Saturday, 14 August 2004
|1812 - Interesting historical thought experiment|
Tom Clancy, in a post asking the denizens of alt.books.tom-clancy to give the Bush/Kerry bashing a rest:
THEREFORE, I, Tom Clancy, beseech the members of the [newsgroup] to refrain and desist from political commentary. It's just receiver noise, and a waste of time for all of us to have to read it. Enough. Save it for the voting booth. Whoever wins the election, America will go on, because as the Clinton Administration taught us, the government has little to do with the way the country actually operates. The personal computer was invented by two college dropouts, not by any government agency or program.
By now, he's probably right. There are very few people left who haven't decided which way to vote.
He went on to ask:
As a thought experiment, I invite all here to say which 19th Century President - except for Abe Lincoln - was more important to America than Thomas Alva Edison. The elections back then were passionate, too. But did they really matter all that much?
Good question, that.
current mood: contemplative
While I agree with his general sentiment, it's a bad analogy; there weren't any nuclear weapons back in the 19th century.
There's far more to this country, and its place in the world, than nuclear weapons. At this point, I'm not sure the national stockpiles are even all that relevant any more: unless we are nuked by another country, we will never use them. Power without the willingness to use it is meaningless.
Nonono, that's not my point.
My point was that in the 19th century, the prospect of someone setting off a nuclear bomb in the heart of New York City didn't even exist. In other words, the stakes today are rather higher than they were back then.
James Polk is the answer.
Interesting idea. What makes you say that?
Fought and won a vicious campaign.
Signed a treaty with the British gaining us the Northwest.
Sent Zach Taylor south to fight when Mexico was leery about losing half their country to us and got us California.
He did kind of screw up the whole slavery thing, but that's what we got Abe for.
No other president of that era has a They Might Be Giants song about him.
In four short years he met his every goal
He seized the whole southwest from Mexico
Made sure the tariffs fell
And made the English sell the Oregon territory
He built an independent treasury
Having done all this he sought no second term
But precious few have mourned the passing of
Mister James K. Polk, our eleventh president
Young Hickory, Napoleon of the Stump
The case for Jefferson could come about because of his foundation of the forerunner of the Democratic Party, the fact that his inaguration marked the first transference of power from one party to another, the Louisiana Purchase of course, and the fact that he more or less managed to keep the US out of the worst of the Napoleonic Wars, even in spite of some humiliations. I think the Marines stormed the shores of Tripoli during his tenure, too.
Monroe, with his founding of the Democratic Party, and the Monroe Doctrine, and the repair of the damage from Madison's disaster of a tenure. The Missouri Compromise happened on his watch, if I remember correctly.
McKinley's tenure involved not only the US getting on the world stage via the Spanish-American war, and the eventual getting out of a major depression, but major changes in the way labour unions were organized.
Jackson's killing of the Bank of the United States probably set back the economic organization of this country for decades.