VDH Lays It Out

Sign at a protest outside Trump Tower in New York City, February 8, 2018. (Eduardo Munoz/Reuters)

Victor Davis Hanson in National Review brings the summary of the situation in the US now. It’s not a pleasant picture…

When legal bloodhounds and baying critics fail to take out Trump, what’s next? The Resistance wants Trump’s head — on the chopping block.

On the domestic and foreign fronts, the Trump administration has prompted economic growth and restored U.S. deterrence. Polls show increased consumer confidence, and in some, Trump himself has gained ground. Yet good news is bad news to the Resistance and its strange continued efforts to stop an elected president in a way it failed to do in the 2016 election.

Indeed, the aim of the so-called Resistance to Donald J. Trump is ending Trump’s presidency by any means necessary before the 2020 election. Or, barring that, it seeks to so delegitimize him that he becomes presidentially impotent. It has been only 16 months since Trump took office and, in the spirit of revolutionary fervor, almost everything has been tried to derail him. Now we are entering uncharted territory — at a time when otherwise the country is improving and the legal exposure of Trump’s opponents increases daily.

First came the failed lawsuits after the election alleging voting-machine tampering. Then there was the doomed celebrity effort to convince some state electors not to follow their constitutional duty and to deny Trump the presidency — a gambit that, had it worked, would have wrecked the Constitution. Then came the pathetic congressional boycott of the inauguration and the shrill nationwide protests against the president.

Anti- and Never-Trump op-ed writers have long ago run out of superlatives. Trump is the worst, most, biggest — fill in the blank — in the history of the presidency, in the history of the world, worse even than Mao, Mussolini, Stalin, or Hitler.

Next was the sad effort to introduce articles of impeachment. After that came weird attempts to cite Trump for violations of the emoluments clause of the Constitution. That puerile con was followed by plans to declare him deranged and mentally unfit so that he could be removed under the 25th Amendment. From time to time, Obama holdovers in the DOJ, National Security Council, and FBI sought to leak information, or they refused to carry out presidential orders.

As the Resistance goes from one ploy to the next, it ignores its string of failed prior efforts, forgetting everything and learning nothing. State nullification is no longer neo-Confederate but an any-means-necessary progressive tool. Suing the government weekly is proof of revolutionary fides, not a waste of California’s taxpayer dollars.

And more. Keep reading: Revolution and Worse to Come.

Mind, there’s not a word he writes that I disagree with, except that he might be overly optimistic.

 […]The Resistance and rabid anti-Trumpers have lost confidence in the constitutional framework of elections, and they’ve flouted the tradition by which the opposition allows the in-power party to present its case to the court of public opinion.

Instead, like the French revolutionaries’ Committee on Public Safety, the unhinged anti-Trumpists assume that they have lost public opinion, given their venom and crudity, and are growing desperate as every legal and paralegal means of removing Trump is nearing exhaustion. Robert Mueller is the last chance, a sort of Watergate or Abu Ghraib that could gin up enough furor to drive down Trump’s poll favorability to the twenties and thereby reduce his person to a demonic force deserving of whatever it gets.

That’s an acute observation, what we are seeing is the last act of the revolution, the lack of which differentiates the American Revolution from all others – the descent into tyranny. It was the original French revolution that first talked about equality of outcomes, while the British quiet revolution and American Revolution stressed equality under the law. It’s a huge difference, one between freedom and slavery.

VDH ends with this:

The danger to the country this time around is that the Left has so destroyed the old protocols of the opposition party that it will be hard to resurrect them when progressives return to power.

We are entering revolutionary times. The law is no longer equally applied. The media are the ministry of truth. The Democratic party is a revolutionary force. And it is all getting scary.

He may well be right. But in a way that begs the question. Is it proper for America to tolerate this fifth column in our midst? They have proved themselves at most disloyal to the ethos of the American Revolution and our founding documents.

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Life, Liberty, and Property: Part II

And so, continuing from yesterday.

