Sunday, February 28, 2010

Did President Washington Lie in Office?

Last Monday, Brian Tubbs at the American Revolution & Founding Era authored a post entitled Did President Washington Lie in Office?. Although Brian did not answer the question directly, the suggestion was that he did not.

Now I am a tremendous admirer of George Washington, but the historical evidence seems fairly clear that on at least one occasion during his presidency he was not, let us say, entirely forthcoming. The following comes from Stanley Elkins's and Eric McKitrick's wonderful book, The Age of Federalism: The Early American Republic, 1788-1800.

The story begins on July 16, 1790, when President Washington signed into law An Act for establishing the temporary and permanent seat of the Government of the United States. Among other things, the Act authorized the president to locate the ten-mile square Federal District along the Potomac River.

Six months later, on January 24, 1791, President Washington issued a Proclamation Defining the Boundaries of the District of Columbia, in which he announced the location he had selected.

The Act empowered three commissioners, to be appointed by the president, to "purchase or accept" land in the District and directed the commissioners to "provide suitable buildings for the accommodation" of the government before the 1st Monday of December 1800. The Act did not, however, provide funding for these activities. To the contrary, Section 4 stated that, "for defraying the expense of such purchases and buildings, the President of the United States be authorized and requested to accept grants of money," suggesting that funds would be obtained from sources other than Congress.

President Washington did not request funds from Congress or even mention funding in his Proclamation, nor did he seek funding thereafter. This omission was intentional. At the urging of Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, Washington determined that financing would not involve the use of funds obtained from Congress. "Asking Congress for an appropriation, or for any other kind of assistance, might reopen the entire question of the residence."

Virginia and Maryland had promised to contribute funds totaling $192,000, but these would clearly be insufficient for the grandiose plans that Jefferson was developing. To defray anticipated costs, Washington adopted a two-part plan.

First, to acquire the land at the end of March 1791 Washington personally worked out a deal with local landowners. They would cede thousands of acres to the United States.
[U]pon its being laid off in lots the proprietor of each tract would retain every other lot. Such land remaining in private hands as might be taken for public purposes (excluding streets) would be paid for at a stipulated rate. The benefit to the proprietors, of course, was that the land they retained would be steadily enhanced in value with the unfolding of the golden future.

Second, to pay for the land to be taken for public purposes, and to fund construction, the government would auction off those lots it determined it did not need as soon as possible.
It would not be prudent to start borrowing money, at least until a sale should determine the value of the lots, and not without legislative authority. The proprietors should not be paid for public squares taken out of their property until the money for it should be raised from the sale of their own lands.

"It was at about this point, however, that everything began falling to pieces." Although Washington, Jefferson and Rep. James Madison personally attended, the first auction, held in October 1791, was a disaster. Only thirty-five of ten thousand lots were sold, "four of them taken by the Commissioners themselves in order to keep up the bidding; and the actual cash receipts came to little more than $2,000."

Faced with a result that cast serious doubt on the viability of the District of Columbia project, "Washington in his annual message to Congress referred to the affairs of the Federal City in a manner that was anything but candid":
Pursuant to the authority contained in the several Acts on that subject, a district of ten miles square for the permanent seat of the Government of the United States has been fixed, and announced by proclamation; which district will comprehend lands on both sides of the River Potomack, and the towns of Alexandria and George Town. A City has also been laid out agreeably to a plan which will be placed before Congress: And as there is a prospect, favoured by the rate of sales which have already taken place, of ample funds for carrying on the necessary public buildings, there is every expectation of their due progress.

A second sale, held a year later in October 1792, was likewise "a failure, and Washington knew it." This time he told Congress nothing in his annual message.

A third auction held in September 1793 "fared even worse than had the previous two." Washington "suspended all further public sales," but "not a word to Congress."

Facing disaster, Washington apparently approved what seems to have been an extra-legal scheme to avoid having to go to Congress:
[T]he Commissioners with Washington's approval furtively began borrowing money, or rather trying to borrow it, though not authorized by law to do so. A syndicate was formed by three men of acknowledged standing in financial circles . . . to purchase several thousand lots, pay for them in seven annual installments, sell a portion to private buyers at the enhanced prices which would presumably be created by their activities, provide the Commissioners with a monthly sum for operating expenses, and negotiate a large loan abroad, using the lots (title to which had been transferred to the syndicate before they were paid for) as collateral. The promoters, however, could not sell their lots, could not meet their installments, and could not interest any investors, foreign or domestic, in a loan of any such nature. Their entire structure collapsed, and by the fall of 1797 all three were in debtor's prison.

