Tuesday, December 08, 2009

The If You Could Ask One Question Series

In another post I asked bloggers to select one question, you would ask your political opposition. In exchange for allowing me to use that question, for a post, I will plug your blog. I will continue posting randomly the questions asked in no particular order. Some will be edited, to make for a sharper discussion.

I'm starting with my own question, for the right.

The American Revolution was more than a military operation, it was also a social revolution. According to an article by Harry Braverman: What kind of a transformation was it? The colonies never had a broadly seated feudalism to contend with, but in its place they did have a collection of feudal privileges and monarchical practices that were a substantial barrier to the establishment of an unfettered capitalism, particularly in the field of agriculture. In the first place, large estates monopolized great tracts of land, in some places, as in the Hudson Valley, operated with a manorial tenantry; in others settlement was either prohibited or where permitted quit rents and other feudal dues were demanded and, surprisingly, often collected. Then, the great land area between the Alleghanies and the Mississippi, as well as big tracts on the near side of the mountains, were reserved as crown lands, a restraint which effectively held back westward expansion.

The revolutionary period saw a great wave of land expropriations. Manorial estates in New York aggregating over 2½ million acres were confiscated, including the Van Rennsalaer manor, which alone was 2/3 the size of Rhode Island. The estate of Lord Granville in North Carolina, at least 1/3 of the colony, was taken away. New Hampshire alone confiscated 29 estates, including that of its governor, Sir John Wentworth. In New York, all lands and rents of the crown were confiscated, as well as the estates of 59 named persons, including most of the richest of the province. The 300 square miles of the Phillipse estate, and the lands of James Delancey Roger Morris, John T. Kemp, Beverly Robinson, were among those caught up in the net. In Pennsylvania, the estates of 490 persons were seized, including the ungranted lands of the Penn family. Nor were all the confiscations directed against the Tories. The Fairfax estate consisted of some six million acres in Virginia, or close to one-fifth the present size of that state. Lord Fairfax was not a loyalist, and was not molested during the Revolution; his estate was taken in 1781, however, because of what one historian calls “revolutionary opposition to feudal survivals.”

The American Revolution had more expropriated without compensation properties, than any other revolution in that period. Would you condemn that????????



Anonymous said...

Good question?

However I'm not surprised that as part of your question you mightn't also marvel at how those English/ Danish/ French Lord's and Ladies had originally acquired those estates, as Sir William Johnson is one a my favorite pre-Revolutionary War personalities and I'd be happy to discuss it with you.

And no allsusion to the Continental Army (or Civil War, for that matter) veteran land grants... just an attempt to paint a moral equivalency between the injustces INHERENT in revolutionary war "results" then and now.

Perhaps instead of drawing "result" comparisons, we should explore and either condemn or condone the injustices which gave legitimate (or not) "CAUSE" to those injustices committed in the wake of Revolutions in all times and places.

...but I'll leave it to a Leftist to place his cart before his horse in any argument.

Before the Revolutionary War, only a priviledged few could "expropriate" American land. AFTER the war, any white man, regardless of birth could. And after the Civil War, any man of ANY color, regardless of birth, could.

So get your butt to Alaska NOW, RE, before all the homesteading grants run out! Oooops. That ended 1986.

Anonymous said...

Back then (1776), they fought Revolutions to ensure equality of "opportunity". Today, they pretend to intend to fight them in the name of assuring equality of "results" regardless of the personal effort one contributes to achieving them.

But then, "might" always DID make "right".

Anonymous said...

btw - Unlike all policies of all modern communist governments, the Treaty of Paris, which ended the Revolutionary War, prohibitted all future confiscations of Tory property.

A communist has NO property right, WHATSOEVER.... by definition. So to hear one argue against the "injustice" of the property expropriations during the American Revolutionary War period is only a bit hypocritical, don't you think?

You should be applauding what the American Revolutionary did and condemning the Treaty of Paris which ended the practice.

Spike said...

You ask your question of the wrong people. Research 'land patents', particularly those in Texas, and ask this, "Why is it so difficult to get information that can be acted upon?"

I like your blog: raises good questions.

troutsky said...

Blacks and natives didn't see a lot of revolutionary gains either. Actually ,I guess England ended slavery so there was some gain.

Anonymous said...