And what did they create? The last greatest hope of private property on earth. Is it important? You tell me. What has America meant to the word in the last 242 years? Do you suppose concepts like individual freedom, equality before the law, the right to earn what you are worth, freedom of speech, freedom from arbitrary arrest, freedom from illegal search and seizure, freedom of religion, and all those other things we believe in, resonate in the rest of the world? If they don’t, how did America become the beacon of freedom to men all over the world? Why isn’t it the French Dream?

You know they do, and they are all based in the right to private property. Private property is nothing less than a subset of a man’s right to himself. Private property, whether it is your house or Sam Walton‘s Wal-Mart, is nothing less than Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand made visible. It is what the market has decided that your work, your creativity, your skills, your thoughts, your determination are worth to the rest of us. It is completely objective. If I think Wal-Mart shirts are better than K-Mart shirts and most people agree; K-Mart will have to reduce the price of their shirts till we think they are worth the price asked. It really is that simple and elegant.

Capitalism is individual freedom and private property in action; nothing more and nothing less. Freedom of the individual is inconceivable without capitalism. America became the Indispensable Nation late in the 19th Century and we still are but, we have been coasting since at least the 50′s. That’s when in Ben Franklin’s words we began selling our freedom for some temporary safety, not necessarily from foreign invaders but from being responsible for ourselves.

America really is the Old West: The timid never started (they’re still in Europe, or the rest of the world), the weak died and the strong survived and thrived. That’s the real world, my friends. If you don’t work, neither shall you eat is the other quote. Someone should tell our occupiers (or maybe their parents). What little I have, I worked hard for. If you want what I have you can damn well work too. Don’t send the sheriff with his gun to take it for you, I earned it, you can, too. I earned the right to keep it, too. (Rant over, for now!)

But if you followed the link yesterday, you now realize that John Locke, who wrote the book on most of this, was, and most conservatives still are, exceptionally charitable. What angers most of us is being forced at the point of a gun (otherwise known as government) to contribute to schemes that do not and can not work. You will also find that much of our charitable work is to support those who are down on their luck, for cause, usually, not those who are looking for a free ride.

What else over the years has made America different? Honest justice has. One had a very reasonable chance of getting actual justice in an American court, until recently, anyway. How does this tie in? This way: if the courts (backed by the police or army) are corrupt, if you don’t suck up to the right people, you have no chance of keeping your property.

This is a critical point if you are Henry Ford and you just started producing the Model T, what would you do if Louis Chevrolet took Ford Motor Company away from you in a corrupt court? Raise money to build the Model A? I wouldn’t, I’d probably give up and make enough to feed my family and let the dream go. Think it doesn’t happen? It does, all over the world, all the time, that’s what started the Arab Spring. That’s also what happened to the bondholders in General Motors and Chrysler in the bailouts.

The way wealth is created is this: The creator of that wealth, owns it, to do with as he will. If he wants more, he invests it, thereby creating more wealth (and jobs!) if he doesn’t, well that’s up to him, it’s his wealth. He nearly always does, though, greed works for the common good, after all.

One more thing on property, don’t forget intellectual property when you are thinking about this. Giving a starving man a fish is good. What’s far better is teaching him to fish, knowing how to catch a fish is a very elementary piece of intellectual property. Knowing how to fish may not only feed you but, feed your family and maybe village too. That intellectual property in action. And more than a few fortunes have been founded on fishing, by the way.

What started me down this road, yet again? I was reading the other day over at Greenmountainscribes, their article on An Effective Campaign to Eradicate Poverty and I was struck by this passage:

Frankly there is not much new in this type of activity. For more than fifty years governments and charities have been focused on rushing aid to the poor and starving. Yet none of these efforts address the basic reason poverty exists in the first place. The solutions which call for more and more aid simply respond to the visual effects of poverty such as starvation, ignorance and poor health. None truly address the cause. As a result, rather than easing the situation, the number of poor continue to grow.

