A group blog to promote discussion, debate and insight into the history, particularly religious, of America's founding. Any observations, questions, or comments relating to the blog's theme are welcomed.
Ugh. More culture war. There are plenty of opinions disguised as facts in the rebuttal as well.Washington's letter: "It would have pleased me well, if Congress had been pleased to make such an important present [Aitken's leftover Bibles] to the brave fellows [soldiers mustering out of the army], who have done so much for the security of their Country's rights and establishment."Our author opines: This letter was nothing more than a polite reply to Dr. Rodgers.Sez our author. This is not incontrovertible fact, although it's presented as such.And although our author attributed Aitken's bad sales to a lack of demand for Bibles, as I recall, it was notoriously badly printed and full of typos.These people all give me a headache. Perhaps at some point, we'll return to doing history here.Clearly, the case for Aitken's Bible is overstated, and a correction is in order. But not with more spin the other way.
I'm actually glad that Rodda debunks these tibits of history. I cannot tell you how many people I know who believe it and its nice to have the info at hand to refute it.Thanks for posting this, Jon.
Talk about the pot calling the kettle black! Look at what Tom Van Dyke interjected into the quote from Washington's letter -- that these were Aitken's "leftover" Bibles. Well, I guess if by "leftover" you mean almost all of the 10,000 Bibles he printed, you could call them leftovers, but if you read the whole story, you'll see that the reason Aitken was trying to get Congress to buy his Bibles (for the second time) was that he couldn't sell them. As I explained in my post, this is why this Bible is such an incredibly rare book today. Most of them ended up being thrown out because Aitken couldn't sell them -- to Congress or anybody else. These are verifiable facts, not an opinion.Then there's Tom's claim that the Aitken Bible was "notoriously badly printed and full of typos." Does that mean that the chaplains of Congress who examined Aitkens's work were lying when they verified its accuracy -- the verification that Congress based its resolution on when stating that the chaplains had verified its accuracy?The lies about the Aitken Bible are not merely "overstatements." I know people here frown upon this word, but they are lies.
Awesome, Chris...just awesome!
I guess I am wondering what this whole war is accomplishing. Yes, if Barton and Beck mess things up they should be straightened out. Yes, it is crazy to think that George Washington was an Evangelical. He would have talked about Jesus the way that others did at the time. I guess it sets people straight fine. But in the larger context of where we go as a society and the role that the study of history plays in that I am not getting it.I want to get it and am not giving you guys crap. I am disturbed that all those books are what people are reading now too. There is so much better stuff out there for this new found interest in the Constition and the founding. I really am with you guys.But most of this is blow back from what Tom likes to call the Harvard Narrative. I guess I wonder why we do not set that straight? It is like Ron Paul understanding the threat of terrorists but hitting the root of the problem: Blowback. In other words, all this seems to keep this discussion at the lowest level possible and in the end I do not think it solves the problems. These people feel like their are people that are trying to write God out of History and their are some but all that seek to refute Beck and Barton get labled as that when it is not true.
Chris Rodda stated:"The lies about the Aitken Bible are not merely "overstatements." I know people here frown upon this word, but they are lies"I know I have challenged on this before but I am going to try again. I understand that whole evangelical world better than most because I was a part of it and travled a lot to churces in all parts of the world and saw all aspects of it. I became disgusted with it and left. In fact, through further reflection and study I am no longer an Evangelical. Jon Rowe's posts ahd a lot to do with that among other things. Ed Brayton's posts did too. But that would have never happened if I would have encountered you guys before some rational minded Christians that softened me up some from my hardline stances. See I was not a liar, I checked facts and always studied things out that leaders told me, and more than once told some high powered people they were full of shit. But my pentecostal over emotionalism introduction to the Bible and Christianity was such a narrow stream that there were things that I did not know and were not even aware of. It was like I rejected on world and went into this other. It turned out to be a cult like group and my travels helped get me free. Anyway, I never had any bad intentions and went to the ends of the earth talking about what I believed was true at great personal risk. I was honest enough to take things to their logical conclusions. When you say liars for Jesus you lump people like me in. We were and are not trying to lie to anyone. It poisons the well and does not allow them to hear. I do not know Barton's motives but I bet he is sincere. Perhaps sincerely wrong. But sincere. If the goal is to set the record straight and get the truth to these people buying his book you are going at it the wrong way in my mind. It causes blowback and sinks the level of discussion. I am glad I have encountered people like Ed and you. But I would never have listened to a word you said unless others had softened me up with a different approach.In fact, since I was a total atheist before it was easy for me to make the break and really study this issue. For those that are born into it things are much harder. I do respect what you do and this is just my two cents.
if you read the whole story, you'll see that the reason Aitken was trying to get Congress to buy his Bibles (for the second time) was that he couldn't sell them. I did read the whole story, at least the part you presented, Chris, and disputed none of your facts.I did dispute your injection of opinion This letter was nothing more than a polite reply to Dr. Rodgers.as fact.Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
I did dispute your injection of opinionPot -- kettle -- black
But, Tom, when I make any statement assessing a letter such as the one from Washington to Rodgers, I always present the entire letter and so that people can read it for themselves, as well as all facts surrounding it if the circumstances of the writing led to my assessment. If someone decides to disagree with me, that's fine. The more important thing, as far as I'm concerned, is to provide the unedited text and other relevant facts so that people can decide for themselves whether they agree or disagree. That is what the Christian nationalist revisionists don't do. They carefully edit letters and other writings, and omit important facts, to make everything fit their assessments. This gives their readers no choice but to agree with them.
