America, Heal Thyself!
A Commentary by J. D. Longstreet
Freedom in America has always been tenuous. We don't often hear that. In fact, we don't allow ourselves, as Americans, to even think that. Problem is -- it is true.
The first Americans were a breed apart. I believe that is why America, as a country, has always been different from its sister countries around the globe.
The early settlers/colonists were the sort of people we'd like to think we are today. But we're not.
Do not think for one second that THOSE Americans would stand for a government as powerful as the US government today. There is no way under heaven they would have allowed anyone to have that kind of power over them.
If those Americans were round today, half the Congress and the President would be tarred and feathered and ridden out of Washington City on rails ... and I don't mean on a train.
Carving a country out of a wilderness "ain't for sissies." Settlements, villages, towns, cities, and finally colonies were established by men and women who fought and clawed their way through a wilderness fighting, not just the elements, but indigenous natives intent on preserving the lands they rightfully felt were theirs. (If there is a minority in the United States any worst treated than the American Indians/Native Americans, one would be hard-pressed to identify it! Their lands were stolen, they were killed, sold into slavery and shipped from New England into slavery, torn from their ancestral homes and herded like animals halfway across a continent -- and nearly wiped out.)
Early Americans were unruly, uncouth, and determined to be free. And they would do whatever it took to gain their freedom and preserve it. And they did. It was not pretty.
When the British King brought the hammer down -- they rebelled. They went to war against the most powerful military force on the planet at the time. Great Britain was, indeed, a superpower. But, even then, insurrections/insurgencies were exceeding difficult to deal with, especially if the defending military is at the very limits of its supply lines. The canny American insurrectionists used all the skills they had learned wresting their new country from the ancient owners and literally wore the British superpower out.
The original thirteen colonies were free and independent. But they felt the need for a single agent to represent their interests with the other nations of the world. They created a "federal government " for just that reason.
The federal government was a strictly controlled agent, not given much power, at all, due to the American fear of falling victim to another tyrannical government. In fact, the original Constitution was amended ten times before some of the states would even consider signing onto and ratifying it. Those ten amendments restricted the federal government even more than the original constitution had done. They came to be known as "The Bill of Rights." The freedom of Americans was a stake and the agency of the states would not be allowed to threaten that liberty.
In the second decade of the 19th century, America once again went to war with Great Britain over freedom of the seas. American sea vessels were being stopped at sea by British ships, boarded, and American seamen were being forcibly taken from the American ships, as well as ships of other countries, and impressed into the British Navy. Britain was unhappy with America, to say the least, after the successful American Revolution and the historical fact that America had expansionist plans northwards into southern Canada. The matter was settled with the shedding of blood on both sides, on land and sea, AND the signing of the Treaty of Ghent in December of 1814. That war also gave us a poem which would be set to a British drinking song and later become the National Anthem of the United States.
We Americans have ALWAYS been a quarrelsome bunch. The agrarian southern states chaffed under the high taxes and tariffs levied on them -- and ONLY them--by the federal government. In truth, the southern states were paying the US government's bills.
Finally, in desperation, the southern states threatened to pull out of the United States and create their own country -- if the government did not address their complaints and provide some relief. The government refused and the southern states seceded and a new country, the Confederate States of America, was born.
Call them what you will, but a study of the un-revised history of that era will lead you to the conclusion that the people of the south saw the growing power of the federal government and wanted none of it. Slavery was NOT the issue when the war began. In fact, the two cities with the most slaves in America in April of 1860 were: New York City, and Charleston, South Carolina.
The American Civil War, to become known in the South as "The War for Southern Independence" would end four bloody years later with the Confederacy being forced back under the mailed fist of the US government -- at the point of a bayonet.
Many southern Americans feel, to this day, they are the victims of an occupation force and they still chafe under that yoke and yearn for freedom.
We call ourselves all sorts of names: Southerners, Northerners, Westerners, and Easterners, Yankees, and Rebs -- and a slew of other names much less printable than the ones included here.
We will tolerate, for a time, a government that goes rogue. But then we rally and throw the bums out on THEIR bums.
We have been forged into a peculiar and singular nation in a crucible of fire and blood mixed with sweat and tears. After all, a diamond was once a piece of coal. It was pressure that triggered the metamorphosis.
The struggle for freedom is eternal. Freedom requires high maintenence. Its value cannot be appreciated -- until you pay the price. So far, Americans have been more than willing to pay the price, not only for their own freedom, but for that of people around the globe.
I sometimes think Americans need to stop, take a deep breath, and remember who, exactly, we are. We are an amalgam of the best and brightest of all the colors, races and tribes on earth. We are a hybrid -- or a mutt. But we ARE different.
And we are free -- not nearly as free as we once were -- but we are free to change even that. Experience tells me we are about reclaim our lost liberty by shaking up our government yet again.
Freedom is far too precious to allow an arrogant, power hungry, over reaching government to have more than a brief lifespan. Americans have now seen that an arrogant socialist ideologue is a clear and present danger to America's freedom and liberty. That will be corrected very soon.
We Americans ARE strange, peculiar, different -- and free. And we mean to stay that way. America needs to put her house in order and we will do that in November.
J. D. Longstreet