Monday, September 12, 2016

History: The Year is 1868

I've uploaded year 1868 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

The First Impeachment of a President -- Andrew Johnson is the first but not the last.

Grant Disavows General Order 11 -- US Grant is running for President and disavows his order given several years ago regarding expelling Jews from his jurisdiction. I talk about how some illegal things are made to happen.

The Last Public Hanging and the First Private One -- I talk about the Gary Gilmore execution by firing squad in 1977.

In Other News -- Traffic lights, color photography and Japanese modernization.

The First Impeachment of a President

Impeachment is a vote by the US House of Representatives on evidence a that a public official has committed "high crimes and misdemeanors." It is not a judgement of guilt of a crime in the normal sense of the word. For example, if a public official is playing golf and appearing to neglect his duties, he could be impeached. (FYI, golf is not a crime in the USA... yet.) After a trial before the US Senate a two-thirds vote could remove an official from office. OK, so what has President Andrew Johnson done now? He is a Tennessee Democrat who sided with the Union, but is now fighting the Radical Republicans. The Radicals did not like Lincoln's conciliatory policies of "malice toward none." The Radicals have built up a lot of malice toward the Confederates. They also want complete political and civil equality for the Freedmen (as ex-slaves are now called). To be fair, President Johnson has been opposing the Radicals based on the constitutional law of the time. The apparent issue at hand is whether the President has the power to dismiss a cabinet member without the advice-and-consent of Congress. In anticipation of this fight, Congress has passed a veto-proof law specifically prohibiting the President from doing any such thing. The President gives Congress the middle finger and replaces his Secretary of War who is a Radical Republican. President Johnson is impeached. With no VP currently in office, the President of the Senate will replace Johnson if he is removed, but the vote is 1 short. The Senate goes into recess for 10 days to further coerce... uh... I mean, CAREFULLY RECONSIDER THE EVIDENCE, but when they return, no joy. President Johnson keeps his office. FYI, President Nixon was chased from office on the threat of impeachment, and President Bill Clinton was impeached but walked after the Senate vote fell short. The removal of a President from office is a difficult process and should be. Judges... not so much. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
OK. The Radical Republicans look pretty good from a modern perspective, but that take-no-prisoners attitude can be a mixed bag. The US Constitution was framed in such a way that it gave large landowners with large slave populations a lot of political power over the small-plot Southern voter. Thus the average Southerner had no say over going to war. The plantation owners were mostly to blame, so the Union focused on strangling the large landowner's economic ties. They called it the Anaconda Plan. The Union's policy was to avoid punishing the little guy unless he resisted. As the Confederacy lost ground, Lincoln reached out to wavering states like Louisiana. Taking a running mate like Southern Democrat Andrew Johnson was a signal that an easy transition back to the Union was possible for the South. The Radical Republicans were signalling: winner-take-all, no-quarter, die-die-die. If Lincoln had lived, the Radical Republicans would have lost a lot more battles, but I also think that the civil rights of the Freedmen would have been preserved. Was Andrew Johnson some sort of racist? The articles I read imply that he was. After all... he was from the evil South, but the evil North was no better in terms of racism. Just different. The North didn't want black people enslaved. The Northerners wanted them gone... just as Lincoln did. Look. I don't like tarnishing Abraham Lincoln's reputation. I like him, generally speaking. He was good to Jews and I'm Jewish. Sue me, but he would have sold his own mother to keep the Union together. Don't doubt that. [6]

