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HIST 221 (7)
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Why Moderates Make the Best Presidents.docx

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HIST 221
Gil Troy

Why Moderates Make the Best Presidents (Gil Troy) WASHINGTON (1789-1797) • the Founders despised factionalism as they spread it ◦ Jefferson would basically establish today's Democrats • Washington was a reluctant president ◦ stayed on his Mt. Vernon farm, waiting of the people's call • Hamilton (Secretary of Treasury), Madison (Congressman), Jefferson (Secretary of State) ◦ H+M Federalist Papers warn against partisanship ◦ Jefferson zealously guarded liberty and feared centralized power • W adds Bill of Rights to the Constitution • pres. passivity reassured antifederalists • refused to propose legislation or shepherd bills through Congress ◦ "an influence however remote, would be highly improper" • established tradition of pres. remoteness from Congress • 1790 Hamilton vs. Madison ◦ Hamilton wants government to pay states' lingering war debt to help states develop economically ◦ Madison and Jefferson want to preserve America's rural character and fear corruption that elaborate credit schemes and economic development would bring ◦ Hamilton proposes a partially private national bank to expand money supply and solidify country's credit ◦ Madison and Jefferson are furious, think it exceeds limits of power, demand pres. veto ◦ Hamilton and Jefferson are competing for W's affection ▪ demanded loyalty from him • nightmarish second term • February 1793 France declares war on GB, Spain, Holland ◦ Jeff wants W to make good on promise to help French (French helped during Revolution) ◦ W sides with Hamilton, keeping the country nonaligned ◦ Jeff later decides to leave, and is replaced by Jeff's friend and Hamilton's rival: Madison • 1794 W dispatches Chief Justice John Jay as special envoy to GB ◦ secret negotiations result in Jay's Treaty ▪ controversial ▪ Britain given generous trade deal ▪ America made too many concessions to GB • retired after two terms • Opinion: Troy likes Washington for his muscular moderation and how he dealt well with the rivalries in his government. Washington humbly avoided overstepping his power, leading from the middle. ADAMS (1797-1801) • Jeff is Adams' VP • Jay's Treaty inflamed the French ◦ resulted in quasi-war with France • Adams zigzagged ◦ sometimes governed with a heavy hand, infuriating Republicans by signing the Alien and Sedition Acts and raising taxes to support strengthened army • lost his bid for reelection • Opinion: Troy thinks Adams was stuck in the problem of Washington being a tough act to follow. Generally, he was a presidential failure. JEFFERSON (1801-1809) • took step back towards centre (the partisan feared partisanship) • ignored his own role in sullying W's reputation • Opinion: Troy does not look kindly upon Jefferson, portraying him as devious, disloyal, and underhanded. JACKSON (1829-1837) • Jacksonian Revolution: two-party system truly emerges • North-South alliance within Jack's Democratic Party rested on a fragile interregional peace • unleashed the presidency's popular power • loved a good fight • 1832-1833 Southern famers reject national tariffs ◦ appeased the rebels ◦ encouraging "moderation and good sense", he offered to lower the tariff ◦ 6 days later, he counterpunches ▪ claims the Constitution forms a government, not a league, repudiating their states' rights claims ▪ proposes congressional legislation authorizing military intervention to enforce revenue laws ▪ Henry Clay crafts a compromis tariff bill ▪ South Carolina rescinds its tariff nullification, but then nullified the "Force Bill" as the military threat vanished • slavery issue became the wedge prying apart America's central institutions and nationalizing spirit • in the North, economic progress and the spread of liberty made slavery impractical, then unacceptable • Opinion: Troy likes Jackson as a moderate, and thinks Henry Clay is largely responsible for helping him forge that middle path with legislation. TAYLOR (1849-1850) • last Whig to be elected President • deferred to Congress for policy making • Henry Clay tried drafting a series of compromise bills ◦ Taylor rejected them, angering both Southerners and Northerners • Opinion: Troy thinks Taylor was stubborn and naive, lacking key qualities to be a politician. FILLMORE (1850-1853) • fired the entire Cabinet and backed Clay's compromise • The Compromise of 1850 ◦ admitted California as a free state ◦ organized the rest of the territory into New Mexico and Utah, without restriction on slavery ◦ settled Texas-New Mexico boundary dispute ◦ strict Fugitive Slave Law ▪ federal officers must capture escaped slaves up North ◦ slave trade but not slavery is prohibited in Washington DC ◦ the compromise was too much of a compromise ◦ Southerners fumed they risked losing their property rights if slaves went with them to Cali ◦ Northerners felt they were being forced to help commit the crime of slavery at home by the Fugitive Slave Law • Opinion: Troy generally likes Fillmore, but thinks that compromise can only go so far, as seen with the failed Clay