White males in general saw few "revolutionary gains" either, as property was a pre-requisite for voting. In the early 1800's, the Tammany Societies of NY would list all their members on their property deeds, so as to enable a greater majority to vote.

The property requirement for voting was not eliminated until the 1830's.

So much for your "whitey hates us" argument, troutmeister...

Anonymous said...

Myers, "History of Tammany Hall" (Ch 1) Source.

The elevation to office of many of the hated, aristocratic supporters of Great Britain inflamed the minds of the “Liberty boys” and their followers, and made the chasm between the classes, already wide, yet wider. The bitterest feeling cropped out. Hamilton, put upon the defensive, took pains in his addresses to assure the people of the baselessness of the accusation that he aimed to keep the rich families in power. That result, however, had been partially assured by the State constitution of 1777. Gaging sound citizenship by the ownership of property, the draughtsmen of that instrument allowed only actual residents having freeholds to the value of £100, free of all debts, to vote for Governor, LieutenantGovernor and State Senators, while a vote for the humbler office of Assemblyman was given only to those having freeholds of £20 in the county or paying forty shillings rent yearly. Poor soldiers who had nobly sustained the Revolutionary cause were justly embittered at being disqualified by reason of their poverty, while full political power was given to the property-owning Tories.

“The inequality,” wrote one who lived in those days,

“was greatly added to by the social and business customs of the times. ... There was an aristocracy and a, democracy whose limits were as clearly marked by manner and dress as by legal enactment. ... The aristocracy controlled capital in trade, monopolized banks and banking privileges, which they did not hesitate to employ as a means of perpetuating their power.”
Dr. John W. Francis tells, in his Reminiscences, of the prevalence in New York for years after the Revolution of a supercilious class that missed no opportunity of sneering at the demand for political equality made by the leather-breeched mechanic with his few shillings a day.

Permeated with democratic doctrines, the populace detested the landed class. The founding of the Society of the Cincinnati was an additional irritant. Formed by the officers of the Continental army before disbandment, this society adopted one clause especially obnoxious to the radicals. It provided that the eldest male descendant of an original member should be entitled to wear the insignia of the order and enjoy the privileges of the society, which, it was argued, would be best perpetuated in that way. Jefferson saw a danger to the liberties of the people in this provision, since it would tend to give rise to a race of hereditary nobles, founded on the military, arid breeding in turn other subordinate orders. At Washington’s suggestion the clause was modified, but an ugly feeling rankled in the public mind, due to the existence of an active party supposedly bent on the establishment of a disguised form of monarchy.

It was at such a juncture of movements and tendencies that the Society of St. Tammany or Columbian Order was formed. The new organization constituted a formal protest against aristocratic influences, and stood for the.widest democratization in political life.

Anonymous said...

Yankee doodle went to town
a riding on a pony...

Stuck a feather in his cap
and called it macaroni.

Anonymous said...

Most "revolutionary war" era Americans were in agreement with or sympathetic to Rousseau's arguments visa vis amour de soi and amour propre.

But then, that was before the birth of the "modern" scientific latte-sipping, newspaper reading post Nietzschean man of questionable culture emerged "ascendant", donned a macaroni bonnet and began to write with the borrowed rage of a new Achilles.

jams o donnell said...

Triutsy the abolition of the slave trade in Britain was over 25 years after the end of the American war of independence and a hell of a lot of agitation by abiolitionists.

The end of slavery in he Empire did not come until the 1830s

SecondComingOfBast said...

How much of these land expropriations took place before the enactment of the Constitution? If any land was taken from people who were not "Loyalists", in other words who did not actively support the British cause, then the question raises a somewhat valid point, depending on how systemic the process was.

If this happened prior to the enactment of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, however, then the question is irrelevant. Blaming the current US system of governance for what happened during the Revolutionary War would be almost like blaming the US for the French and Indian War, or blaming the current Russian government for Stalin's excesses.

Now you might be able to make a case that the lands should have been returned in some cases, after the Constitution was enacted, or there should have been some kind of just compensation, but

1. The signers of the declaration weren't even compensated for their own losses that accrued during the war. Some lived out the rest of their lives, bankrupt, penniless, and in some cases in poverty. There was no money to cover their losses.

2. No one ever claimed the Congress that fought the Revolutionary War was particularly honorable or any more trustworthy than any of it's modern incarnations, for that matter. Washington was required to be the penultimate politician in order to acquire needed funds and resources from them. In fact, he was probably a better politician than he was a general. They actually hindered him, in some regards, in his conduct of the war.