The more important thing, as far as I'm concerned, is to provide the unedited text and other relevant facts so that people can decide for themselves whether they agree or disagree. Agreed. I am not happy with these people either. But I want facts; the motives thing clouds the search for them.We all have motives, admittedly. You too, Ms. Rodda. But even the best historians are guilty of errors of fact. When the reviewer agrees with the historian, he gently notes the errors but gives a general thumbs up.When they don't like the historian, they use the errors as a blanket impeachment of their credibility and brings the fires of hell. It's the latter approach I have no time for, history-by-polemic. It just clogs the pipes.I've never found you in factual error, Chris. Keep on keepin' on. But you write for a Daily Kos audience. Which is fine, but I meself don't want that here. It's hard enough without that openly hostile dimension. Hooker's influence on Locke tells us much more about religion and the Founding than rehashing the Treaty of Tripoli.In my opinion, of course. ;-)
Tom ...I'm glad we're starting to find some common ground. I know that my writing is aimed at a broader, or, as you say, Daily Kos audience. This is my intent. When I set out to write my book, I asked myself why other authors who have written on the same subject in a more scholarly and tempered tone haven't gotten very far in combatting the likes of David Barton and the other Christian nationalists. Having watched how the followers of the revisionists debate on message boards, and trying to understand why the revisionists are so successful by spending many months debating with their followers, I decided that my book needed to be more in-your-face than anything written before, and also that I needed to make more people aware of the problem of history revisionism. So, I set out to combine an in-your-face approach with solid research and documentation, and it seems to be working. I had a post about the Aitken Bible hit #1 on the Daily Kos rec list this morning, and it's still in the rec list now, ten hours later. That would not be happening if I didn't present things the way I do. I hope for the day when I can just write about historical subjects that interest me, and I'm sure my tone will change if that day ever comes and I'm writing for a different audience, but for now I need to keep doing things the way I'm doing them, even if I sometimes rub people the wrong way.
Go in peace, my friend. I understand. As K of I notes, I believe this is blowback for the secularist revisionism of the earlier 20th century. It's unfortunate it's come to this, but there are too many genuine facts contra the secular/Enlightenment narrative for there have not to have been a blowback.People have been lied to for a lot longer than Barton has been in business.In the meantime, it's been my fondest wish and own "cause" that American Creation remain a place for people to get the straight dope, away from the sound and fury of the culture wars. As anyone who knows and reads me, I'm a lover, not a fighter.;-)
Chris Rodda stated:"I know that my writing is aimed at a broader, or, as you say, Daily Kos audience. This is my intent."They all agree with you. The people you need to convince are the Christians. This makes no sense to me.
"As K of I notes, I believe this is blowback for the secularist revisionism of the earlier 20th century. It's unfortunate it's come to this, but there are too many genuine facts contra the secular/Enlightenment narrative for there have not to have been a blowback."I want to make it cleat that I think a lot of this blowback is wrong. It just replaces one myth with another. But I guess it at least brings a little balance.
A minor pet peeve ...Re: "But I guess it at least brings a little balance."1 myth + 1 myth = 2 myths.Adding more myths doesn't bring us any closer to the truth. It diverges from it.If a more accurate representation is to prevail a more accurate representation must be passionately marketed among those who are open to it.
I wish I knew how to "passionately" market American Creation, Ben. I think we all do.Passion sells, genuine sincerity gets the hemlock.So be it, sez I."Sincerity's the main thing," movie mogul Samuel Goldwyn once confessed, "and once you learn to fake that, everything else is easy.Oh, well. You can't fake sincerity if you're sincere. This is the monkey wrench in this whole deal.
King of Ireland ...I have been getting through to some Christians who used to believe Barton's hogwash. I've actually received emails from Christian homeschoolers who, after reading things that I wrote about Barton's books, emailed me to say that they decided that they didn't want to use Barton's materials to teach their children, and asking me to recommend a better history curriculum for them. I'm sure these people started to read what I wrote intending to hate it and disagree with me, but somewhere along the line changed their minds. These are my favorite kind of emails to get. So, I did some research into the available history curriculums, and after reading the sample materials on one curriculum's website, found what looks like a very good one. It also got rave reviews from several historians who I respect, so that's the one I've been recommending. Obviously, most Christians aren't liars, and wouldn't knowingly be repeating lies. These people genuinely believe Barton and the other revisionists who present themselves as Christians, but at least some of them are starting to be a little more critical in choosing curriculums for their kids, even if it's only a tiny fraction.