Most of the current anti-poverty efforts focus on redistributing funds from wealthier nations to poorer ones, either through mandatory taxation or charitable donations. This system ignores the fact that tomorrow the poor need to be fed again. Taxpayers or the voluntary donor must dig into his own funds yet again to help. The process is repeated daily, each time the poor recipient is only temporarily helped, as the tax payer or the donor become poorer themselves. Meanwhile, as massive funds are moved in and out of governments, bureaucracies are institutionalized to run the system. More and more money goes to feed the machinery of poverty than gets into the hands of the intended poor. Such a system sustains poverty rather than eradicates it.

I highly recommend that you read the entire article. [It is now a protected blog, so you’ll have to make do with this excerpt.] They do an extraordinary job of dissecting the problems in welfare programs (nationally and internationally) and proposing an effective solution.

I don’t really think Sudan needs “Black Friday”, but they’d probably like to feed their families.

Jack and the California Beanstalk

Last month I referred to an article that Kurt Schlichter wrote in Townhall. As usual, when you’re over the target, the Colonel has been taking some flack. He clarified a few things a few days ago, especially in relation to the preposterous article that Jack Dorsey, one of the founders of Twitter endorsed. His new Townhall article is here.

Tech titan Jack Dorsey of San Francisco-based social media platform Twitter applauded an article in something called Medium in which some other hipster CEO described how liberals intend to crush Normal Americans into serfdom in a bloodless “civil war.”

Here it is.

Ready?

It will just sort of happen. Why? Because. Americans will simply decide to be like California because of reasons and phew, no more troublesome conservatives and Gaia is saved!

So basically, wishing.

Well, that’s a kind of war plan. Perhaps by unleashing the power of hoping so they can utterly subjugate the half of America that voted against Felonia Milhous von Pantsuit and drive the people who actually operate and defend this country into silent obedience.

Or not.

Now, I know what you’re saying. You’re saying, “Why do a bunch of San Francisco dorks think that 150 million Americans with 300 million guns are just going to give up their rights and their say in their own governance and submit to the commands of people who eat kale by choice?” That’s a fair question, and they have an answer.

Because you just are.

I didn’t say it was a good answer.

Recently I wrote a long column here describing the ugly realities of an actual Second Civil War – realities that are much uglier for the anti-freedom liberal side in terms of terrain, combat power, and morale. […]

That’s the article I referred, of course. And yes, I have read the article in Medium as well. It’s the most fantastical bit of wishful thinking I ever read. If that’s the level of this guy’s thinking he couldn’t properly manage a broom, And Jack is no better.

They want to silence you too, and every other patriot. But that’s a short-sighted tactic because people who are silenced, particularly uppity Americans who take their natural rights seriously, won’t just shrug and give up. They will stew and fume at the injustice of their oppression and then they will radicalize and then, because they have been wrongfully denied access to the means of participation in the governance of their own society, they will inevitably exercise their power in the only way left to them. They will rebel. They have before. Sometimes it’s peaceful – like by electing Donald Trump. But if peaceful doesn’t work, they are going to give not being peaceful a try. That’s just human nature.

This is where the liars pounce again with their fussy fauxtrage – leftists love violence directed at Normal Americans – but facts are facts. If the liberal plan to drive non-liberal Americans from the public square – the NRA, Laura Ingraham, and even Kevin Williamson silencing campaigns are just some recent examples – succeeds, it will only succeed for a little while. The fact is that if Normal people are barred from “legitimate” participation, they will participate “illegitimately.” Just ask the redcoats how taxation without representation worked out.

Here’s a hint: We Americans have good teeth and don’t eat spotted dick.

Bolt down that pressure cooker lid and turn up the fire, well ever see a steam explosion? This will be worse.

[…] But there are problems with using California as a role model, starting with the fact that California sucks.

Oh, it doesn’t suck for rich guys living by the beach like Jack and his hipster buddies. California is pretty great for bros like him. But the guys who cut his lawn and wash his Tesla and feed his pet pandas, well, not so much. The article claims, “California Democrats actually cared about average citizens.” Yeah, uh huh. Drive 10 miles inland from the beach and California dreamin’ becomes California nightmarin’.