creation. LINCOLN (1861-1865) • Emancipation Proclamation ◦ RICHARD HOFSTADTER says, "It had all the moral grandeur of a bill of lading" ◦ limited executive order only freed slaves in the rebel states • Lincoln revered Clay's enlightened Washingtonian rationalism and passionate nationalism • neither affirmed racial equality nor endorsed eliminating slavery ◦ opposed extending slavery into the new territories, even with popular approval ◦ opposed slavery's extension, not its existence • 1860 South Carolina, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas secede the Union • Lincoln vowed to respect American laws, including the odious Fugitive Slave Law • put together a "balanced and ballasted" cabinet • responsibility for starting any violence had to fall on the rebels; they had to fire the first shot ◦ Confederates attack Fort Sumter ◦ Lincoln could fight on solid ground ▪ told Congress that the rebels have forced upon the country the distinct issue: Immediate dissolution, or blood. • raised an army, suspended basic rights like habeas corpus • started navigating the constitutional complexities of fighting the Confederacy like a hostile foreign power without recognizing each state's secession as legitimate • fought to save the Union at any cost • tried to protect the Constitution without exceeding its constraints, to preserve the people's power • Confederate Army was using slaves on battlefield to cook, dig trenches, etc., freeing Confederate soldiers to fight ◦ by defining the issue of freeing slaves as a military necessity, Lincoln could use presidential war powers to emancipate slaves in the rebellious territories ◦ July 17, Congress passes the Second Confiscation Act, freeing the slaves belonging to disloyal citizens • as the war was drawing to an end, postwar reconstruction planning revealed a Washingtonian tendency to define reasonable positions and forge common ground, avoiding Clay' one-for-you and one-for-me compromises ◦ preferred rebuilding to revenge, positive incentives for loyalty to mass punishment for treason • assassinated in 1865 • Opinion: Troy LOVES Lincoln as a moderate, making him a prime example for his muscular moderate theory, especially how Lincoln seized upon the use of slaves helping the Confederate cause to emancipate them, under the umbrella of military necessity. FDR (1933-1945) • democratic centrism tempered American nationalism • invited all Americans to uphold and enjoy the country's most noble ideals • secured his great achievements incrementally and patiently • transformed the American social covenant, making it a communal responsibility to care for America's once-forgotten men and women • mass poverty, suicide, burglary, extremism, Marxism, communism • European-style communism and socialism confidently explained the downturn and promised salvation • 1920s Harding, Coolidge and Hoover presided over regulatory rollbacks, tax cuts, union defeats, and a corporate resurgence ◦ rode the backlash against Teddy and Wilson, restoring the presidency to its historically modest role ◦ SO STUPID OF THEM!! THEY CAUSED THE FUCKING GREAT DEPRESSION, THE DUMBASSES! • much-improvised First Hundred Days • produced a contradictory hodgepodge of philosophies and actions • Dr. New Deal prescribed a wide array of medicines • Relief ◦ 250,000 jobs through the Civilian Conservation Corps • Recovery ◦ taking US off gold standard • Reforms ◦ fixing the banking system and other economic structures • bank "holiday" is mandatory closing of bank to prevent bank runs that deplete all the bank's hard assets • Emergency Banking Act 1933 ◦ government can keep weak banks closed and certify strong banks' solvency • Economy Act 1933 ◦ promised government and budgetary discipline by reducing federal employees' salaries • National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA) ◦ pro-corporate forces have power to negotiate codes of fair competition ◦ labour radicals obtain Section 7A, legalizing collective bargaining ◦ big government supporters get 3.3 billion in public works programs • 1935 Supreme Court rules NIRA unconstitutional because it gives the NRA virtually unfettered powers • government hires millions of unemployed Americans with alphabet soup of agencies • fireside chat to increase contacts between the President and the American people ◦ helped forge a national consensus and keep the country centred • careful to make sure that both liberals and conservatives occasionally won and occasionally lost • Second New Deal ◦ Social Security Act 1935 ◦ helped the elderly poor and began a federal pension plan (would later expand for more assistance) ◦ reinforced sanctity of private property, individual dignity, and government centrality • wielded executive power cautiously ◦ refused to mobilize National Guard when labour violence broke out in San Francisco ▪ inaction deprived the strikers of a focal point for their anger and a way to nationalize the issue ◦ the strike whimpered to an end • unions were thriving, fuelled by New Deal legislation preserving labour's right to organize, economic anger, and a surge of collectivist idealism • denounced greedy "economic royalists" trying to enslave the
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