Having run out options, Washington "finally faced the bitter choice early in 1796 of asking Congress for authority to borrow money openly on the security of public property." Elkins and McKitrick characterize Washington's message as "a true masterpiece of evasion." Washington
transmitted a memorial from the Commissioners praying that an act to this effect be passed, and he told the House and Senate that in such an enterprise as the building of a capital "difficulties might naturally be expected; some have occurred; but they are in a great degree surmounted, and I have no doubt if the remaining resources are properly cherished, so as to prevent the loss of property by hasty and numerous sales, that all the buildings required . . . may be compleated in season, without aid from the Federal Treasury." But Washington and the Commissioners understood full well that what they were asking for was not really a loan after all, but "aid from the Federal Treasury," and the reason was the same as that for which all the other schemes had failed.

The key phrase in the memorial was the final one: "that, in case the property so pledged shall prove inadequate to the purpose of repayment, the United States will make good the deficiency." . . . The question was dragged out for four months before a loan of $500,000 [sic; the statute states $300,000] was finally authorized.

About the illustration:
In July 1790 Congress decided to move the seat of the federal government from its original site in New York to Washington, with Philadelphia as an interim capital. The unidentified satirist gives a cynical view of the profit opportunity which this presented for Philadelphians. A three-masted ship with a smaller boat in tow sails toward a fork in a river. It is being lured by a devil toward the lower fork (eventually leading to Philadelphia), which falls precipitously in a rocky cataract, and away from the fork which leads to the "Potowmack" river. A devil beckons them on, saying, "This way Bobby" (referring to Robert Morris, the alleged instigator of the move). A man in the bow of the ship remarks of the figurehead, "This looks more like a goose than an eagle's head." Behind him another says through a bullhorn, "Starboard your helm Coffer-- don't you hear your friend on the Rock." Another passenger waves a hat and shouts "Huzza for Philadelphia." A man (possibly Morris) holding the helm says, "I will venture all for Philadelphia." In the boat in tow the following conversation is in progress: "Cut the Painter [tow line] as soon as you see the Ship in danger." "I wonder what could have induced the Controller to sign our Clearance." "Self gratification I suppose for it cannot be any advantage to the owner." "If they had come round in the S. Union the constitution would not have been lost." "They might have known that the Ship would have been in danger by comeing this way." "Ay, Ay, I had best do it [cut the rope] now for I believe she is going to the devil." Below the falls, three men in a dinghy say, "If we can catch the cargo never mind the Ship," "Keep a sharp look out for a majority and the treasury," and "Ay, Ay that's what we are after."

Friday, February 26, 2010


Well here's a word I never heard of before, courtesy of Earl M. Maltz's Slavery and the Supreme Court, 1825-1861.

Strader v. Graham was a suit that involved Kentucky slaves who had traveled to Ohio and Indiana, with the consent of their master, then voluntarily returned to Kentucky. A question in the case was whether their visits to free states terminated their status as slaves. In 1847, the Kentucky Court of Appeals held that, whatever their status under Ohio and Indiana law, their slavery reattached when they returned to Kentucky.

In an appeal to the United States Supreme Court, attorney Walter Jones argued that the slaves became forever free when they touched the soil of Ohio or Indiana with the consent of their master.
Jones explicitly rejected the position that the character or duration of a putative slave's presence in a state north of the Ohio River was relevant to the analysis, asserting that "there [is] no distinction . . . to be drawn from the mere duration of commorancy, if the removal to a free state was voluntary on the part of the slave and with the permission of the master" and that "the instant . . . came within the boundaries of such states, the laws of those states took effect upon his condition, and eo instanti he became clothed with every attribute of freedom."

As you will gather from the context, "commorancy" means temporary residence.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

"Gen. Pinckney was not satisfied with it"

In Slavery and the Supreme Court, 1825-1861, Earl M. Maltz points out a minor but interesting incident at the Constitutional Convention that I had not noticed before.

On Tuesday August 18, 1787, the delegates took up proposed Article XIV, the precursor to the Privileges and Immunities Clause, which provided, "The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States."

Charles Cotesworth Pinckney of South Carolina raised an objection. Madison's notes are vague on the nature of Pinckney's concern and suggest that he did not fully understand what Pinckney was driving at:
Gen. Pinkney was not satisfied with it [Art. XIV]. He seemed to wish some provision should be included in favor of property in slaves.