California is a bankrupt failed state that is essentially Illinois with palm trees and better weather. Outside the coastal urban enclaves where Jack and his pals mingle, drinking kombucha and apologizing for their white privilege to their baffled servants, it’s a crowded, decaying disaster. Bums wander the streets, littering the sidewalks with human waste. Crime is rising. Illegal aliens abound, more welcome in the Golden State than actual Americans. California is an example all right, but a cautionary one.

In fact, the middle class in California is escaping just as fast as they can. It won’t be long until it’s Jack and his buddies, and illegal aliens, with damned few in the middle. The key point for the rest of us is to make sure they know why California went so bad, and don’t vote for it where they wash up. It’s already a problem in Montana, Colorado, and Texas. Texas seems to have a fair handle on it, the others not so much.

They are correct when they say “[i]n this current period of American politics, at this juncture in our history, there’s no way that a bipartisan path provides the way forward.” Yep, true. They are also correct when they observe that, “America today does exhibit some of the core elements that move a society from what normally is the process of working out political differences toward the slippery slope of civil war.” Yep, also true, and it ought to scare the hell out of them.

If the liberals ever get their wish for a new civil war, my money is on the side with all the guns.

Yep, and that will be the end of the story, or maybe more likely, a new beginning.

The Cicero Trap

A fresco by Cesare Maccari (1840-1919) depicting Roman senator Cicero (106-43 BC) denouncing the conspirator Catiline in the Roman senate. (Palazzo Madama, Rome)

My friend, Brandon Christensen, over at Notes on Liberty, has taken what to giving us what he refers to as a nightcap each evening. It is a felicitous practice, not least because many of the articles he links to are fascinating, whether one agrees or one doesn’t. Last Saturday. his four articles linked were a grand slam home run, all fascinating, all in curation here. Whether they will resurface, well we’ll have to see. But they have, all of them broadens and sharpened my thinking, and that’s quite the deal for this old curmudgeon. So thanks, buddy you might keep me sane yet! 🙂

The one we’re going to talk about today is Avoiding the Cicero Trap, by Bruce Fein, at The American Conservative. It’s a great article speaking of how the founders, especially James Madison, sought to avoid the problems that Cicero saw, and that sparked the change from the Roman Republic to the Roman Empire.

Here’s just a little of it, President Madison speaking:

[T]he great security against a gradual concentration of the several powers in the same department consists in giving to those who administer each department the necessary constitutional means and personal motives to resist encroachments of the others…Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interests of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place.

Madison flayed the “real statesmanship” nostrum:

It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?  If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.

Madison discerned no real statesmanship exception to the Constitution’s separation of powers and checks and balances, a structural bill of rights indispensable to safeguarding liberty:

This policy of supplying, by opposite and rival interests, the defect of better motives, might be traced through the whole system of human affairs, private as well as public.

Thomas Jefferson similarly declaimed against “real statesmanship” reformers in his Kentucky Resolutions:

In questions of power…let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.

This is the very hinge of the founder’s brilliance, the setting of one ambitious man (or woman, to be sure) against another. It is the most likely way of combatting ambitious people, by making their failure a success for somebody else. You can, depending on how you stretch it trace it’s decline back to most any president you choose (many choose Lincoln, and I’m not in complete disagreement). But to my mind, the real damage began under Wilson, whose income tax gave the US Government more money than it could constructively use constitutionally. This was compounded by amending the Constitution permitting the direct election of Senators. At a stroke this eliminated the voice of the states as states from Washington, making it almost entirely dependant on the parties. The rise of the crony-capitalist class whose money-making adventures were tied to government funding was not far behind. And now we’re in a hell of a mess.

But, in truth, what really struck me about this article (and it is easily worth your time to read and contemplate) was a comment from EliteCommInc. Truer words have rarely been spoken.

[I] disagree with many here that the Constitution is weak. It is is not, but ultimately, it’s strength lies in we the people. I am not a big fan of we the people prognostications. Miss Laura Ingraham is full of them as are news and commentary programs and a host of others and their accompanying commentators. It is we the people wh permitted the nonsense about Russian interference. We the people, permitted the “red scare”. we the people, permitted lynchings. We the people, have supported murdering children in the womb. We the people permitted our children to behave as elite tyrants when protesting the peace keepers during Vietnam.