So nobody should be surprised that a politician ever behaves like a politician, regardless of place and time or circumstances.

That's precisely the reason the Constitution was written with language meant to curb the potential for such abuses. Admittedly, the people who wrote it were covering their own asses, but they did it in such a way as to make it possible to amend it when deemed necessary. I think it's worked out pretty well myself, overall and all things considered.

Anonymous said...

This is a good, and hard exercise, and I'm not going to do well, but feel I must contribute.

For the "Christian" point of view --

Why do you not allow for the development of internal moral and ethical senses in people (so that they have to depend upon rules coming from "God")?

Larry Gambone said...

My answer to Ren's question (if I was a right winger:)

No problem about the expropriations. It is perfectly OK when we do it. It is only wrong when other people do it.

Anonymous said...

I think a true right winger would say, yes, I would condemn that, I am not for that aspect / attitude / activity of the American Revolution.

They might even oppose the entire Revolution.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

That's what I love about you Gambone, you always build your opponent's arguments into the most ridiculous strawmen. I'm sure glad your not a right winger, because I'd be embarrassed to see a right winger make a silly argument like that.

SecondComingOfBast said...


Don't mind Gambone, he just has to face up to some emotional problems that are filling him full of hate and denial. Give him some time, maybe he'll work it out, provided he learns to stop projecting that is.

Larry Gambone said...

Some people lack a sense of humour...

Frank Partisan said...

profacero: Thank you for visiting my blog. It's been awhile.

As for your first comment, I'm a poor person to bring that question to. I'm an atheist, who believes that religion is not a battle of ideas against atheism, like the "New Atheists" believe.

As for your second point, it's what I'm asking for. I just want to know if rightists condemn the expropriation.

Larry G: I wouldn't have answered much different, if I was rightist.

Troutsky: About 10% of slaves, were freed during the American Revolution. It was obviously unfinished. I think the identity politics view, doesn't take into account how profound the revolution was.

Jams: Thank you for the info.

Pagan: Both Tory and American property was expropriated without compensation.

The question is straightforward. Would you have stopped them?

FJ: Not true about communist property rights. Let's get into that another time.

Take on the question directly. Are you opposed to expropriating property from a lower form as feudalism, to have capitalism? Would you oppose Napoleon freeing surfs from feudalism, by expropriating and setting up capitalism. I'm asking for you to take a direct side.

Anonymous said...

I'm w/Jefferson against Franklin in a man's inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of property (except during wartime).

The taking of another man's property is always wrong, although I would admit that there are times when "with-holding" it temporarily might not necessarily be the wrong (like returning a borrowed knife to a man at the precise moment he may be distraught and wishes to commit suicide) thing to do.

As for the question of "human" property, I think there are means of accomnplishing the desired result without expropriating another's slaves/serfs. Simply offer the slaves/serfs sanctuary and a better opportunity elsewhere, and the serfs/slaves will commit the act of self-expropriation themselves. In other words, I'd happily serve as a stop on the underground railroad before I'd allow Lincoln (short of wartime) to issue an "emancipation proclamation."

As for the question of "slavery", I'd say that I'm for it if it were used as a temporary measure and alternative to keeping war prisoners indefinately at an internment facility like Guantanamo. When the war was over, I'd let the slaves go free, but so long as the war continued, I might either enslave or exchange my POWs. I would not permit the sale of slaves, but would not be averse to forcing them to become the personal slaves of those who captured them, so as to establish a better cultural understanding/ exchange between warriors (Spartan to Helot).

War is the circumstance which makes ALL the difference. War is a time when doing "immoral" things may be necessary to "break the enemies will to fight."

SecondComingOfBast said...


"Both Tory and American property was expropriated without compensation.

"The question is straightforward. Would you have stopped them?"

No, I probably wouldn't have stopped them, to answer your question in all honesty. But that's still not the point. The point is, you are bringing up a phenomenon that happened during the Revolutionary War, and seem to be applying it across the board to American values, and to the rule of law as enumerated in the Constitution, as though it proves some sort of contradiction.

What happened before the adoption of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights is irrelevant to how we run things now.

