Friday, November 14, 2008

Presidential Crisis Part 1

Presidential Crisis



Joe Biden will for me be one of the funniest people in the new administration. He is well known for spouting some random stuff. I fully expect that one day he will say “Ladies and gentlemen, from now on my name will be Elizabeth.” Mark my words on that. He did say something during the campaign that I found interesting, and probably more truthful than many things he has said. He said, and I am paraphrasing here, that the President Elect Obama would face a Crisis within 6 months of taking office. So I pulled the Internet out of my bookcase, along with my books of U.S. History and decided to do some research. My quest was to determine if there were any historical reason that he might say that Obama would face a crisis.

What I found is very interesting, some of it even funny. Allow me to share with you some of these stories. If history isn’t your thing I would suggest you return to watching cartoons. What I hope to show is how our government works. Specifically how one administration can effect administrations years in advance. All of the information provided is taken from the historical record. Conjecture, or guesswork is left out…if I don’t know why…I will say so.

Washington, Booze, and Taxes.
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It can easily be said that George Washington had one heck of a problem when he first took office. The Federal Government only existed on paper. We had a constitution, and it told all about what we needed to form a government, but we were missing all the parts. The Senate, and House of Representatives filled up pretty quick. Washington not only appointed his cabinet, but he also picked the entire Supreme Court. President’s today would kill to be able to do that. In comparison to the issues he would shortly face, this was all busy work.

The United States started out with a huge budget deficit. To repay this debt the new Federal Government imposed a 25% tax on the sale of whiskey. Like most taxes it affects some people more than others. There is no such thing as a fair tax. Unless you actually own a fair…in which case you may be taxed.

18th century America was a fruitful place. Farmers were the backbone of the economy, and their crops fed the new nation, and much of it was shipped to other countries. In those days there were no refrigerated ships, or vacuum-sealed containers. Perishables foods were sold locally. Where possible things were dried for shipping. Grains on the other hand offered a great method of shipping. Liquefied grain could be shipped around the world and spoilage was unheard of. Liquefied grain, more commonly known, as booze was a huge cash crop. An obvious choice for a tax if ever there was one.

The people of Western Pennsylvania didn’t see a tax as a good thing. They were making good money on whiskey, and the tax took most of the profit out of the equation. So, the people did what every good American did back then, they protested. Today someone might fire off a nasty letter to the editor, or waste their time contacting their senator or congressman. Keep in mind, most American’s couldn’t read or write, so a letter to the editor might look like this.

“deer editer, tackes suk”

Now we could talk about the Main Stream Media of the 18th century, but why bother, they didn’t listen any better then than they do today.

The people of Western Pennsylvania did what blog post photoall good red blooded Americans of that time did…they tarred and feathered people…beat them up…smacked them around…and became bootleggers. God Bless America and Quakers.

Here is Washington’s crisis…He has nearly half of the country (by the time he got to this problem most of the western portions of the states were angry) thumbing their nose at Federal Authority. He also has the cranky people of Congress wanting to know what he is going to do about it. Washington did what all great military leaders do…he called out the militia. Washington made “Light Horse” Harry Lee the commander of 13,000 troops. This is more than the total strength of the Continental Army used to defeat the British. Washington even rode at the head of the Army to show his strength. This was the first and last time a U.S. President actually led his Army to a fight.*

The result of all of this was that the Federal Government proved that it could and would intervene in the enforcement of Federal Law. It also created suspicion in the people that the Federal Government could violate State’s Rights whenever they wanted to. This was an issue not fully answered until after the Civil War. The Federal Government arrested a few of the leaders, and some were even tried for treason. Washington pardoned those involved, and the tax was repealed in 1803.