Grant Disavows General Order 11

Back during the War Between the States, General U.S. Grant issued his infamous General Order Number 11 which expelled Jews from his jurisdictions. It was one of many such orders issued by the Union military during the war. The reasons given are many but it boils down to the fact that Jewish peddlers did not understand the niceties of American commerce during wartime... or maybe they understood them all too well, and it became an embarrassment to the Union. Certainly General Grant found it embarrassing when he realized that HIS OWN FATHER had been drawn into a get-rich-quick scheme with a Jewish business partner who was looking for a special permit from General Grant to buy cotton from Southern vendors and was using Grant's father as leverage. Buying cotton from the South was considered illegal even though it was going on in Texas through Mexican agents. Grant had a love-hate relationship with his father and in many ways General Grant's current success in running for President of the United States can be attributed directly to his father. Whenever Grant must decide what to do, he asks himself what his father would do, and then do exactly the opposite. After the General had issued Order Number 11, complaints reached President Lincoln, who countermanded the order immediately. Now Grant is running for President, so he must address his past mistakes. He disavows Order 11. He says he is free of prejudice and wants each individual to be judged on his own merits. He thereafter treats it as a closed issue and never mentions it again. [7] [8] [9]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
General Grant had every right to arrest smugglers and to kick out annoying peddlers from his camp. My sense of the situation was that an inordinate number of the smugglers were Jewish. That doesn't mean all Jews were smugglers and that was the problem with General Order 11. It was too broad to make any sense. There was actually a joke going around at the time about a Union soldier looking for Jews but all he could find were guys named "Tailor". Historically speaking, Jews had been granted certain privileges to work pawn shops. While it was illegal in Europe to sell stolen goods to pawn shops, it was not illegal to RECEIVE stolen goods... at least until the early 1800s. It is considered wrong in the modern day, but in the early 1800s a lot of wrong things had to happen to make the world work. During the War Between the States, selling cotton to the North was wrong. Buying cotton from the South was wrong. Yet the majority of the cotton bought by the North came from the South. Frankly, it had to happen. I want to say a lot more on this subject but I'm going to stop there except to say that a lot of things we call illegal are happening today. They happen because a heck of a lot of people want them to happen. You can do it out in the open, or you can pat yourselves on the back and call it "illegal" while letting it go on. It seems more honest to tell people why something is wrong and then letting them decide for themselves. [10]

The Last Public Hanging and the First Private One

Michael Barrett is the last man to be hanged as a public spectacle. His crime was his part in Clerkenwell Explosion in which the Irish Republican Brotherhood used gunpowder to collapse a wall of Clerkenwell Prison. The idea was to free one of their fellows. In fact 12 people were killed and none of the prisoners escaped. Shortly after Mr. Barrett's hanging, the UK Parliament prohibits public hangings. Executions will now take place behind the walls of the prison and the body buried on the grounds of the prison. The first to be privately hanged is 18-year-old Thomas Wells for the murder of Edward Walshe, the stationmaster at Dover Priory railway station. [11] [12] [13]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
The debate over public executions comes up on occasion. The last time I recall a big debate was when Gary Gilmore was executed by firing squad in 1977. He had been convicted of murdering a gas station attendant and motel manager in Utah. As it turned out, the US Supreme Court had just allowed capital punishment after keeping it on hold for a number of years. Gilmore demanded to be put to death by firing squad. It became a zoo as vendors began selling tee-shirts with a target printed on them. The talk about the execution approached the ridiculous when Saturday Night Live performed a skit and song called "Let's Kill Gary Gilmore For Christmas". In history, capital punishment was usually a public event: bloody, drawn out for days and with lots of screaming. It didn't deter many people. If one is arguing for public executions as a deterrent, I'm not seeing it. If one is arguing that capital punishment is a proper and just punishment, then there is no need for a public execution. You can carry the sentence out in private. Most people who would be deterred by executions, would be deterred simply knowing that they occur. They don't have to see them in public. [14]

In Other News

  • Decoration Day is established. The Northern States commemorate the fallen troops by decorating their graves. The South is already doing this. The holidays will eventually merge into the national Memorial Day. [15]
  • Emperor Meiji establishes Japan's first Constitution and a path toward modernization. Also, the city of Edo is renamed Tokyo meaning "Eastern Capital." [16] [17] [18] [19]
  • A technical bonanza: the first traffic light, Color photo prints on paper, and the Electrical voting machine is patented. The traffic light blows up a month later. The voting machine is patented by Thomas Edison. Maybe he can fix the light. [20] [21] [16]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1868, Wikipedia.

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