We are the weak link. It’s clear that the men and women we hired to do the task of management are having a very rough go. They seem incapable of ensuring that the corporate class, an important class, are kept in check. They rewarded failure while punishing we the people and we people, don’t seem very upset by the collusion. Not enough to change the matter. We are scared, I guess.

I think the Constitution is enough. And while it is not unique to it’s structure or even many of its admonitions. After all “freedom of religion” was a cause of no small amount of bloodshed in Europe, which helped give birth to issues like due process and free speech, and freedom of thought, etc. But what the Constitution does is lay those issues out as provinces by the governed with themselves as the governors. In which they would hold to account their representatives by way of elections. That is unique. All the wrangling by the colonials and their duly elected officials,. the pares, open debates, discussions, all that went before in which different peoples from various states sought some unifying common ground. Some having hoarded all those grounds have led us to factious environment we are in now. Though one must admit that we aren’t shooting each other down in the street and our representatives rare beat each other up with the canes or have duels in Washington square.

We move on to new issues before completing a resolution of the old. But there;s a reason why with all of our failure, the world still looks to the US to set an example. And while I might not be happy about the example set — we are a young state with a lot of life left to live. If we choose not to burn ourselves out in the race to be all things to all people without ever taking the hold of the taste of the aged wine our neighbors have the luxury of aged in alongside one another.

I say we tend to our own business for a time, the world isn’t going anywhere. I used to think we are spoiled, but maybe it’s just the elites/the leadership that is spoiled and maybe they could use some chastisement.

An excellent prescription, I think. Always assuming that the various conflicts in the world, some of which we likely cause, allow us to.

Thursday Report and Civil War 2.0

I need to thank The Other McCain for picking up on yesterday’s post and expanding on some aspects of it. I agree with him.


Steven Hayward reminds us that

Because as near as I can tell, what Cambridge Analytica did was exactly what the Obama 2012 digital campaign did with Facebook, with the active cooperation of Facebook it would seem. No one made any fuss about that at the time. But as I never tire of pointing out, if liberals didn’t have double-standards, they wouldn’t have any standards at all.

In other words, this is a very stupid ‘scandal’, for lack of a better term.


Maybe, just maybe, the Congressional Republicans are not quite as stupid as they sound. If David Catron in The American Spectator is correct, this is rather clever. I have no reason to doubt him, I just don’t know.

The Democrats have ceaselessly clamored for the inclusion of cost-sharing reduction and risk mitigation programs. But they cried “foul” upon discovering that the leading Republican sponsor of the “stabilization bill,” Senator Lamar Alexander, had stipulated that the Hyde Amendment would apply to the bailout funding: The Los Angeles Times reports:

Democrats said they were shocked Monday to find out that Alexander had approved restrictions on insurance coverage for abortions that would, they said, make it impossible for women to purchase abortion coverage under the 2010 Affordable Care Act.… Those restrictions were not in an Alexander-Murray measure released in 2017, they said.

The Democrats know the abortion lobby will crucify them if they accept such language. More to the point, so does the GOP. The stipulation was obviously inserted to force the Democrats to choose between propping up Obamacare and angering the abortion industry. Senator Alexander feigned surprise to find that the Democrats were so worked up:

Heh!


I think we need some Kurt Schlichter, just for reality’s sake. Civil War in America, yep, not likely but it could happen. But what would happen? Carry on, Colonel.

It’s obvious that the central tenet of the Democrat Party platform is now hatred and contempt for Normal Americans. Taking their cue from the elites in Europe and Canada who are stripping dissenters of their free speech rights and religious freedoms, the leftist elite is moving to solidify its hold on power here with the eager assistance of tech companies and the moral support of the Fredocons who yearn to return to pseudo-relevance as the ruling class’s slobberingly loyal opposition. In California, the leftist government is practically firing on Fort Sumter. And nationally, these aspiring fascists are especially eager to disarm Normal Americans – doing so would be an object lesson in who’s the boss, as well as solving that frustrating problem of the Normals having the ability to resist. […]