Prof. Maltz makes the intriguing suggestion that Pinkney foresaw the issue that became a serious bone of contention in the 1850s, exemplified by the New York case of Lemmon v. People: whether masters risked losing their slave property by traveling, even temporarily, to or through free states. If Prof. Maltz is correct, Pinckney was presumably looking to add language that would insure that masters could bring their "servants" with them on visits to other states.

If that is what General Pinckney was getting at, the result is equally interesting. The delegates quickly disposed of the objection by a lopsided 9 to 1 to 1 vote, with South Carolina the sole dissenter and Georgia "divided."

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Obligatory Cute Baby Animal Post

Via Zooborns.

Score One for the Good Guys

Pretty cool:
While onlookers chant praises, this masked insurgent is launching mortar shots at British and American troops. Mortar tracking technology can track the trajectory of a hostile round and fire a retaliatory shot to the exact spot where the hostile shell was fired. The effects are usually pretty final. This only requires the hostile mortar to fire 2 to 3 rounds. Count the number of mortar rounds the masked insurgent fires.

H/T theblogprof.


Courtesy of Zombietime:
Mohammed receiving his first revelation from the angel Gabriel. Miniature illustration on vellum from the book Jami' al-Tawarikh (literally "Compendium of Chronicles" but often referred to as The Universal History or History of the World), by Rashid al-Din, published in Tabriz, Persia, 1307 A.D. Now in the collection of the Edinburgh University Library, Scotland.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Millard Fillmore U.S. Dollar Day!

Over at Millard Fillmore's Bathtub, the wily Ed Darrell has scooped me again. His latest post reveals that February 18 is Millard Fillmore U.S. Dollar Day! Run - do not walk - to his site for the breaking news.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Fugitive Slave Act . . . of 1791?

Somehow I was under the impression that the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793 as passed was virtually identical to the bill as originally introduced. In Slavery and the Supreme Court, 1825-1861, Earl M. Maltz sets me straight.

The original version of a fugitive slave bill, Prof. Maltz explains, was in fact introduced two years earlier, and it differed in fundamental respects from the bill that was later passed.

The original fugitive slave bill, reported to the House of Representatives on November 15, 1791, was the work of a three-man committee composed of Reps. Theodore Sedgwick and Shearjashub Bourne – what a remarkable name! - of Massachusetts and Rep. Alexander White of Virginia.

Frustratingly, I can't find the text of the bill online. As Prof. Maltz describes it, however, the bill relied upon the executive branch (i.e., governor) of the state into which the alleged fugitive had fled. The claimant (master) presented to the governor of the “fugitive” state an application “supported by depositions of two persons who affirmed that the person identified was fact a fugitive slave.” The governor then issued an arrest warrant that directed appropriate officers to arrest the fugitive and deliver him to the applicant. “State officials who refused to enforce the arrest warrants would have been subject to stiff fines in federal court.”

The original bill died in the House in 1791 of unknown causes. “The Sedgwick bill was read twice on November 15 [1791] and scheduled for a third reading. However, for unknown reasons, the third reading never took place, and the bill died without a vote.”

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Justice Scalia on the Right to Secede

I'm a huge admirer of Justice Antonin Scalia and can't help passing this along.

H/T Prof. Orin Kerr at Volokh.

John McLean

There are, I suppose, two ways of viewing John McLean. On the positive side, one can see him as a self-made man who rose from humble beginnings to attain positions of substantial responsibility, including member of Congress, member of the Ohio Supreme Court, Postmaster General and, for over thirty years, Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.

Also to his credit, he dissented from the Court's Dred Scott decision, and, as Earl M. Maltz notes, “he was a committed opponent of slavery” throughout his career.
For example, while sitting on the Ohio Supreme Court in 1817, he declared in dictum that “viewing the question abstractly I could not hesitate to declare that a slave in any state or country, according to the immunitable principles of natural justice, is entitled to his freedom; that, that which had its origin in usurpation and fraud can never be sanctified into a right.” Pronouncements such as these led Senator Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri to declare that McLean was “abolitionist enough for anybody outside of a mad house - & his wife is abolitionist enough for all those who ought to be in one.”

I, however, tend to take a less charitable view of McLean. He was a quintessential political opportunist who repeatedly leaned whichever way the wind blew – and did not hesitate to stab his friends in the back if it suited his purpose. Most damningly, as John Quincy Adams's Postmaster General, in charge of a large patronage network, he did not hesitate to inflict harm on his boss in an attempt to curry favor with Andrew Jackson in anticipation of the 1828 election – a gambit that worked when Jackson appointed him to the Supremes in 1829.

