Happy July 4th to WRM and all of his readers.
155 years ago today (luly 4, 1855) Walt Whitman self-published the first edition of “Leaves of Grass,” probably the finast work of art ever produced by an American and arguably one of the four or five best works of poetry even produced by human-kind.
It is deeply and profoundly patriotic. I always think of this poem when July 4th roles around.
I hear America Singing
I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear;
Those of mechanics—each one singing his, as it should be, blithe and strong;
The carpenter singing his, as he measures his plank or beam,
The mason singing his, as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work;
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat—the deckhand singing on the steamboat deck;
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench—the hatter singing as he stands;
The wood-cutter’s song—the ploughboy’s, on his way in the morning, or at the noon intermission, or at sundown;
The delicious singing of the mother—or of the young wife at work—or of the girl sewing or washing—
Each singing what belongs to her, and to none else;
The day what belongs to the day—
At night, the party of young fellows, robust, friendly,
Singing, with open mouths, their strong melodious songs.
It sounds like you’re trying to advise President Obama. Good luck with that.
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Thank you for your observations. Your work always makes me look at things in ways I hadn’t considered. You have a great blog.
Have a happy 4th and God bless the United States of America!
“There was much more anti-Semitism, racism and all around crackpot thinking among American Populists than progressive historians generally like to remember.”
I know about the racism and crackpottery but am unaware of there being much anti-Semitism during the pre-Civil War period. Can you site some sources? thanks
I was thinking of the post Civil War Populists rather than the small ‘p’ populists before it.
When the seven years war ended in 1758, the peace treaty left the French with only minor possessions in the Western hemisphere. Thus the British Colonies lost their military value to Britain. British economists greatly influenced George III and their view was that the colonies had enormous resources, were rapidly growing in population, the Northern Colonies would eventually take up manufacturing, and there was a real danger that they would become a colossus and a potential menace to Britain. His policy was to prevent this by crippling the Northern Colonies. This purposed was published (notably by Postelthwaite) and read by American leaders. They took up arms to prevent this.
Obama’s policies seem bent on crippling this country today.
The Chicago thugs in D.C., and President [unflattering substitute name deleted] forget that we are citizens, not subjects.
Mr. Mead’s point about transitions in America’s political history is a good one, but I take contention regardings Britain’s desire for a strong central government, at least from a populist standpoint. The socialism once advocated by Orwell expressed a desire of the people for decentralization of power away from the ruling class.
Anecdotally I was living in the UK last year amidst the parliament’s spending scandal. In all my conversations comparing governmental system at work and later in various pubs, I never heard a Britain advocate for a strong central government and certainly not a return to the pre-Thatcher days.
As Thomas Jefferson tried to say about Great Britain in the Declaration of Independence before the editing committee finished snipping:
“We might have been a free and great people together.”
to help understand “the complex relationship between two similar countries on such different paths,” I’d recommend Steven Johnson’s _The Invention of Air_ — http://www.stevenberlinjohnson.com/2008/09/the-invention-o.html — about…
“Joseph Priestley, the 18th-century British polymath who most people know as the discoverer of oxygen [who] turns out to be bound up with the American Founding Fathers in all sorts of fascinating ways: he was best friends with Franklin for the last ten years or so that Franklin lived in London, and his writings on religion — Priestley also helped establish the first Unitarian Church in England — had the single most dramatic impact on Thomas Jefferson’s eclectic Christianity. Priestley’s radicalism ends up provoking the Birmingham Riots of 1791, which ultimately drive him to emigrate to America, where he becomes a central figure in the Alien and Sedition Acts, and the falling out — and ultimate reconciliation — between John Adams and Jefferson.”
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There was very little anti-Semitism among post Civil War Populists — at least that was the conclusion I reached when I looked into the matter several years ago. (See for example, “The Myth of Populist Anti-Semitism” by Norman Polluck.) It was Richard Hofstadter, made paranoid by popular fascism in Europe, who introduced this anti-democratic myth. In doing so he has made it almost impossible for populists movements — which, by definition, attempt to defend the economic interests of ordinary people against those of our policy making elites — to get a fair hearing. Look at the way the Tea Partiers are portrayed in the media, to say nothing of those who would like new restrictions on legal and illegal immigration on purely economic grounds, as if this were just a cover for racism.
Here is a typical example from Leonard Dinnerstein’s Antisemitism in America:
“”Even more significant, Populists strengthened their cause by using religious metaphors to link money with a Jewish conspiracy. Thus, in 1896, Democratic presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan, speaking in an idiom Protestant Fundamentalists were fully conversant with, could easily intersperse biblical imagery with economic necessity when he thundered, `You shall not press down upon the brow of labor this crown of thorns, you shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold.’ The antisemitism evoked by the metaphor of the crucifixion was powerful and appealed to rural Protestants who possessed a similar religious and cultural heritage with other Americans in the South and the West.”
Maybe it is time for the American Jewish community to get behind attempts to reform our current immigration laws or at the very least consider the arguments of the reformers on their merits instead of tarring them as bigots and ignorant know-nothings. After all, the last time we had immigration reform the New Deal and Greatest Generation followed, followed by the Civil Rights movement.
St. Paul’s also features an American Memorial Chapel:
At the east end of the Cathedral behind the High Altar is the American Memorial Chapel.
This part of the building was destroyed during the Blitz and, when rebuilt in the 1950s, formed a chapel funded by the British people to commemorate the members of the United States forces based in Britain who gave their lives defending liberty during World War II.
The Chapel is also known as the Jesus Chapel, as the space was known prior to World War II.
In a case behind the High Altar is an illuminated book of remembrance: the American Roll of Honour, presented by General Eisenhower in 1951, in which their 28,000 names are inscribed.
The American Chapel was designed by Stephen Dykes Bower and constructed by Godfrey Allen, Surveyor to the Fabric 1931-1956. The images that adorn its wood, metalwork and stained glass include depictions of the flora and fauna of North America and references to historical events.The three chapel windows date from 1960. They feature themes of service and sacrifice, while the insignia around the edges represent the American states and the US armed forces. The limewood panelling incorporates a rocket – a tribute to America’s achievements in space.
Fascinating as always, but this time I think Mead of Mead Manor is pushing a point too far in claiming that “the desire of many American liberals to use government to reshape society ultimately traces back to this English sense of the union of throne and altar,” which leads to the unfortunate and I presume unintended insinuation that “liberals” are “un-American.” Also, there is a strong tradition in favor of liberty and limited government in England, going all the way back to the Magna Carta. The UK is hardly France writ small.
You going to take this on?
I would add one site to your list, arguably the most important, but seemingly known by few. To get there catch the DLR to East India Quay and take a short walk directly to the river Thames. This is not a tourist area, and is a bit run down. You are looking for Jamestown Way, right on the edge of the river. Here the APVA (Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities) has erected a monument to those brave 104 explorers who set off from here on 20th or 21st December 1606 to establish Jamestown Virginia. The three tiny boats, Susan Constant, Discovery and Godspeed, sailed down the Thames, only to be forced to anchor, just around the corner in the North Sea, for six weeks in an area known as The Downs, as they could make no progress in the face of strong head winds. And so the whole story started.