The Whiskey Revolution had other significant impacts on the nation. Thomas Jefferson resigned as Secretary of State in part due to the Revolution. He went on to found the Democratic-Republican Party. Another interesting person was involved in the Whiskey Rebellion, a Quaker by the name of Herman Husband. Husband died in jail before Washington could release him. This is a link to another article I wrote about Husband’s involvement in another revolt. CLICK HERE

How does this compare to the Biden prediction? Well the Whiskey Rebellion became a crisis in the Second Year of Washington’s Second Term. This is well outside the 6-month period. The rebellion was a real threat to the nation and the Constitution. If Washington had not made a significant response to the violence, our nation would be much different. Violence would be considered the proper way to show displeasure for a federal law. Washington’s response demonstrated to the states that an act of violence toward Federal Authority would be met with force.

Stay tuned for “How a treaty that averted war actually started one”.


*James Madison had directed Federal forces during the War of 1812, but did not actually participate in leading the troops into battle.

Tribute on Veteran's Day

A Tribute to My Country


Her Warriors.



Born from an idea that men are created equal with an overwhelming desire to govern themselves my country was born.

Little more than a rabble of men and women took up arms to declare themselves Free of Tyranny.

Every institution they created was for the common good to give us all the right of creating our own destiny.

The strength of the American People can not be underestimated.

We have been assaulted by foreign powers, we have fought among ourselves, and we have defeated the enemies of this world.

We are proud, headstrong, and compassionate.

There have been, and will always be, threats to our freedom.

We will answer every one of them with the call "Don't Tread On Me!"

We are Americans!!

(Enjoy the video I made)

Something Different

This is a short piece from a larger work I call "From Leadbelly to Led Zepplin. The Impact of Folk Music on Rock". This particular section deals with Leadbelly, Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, and Jimi Hendrix.

Leadbelly is a very interesting place to start. Born in 1888, he was always dirt poor. Living along the border of Texas and Louisiana life was bound to be tough. Being a very big man, with a big ego, short temper, and skin as black as the night would not make that any easier.

Convicted of murdering a relative Leadbelly was given a 35 year sentence to the Texas State Pen. It was here he wrote one of his most famous songs "The Midnight Special". He petitioned the Governor of Texas and used this song to gain his release from prison in 2 years.

Sadly he would be returned to prison for attempted homicide. This time he was sent to Angola State Prison. It was here that John and Alan Lomax, who were working under a grant from the Library of Congress, met him. They were enchanted by the depth and range of his music. Every song told a story, and emote the feeling of being poor and black.

This is my interpretation of one of Leadbelly's famous songs.

The Lomax's petitioned the Governor and gained Leadbelly's release. The helped Leadbelly get a contract with a recording company. This is where Leadbelly met and worked with Woody Guthrie.

Leadbelly and Guthrie shared the same story telling ability. The only real difference was the point of view. Guthrie had followed the migrant workers from Oklahoma to California during the Dust Bowl. His songs told their story. He also observed the great things that were happening in this country. This led to one of his most famous songs "This Land is Your Land".

Woody Guthrie suffered from a disease that slowly robbed him of his motor skills. By the Early 60's his speech was slurred. One of his fans had been camping out Guthrie's apartment in New York. Finally allowed to see Woody, Bob Dylan spent many hours studying his hero's every detail...right down to his singing style.

Like Guthrie, Bob Dylan wrote stories and turned them into songs. He also added his own special twist with new chord patterns and Rhythms. He also added a unique singing style. While Bob Dylan was studying Woody Guthrie, he himself was being watched.

Shortly after arriving in New York, a young black man from Seattle fell in love with Bob Dylan's ability to write songs. Jimi Hendrix was not happy with his singing style and was happy to see that Dylan was making what some would say is a handicap into a unique sound. Like Dylan with Guthrie, Jimi was soon a regular at Dylan's apartment. Diligently studying Dylan's style.

Jimi brought his own unique addition to the ever evolving Folk music. With unique chords, blues riffs, and of course special effects Hendrix told the stories of his world.

This next song is a tribute to Jimi. Sadly, my son presently has my effects pedals, which makes this a little less energetic. This may be a good thing as it will allow you to hear the Folk part of the song.

