Founding Fathers, United and Divided

Myron Magnet has written a wonderful book about some of the founding fathers called, “The Founders at Home”. The title is slightly misleading since they are biographical sketches with references to their homes, but the focus is more on the nature of how these men fit into the scramble occurring both during and post the Revolutionary War. Their different points of view come quickly to the fore when Washington assumes the Presidency In 1789. Before Washington knew it, his trusted advisors were at each other’s throats. The spirit that had led to freedom was officially divided into factions.

George III’s intractability to the colonies was a foible born of youth, bad advisors, stubbornness and a shortage of cash. Magnet refers to him as a martinet which isn’t quite true. What was true is that he had come to the throne at the age of 22 and was completely unprepared and not particularly worldly. He expected sacrifice from his subjects wherever they were and when the colonists revolted, he reacted in the only manner that he knew how. That he was unable to let go of his rancor and cut his losses was a sign of immaturity. He would not listen to those who disagreed with him.

What I find most interesting about these men is that they were, to a man, elitist. They were calling for a Republic, but they definitely feared full blown democracy. Whether it was Alexander Hamilton, the arch Federalist, or Thomas Jefferson, the Republican who never stopped tearing down to build up again, particularly at Monticello, his home, none of these men felt the common man should be allowed to try their hand at the wheel of governance. Equally true is that most of them felt that religion had absolutely no place in government.

The commonly held assumptions of current politicos, and non-politicos for that manner vis-à-vis the Supreme Court, about our founding fathers intentions, at least according to the liberal amount of quotes he cites from each man in the book, are just plain incorrect. “Corporations are people” is one and the founding of this nation based on religion is another. The foremost theorist for all the founding fathers was  John Locke, a man who wrote about tolerance and how coercion of religion is counter to man’s nature. If I could, I would happily offer Mr. Magnet’s book to such disbelievers.  It is a great read.

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