I'll give you an example in a way that turns things around somewhat. "Rightests", as you call them, are prone to say things along the lines of "American is a Christian nation because God is mentioned in the Declaration of Independence as being the creator of all of our 'inalienable rights'"

They will then oppose abortion on the grounds that we are guaranteed "LIFE, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness".

The problem with that, of course, is again we do not live under the Declaration of Independence, but the Constitution. "Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" is not mentioned in the Constitution. For that matter, God is not mentioned in the Constitution, except as a matter of naming the date of it's signing as "the year of our Lord" which was the common practice of the day and signified nothing of a spiritual bent. It sure didn't prove that America was, by law, a "Christian nation".

However, property rights were enumerated in the Constitution, for example freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures, and in numerous court cases following, where property rights have pretty much become established law.

In fact, the right to property was purposely excluded from the Declaration of Independence, after much debate on the matter. It was originally proposed to read "Life, liberty, and property" as the inalienable rights. Jefferson, with the support of Franklin, dropped the property rights and substituted "pursuit of happiness".

So there was no legal contradiction there. If you thought this question was a gotcha, you failed miserably.

SecondComingOfBast said...

By the way, Ren, I'm wondering if you read my last post all the way through (or at all) before you commented. I'm expecting a shit storm. Which, that suits me just fine, to tell you the truth. In fact, I think it might even have some entertainment value, but I thought it only fair that I offer you the opportunity to elucidate your position.

Anonymous said...

Hi RE -- just to clarify since you ask on my blog -- no, my politics are not in transition, I'm just having a hard time with this hard exercise.

My opposition in real life is:
* "Christians"
* other versions of the Limbaugh right

Christians keep asking me why, if I don't have God to check me, I don't go out and kill / rob/ rape / participate in orgies / and so on. Apparently, that is what they would do if they did not fear God.

Other parts of the Tory camp really do believe in holding large estates, slavery, etc., etc., and I know a LOT of Americans who do not agree with the Constitution and have other serious conservative disagreements with the founding fathers, the 18th century in general, and so on. They would burn Voltaire at the stake.

Frank Partisan said...

I'll reply tonight.

nanc said...

Are we allowed to ask TWO questions?

Anonymous said...

1) It is as I 'abstractly' observed before revolutions don't start in the proletariate; they start in the upper crust of the burgeoise and the lower aristocracy.

2) Even though, "Revolution is only treason in the third person," I probably would still have been a loyalist.

3) Taking that which does not belong to you is stealing. Stealing is wrong.

Regardless of the side, I would be opposed for this reason. The goverment forced seizure of land, even in iminent domain (with compensation) is still stealing.

4) Compromise occurs in democracy. And have no doubt, these actions were part of democratic compromises.


Direct enough?



Christians do believe all men have the law of God written in their hearts.

If not, how would eternity in hell be a just punishment for breaking it?

You disprove (by your acknowledgement of a moral law that is contrary to "survival of the fittest") evolutionary theory.

Where did we come from?

Frank Partisan said...

Nanc: The previous thread was for asking questions. I think you asked one. Ask at the previous thread, where questions are collected.

Can you answer my question?

I'll reply to the rest of comments later.

K. said...

Do you accept Darwin's Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection as proven science?

Anonymous said...

While I would like to discuss Darwin's philosophic theories concerning evolution, it is off topic. And is unfair to Ren.

I'm sorry, I'll try to stay on topic.

The Creator endows men with inalienable rights: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness a.k.a. property.

K. said...

I don't see how it's off topic at all. Many on he right do not accept Darwin, and I'd guess that close to 100% of the religious right don't. The question a legitimate probe of the larger issue of the conservative attitude toward science.

Frank Partisan said...

K: I added your question to my bowl of questions.

Tragedy 101:It looks like K's question inspired you do a post at your blog. If I was you, I'd invite him to reply.

Nanc: Leave a question at the previous post.

nanc said...

I already did! Lord, Ren - get your poop in a group!

Expropriation of properties...Do I condemn that?

The native american portion of me says yes and the irish portion of me says no. If you'll allow me, I'm going to let them battle it out for awhile before submitting my answer.

One thing I am thankful for is not having to bow to a monarchy...especially with a bad left knee.

Anonymous said...

The question a legitimate probe of the larger issue of the conservative attitude toward science.

Darwin's "Theory" isn't "science" or you'd be able to disprove it.

Leftists "think" Darwin's theory is science, but reveal their ignorance of just what "science is" when they invoke him.