The connection between Folk and modern music has only gotten stronger. It can be heard in most Hip Hop, and Rap. As well as Rock. The need for a song to tell stories that we can connect with has had untold cultural impact.

From Leadbelly to Led Zepplin we have an entire new way to track our history.

The American Revolution: The Untold Stories

Ask any school kid when the American Revolution began and they will almost always answer, July 4th 1776. The smart kids know this is wrong.

From a political stand point the American Revolutionary Period began with the end of the French Indian War in 1763. This is when the Crown decided that the Colonials needed to pay a larger share of the cost of that war. This led to a number of Acts that imposed taxes and regulations that did not sit well with the post photo

From a military standpoint the American Revolutionary War, or The War For Independence began in 1775. In April of 1775 Colonial Militia fired on British Troops at Lexington in Massachusetts. This is often reported as the first shots of the American Revolution. Is this true?

From 1763 to 1768 minor clashes took place in the Colony of North Carolina. The issue was more than just unfair taxes. It was also with corrupt tax collectors and government officials. These officials often pocketed much of the tax money, and then declared that the people had never paid their taxes.

The people were being taxed on their crops when they were harvested, taxed when they were sold, and then taxed when they purchased items.

The colony was divided east from west. The eastern portion of the colony was considered the wealthy and “connected” people. They enjoyed freedom from many of the taxes that were being levied.

The western portion of the colony was the frontier. Life was hard as it was and the taxes made things even worse. To add insult
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to the whole affair Governor William Tryon had a palace built that would rival many in England. Not surprisingly the colonists in the west were not happy.

In 1768, the western colonists formed a Regulator Association. The Regulators were not opposed to the Government of England, but they were opposed to the structure and fairness of the local government.

In 1771, Governor Tryon gathered a Militia of 1000 men, with plans of gathering more troops from loyalists in Regulator territory. He overestimated his support in the backcountry.

Although the Regulators were active in many counties in the west, the key territory was Orange County. Regulators who disrupted court, and beat many officials, running them out of town, had besieged the County seat, Hillsborough. Out of a population of about 8000 backwoodsmen, 6000 were supporters of the Regulators.

A standing militia of 254 men bringing the total size of his Army to 1254 joined Tryon’s force. He split his force into two units. The standing militia would approach Hillsborough via Salisbury. Tryon would take a direct route to Hillsborough.

Upon approaching Hillsborough the Standing Militia was confronted by a large group of Regulator’s numbering 2000. The Militia withdrew back toward New Bern. No shots were fired. The Regulator’s hoped that a large show of force would convince Tryon to withdraw as well.

Tryon located the Regulator force near Alamance Creek. Tryon ordered the Regulators to lay down their arms and sign an oath of allegiance. He gave them one hour to do so. The Regulators still were hopeful that their overwhelming numbers would convince Tryon to withdraw.

At the end of the hour Tryon ordered his force to fire on the Regulators. Tryon’s force hesitated. Standing up in his stirrups Tryon yelled “Either fire on them, or Fire on me”! The Battle of Alamance was on.
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The battle was very short. The Regulator’s, though strong in numbers, lacked any leadership and were quickly driven from the field.

Nine of the Kings Militia was killed and 61 wounded. Many more Regulators were killed and 15 were captured, seven of these were later hung in Hillsborough. Tryon continued through Regulator territory and forced them to sign Loyalty Oaths.

The rebellion was crushed, but some important lessons were learned. Patriots employed the methods by which armed resistance could be used against the Crown just a few short years later in The American War for Independence.

As fate would have it, Governor Tryon was given the Governorship of New York and would face a whole new rebellion, a rebellion that he could not destroy.

Was Lexington the first shot of The American War for Independence? Historians argue that point. What do you think?

P.S. An interesting addition to this Story is Henry Husband. A Quaker, he led the call for the regulation of tax laws in the Carolina Colony. Later he was the leader of the Whiskey Rebellion in Pennsylvania.