Posted: October 17th, 2013
CB – Aziz
CB – Aziz
The main issues of week one include freedom, governments and religion within the first two. The authors included in this week were King James I, James Harrington and John Winthrop. According to John Winthrop, liberty is in two kinds, natural and civil. In this regard, he says that the best way to achieve liberty is by honoring and upholding to authority while James I say it is through honoring the king and his law. The other issue is on governments and their role in ensuring liberty, their advantages and errors as well as solution used to solve the demerits of the ancient governments. Christianity at this time was seen as a source of authority, which is yet another issue. “… They make and unmake their subjects; they have power of raising and casting down, of life and of death…” (James I 1610 P.4). “…so shall your liberties be preserved in upholding the honor and power of authority amongst you,” (John Winthrop 1645, P.19). “… Another error of Aristotle’s politics that in a well-ordered commonwealth, not men should govern, but the laws,” (James Harrington 1656 P.23 ). “the Lord hath given us leave to draw our own articles … to enterprise these actions upon these and these ends, we have hereupon besought Him of favor and blessing,” (John Winthrop 1630 P.17).
The issues addressed in week 2 include civil governments and their effect on people, its problems, and nature of liberty, the difference between civil and natural governments as well as the best among them and how civil governments are created. The authors writing these articles include John Locke, John Trenchard and Thomas Gordon, John Wise and Sir John Randolph. “man being born, as has been proven, with a title to perfect freedom, and uncontrolled enjoyment of all the rights and privileges of the law of nature, equally with any other man, or number of men in the world hath by nature power, not only to preserve his property, that is, his life, liberty and estate against injuries and attempts of other men,” (John Locke P.59). “In most parts of the earth there is neither light nor liberty; and even in the best parts of it they are but little encouraged, and coldly maintained,” (John Trenchard and Thomas Gordon P 87). “The art of governing is thought to be the most abstruse, as well as the usefullest science in the world,” (Sir John Randolph 1736 P.97).
Week three issues are about the British colonizers and their colonist concerning the power the colonizer has as well as the rights of the colonists. The other issue in week three is one tax within the colonies. The British constitutions and its extension to the colonies is another crucial issue, as well as its relation to colonies and sources of rights enjoyed by the colonist, which the article cite as the nature of a man to be free. The final issue of this week was declaration of independence. James Otis cites that, “A state has no right to make slaves of the conquered. Even when the subordinate right of legislature is forfeited, and so declared, this cannot affect the natural persons either of those who were invested with it, or the inhabitants, so far as to deprive them of the rights of subjects and of men” (1764 P. 154).. Under colonies Thomas Whately says, “The Revenue that may be raised by the Duties which have been already, or by these [stamp duties] if they should be hereafter imposed, are all equally applied by Parliament, towards defraying the necessary Expenses of defending, protecting, and securing, the British Colonies and Plantations in America,” (1765 P.166).
Under week 4, articles of confederation were the main issue regarding its ability in forming a sovereign government. The other issue was on the constitution of America and its divisions as well as whether it creates a limited or unlimited government. Additionally, the issues concern the likely consequence if the constitution is not implemented such as territorial war and the bills of rights contained in the constitution. “ each state retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every power, jurisdiction, and right, which is not by this confederation expressly delegated to the united sates, in congress assembled,” (Articles of Confederation P.332). “Territorial disputes have at all times been found one of the most fertile sources of hostility among nations. Perhaps the greatest proportions of wars that have desolated the earth have sprung from this origin. This cause would exist among us in full force,” (Alexander Hamilton P.456). When talking about “ambition must be made to counteract ambition” James Madison meant, “But the 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,” (496).
Week five issues are varied as well, including favoring agriculture as opposed to manufacturing as well as the issue of slavery. The main issue is on establishing better economic stands that include why it would be in order to open a national bank or why it would be bad. Finance was another issue where debts are discussed as well. Politics also come into light where debates over political parties are discussed. The idea of a federal government as well, as how it should operate is discussed as well, where the power should be bestowed. “I consider the foundation of the Constitution as laid on this ground: That ” all powers not delegated to the United States, by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States or to the people,” (Thomas Jefferson P.615).
The main issue of this week is what democracy would be a wise idea, where ordinary people are allowed to make decisions regarding political matters. On this issue, several topics are discussed, including why different people felt democracy would not only fail, but also take away freedom from others. The conditions necessary for democracy to exist are addressed within the articles as well. Other than democracy, the characters of Americans that make them different from Europeans are discussed as well. “Relying, then, on the patronage of your good will, I advance with obedience to the work, ready to retire from it whenever you become sensible how much better choice it is in your power to make,” (Thomas Jefferson P. 690).
Week 7 brings to light a topic that was a major issue in America, which is slavery. Issues such as why the policies for abolishing slavery were wrong, why Africans were not right for democracy. Some of the authors see slavery as a bad thing in the society while others view it as right. The bible has been used to discredit slavery as well, showing the difference between people on the issue of slavery and offering Africans their freedom. “Let them remember, that though our cruel oppressors and murderers, may (if possible) treat us more cruel, as Pharaoh did the children of Israel, yet the God of the Etheopeans, has been pleased to hear our moans in consequence of oppression,” (Walker 1830 P. 965)). “Had the holding of slaves been a moral evil, it cannot be supposed, that the inspired Apostles, who feared not the faces of men, and were ready to lay down their lives in the cause of their God, would have tolerated it,” (Furman 1823 P. 954).
The eight week starts with the issue of citizenship for people within America, where Africans are not considered citizens according to some of the writers such as Taney after the declaration of independence. However, others such as Curtis counter his arguments on citizenship for slaves. Slavery issue is reflected again when Abraham Lincoln is brought into light, where he seeks to strengthen federal government when addressing the two sides of the house, conservatives and republicans. Additionally, the issue of southern thinking of secession from United States is discussed in Lincoln’s inaugural message. Finally, the issue of reconstruction is addressed in Lincoln’s second inaugural speech. “…no line dividing local from federal authority, nor anything in the Constitution, properly forbade Congress to prohibit slavery in the federal territory; else both their fidelity to correct principle, and their oath to support the Constitution, would have constrained them to oppose the prohibition,” (Lincoln 1860 1077).
Hammond, S.J., Hardwick, K.R. & Lubert, H.L. (2007). Classics of American Political and Constitutional Thought: Origins through the Civil War. Indianapolis, Marion, IN: Hackett Publishing Company.
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