Home › Forums › Discuss U.S. History to 1877 › The Founders Weren't Isolationists Nor Libertarians › Reply To: The Founders Weren't Isolationists Nor Libertarians
I’m not a professor, but I’ll try to chip in and address some of the fallacies/errors as I see them.
Firstly, the assertion that isolationism resulted in WWII. This is patently false. There was not one standalone cause of the war; however, if it was absolutely necessary to boil the entire war down to one cause, it would be the 1919 Treaty of Versailles. The treaty so deeply crippled Germany, thus leaving it ripe for a demagogue such as Hitler. Woodrow Wilson realized this (as pointed out in the beginnings of William Henry Chamberlin’s excellent America’s Second Crusade. Wilson knew that the only thing that would prevent an imminent second war was what he called a peace without victory, or a peace that was not punitive.
Circling back to an earlier assertion, Hitler most definitely would not have attacked the US. He did not want to fight us and took pains to avoid antagonizing us. He knew that once we were in the war (Just like WWI), it would not end well for him.
It states “The isolationists state that the founders were in agreement”. Any “isolationist” who would claim that doesn’t know their history, pure and simple.
Also, I would question the assertion that the founders wanted to spread freedom and “democracy” throughout the world. Any time, every time that you see it implied that the Founders had a positive opinion of democracy, you see someone who is either lying or has been lied to. The founders, even Jefferson, did not support democracy and were very wary of mob rule. They would not have supported democracy at home, and most certainly would not want it to spread throughout the world. This is another sad case of neocons confusing democracy with liberty.
I would point to John Quincy Adams (he who yearned for a national university and federally-funded canals, among many other budget-busters), who once wrote that America “is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own.” While he was not a member of the founding generation and by no means had the views of a Jefferson, he clearly believed that America was a shining light to the liberty of the world, and no more.
The author goes on to state “The Constitution was the result of team work and many compromises. Almost no one agreed with the whole document. There is no “Founder’s view” of the Constitution. The Jeffersonian’s were always at odds with the Adams/Hamilton Federalists. “ I would recommend reading Brion McClanahan’s The Founding Fathers’ Guide to the Constitution. I am currently working my way through it, so I can’t totally deal with their assertion, but signatures to a document were taken very seriously back then, and I doubt many of the signers would’ve signed a document they did not agree with totally. I believe it was George Mason who refused to sign because the passage requiring Congress to obtain a 2/3 majority to enact tariffs was changed to only require a simple majority. He then ends by saying that the Jeffersonians were always at odds with the Federalists. This is also common knowledge, and should not be disputed by anyone with a knowledge of history.
Next, he goes on to chastise Ron Paul for being uncompromising. I’m also upset that we have one politician who has principles. Yes. This is a bad thing. Ahem…
I quote: “Dr. Paul wants to return numerous powers to the states, but that is what existed under the Articles of Confederation. The states then had unlimited powers and were almost totally sovereign. The system was a complete failure and America was not truly a nation.” No, this is what existed when the 10th Amendment was ratified. That is what the 10th Amendment does – return unenumerated powers to the states and to the people.
“Madison is referred to as “the father of the Constitution,” but the Bank of the United States was chartered during his administration.” Not totally false, but definitely misleading. See here, where it is clearly mentioned that Jefferson and Madison were among the original opponents of the First BUS, which they believed to be unconstitutional. Hamilton’s arguments prevailed on Washington, and he signed the bill into law. Dr. McClanahan explains above why Madison signed the charter of the 2nd BUS even though he objected to the charter of the first.
He then goes on to cite Washington’s ‘peace through strength’ plan as perfect for modern foreign policy, even though his advice to avoid foreign entanglements is anchronistic. This guy is indecisive. Or a hypocrite…
His “conclusion” stumbles around and repeats a lot. He references George Washington a lot as if he was some perfect figure. Among other doozies that I won’t even dignify with a response:
–The Electoral College isn’t mentioned in the Constitution
–The strict constructionists of the founding era were flexible
–Libertarians claim to represent the united founders
We should also not forget that, just like Lincoln, FDR maneuvered and provoked the Japanese into attacking us at Pearl Harbor. Had he behaved differently, many lives that were lost could have been spared. The provocation of the Japanese leading up to Pearl Harbor is excellently documented in two books, freely available from the Mises Institute:
America wasn’t innocently attacked because “isolationists” didn’t join the war. We reaped the fruits of diplomatic provocation.
I apologize if this post was overly long and unwieldy, but I hope it helped address some of the “facts” you were still questioning.