Later, McLean did not hesitate to jump ship from the Democrats in favor of the Whigs, Free Soilers, Know Nothings, Republicans or any other party that might advance his interests. And without casting doubt on the sincerity of his Dred Scott dissent, the effort was amateurish and reads more like a campaign brochure than a legal opinion.

Because that it exactly what it was. For this man of modest talents (which is not to say he had none – he had been an able administrator of the Post Office, which is why Adams did not feel justified in firing him despite his disloyalty) and unrealistic sense of self-importance seems to have spent most of his career trying to position himself as a credible presidential candidate.

Dryly observing that “little in [McLean's] background made him an obvious candidate for the presidency,” William G. Ross, in an article entitled Presidential Ambitions of U.S. Supreme Court Justices: A History and a Cautionary Warning, catalogs McLean's almost comical attempts to obtain the nomination of almost any party that would have him:
In 1832, he hoped at various times to become the standard bearer of the National Republicans, the Democrats, or the Anti-Masons. In advance of the 1836, 1844, and 1848 elections, he pinned his hopes on the Whigs, and in 1848 and 1852 he was mentioned as a possible candidate of the Free Soil party. In advance of the 1856 election, McLean angled for the presidential nomination of the nativistic American (“Know Nothing”) Party while focusing his attention on the newly formed Republican Party. . . . McLean quietly sought the Republican nomination again in 1860, a year in which he received 22 votes at the convention of the Constitutional Union Party.

All of which apparently left little time for the Supreme Court. “After reviewing McLean's papers in the Library of Congress, John Frank wryly reported that he had 'found there substantially nothing on the business of being a judge,' but that he had uncovered 'an endless stream of observations' concerning his perennial candidacy for the presidency.”

About the illustration (emphasis added):
An imaginative and elaborate parody on the upcoming 1844 presidential campaign. The artist favors Whig nominee-apparent Henry Clay and is highly critical of incumbent John Tyler. The "chase" for the presidency leads to the White House (upper left) where Robert Tyler arouses his sleeping father saying, "Come wake up old Sampson, the Philistines are upon you!" President Tyler replies with a yawn: "Why Bobby my Pippin! I do believe I've been asleep! no matter I'm the People's favorite and belong to no Party. They will reelect me! If they don't I'll veto the whole concern d--n me!" His statement and the presence of a "Veto" paper on his desk allude to his liberal use of the presidential refusal to stymie Whig congressional efforts to establish a National Bank. In Robert Tyler's pocket is a scroll "Irish Repeal," referring to his support of that international movement. Approaching the steps of the White House, riding a beast which is half-horse and half-alligator (a mythical animal associated in popular lore with Clay's Kentucky), is Henry Clay. He exclaims triumphantly, "Hurrah! Old Kentuck will distance them all yet, and then the views of the lamented Harrisson will be carried out in full, and treachery will meet its reward." The sun rises behind him and an eagle with a streamer reading "E pluribus unum" flies ahead. Clay is followed by South Carolina Democrat John Calhoun, who remarks, "My old nullification Coota Turtle is rather a slow Coach! I am afraid he won't get out of this Clay Bank!" Taking the lower road (in keeping with his reputation for intrigue) is Martin Van Buren, riding a fox and exclaiming, "Confound Calhoun! He is right in my way! I'll take a short cut and though the path is crooked and rather dirty, I don't care so that I get in." Van Buren was derisively nicknamed "the Kinderhook fox." On the same path are two more presidential aspirants, James K. Polk(?) and Richard M. Johnson. The first, sitting on a donkey and waving a club, yells, "I'am an Old Soldier, but I shall never get in unless I can turn this Donkeys head the right way." Johnson, who has fallen off his horse, exclaims, "My old amalgamation Nag has got the blind staggers! and I can stump it no longer!" "Amalgamation" was common parlance for the melding of races, more specifically referring here to Johnson's common-law marriage and offspring with a mulatto woman, Julia Chinn. Off to the right, Massachusetts senator Daniel Webster sits by an open fire, cooking a cauldron of "Chowder" (a staple of his native New England), vowing, "I shant leave my Chowder! unless my country calls me." Behind him on horseback is Gen. Winfield Scott who calls over to War of 1812 Commodore Charles Stewart, seated in a boat on a lake, "Odds bullets and bayonets! I don't care about being President but if my friends insist upon it I'll serve! I say Commodore, cant you or I get in by a Coup-de-main!" Stewart replies, "I think not General! so I'll haul my wind! I am better fitted to govern the helm of old Ironsides than the helm of State." In the lower right corner, a man (possibly Supreme Court Justice John McLean) falls head first down an incline, saying, "If I thought I had a drop of Democratic blood in my veins I would let it out."