Ben stated:"Adding more myths doesn't bring us any closer to the truth. It diverges from it."I know Marx took it places it did not need to go but Hegel's dialectic has some merit. I am one to say that at least people are talking about all this right now. If it is on the radar screen you have a better chance of ironing the wrinkles out. The Harvard Narrative is on the ropes it is just a matter of what replaces it at this point. I think we need to market this blog more too. I linked it to my facebook page through networked blogs. Others can do the same. It updates automatically every post.
Chris,I just think the liars thing muddies the waters. We can agree to disagree and still work together to get the real history out there. I am in process of making a founding cirriculum based on Jack Goldstone's piece I cited in my last post. I am going to use California's standards as the base(very good I was shocked to see) with a few additions to explore:1. Sovereign people2. Limited state3. Engineering cultureThe idea is to study what Toffler calls the 'second wave' and apply the principles of this era to asking the question of where do we go from here as we go into the 'third wave'.I am going to originally market it to the tea party types and others that seem to be awakening to a need to study this history and the Constitution but would hope to market it to private and home schoolers eventually.
I've actually received emails from Christian homeschoolers who, after reading things that I wrote about Barton's books, emailed me to say that they decided that they didn't want to use Barton's materials to teach their children, and asking me to recommend a better history curriculum for them. OK, this is getting absurd already. Mercy.
What's absurd about this, Tom? Don't you think it's a good thing that there are Christian homeschoolers out there who want to use a history curriculum developed by actual historians and educator? Or would you rather have them all keep using Barton's books, and equally bad other books like "America's Providential History" by Beliles and McDowell, in which the Northwest Ordinance is mentioned repeatedly to show that its 3rd article mentioned religion in schools and that its primary proponent was a Christian minister (whose name they don't even spell right), but never gets around to actually explaining what the NW Ordinance was or what it did in the formation of new states? Why is it absurd that I find it important that I'm making some progress among at least a handful of Christian homeschoolers?
Chris, your attacks on other people for being uncredentialed and self-published are hypocritical. Your work on the Northwest Ordinance was interesting but inconclusive. They still passed it, twice. And getting the better of David Barton on some issues doesn't mean you jack about history. Your work is unbalanced, and Daily Kos is a narrower audience, not a "broader" one. Get out of line once there and they'll turn on you in a flash."Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them."---Washington, Farewell Address 1796This is the Founding, not giving David Barton's words on the Northwest Ordinance a colonoscopy. Try that quote out at Daily Kos and get back to me. The comments after your last essay there were a hateful horror and unfit for polite company. I shudder to think what would happen to your career---your "day job fighting the religious right," as you put it in your own words---if you brought up "patriotism" in Washington's context.I understand everybody has to make a living, but you are not free to take a balanced view of America's religious history without threat to your livelihood, let's face it. So let's get real, and each do what we must.
I have never criticized anyone for being uncredentialed or self-published unless they have pumped up their bios and claimed to be qualified to do things that the are not qualified to do. Barton is uncredentialed and I'm uncredentialed. Barton is self-published and I'm self-published. Barton claims to be qualified to write education standards and I ... well ... I'd never claim to be qualified for such a job. I have never lied about my lack of formal education or experience, so where the hell do you get off calling me a hypocrite? You have a problem with what I do as my day job? You think I do what I do to further my own career? Screw you.This is the last comment I will ever post here, and I can read the posts by the bloggers here who I like on their other blogs, so, pat yourself on the back, Tom, you've become insulting enough to drive me away. Mission accomplished.
Tom,You've asserted that Chris is a participant of the culture war. My view of her has been as an individual who is passionate about the historic facts. I'm honestly unaware of her misrepresenting the historic record to win favor for her team.To be honest, I see no evidence of her involvement in a culture war.So, my curiosity has been tweaked!Do you find passionate objections to misrepresentations of the historic record, by religious activists, to be in opposition to the truth of the importance religion played in the founding?My question is speculative of your intent, and I apologize for that.It is clear that you are not friendly to Barton or Beck's rhetoric, but why do you object to holding them accountable for their misrepresentations?
Chris:Please do not judge us all as being of Tom's persuasion. I too have grown tired of Tom's antics. He of all people should not be attacking others for their "agendas." He's become quite transparent in recent months. He hides behind his delusional sense of intellectual and scholarly superiority by claiming to soar above the culture wars but fewer are buying it. I have an abrasive personality, which is why I have no problem saying the obvious. I'd hate to see you disappear forever but I guess I understand.
I think we all have our "agendas" here. That is what makes this blog what it is. I love having different people that have different takes. I have learned a great deal from even the heated dialogue. But this is starting to get a bit nasty and there is a difference. As I stated, the stakes are high now in that this discussion has hit the mainstream. I also think no matter how hard we try the "culture wars" are going to be part of the discussion here. I think our mission is not to rise above it so much as to help frame an honest discussion that that avoids talking points and cliches from either side. My two cents. Chris,I for one, even though I do not always agree with you hope you do continue to comment here. Hopefully about more than anything to do with Barton.
