We the elite of the United States of America…
posted at 4:34 pm on February 8, 2010 by Meryl Yourish
The media elite can’t even get their history right, but that doesn’t stop them from harping on the theme-of-the-week, which is that America would be so much better off if it wasn’t for that damned democracy.
The tea-party movement takes its name from the mob of angry people in Boston who, in 1773, committed a zany criminal stunt as a protest against taxes and the distant, out-of-touch government that imposed them. Two years later, the revolution was under way and—voilà!—democracy was born out of a wild moment of populist insurrection.
Except not, because in 1787 several dozen coolheaded members of the American Establishment had to meet and debate and horse-trade for four months to do the real work of creating an apparatus to make self-government practicable—that is, to write the Constitution. And what those thoughtful, educated, well-off, well-regarded gentlemen did was invent a democracy sufficiently undemocratic to function and endure. They wanted a government run by an American elite like themselves, as James Madison wrote, “whose wisdom may best discern the true interest of their country and whose patriotism and love of justice will be least likely to sacrifice it to temporary or partial considerations.” They wanted to make sure the mass of ordinary citizens, too easily “stimulated by some irregular passion … or misled by the artful misrepresentations” and thus prone to hysteria—like, say, the rabble who’d run amok in Boston Harbor—be kept in check. That’s why they created a Senate and a Supreme Court and didn’t allow voters to elect senators or presidents directly. By the people and for the people, definitely; of the people, not so much.
So much for progressivist thinking, which used to be all for the little guy versus the elite. What about that “speaking truth to power” thing? Apparently, that only works when there is a Republican in power. When a Democrat is in power, it’s all about how the American public is just too stupid and angry to understand what’s good for them.
As for that “rabble who’d run amok in Boston Harbor”—not so much. Even Wikipedia acknowledges it was not an angry mob. Angry mobs don’t stop to disguise themselves as Indians.
While Samuel Adams tried to reassert control of the meeting, people poured out of the Old South Meeting House and headed to Boston Harbor. That evening, a group of 30 to 130 men, some of them thinly disguised as Mohawk Indians, boarded the three vessels and, over the course of three hours, dumped all 342 chests of tea into the water. The precise location of the Griffin’s Wharf site of the Tea Party has been subject to prolonged uncertainty; a comprehensive study places it near the foot of Hutchinson Street (today’s Pearl Street).
But here’s a better source. It’s an eyewitness account from a Boston newspaper:
Previous to the dissolution, a number of Persons, supposed to be the Aboriginal Natives from their complection, approaching near the door of the assembly, gave the War Whoop, which was answered by a few in the galleries of the house where the assembly was convened; silence was commanded, and prudent and peaceable deportment again enjoined. The Savages repaired to the ships which entertained the pestilential Teas, and had began their ravage previous to the dissolution of the meeting–they apply themselves to the destruction of the commodity in earnest, and in the space of about two hours broke up 342 chests and discharged their contents into the sea.
A watch, as I am informed, was stationed to prevent embezzlement and not a single ounce of Teas was suffered to be purloined by the populace. One or two persons being detected in endeavouring to pocket a small quantity were stripped of their acquisitions and very roughly handled. It is worthy remark that, although a considerable quantity of goods of different kinds were still remaining on board the vessels, no injury was sustained; such attention to private property was observed that a small padlock belonging to the Captain of one of the ships being broke another was procured and sent to
There is also this partial list of the Boston Tea Party “angry mob”. Paul Revere was a member of that “mob.” You may remember him as one of the men who warned of the pending British movement. The phrase “One if by land, two if by sea” is probably how you were taught the story. Funny how the names of the “angry mob” have come down through the centuries to be enshrined in American historical societies, and yet, no one else is calling them an angry mob.
Finally, this statement by Anderson is incomplete:
Two years later, the revolution was under way and—voilà!—democracy was born out of a wild moment of populist insurrection.
Except not, because in 1787 several dozen coolheaded members of the American Establishment had to meet and debate and horse-trade for four months to do the real work of creating an apparatus to make self-government practicable—that is, to write the Constitution.
Democracy was not born out of the Constitutional Convention alone. It was also born out of the arms, the blood, and the sacrifice of the patriots who fought in the Revolutionay War, most of them—the overwhelming majority, one would have to say—not “coolheaded members of the American Establishment.” But it’s always that way: Wars are not fought by the elite. That’s numerically impossible. They’re fought by the “angry mobs.” Except they’re not so angry, and they’re not mobs.
The Constitution that the Founders created starts with the words “We the People”—not “We the elite.” People like Anderson seem to have a real problem with that.
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