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Crime of 1873

I recently bought Milton Friedman's book Money Mischief: Episodes in Monetary History because reviews indicated it contained chapters on free silver and bimetallism. The third chapter alone - entitled "The Crime of 1873" - is worth the price of the book (about $10 at Amazon). In twenty-nine pages you get a comprehensible sketch of United States monetary policy from the founding through the end of the 19th Century; an explanation of bimetallism; a review of the events leading to, and the legislative history of, the Coinage Act of 1873, which placed the United States back on the gold standard effective January 1, 1879; a discussion of the effects of the adoption of a gold standard and its relationship to the deflation and resulting political turmoil that the country experienced in the 1880s and 1890s, culminating in William Jennings Bryan's 1896 Cross of Gold campaign; and an analysis of what might have happened if the United States had gone back on a bimetallic standard (which would have been a de facto silver standard) in the 1870s.

American history in the late 19th Century seems forbidding because (a) all those guys had big, bushy beards and looked the same and you can't tell them apart, and (b) there are all sorts of depressions and crashes and everybody's coming up with contradictory theories to explain them and equally contradictory remedies to solve them, and even if you can figure out what they're talking about you have no idea who's crazy and who's not. Friedman doesn't do much to sort out the beards, but his brief essay on the Crime of 1873 provides essential background on the economic problems for which I am profoundly grateful.

All of which leads me to theorize that people know more about William Jennings Bryan than other political figures of the period because he didn't have a beard.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

"Is Mr. Bryan a Mattoid"?

It seems that the New York Times of the late 19th Century was about as sleazy as it is now. The target was different, but the methodology was the same: use pseudo-psychology to smear the enemy as unhinged and dangerous, with a hint of religious craziness thrown in for good measure.

On September 27, 1896 - in the middle of the 1896 presidential campaign that pitted Republican William McKinley against Democrat William Jennings Bryan - the Times saw fit to publish an article with the subtle headline, Is Bryan Crazy?

Two days later, the paper followed up with an article entitled Is Mr. Bryan a Mattoid; Leading Alienists Analyze the Democratic Candidate. In the finest Times tradition, the follow-up article purported to be fair and balanced, although the subtitle suggests that the panel of "alienists" consulted was somewhat one-sided: "They Disagree, as Experts Very Often Do - Dr. Sachs Sees a Chance for Physical Breakdown - Drs. Hammond and Dana Think There Is Evidence of Degeneracy - Dr. Spitzka Thinks Lightly of Him - Dr. Collins Wants Fair Play."

You can read the original articles at the links above. In The Presidential Election of 1896, Stanley L. Jones describes the Times's smear as follows:
Probably the most irresponsible development of the entire campaign occurred in the columns of the New York Times. On September 27, [1896,] the Times published a letter signed by an "eminent alienist," in which the writer concluded, from an analysis of Bryan's speeches, that his mind "was not entirely sound," that his presence in the campaign created the possibility that there would be a "madness in the White House," and that Bryan was a man of "abnormal egotism." The writer of the letter added that Bryan's father had been a "religious fanatic and crank."

In the same issue and on the same page the Times editorially expressed its agreement with the writer of the letter. The newspaper, too, found in [Bryan's] speeches the evidence of his mental deterioration. It did not follow, said the Times, that Bryan was insane. Nevertheless, they went on to say: "What, however, most of all entitles us to say that Mr. Bryan is of unsound mind, whether we call this condition unsoundness in English or insanity in Latin, is that his procedures are not adaptations of intelligent means to intelligent ends."

A mattoid, by the way, is "a person displaying eccentric behaviour and mental characteristics that approach the psychotic."

Saturday, February 06, 2010

The Washington-Jefferson Snow Storm January 1772

Some news articles about the blizzard now hitting Washington and environs are referring to the Washington-Jefferson snow storm of late January 1772, so called because both Washington and Jefferson referred to it in their diaries.

The Jefferson reference occurs in his Garden Book (click on page 35).

Washington refers to the storm in his diary, noting on January 29 "the snow being up to the breast of a [?] horse everywhere."

Who Dat?