Doubtful.And since Brad regularly posts Barton-bashes, his remarks here are no surprise. Transparent? Heheh. You're as clear as an unmuddied lake, my friend.Ben, the day I see an even-handedness against folks on both sides of the divide [or some acknowledgment of error on both sides, or an allowance that Barton occasionally gets something right], I cannot characterize Ms. Rodda's as a genuine interest in history.As for the actual matter of the Bible, Ms. Rodda is getting the same Rodda-izing treatment she gives her ideological opponents. It's goose and gander time.So when Ms. Rodda writes:In 1777, Rev. Alison had written to Congress that the "number of purchasers is so great, that we doubt not but a large impression would soon be sold." Obviously, Rev. Alison greatly overestimated the demand for Bibles because, in 1782, after five more years without a supply, Robert Aitken couldn't sell his.This snark is completely unsubstantiated, since in the time period she "examines"---which clearly she did not---there were no full Bibles yet, but at least six [!] editions of the New Testament. * 1779 Isaac Collins, Trenton * 1780 Thomas and Fleet, Boston * Hall and Sellers, Philadelphia * Francis Bailey, Philadelphia * Isaac Collins, Trenton * 1781 James Adams, WilmingtonSourceSo take your recommendations on history from Ms. Rodda if you want, but it's unlikely you'll hear the whole story. Caveat emptor, and quis custodiet ipsos custodes?Not me. I have better things to do, but enough was enough, and it was time for Ms. Rodda to go through the grinder she puts her ideological opponents through.
Whatever, dude. Regular Barton bashes? Not in a while. Nice try though. Oh, and how many people have you ran off now? The problem isn't "agendas" but rather how certain people choose to communicate on this blog. They come off, frankly, looking like a pompous ass, which, in turn, runs off some good people. Perhaps instead of reading the founders you could read, "How to Make Friends and Influence People"? That's a start.The "even-handedness" you seek, Tom is a figment of your imagination. You'd have this blog be, as jimmyraybob stated, all one-sided. Even the smallest hint of something different sends you into quote-grabbing land, which in and of itself isn't bad. But you take that and go on an attack in which you condescend to everyone else. We get it...none of us are as awesome as you. Just do us a favor and try to not rub that fact in our face. Disagree all you want, but try to do so without being preachy. Just because somebody posts something that you construe as "secular" a "commercial" (should ring a bell) "culture war rhetoric" or whatever doesn't mean they are evil or have some agenda to misrepresent anything. Yes, we know, this blog is turning into what you would call "Brayton's sewer." But stop and think, Tom. Who's the one doing all the complaining whenever a post comes along that they can't stand? Or a contributor posts too many "commercials"? Or a commentator has an "agenda"? The man in the glass my friend...the man in the glass.
We recently had a run of nearly a dozen posts on our mainpage pushing one side of the culture war. I took one, in reply to a mischaracterization of what Gordon Wood was saying. You jumped in my face.The facts are on my side. That makes people frustrated and call me arrogant. So be it. But gentle or bold, I get the same crap because people don't like facts they don't want to hear.And if you noticed, I defended Ms. Rodda's contention that Aitken received no money from Congress for his Bibles. The facts were on her side. And it appears Mark then withdrew the post from our mainpage, to his credit. What do you want from me?Concerning the faith "commercials," they are mostly in defense of our readers who aren't religious. I don't mind respecting the secular nature of this blog.But if somebody wants to use our mainpage or comments sections as a soapbox in the culture wars, yeah, they're gonna hear about it. I tried to defuse this situation [see above], but that's not a free pass for the soapbox.No, I'm not chasing away any good people. If the facts are on their side, they stay, and enjoy a diverse forum to show their stuff.
Re: "[...] since in the time period she "examines"---which clearly she did not---there were no full Bibles yet, but at least six [!] editions of the New Testament."I don't see how referring the the NT as the Bible is sufficient justification for such treatment ... or am I missing something?Re: "the day I see an even-handedness against folks on both sides of the divide [or some acknowledgment of error on both sides, or an allowance that Barton occasionally gets something right]. I cannot characterize Ms. Rodda's as a genuine interest in history."hmmm ... reads like the point of the sentence changed in mid-stream.Do I infer correctly that rude treatment of Chris Rodda is justified by the lack of acknowledgments that Barton occasionally gets something right?And what exactly is this divide? Is rude behavior toward an individual acceptable if they are painted as being on the wrong side a some culture war?
I don't see how referring the the NT as the Bible is sufficient justification for such treatment ... or am I missing something?Sophistic. Even if technically true, misleading, the same as others get raked over the coals for.
The facts are on my side. That makes people frustrated and call me arrogant. So be it. But gentle or bold, I get the same crap because people don't like facts they don't want to hear.And there you have it! Like OFT you are incapable of conceding anything. You've sealed your fate as a one-sided hack. I for one don't need any more of your crap.