There are two Civil War II scenarios, and the left is poorly positioned to prevail in either one. The first scenario is that the Democrats take power and violate the Constitution in order to use the apparatus of the federal government to suppress and oppress Normal Americans. In that scenario, red Americans are the insurgents. In the second scenario, which we can even now see the stirrings of in California’s campaign to nullify federal immigration law, it is the blue states that are the insurgents. […]

Let’s talk terrain and numbers. Remember the famous red v. blue voting map? There is a lot of red, and in the interior the few blue splotches are all cities like Las Vegas or Denver. That is a lot of territory for a counter-insurgent force to control, and this is critical. The red is where the food is grown, the oil pumped, and through which everything is transported. And that red space is filled with millions of American citizens with small arms, a fairly large percentage of whom have military training.

Remember what two untrained idiots did in Boston with a couple of pistols? They shut a city down. Now multiply that by several million, with better weapons and training.

Let’s look at the counter-insurgent forces in the Democrat oppression scenario should they attempt to misuse our law enforcement and military in an unconstitutional manner to take the rights of American citizens. There are a lot of civilian law enforcement officers, but the vast majority of the agencies are local – sheriffs, small town police departments. They will not be reliable allies in supporting unlawful oppression of their friends and neighbors. The major cities’ police departments are run by Democrat appointees, so the commands would be loyal. But the rank-and-file? A small percentage would be ideologically loyal. More would be loyal because that’s their paycheck – they could be swayed or intimidated to support the rebels. Others would be actively sympathetic to the insurgents. This is true of federal law enforcement agencies as well.

And the military? Well, wouldn’t the military just crush any resistance? Not so fast. The military would have the combat power to win any major engagement, but insurgents don’t get into major engagements with forces that have more combat power. They instead leverage their decentralized ability to strike at the counter-insurgents’ weak points to eliminate the government’s firepower advantage. In other words, hit and run, and no stand-up fights.

For example, how do a bunch of hunters in Wisconsin defeat a company of M1A2 Abrams tanks? They ambush the fuel and ammo trucks. Oh, and they wait until the gunner pops the hatch to take a leak and put a .30-06 round in his back from 300 meters. Then they disappear. What do the tanks do then? Go level the nearest town? Great. Now they just moved the needle in favor of the insurgents among the population. Pretty soon, they can’t be outside of their armored vehicles in public. Their forces are spending 90% of their efforts not on actual counter-insurgency operations but on force protection. Sure, they own their forward operating bases, and they own a few hundred meters around them wherever they happen to be standing at the moment, but the rest of the territory is bright red. As my recent novel illustrates, American guerillas with small arms are a deadly threat to the forces of a dictatorship.

But the military is so big it would overwhelm any rebels, right? Well, how big do you think the military is?

Keep reading, this is reality.

Something Kurt doesn’t talk about here but is also true. America, or rather American patriots, invented modern insurgency warfare, it was called partisan warfare back then. It’s the old ‘hide behind a tree and take out an officer’ thing that we did, that unnerved the King’s forces back in the Revolution. Ugly as it is, it works, as Francis Marion, the Swamp Fox showed. Eventually, it got so bad that Lord Cornwallis’s forces were pinned into the Yorktown peninsula, waiting for the Britsh fleet, which never came, but the Continental army, naked and barefoot, did, and their muskets worked just fine, as did the captured British artillery.

Kurt’s other scenario is just as valid, and just as true, and just as catastrophic for the left.

And this is why free men, do not give up their arms. It’s also why we are prudent and careful about provoking such ugly scenarios. But I suppose if you think history began with Barack Obama, you wouldn’t know that.

And just a note, we all enjoy thinking about these unlikely scenarios, it’s a common diversion. But real wars are won by logistics, how hard is it to derail a train? wreck a semi? blow up a substation? How you gonna feed the cities without fuel, without electricity, and without food and water? The left is living in a fantasy world, if it goes beyond words, and they’re trying to make it. They lose, fast, hard, and ugly. So does everybody else in the world, of course. And the biggest loser is the US Army, which goes back to being detested just as the King’s soldiers were in the 1770s. No winners at all, except the most important one, freedom.