At least the religionists ADMIT that their belief's are based in "faith" whilst today's leftists alway claim their "beliefs" to be "scientifically based," when they are in actuality nothing of the sort.

Anonymous said...

Darwinian evolution is no more science than Nietzschean "Will to Power" is science.

If the theory (ala Freudian or Darwinian) cannot be proven wrong, it's not science.

Anonymous said...

The Leftie's should just admit outright that the Arachnid brain bugs have been terra-forming the Earth for billions of years in preparation for their scheduled colonization and settlement in 2012, and that they are their earthly scouts.

Anonymous said...

So tighten up your Edgar suits boys, because theories of "natural selection" and Darwinian evolution are just so much "science fiction" lacking falsifiable premises.

nanc said...

I believe we are rapidly moving into a new age with an old concept - survival of the fittest - keep your powder dry and your trebuchet oiled.

K. said...

"Darwin's "Theory" isn't "science" or you'd be able to disprove it."

Um, Darwin's theory has been tested time and again. There are literally millions of data points to support it.

nanc said...

**Link please***

Anonymous said...

If you want to discuss/debate the "Darwin is Science" thing, please, drop by my blog.


Frank Partisan said...

When I do this series next, we'll have to take on evolution.

This weekend I won't be online much, so I'll post tonight a movie post.

Anonymous said...

Um, Darwin's theory has been tested time and again. There are literally millions of data points to support it

Newtonian theory explained billions of astonomical observations as well, yet all it took was a single observation of the planet Mercury during an eclipse to disprove it. And this is what made Einstein's scientific theory superior to Newton's.

THAT is science. And when it is impossible to do THAT, ti "disprove the theory" then what you have is not "science".

Ask scientists today why no one calls the study of Freudian psychoanalysis a "science". It was because his theory could never be falsified, just as Darwin's theory cannot be falsified.

Anonymous said...

Go see the movie Einstein and Eddington. It covers the 1919 observation that made the name "Einstein" a household word.

Anonymous said...

How can one disprove Darwin's "Theory of natural selection"? There only one way, "observe an example of supernatural selection."

And dude, THAT is not going to happen.

Absense of evidence is not evidence of absense. Darwinism is NOT science.

Anonymous said...


Could you stop by my blog (i don't know how to link) and let me know if i'm on the right track or dead wrong?


I'd be interested in your opinion, too.

Anonymous said...

A word to my "wise" Leftist Darwinian friends from Albert Einstein, "Any intelligent fool can make things (even supposedly 'scientific' theories) bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius -- and a lot of courage -- to move in the opposite direction."

Craig Bardo said...


Sorry I'm late to the party. My question is given the immutability of human nature in the aggregate, how does the left propose to impose its hubris on the population; is the Stalin/Mao/Pol Pot terror famine - "reeducation" model the only means available?

Anonymous said...

Immutability? What about the "new Soviet man?"

Anonymous said...

In Darwinian terms, "Build the new social environment, then force the organism to evolve and adapt to it!"

After a few generations, your new Soviet men won't even be able to conceive of "capitalism."

SecondComingOfBast said...

Oh yes they will, for the simple fact capitalism is a natural expression of mankind's urge to first acclimate, and then thrive in, and finally to dominate his environment.

You can no more eliminate mankind's basic urge to own things than you can eliminate the urge of a bunch of squirrels to horde nuts to see them through the coming winter.

And frankly, the more nuts you own, the more better positioned you are. Capitalists want to own money and possessions. Socialists want to own people and communities. And that is precisely why to a large extent they don't believe in private property rights. Ownership is power.

Anonymous said...

...are you doubting the infallibility of Darwin, PT?

You mean "nuture alone" isn't sufficient to "change nature"?

SecondComingOfBast said...

No, because it would take too many generations to evolve mankind into a socialist mentality. There's no way it could keep going on an even keel long enough to accomplish that. There would be too many disruptions, too much negativity, which would incline people to rebel against such an environment, rather than acclimate to it.

You can't have constant chaos and oppression and expect people to acclimate to it.

Anonymous said...

Your atavism is very disheartening, PT. Remind me to build another monument to the aurochs.

SecondComingOfBast said...

Put another way, after so long, if there is no way to acclimate to a situation or an environment, the only other option is to rebel against it and then try to change it to suit your needs. That's why people build houses.

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