I defended Ms. Rodda's contention about Aitken receiving no money from congress, enough that Mark withdrew his post. I also jumped in with approval on Frazer's telling criticism of Lillback. That's even-handedness, Brad. You're the cheerleader for partisan hackery, not me.What's the true story of Bibles in early America? Well, you won't get it from advocates and culture warriors, that's for sure.As a matter of fact, Aitken himself had enjoyed success with editions of the New Testament in 1778, 1779, 1780, and 1781.He was of 5 American printers to put in bids to to the Continental Congress to publish American Bibles, since previously it had been illegal for anyone Americans to publish the Bible, England arrogating that right to itself under the Church of England official approval.Congress decided the bids were too high, and so voted instead to import 20,000 Bibles from Holland.Aitken went ahead anyway, printing on coarse American paper, and with paper so scarce, his edition was only 6 inches high, with hardly any margins.But the time he rolled out his edition, the war was over, and better and cheaper Bibles were being imported from Europe.Source.That's the true story, not the half-story, the half-truth. It's half-truths that get on my nerves, not disagreement. When somebody has their facts straight, I got their back. Now get off mine.
"Brad. You're the cheerleader for partisan hackery, not me."HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAFunny coming from the king of bias!What's the true story of Bibles in early America? Well, you won't get it from advocates and culture warriors, that's for sure.And we sure as hell won't get it from you. Perhaps it's time you move on to one of those other blogs...like WorldNetDaily? Shit, we should be so lucky!
Heheh. I'm no fan of WND, but take the Daily Kos Challenge!I'm sorry I felt the need to correct your misrepresentation of Gordon Wood, Brad, but it was 180 degrees off. I guess I should have let it pass without comment.
You're right, WorldNetDaily isn't the site for you. Give Our Founding Truth's blog a visit. I hear he's looking for a partner. This goes FAAAAAR deeper than one post on Gordon Wood and you know it. The 10th person you ran off should have given you that clue.
You ran off a PhD in history as a contributor. I got your back on it.Yes, the facts run off certain people. They post and comment on Daily Kos or Brayton's. Or WND for that matter. If you want an echo chamber like those, go start one. Keep them away from the rest of us.
I ran off one person...compared to your...10...20...who knows how many at this point.Yes, I do try to keep us from becoming too much like Daily Kos...AND like OFT...only problem is that some people are making that REALLY HARD! Here's an idea for all future posts you don't like. Instead of using the typical Van Dyke charm (that has served you so well) just don't comment at all.
Echo chamber, huh? Go start one, then.I wasn't rude to Chris; I was rude to her work, because her work itself is rude, as anybody who's read it knows. She didn't get anything from me she doesn't give to others. In spades. You yourself posted this same tiresome subject of Aitken's Bible back in March. You wrotehttp://americancreation.blogspot.com/2010/03/because-we-always-need-little.html#comment-1370951501751471345"Because We Always Need a Little Controversy...Glenn Beck and David Bartonon the "Bible of the Revolution"(My Attempt at "Stirring the Pot")Well, the pot's stirred, and here's your controversy. You haven't made a single legitimate factual point in these attacks against me. I am not WND. And yes, people did get the facts on the Bible in early America. From me. At last. Not the half-truths that offer themselves up as "history." History-by-polemic crap. I don't find it very "awesome."
[The Continental Congress] decided to attempt to procure 20,000 bibles from Holland. No action was ever taken on this decision, for soon after it was made, the Congress had to flee Philadelphia. This petition for bibles, and the idea of importation of bibles from Holland, faded into the background forever as the Congress found itself with more pressing concerns of war. - An American Bible (pg 20) by Paul C. Gutjahr.
On Christmas Day 1775 Washington wrote a a letter to Joseph Reed, Adjutant-General of the Continental Army, "Our want of powder is inconceivable. A daily waste and no supply administers a gloomy prospect". As the Continental Congress found out, the pressing need for gunpowder was more urgent than the attempt to import bibles from Holland. Steven Johnson in his book, The invention of Air, writes:Supporters of the revolutionary cause in the colonies were given a crash course in the production of gun powder, but their concoctions were generally of poor quality, and in any event the amount of powder was paltry compared to the immense needs of the army.What ultimately turned the tide were two interelated developments, the first predicated on [Joseph] Priestly and [Antoine] Lavoisier's chemical revolution, and the second on Ben Franklin's skills as a diplomat. Lavoisier's innovations in gunpowder production gave the French a stockpile of top-quality powder. During his secret mission to France in late 1776-77, Fanklin helped negotiate a pact that brought more than 200 tons of high-grade French gunpowder to the muskets of the Continental army. By 1779, more than 800 tons had been imported. That tremendous influx of stored energy changed the balance of power between the struggling colonial army and the redcoats. "By Yorktown," Joe Jackson writes, "British soldiers complained that they could not get close enough to shoot colonials before they themselves were blasted from their garters." From his laboratory in Paris, Lavoisier mused on the role of his saltpeter in the American Revolution: "It can be truthfully be said that it is to those supplies that North America owes its freedom." It was typical of Lavoisier's self-important style to attribute the American victory to his own saltpeter, and no doubt he exaggerated matters in phrasing it that way, But it is impossible to imagine that freedom being won on 40 tons of mediocre powder.In balance then, it appears that the importation of 800 tons of French gunpowder won out over 20,000 Dutch Bibles when it came down to the priorities that weighed most upon the delegates to the Continental Congress.
