Wednesday, May 25, 2016

History: The Year is 1794

I've uploaded year 1794 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

Captain Nelson is Master after God in the British West Indies -- The USA becomes subject to the British navigation laws because it is now a "foreign power" and no longer British.

The Whiskey Rebellion -- Western American citizens rebel against the whiskey tax because it is a burden to their region. (It is).

In Other News -- The Reign of Terror is over, Erasmus Darwin suggests that animals evolve and the US Navy is established.

Captain Nelson is Master after God in the British West Indies

When the military are sent by government to enforce a law, one cannot expect them to act like policemen or security guards. Lord Horatio Nelson will one day be honored with a massive column topped by a statue in Trafalgar Square, but right now he is a captain charged with enforcing the British Navigation Law in the West Indies. To speak plainly, the Navigation Law is a market protection scheme where British-flagged ships and ships with a majority of British sailors are allowed to trade in British ports, but all others can take a hike. Nelson's job is to interdict foreign shipping, and after the American Revolution, the United States has become "foreign shipping". Captain Nelson is advising American ships of their violation, and chasing them out of port. When he sees the same American ships returning, he blocks them. This has caused business to drop off, so the colonial governors complain to the King's Attorney-General. By next year, Nelson will receive new orders from his admiral, telling him to let American ships into British ports. Captain Nelson will tell his admiral to stuff it. Nelson has reviewed the law. There was a recent attempt in Parliament to grant an exception for American shipping, but it failed. Thus Nelson will view his new orders as "illegal," and frankly, he is the ship's "Master after God," a captain of a British warship and he will use his best judgement without second-guessing from those who are not on the scene... not even from his dithering admiral. [1]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
The Admiral did not bring Captain Nelson up on charges because the board of review would have been made up of captains just like Nelson, each believing himself to be a Master after God and required to retain his authority to make judgements on the scene. A captain was given such power because sending a message back, asking for instructions, could take weeks or months. Captains were expected to make decisions of life and death, right there, right now and they had to be so certain that only God could rightly second-guess them. The system had to work that way or it would all fail. In the modern day, we expect our law enforcement to be in constant contact with headquarters, as if officers in the field are puppets. When an officer makes a judgement call he is often second-guessed. "Why didn't you call in?" Often there is no time to call in. It is at those times when he must be a Master after God. Does he have the character and discipline to make such judgements? I'm not sure the people hiring him attempt to figure that out any more. I'm not even sure that officers are judging themselves that way. If they do, they can look the public in the eye and say, "I made the best decision as God gave me the wit to do. That is what you pay me to do. I could no other." [2]

The Whiskey Rebellion

American foreign policy teeters on a knife's edge. The United States declares itself neutral in the wars of Europe. This is a good decision in the long run, but it has immediate economic consequences. In a practical sense, neutrality means that America cannot sell its goods in European markets. For example: if America attempts to sell goods to France, the British and Austrians will object. (This may explain why Captain Nelson has been interdicting American shipping lately.) The United States is a market for European goods, but Europe does not buy much from America in comparison. James Madison wanted to place an excise tax on foreign goods, but Alexander Hamilton blocked him. An excise tax would destroy the US economy, so Hamilton proposed a tax on locally produced distilled spirits. It is called the "whiskey tax". While it is an "avoidable tax" in most of American society, in the western regions, the production of whiskey is a means of preserving and storing excess grain. Whiskey is also used for barter, so a tax on whiskey is an onerous burden in western Pennsylvania and Kentucky. For most Americans, the Federal government is a distant thing, like a king who carelessly imposes taxes on his helpless subjects, and didn't they just fight a war about that? Pennsylvanian distillers stop paying the tax. Federal marshals show up and someone shoots at them. 500 protestors attack the head tax collector's home. George Washington rides out with 13,000 militiamen to put down the rebellion, but by the time he gets there, the protestors have dispersed. A few leaders are arrested but later they are pardoned or released. The Federal government has proven that it can maintain order, but they still can't collect the tax. Thomas Jefferson will sign the repeal of the tax 1801. [3] [4] [5]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
BTW, the Sons of Liberty built a fake guillotine to remind the American government where the Whiskey Rebellion might lead. I'd call that a threat. The Reign of Terror in France came to an end in 1794, but repercussions were still being felt. The government of the United States was never a sure thing. Today, we look back and see the path they took. We wonder at their genius, but historians have smoothed over a lot of the rough spots. (Don't forget that I'm smoothing over a lot of rough spots too. When I focus on one aspect of history, the rest goes unnoticed.) The republican leadership feared that the Federalists were leading them back to a monarchy. Alexander Hamilton's efforts were critical to the success of the United States but he almost brought the whole thing down. The Founders had their faults. They were not gods. Many of them were not even very nice people, but they balanced each other out. What grew out of those days was a government very close to what Thomas Jefferson envisioned, but it has been moving toward Federalism once again. Our Congressmen have become minor princes and our Senators are minor kings. We need to close up that museum in Washington and move everyone into a proper office space, or simply let them work out of their homes. We no longer require leaders to be in the same room to negotiate and it will be a lot easier on their marriages too. [6]

In Other News

  • The leaders of the French Rein of Terror are beheaded. Good. [7]
  • The US Navy is established. The Navy has been around in various forms since 1775 but this year plans are authorized for six new frigates at a cost of over half a million dollars. [8]
  • Erasmus Darwin publishes "Zoonomia, or the Laws of Organic Life". He is the grandfather of Charles Darwin. Erasmus suggests that life might have evolved. [9]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1794, Wikipedia.

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