better, for worse; the Northern states adopted us with our slaves; and we adopted them with their Quakers.
You know my private opinion of Mr Adams Talents, virtue, and integrity, and I am free to declare that I have never changed this opinion of Mr Adams since it was first formed, I think him a man of the first rate mind of any in America as a civilian and scholar, and I have never doubted of his attachment to our republican Government. . . . [I am] at liberty to say in my name both to my friends and enemies – that I will as far as my influence extends support Mr Adams unless Mr Calhoun should be brought forward.
A figurative portrayal of the presidential race of 1824. A crowd of cheering citizens watch as candidates (left to right) John Quincy Adams, William Crawford, and Andrew Jackson stride toward the finish. Henry Clay has dropped from the race and stands, hand on head, on the far right saying, "D--n it I cant save my distance--so I may as well "draw up."" He is consoled by a man in riding clothes, "Well dont distress yourself--there'll be some scrubbing by & by & then you'll have a chance." Assorted comments come from the crowd, reflecting various sectional and partisan views. A Westerner with stovepipe hat and powder horn: "Hurra for our Jacks-"son."" Former President John Adams: "Hurra for our son "Jack."" Two men in coachmen's livery: "That inne-track fellow [Crawford] goes so well; that I think he must have got the better of the bots [boss?]." and "Like enough; but betwixt you & I--I dont think he'll ever get the better of the "Quinsy."" A ragged Irishman: "Blast my eyes if I dont "venter" a "small" horn of rotgut on that "bald filly" in the middle [Adams]." A Frenchman: "Ah hah! Mon's Neddy I tink dat kick on de "back of you side" is worse den have no dinner de fourt of july." In the left background is a platform and an inaugural scene, the "Presidential Chair" with a purse.
The incident occurred near Mobile in the Mississippi Territory in the late summer of 1814, while Jackson was in command of the entire Southwest. At the court-martial, which was held on December 5, 1814, the six men maintained that they were innocent because their terms of duty had expired, but the court ruled otherwise. Jackson was not present at the court-martial, but on January 15, 1815, shortly after the Battle of New Orleans, he approved the court’s findings, and on February 21 the men were executed.
[t]hey published documents showing that the executed men had stolen food and supplies and that their terms of enlistment had not expired. They also pointed out that the mutiny and court-martial had taken place while the United States was under attack and that the men had been executed before word of the peace treaty arrived in New Orleans.
The first handbill, which appeared near the end of January 1828, was entitled “Monumental Inscriptions” and featured two rows of three coffins each, with brief attacks on Jackson at the top and bottom. Each coffin was topped by a skull and crossbones and a detailed inscription. About half of these contained the poem “Mournful Tragedy,” which called the executions of the militiamen “A dreadful Deed – A bloody Act / Of needless Cruelty.”
During the summer [of 1828] Hill and party press were forced to spend a large part of their time defending the Old Hero. Hill’s most memorable comment came when he was refuting the charges, one after another. Suddenly in mock exasperation he shouted, “Pshaw! Why don’t you tell the whole truth? On the 8th of January, 1815, [Jackson] murdered in the coldest blood 1,500 British soldiers for merely trying to get into New Orleans for Booty and Beauty.” Like his czar story, this remark won national attention.
One of the well-known "coffin hand bills" originated by Republican editor John Binns in his campaign against presidential candidate Andrew Jackson. The six coffins across the top of the broadside represent six militiamen executed under Jackson's orders during the Creek War in 1813. Other coffins represent soldiers and Indians allegedly condemned and executed by Jackson. The broadside's text is a catalog of these and similar atrocities attributed to the candidate. A woodcut scene at lower right portrays Jackson assaulting and stabbing Samuel Jackson "in the streets of Nashville." Another version of the handbill, reproduced by Lorant, has the same text but substitutes a reversed copy of the cut at lower right.
A satire on the reverse impact of John Binns's anti-Jackson "coffin handbill" campaign during the presidential race of 1828. Editor-publisher Binns supports on his back a large load of coffins, upon which are figures of Henry Clay (left) and incumbent President John Quincy Adams (right). Binns: "I must have an extra dose of Treasury-pap, or down go the Coffins Harry, for I feel faint already." Clay: "Hold on Jonny Q – for I find that the people are too much for us, and I'm sinking with Jack and his Coffins!" Adams (grasping the presidential chair): "I'll hang on to the Chair Harry, in spite of Coffin hand-bills Harris's letter Panama mission or the wishes of the People."
For me, the most interesting part of the story about George’s teeth is the mechanism of their fabrication. The upper and lower gold plates were connected by springs which pushed the upper and lower plates against the upper and lower ridges of his mouth to hold them in place. Washington actually had to actively close his jaws together to make his teeth bite together. If he relaxed, his mouth would pop open. There is speculation that this is the reason that the Father of Our Country always looks so stern in his portraits. Take a look at a dollar bill. George isn’t upset - he’s just trying to keep his teeth in!!!
Another, more ludicrous attack was the story relating to the czar of Russia. While Adams was minister to Russia, a young chambermaid on his staff wrote a letter in which she made some casual remarks about the czar. On being informed of the letter, the czar was so amused and curious that he asked to speak to her. So during his next audience with the czar, Adams brought the woman in for a brief (and public) conversation. This humdrum story had no political appeal until it appeared in a short sketch of Jackson published by Isaac Hill in which Hill accused Adams of being a pimp who had procured a woman for the lascivious pleasure of the czar. Once the story appeared in the sketch, it spread throughout the Jackson press.
Clay’s reputation as the Great Compromiser and the model Speaker of the House and his long career as congressman, senator, secretary of state, and three-time candidate for president have forced historians to give him his due; yet his efforts to create a second political party to match the Jacksonians deserve far more attention than they have received.
Kendall was sincere about his Jeffersonian beliefs, but he had made the move primarily to save his state party and his own career. He really had no other choice. If he had refused to shift, the Jacksonians would have set up their own newspaper in Frankfort, and the Argus would have been in deep trouble.