Sunday, October 24, 2010

It's Comforting To Know Our Political Disagreements Go Back Centuries

I have set out to learn myself up on the history of American did it develop? Why did it focus here or there? How important was important is it? And stuff like that.

Right now I'm reading up on the Tariff Bill of 1816, which I actually remember "learning about" in elementary school. But at that time I had so very little of a clue what it all meant. I put "learning about" in quotes because the only reason I even remember it is it was my first encounter with the word "tariff" and the concept that "there was one" and "a long time ago."

What I'm saying here is, I didn't actually learn a thing.

But I'm correcting that.

And the most interesting bit about it is how familiar it sounds. See if this rings a bell: Democrats and Republicans at each others' throats, and Republican congressmen threatening to ignore the Federal law completely in an event known as the "Nullification Crisis" in 1832:
Mr. Hayne of South Carolina, the opponent of Daniel Webster in the most famous oration of the latter, was an ardent advocate of this doctrine (ignoring Federal laws), and, while bitterly denouncing New England in that famous controversy, he openly urged on the floor of Congress the doctrine of "Nullification," claiming that any State when deeming itself oppressed by a law of Congress considered unconstitutional by the State legislature, had the right to declare this law null and void and to release its citizens from the duty of obedience.
Echoes of Health Care Reform, eh?

And more echoes of modern Republican insanity:

The opposition of South Carolina to the protective policy had been pushed to a point of excitement at which it was beyond the control of party leaders.

It's good to know this sort of rivalry has been going on for two centuries. It's a bit disconcerting that just 40 years after this little outburst America would be locked in bitter and bloody Civil War. I'm not sure what the takeaway lesson is here...maybe take the wild eyed rantings of the South more seriously. But dang, they're so adorable when they're furious.

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