I understand the NFL has backed off its threats of copyright infringement. Maybe this is why. The first illustration dates to 1898. The second was published in 1875. Both may be found at the Library of Congress website.

Friday, February 05, 2010

A Bizarre Nickname

This one I don't get at all.

Stanley L. Jones relates that a possible candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1896 was Horace Boies of Iowa:
He was a man of impressive appearance, with a countenance so prepossessing that the newspapers referred to him as the man with the "affidavit face," or merely "Affidavit" Boies.


An Unfortunate Nickname

Richard Parks Bland was for many years a Democratic Representative from Missouri. "No man of any party had been more consistently or conspicuously an advocate for the free coinage of silver," exemplified by his authorship of the Bland-Allison Silver Purchase Act of 1878.

As a result, Stanley L. Jones reports, "his name became a household word, and he was known nationally as 'Silver Dick' Bland."

This post indicates, however, that the residents of the eponymous town of Bland, Missouri were not put off:
The people of this community were so proud of [Bland's] accomplishments that they named their new town in his honor. As you enter the town today, a billboard welcomes you to the home of "Silver Dick" Bland.

William McKinley and Mark Hanna

This one's for Sean.

In The Presidential Election of 1896, Stanley L. Jones certainly emphasizes the skill and thoroughness of what he refers to as the "McKinley-Hanna organization", which led to William McKinley's first-ballot nomination by an overwhelming majority at the Republican National Convention in 1896.

At the same time, Jones goes out of his way to refute claims that McKinley was simply Mark Hanna's pawn and clearly believes that McKinley was the senior partner:
As the years passed the myth of Hanna's domination of McKinley grew. This myth, based on an exaggerated estimate of Hanna's abilities as a politician and a failure to appreciate the consummate mastery of politics possessed by William McKinley, assumed such proportions that it was all but forgotten that a majority of the nation in 1896 conceived of McKinley not as the bossed candidate, but as the candidate who was the champion of the people against the bosses.

"Pitchfork Ben" Tillman in the News

Haven't started it yet, but I just bought Stephen Kantrowitz's biography of "Pitchfork Ben" Tillman, Ben Tillman and the Reconstruction of White Supremacy. I therefore noted with particular interest a post at the Volokh Conspiracy indicating that Pitchfork Ben is in the news.

The post refers to New York Times article reporting "on recent remarks by Justice Clarence Thomas at the Stetson University College of Law in which he responded to criticism of the Court’s Citizens United ruling. In addition to defending the underlying rationale of the ruling, he also addressed the Tillman Act — the federal law barring corporate campaign contributions, which was not at issue in the case . . .."

The eponym of (or is it "for"?) the Tillman Act was - you guessed it - none other than Ben Tillman. According to the Times article:
[Justice Thomas] added that the history of Congressional regulation of corporate involvement in politics had a dark side, pointing to the Tillman Act, which banned corporate contributions to federal candidates in 1907.

“Go back and read why Tillman introduced that legislation,” Justice Thomas said, referring to Senator Benjamin Tillman. “Tillman was from South Carolina, and as I hear the story he was concerned that the corporations, Republican corporations, were favorable toward blacks and he felt that there was a need to regulate them.”

It is thus a mistake, the justice said, to applaud the regulation of corporate speech as “some sort of beatific action.”

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

"It was literally true that he knew nothing else"

In The Presidential Election of 1896, Stanley L. Jones opens his discussion of Republican presidential candidate William McKinley of Ohio with a description that I found both startling and amusing:

William McKinley had devoted his career to tariff protection with a singular concentration. It was literally true that he knew nothing else, that the issues of money and banking, foreign policy, and so on, were largely mysterious to him. His speeches, besides the repetitious discussion of tariff problems, were decorated with references to patriotism and Americanism, which he correlated with the tariff and the care of Civil War veterans. . . . His intellectual interests were narrow and provincial. He did not read books; he did not travel except when politics required it; he did not correspond with or make any special attempts to meet personally the intelligent or creative minds of his day. He was self consciously of the Middle West and did not like the East or its politicians.

Monday, February 01, 2010

50 Equal-Sized States

It'll never happen, but it's an interesting way to visualize the distribution of the population. The map above "redivides the territory of the United States into 50 bodies of equal size. The 2000 Census records a population of 281,421,906 for the United States. The [existing] states ranged in population from 493,782 to 33,871,648. In this map, new states have formed, all with equal populations of roughly 5,617,000."

H/T Metafilter.
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