This is the first time I've ever left a comment on a blog after saying that I wouldn't be commenting there any more, but after reading the comments by others, I realize that I'm not the only person here having a problem with Tom, so I do want to respond to some of the other comments that I just came back here and read after Ray sent me an email. I really do like this blog, and don't want to leave over one person.When I saw Tom's comment, I was actually about to respond to King of Ireland's comment about the curriculum idea he's working on. There's something that I have long thought should be included as a supplement to studying the Federalist Papers. This is actually one of the things I'm referring to when I say that there are other subjects that I hope to be able to write about at some point in the future when I can just write about historical topics that interest me, but I thought K of I might find it interesting as he's working on a curriculum. As K of I said, we sometimes disagree on some points, but this has never turned into personal attacks, and I'm pretty sure we're going to be in agreement about the materials I think should be added as a curriculum supplement. I'll post my idea, explaining the particular documents and the reason I think they should be studied, as a separate comment later. I think it might be an interesting thing to discuss.
I am going to respond to Tom's comments, but only to clarify points of history.As bpabbot pointed out in response to Tom, there was a big difference between printing the NT and printing the full Bible. Rev. Alison, who was trying to get Bibles in 1777, obviously thought so. The statement I made that Tom called "unsubstantiated" and "snark" was in no way intended as snark, and is absolutely substantiated. I was quoting Rev. Alison's 1777 memorial to Congress, in which he stated, referring specifically to FULL Bibles, that the "number of purchasers is so great, that we doubt not but a large impression would soon be sold." The failure of Aitken to be able to sell his Bibles, even after five additional years with no supply of full Bibles and having no competition from imports, shows that Rev. Alison's prediction in 1777 was wrong. I don't think there can really be any argument here, and I stand by my statement.Ray gets into the priorities of Congress in 1777 in his comments, and is absolutely correct, but there was actually even more to this importing of Bibles thing. What Rev. Alison initially asked Congress to do was not to import already printed Bibles, but to import the paper and type for Bibles to be printed in Philadelphia. Alison didn't even actually ask for the Congress to pay for this. What he asked for was for Congress to do this as a loan, to be repaid from the sales of the Bibles. But, the money wasn't actually the biggest reason that Alison wanted Congress to get involved. He wanted Congress to have a financial stake in these Bibles so that they would have control over the selling price. The reason, as clearly explained in Alison's memorial to Congress, was that because of wartime price gouging, he was afraid that if he had the Bibles printed completely privately, people with money would buy them up and then resell them at prices that the average American couldn't afford. But if the printing was done under contract from Congress, then Congress would have the power to regulate the selling price.The idea of importing already printed Bibles from Holland was an alternative plan proposed by the committee that Rev. Alison's memorial was referred to. The committee, considered it both too risky and too costly to import the paper and type to print the Bibles. I think everybody here probably knows the story from this point. In a nutshell, the vote on this proposal was split (7 states to 6), and no final vote was ever taken, so no Bibles were ever imported. There actually is quite a bit more about this story that is pretty interesting, all of which is explained in detail in my book, but would be way too long to explain in a blog comment. But if anyone here wants to read about the rest of it, I've made the entire chapter available as a PDF, which can be downloaded at http://www.liarsforjesus.com/downloads/LFJ_chap_1.pdf
"I'll post my idea, explaining the particular documents and the reason I think they should be studied, as a separate comment later. I think it might be an interesting thing to discuss."Why don't you make it a guest post? I think this type of thing is a constructive dialogue. I think almost all of us agree that Texas went too far in its changes. It also seems that this is what all this really comes down too:What is or is not going to be taught in secondary schools. So why not discuss it here. If it is broken why not fix it? I have found that giving the kids both sides of the modern debate and then going back to look at the history gives a proper frame for critical thinking and foundation for intelligent debate.
Mr. Soller is indeed correct that the matter was dropped by the Congress after it was forced to flee Philadelphia.I agree with their decision on gunpowder over Bibles, or else today we'd all be speaking English.Ms. Rodda overlooks the fact that the war ended and the importation of better and cheaper Bibles resumed, rendering Aitken's a white elephant.I would welcome Ms. Rodda's appearance on these pages. Outside the subject of David Barton or the religious right, I'm sure we would find very little disagreement over the facts. Her work is conscientious on the facts.
(I'm going to need to post this as two comments because it's too long for one.)My idea is something I had long before the Texas textbook massacre, and isn't just about the religion issue. It would encompass many other things, such as the separation of powers and other constitutional issues and rights. Of course, there is also a pretty big divide over some of these other issues, too, but that's not the reason for my short list of things that should be studied along with the Federalist Papers.Very briefly, my idea is to study how the founders handled the first constitutional conflicts arising under the Constitution -- not the courts but the legislators. The reason is that because the Federalist Papers, while they of course should be part of every history curriculum, were meant to "sell" the Constitution, they presented everything as it would happen in a constitutional utopia. The "other side," if presented at all, has always been through the anti-federalist papers.