The Indispensable Man

Yesterday was, of course, the anniversary of George Washington’s birth. Without his life, the United States, if it even existed, would be a very different place. Long ago, Jessica touched on his (probably unconscious) model:  Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus.

I addressed King George’s view of him after he resigned his commission in the Continental Army here, and here, even how the left attempts to steal the legacies of the founders.

Scott Johnson at PowerLine wrote about him yesterday, as well.

In anticipation of Washington’s visit to Newport, the members of America’s oldest Jewish congregation prepared a letter welcoming Washington for presentation to him at a public event on the morning of August 18. The letter was authorized by the congregation’s board and signed by its president, Moses Seixas. It is Washington’s magnificent letter responding to Seixas that that has become famous as one of the classic statements of religious toleration in America.

The congregation’s letter to Washington is not so well known, although the most prominent line in Washington’s letter is an echo of the congregation’s letter to Washington. By far the most striking feature of the congregation’s letter is its expression of sheer gratitude to Washington himself and to America for the freedom and equal rights the congregants had attained as American citizens. Here is the congregation’s letter:

Permit the children of the stock of Abraham to approach you with the most cordial affection and esteem for your person and merits ~~ and to join with our fellow citizens in welcoming you to NewPort.

With pleasure we reflect on those days ~~ those days of difficulty, and danger, when the God of Israel, who delivered David from the peril of the sword, ~~ shielded Your head in the day of battle: ~~ and we rejoice to think, that the same Spirit, who rested in the Bosom of the greatly beloved Daniel enabling him to preside over the Provinces of the Babylonish Empire, rests and ever will rest, upon you, enabling you to discharge the arduous duties of Chief Magistrate in these States.

Deprived as we heretofore have been of the invaluable rights of free Citizens, we now with a deep sense of gratitude to the Almighty disposer of all events behold a Government, erected by the Majesty of the People ~~ a Government, which to bigotry gives no sanction, to persecution no assistance ~~ but generously affording to all Liberty of conscience, and immunities of Citizenship: ~~ deeming every one, of whatever Nation, tongue, or language equal parts of the great governmental Machine: ~~ This so ample and extensive Federal Union whose basis is Philanthropy, Mutual confidence and Public Virtue, we cannot but acknowledge to be the work of the Great God, who ruleth in the Armies of Heaven, and among the Inhabitants of the Earth, doing whatever seemeth him good.

For all these Blessings of civil and religious liberty which we enjoy under an equal benign administration, we desire to send up our thanks to the Ancient of Days, the great preserver of Men ~~ beseeching him, that the Angel who conducted our forefathers through the wilderness into the promised Land, may graciously conduct you through all the difficulties and dangers of this mortal life: ~~ And, when, like Joshua full of days and full of honour, you are gathered to your Fathers, may you be admitted into the Heavenly Paradise to partake of the water of life, and the tree of immortality.

Done and Signed by order of the Hebrew Congregation in NewPort, Rhode Island August 17th 1790.

Moses Seixas, Warden

The painting that leads this article was painted by Scottish-born portraitist Archibald Robertson, on commission from David Erskine, 11th Earl of Buchan (1742-1829), who wished, he wrote,  “that I might place it among those whom I most honor.” (You can read the earl’s entire letter to Washington here;Buchan also entrusted Robertson with a special gift for Washington, a wooden box said to be made of the oak that sheltered William Wallace.). From: Two Nerdy History Girls.

After some adventures of its own,”in 1951, the current Earl Buchan presented the painting to Sulgrave Manor,the English birthplace of Washington’s ancestors, where it hangs today.”

But before (or after, who knows) painting that portrait of Washington as the fearless and decisive Commander in Chief, he painted another one, a miniature of Washington (and another of Martha, as well, as they appeared in 1792.

This one shows the very man that quelled the only reported American military coup with the words.

 “Gentlemen, you must pardon me. I have grown gray in your service and now find myself growing blind.”

As General Light Horse Harry Lee eulogized him:

First in War, First in Peace, First in the Hearts of his Countrymen.

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