Letter to the editor – March 1, 2024

Dear editor,

The Founding Fathers often are dismissed as having had no foresight in regard to today when constitutional issues and dreadful occurrences take center stage. “Times today are much different in many respects,” their detractors are wont to say. How could they have known what the U.S. or any part of the world for that matter would be like today — airplanes and dresses that don’t cover a woman’s ankles, for goodness sake. Those bright and caring individuals risked life and limb to sever what would become the United States from the yoke of English rule, even though many preferred taking orders from wig-wearing leaders in London. 

Those who put ink quill to the Constitution were certain to have known that life would change in years to come. Jefferson, Franklin, Madison, the Adamses, et al, were not pedestrian fools.

Consequently, what I read in a Washington Post editorial a few days ago impressed me much as I often hold my nose while following what is occurring in the run-up to the fall elections.

The editorial noted this quote from Alexander Hamilton: “The only path of a subversion of the system of the country is, by flattering the prejudices of the people, and exciting their jealousies and apprehensions, to throw affairs into confusion and bring on civil commotion.”

This observation was fortified by noting that in 1792 Hamilton wrote to Washington: “When a man unprincipled in private life, desperate in his fortune, bold in his temper … is seen to mount the hobby horse of popularity … it may justly be suspected that his object is to throw things into confusion that he may ride the storm and direct the whirlwind.”

Jefferson agreed seldom with Hamilton, except for the danger of demagoguery. In 1787 Jefferson wrote to Washington, in relation to the threat to democracy: “If once elected and at a second or third election outvoted by one or two votes, he will present fake votes, foul play, (attempt) to hold possession of the reins of government, be supported by the states (or a throng of lemming-like supporters) voting for him.” There is risk of anarchy and insurrection.

Little thought is required to ascertain to whom the editorial writer supposes to cloak with these admonitions from long ago.

In today’s social environment many of the Founding Fathers (all white landowners of means) are belittled for having embraced what generally was accepted then. Instead they should be revered for love of freedom, just as Lincoln deserves his place on a pedestal for having had the good sense and fortitude to end slavery. The unfortunate outcome of his second term is that it was cut short, otherwise restoring the nation and finding a means for full and true reconstruction would have had a much better outcome.

— Bob Johnson, Humboldt

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