The first of the top two things I think should be studied are James Madison's report to the Virginia Assembly defending the Virginia Resolutions against the arguments of their critics. This now obscure document was written by Madison in much the same style as his contributions to the Federalist, but show Madison applying the principles of the Constitution to one of the first real life constitutional conflicts. (I'm almost certain that this was the document that Jefferson was actually referring to in a letter to Madison when they were deciding which documents would be included in the curriculum at the University of Virginia, but Madison misunderstood him and thought he was talking about the Resolutions themselves.)The second one would be the 1796 debate in the House of Reps over the Jay Treaty. This debate, which went on for several weeks, began with the issue of what right, if any, the House had to see the documents available to the Senate during the ratification process, but quickly turned into a much bigger debate covering every conceivable aspect of the treaty making power and more. In my opinion, this incredible debate is the single best resource for studying how these founders, many of whom had been at the Constitutional Convention and/or state ratifying conventions, understood the separation of powers, and parts of it, such as the House's power over war funding, are extremely relevant today. (Religion in the treaty making process did come up in this debate, so we have founders like Abraham Baldwin in there to look to as constitutional authorities.)So, there you have it. That's what I would add to a history curriculum. I'd love to hear what other people hear think about this idea.
Tom wrote ..."Mr. Soller is indeed correct that the matter was dropped by the Congress after it was forced to flee Philadelphia."and"Ms. Rodda overlooks the fact that the war ended and the importation of better and cheaper Bibles resumed, rendering Aitken's a white elephant."Both of these issues are thoroughly addressed in my book. I explain why the popular theory that the Bible matter was dropped because Congress had to flee Philadelphia doesn't hold water. And, if you look at the timeline for the Aitken Bible, it shows that Aitken had plenty of time to sell his Bibles with no competition from imports, so the resuming of the importation of Bibles as a reason for Aitken's failure doesn't stand up either. I know it's asking a lot, but I really wish you would download my chapter (I posted the link in a previous comment) and try to read it with an open mind. You can even verify all of my sources for yourself by going to the footnote archive on my website and viewing images of the actual documents and pages from the Journals of Congress.
Chris,I will look into those sources.
K of I ...Now that you know what I'm trying to get at, I'm sure there are other good examples along the same lines that you or some of the other people here might be able to think of.I really think this use of real life post-ratification conflicts would be so much better than just using the "everything's going to work perfectly" Federalist papers vs. the "everything's going to suck" anti-federalist papers." I was thinking after I posted my comment that those writings show about as much of a political and ideological divide between two sides with agendas as anything we're seeing today.
Basically, the intimation that Aitken's Bible didn't sell because of a lack of demand for Bibles is what doesn't hold water, as illustrated by his success at selling New Testaments and the success of other publishers' as well. Bifurcating "The Bible" and the New Testament may be technically accurate, but draws a distinction without any real difference.The next issue is very interesting http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Report_of_1800original document here:http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/v1ch8s42.htmlfeaturing one of Mr. Winpisinger's favorite words, "interposition." After the Nullification Crisis of 1832-3, Madison felt obliged to explain what he meant in his 1800 report.http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?ammem/mjmtext:@field%28DOCID+@lit%28jm090163%29%29
"better than just using the "everything's going to work perfectly" Federalist papers vs. the "everything's going to suck" anti-federalist papers." I was thinking after I posted my comment that those writings show about as much of a political and ideological divide between two sides with agendas as anything we're seeing today."But if presented properly, with some other additions such for clarification, help frame the discussion. The best lesson I ever taught was when I took the Magna Carta, Articles of Confederation, The Constitution, and the Bill of Rights and asked the kids to look for the purpose of the writing of the document. Then they had to draw a poster that explained it. Many of the best posters were from minority students I had that had never really thought about any of this. They really got it. It was not someone telling them what to think they looked for themselves. This was the DC standards that are almost the exact same as California. As far as the founding and the ideas that lead of to it they were great. This was World History I never got to look at the ones for US. But California's are good. Of course even good standards are vague enough that much of the responsibilty is on the teacher. I think I have talked myself into going back to teaching even though I said I never would. This is just too important.
Tom ...The nullification crisis is a great example.Why don't we get off the Bible thing and shift to the curriculum idea thing, where we can all have a nice, productive discussion about history education ideas, something in which I'm sure we can find lots of stuff we're in agreement on. It would certainly be a welcome break for me to get into a subject that I'm interested in just because I love studying history. I rarely get to do that anymore.
"The next issue is very interesting"Then lets move on to that one. I think two highly intelligent people like you and Chris would have a lot to say about it. Now that things have cooled down, how about a post on it from Chris? I think you guys have a lot more common ground than one might think.
