alien & sedition.
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
  The Stench of Stale Hubris

When Dick Cheney famously told Pat Leahy to go fuck himself, he and the rest of the administration clearly never anticipated the day when Leahy would return to powerful chairmanship; I think they internalized Karl Rove's visionary scheme of a permanent Republican majority and thought the future was in the bag. Now they're holding the bag and it's leaking all over their laps.
I've never mentioned it, but there was a particular point implied when I named this blog Alien & Sedition. It's also why there's a picture of Jefferson in the top corner there. The point is the same one made by the proverb about the Chinese emperor who asks his wise man to tell him one thing that will always be true:

"This, too, shall pass," is the answer.

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I love the blog title - hell my original blogger handle was Publius - but I must confess I've never been that enamored of Thomas Jefferson:
Actually I agree with most of your post there. Certainly the Hamiltonian program was necessary for the country - as even the Democratic-Republicans learned over time when they were forced to implement Federalist ideas.

At the same time, Jefferson was a radical egalitarian who sympathized with the French revolutionaries as opposed to the English conservatives, and who sponsored land-tenure laws that may have saved us from the kind of rural unrest that plagued Europe. I tend to feel as though he was a necessary democratic counterbalance to the elitists who drove an otherwise admirable program of national development in the early days.

At any rate, the immediate point is to do with his observation about the "reign of witches" - the alien & sedition laws that were the Federalists' greatest shame. Ultimately he was right: the early American parties learned that they could exist in productive tension as opposed to eliminationist competition.
I should add: it's entirely right to keep clobbering Jefferson over slavery. His hypocrisy in that regard was disgraceful.
I agree that the Alien & Sedition Acts were contemptible. I was very relieved when I learned that Hamilton was opposed to them, and Adams' support of those laws were one of the principal reasons Hamilton opposed Adams' re-election.

Jefferson's opposition to primogeniture and entail were praiseworthy, but scarcely unique. Those laws were abolished in every state.

Frankly, I think that Jefferson's "womanish attachment to France" was far more destructive of the nation's interests than the Federalist preference for England. After all, France was the militant imperialist power of the day, eagerly toppling other nations' regimes. Luckily Jefferson never took it too far once he became President.
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