"Why don't we get off the Bible thing and shift to the curriculum idea thing, where we can all have a nice, productive discussion about history education ideas, something in which I'm sure we can find lots of stuff we're in agreement on. It would certainly be a welcome break for me to get into a subject that I'm interested in just because I love studying history. I rarely get to do that anymore."It is also a hot topic right now that needs to clarification.
K of I ...You're comment got me thinking that showing the vast divide during the ratification process, (shown by the Federalist and anti-federalist papers), and then how the conflicts were resolved once the Constitution was in force and everybody had to come back together, (shown through the kinds of supplementary materials I'm talking about), could provide a good and very relevant lesson in itself, teaching how our country got past what seemed like an absolutely insurmountable divide while it was going on.Like you said, no state curriculum standards are going to include anything this specific, but it certainly wouldn't go against any standards that I've ever seen, and could be worked in by a good teacher.
Agreed, Chris. I do regret my intemperance toward Chris Rodda the advocate and meant no disrespect or animus toward Chris Rodda the person. I admire your diligence in digging out the facts, and regardless of which hat you have on, you are thorough and formidable.Cheers, mate.____________My reservations about Madison is that he lost many battles in framing the Constitution, and "enlightened" ["Enlightened?"] Virginia is often put to the forefront at the expense of the other states of the Union.It appears to me that Madison's words were used as support during the Nullification Crisis; his explicatory notes from 1834 [above] seem to finally form a coherent vision of federalism and states' rights, that the sovereign states can only act in concert against federal power, by constitutional amendement.The question of the tug-of-war about judicial powers [Marshall, Marbry, etc.] is of interest as well. Madison's' report of 1800 seems to argue against judicial usurpation;On this objection it might be observed, first, that there may be instances of usurped power, which the forms of the Constitution would never draw within the control of the judicial department; secondly, that, if the decision of the judiciary be raised above the authority of the sovereign parties to the Constitution, the decisions of the other departments, not carried by the forms of the Constitution before the judiciary, must be equally authoritative and final with the decisions of that department. But the proper answer to the objection is, that the resolution of the General Assembly relates to those great and extraordinary cases, in which all the forms of the Constitution may prove ineffectual against infractions dangerous to the essential rights of the parties to it. The resolution supposes that dangerous powers, not delegated, may not only be usurped and executed by the other departments, but that the judicial department, also, may exercise or sanction dangerous powers beyond the grant of the Constitution; and, consequently, that the ultimate right of the parties to the Constitution, to judge whether the compact has been dangerously violated, must extend to violations by one delegated authority as well as by another--by the judiciary as well as by the executive, or the legislature.However true, therefore, it may be, that the judicial department is, in all questions submitted to it by the forms of the Constitution, to decide in the last resort, this resort must necessarily be deemed the last in relation to the authorities of the other departments of the government; not in relation to the rights of the parties to the constitutional compact, from which the judicial, as well as the other departments, hold their delegated trusts. On any other hypothesis, the delegation of judicial power would annul the authority delegating it; and the concurrence of this department with the others in usurped powers, might subvert forever, and beyond the possible reach of any rightful remedy, the very Constitution which all were instituted to preserve.
Chris,I read Tom's link and this is a lot of what we have been talking about here lately with the "compact" and all in regards to 'interposition". You add a great idea. I am presently reading a book called "The Age of Federalism" that goes into a lot of this. What jumped out to me in the Wiki article was that Madison toned down Jefferson and possibly saved the union and that he came against the Confederate version of states rights in the nullification crisis. I do not want to sound alarmist but if one is following the whole debate on federalism today secession talk is in the air. The fact that Madison(and it seems after talking with him Jefferson) had a more nuanced stance then most would believe puts a dent in these arguments as beign Jeffersonian.I think this theme also hits on that one Maddow and Paul the younger brought into the light. It would seem by reading Madison's view of states rights that he did not think either government had the right to limit the rights of indivduals. I think we see this is federalist 51 too. Good stuff.
Tom,It is good that things get heated at times around here. Frazer and I went at it full barrel and in the end I came to respect him a tremendous amount in my profound disagreements with him. I have learned from the reading the back and forth here than from books. It is the socratic dialogue in a natural way.
Re: " Sophistic. Even if technically true, misleading, the same as others get raked over the coals for."The sophistry was my lame attempt to present an opportunity for clarification ... as a clear context, of the comment I responded to, escaped me, so I grabbed a hold of what I managed to infer.I meant no offense and am still interested in a more substantive explanation.
Re: "I [...] am still interested in a more substantive explanation."I had some errands to run, now that I've caught up on the discussion, my curiosity as to what the offense was has become moot :-)I'm eagerly looking forward to reading more of the constructive conversations which began today!
Ha! You people are worse than a churces deacons meeting! Let me get this straight...so Tom pats Chris on the back;Chris receives exultation;Tom questions Chris on her motives; Chris gets mad and pouts; Chris threatens to pick up marbles and go home; several get mad at Tom; Many beg Chris to come back; Most marginalize Tom;Tom apologizes under pressure; Chris returns (Cuz She never left)....And we Christians are suppose to take you guys serious??? I will now leave you to all your vulgar comments about my post :~)
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