TPP Summertime Update

Even with cities burning and an election mere months away, the summertime doldrums have hit.  “Doldrums” isn’t exactly the right word, as things are going pretty well, but the long (for me) Father’s Day weekend distracted me from the woes of the world.

There’s also the issue of unlimited free time that is summer vacation.  Don’t get me wrong—I’m not complaining—but when I have one slender hour in the day to get my blog post done, I tend to be much more productive and focused.  It takes pressure to make diamonds—or 600-word blog posts full of sweeping generalizations.

I’ve fallen a bit behind on SubscribeStar content.  I still owe $5 subs a couple of editions of Sunday Doodles, which I will have up soon.  All subscribers missed out on a SubscribeStar Saturday post, which I will also attempt to make up soon.

History of Conservative Thought is going well, and we have two more meetings before the Fourth of July break.  This Wednesday we’ll be reading documents from John Adams and Alexander Hamilton, the Federalists/Northern Conservatives.  Next week we’ll dive into Southern Conservatism with John Randolph of Roanoke and (possibly) some excerpts from Richard Weaver‘s Southern Essays.

So that’s it for a quick Monday update.  Be on the lookout for more substance tomorrow.

—TPP

Lazy Sunday XVII: #MAGAWeek2019

This past week was #MAGAWeek2019 here at The Portly Politico.  Each day’s post was a SubscribeStar exclusive.  For a subscription of $1/month, you gain exclusive to each day’s posts, as well as exclusive content every Saturday throughout the rest of the year.  Visit my SubscribeStar page for more details.

In case you missed anything from #MAGAWeek2019, this week’s edition of Lazy Sunday is dedicated to catching you up on what you missed.  But remember, you only get a teaser of each post; to read the full posts, you have to subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for $1/month or more.  That includes exclusive content every Saturday, too, like yesterday’s review of my trip to New Jersey and Coney Island, NYC, “Mid-Atlantic Musings.”

But enough sales pitches.  Here were the highlights from #MAGAWeek2019:

  • Fast Food” – After a long day on the road last Sunday, I decided to do something fun and lighthearted to kick off #MAGAWeek2019.  President Trump famously loves fast food, even feeding it to the Clemsux National Championship football team in vast quantities.  I, too, appreciate good fast food, and marvel at its ability to provide a filling, calorie-rich meal at an affordable price.  You can read more of my high cholesterol musings on the topic at my SubscribeStar page.
  • Alexander Hamilton” – Hamilton engenders a great deal of debate between decentralist Jeffersonians (such as myself) and centralists, but his influence on and importance to America’s early political and financial formation cannot be denied—indeed, it should be celebrated.  Jefferson and Madison were probably correct, constitutionally, on the issue of the national bank—Congress had no explicit constitutional authority to create such an institution—but Hamilton’s financial reforms placed the nation on solid financial footing, ensuring the United States had the financial infrastructure in place for explosive growth and expansion.
  • John Adams” – John Adams is an unappreciated Founder and Framer, though David McCullough’s magisterial biography of the second President of the United States has done much to lift Adams’s profile.  Adams served the United States ably as our Commander in Chief during his single term, staving off a full-blown war with France while protecting American mercantile shipping on the high seas.
  • President Trump’s Independence Day Speech” – On a particularly star-spangled Fourth of July, President Trump delivered a powerhouse of an Independence Day speech.  Not only were the multiple flyovers of military aircraft impressive (ending, of course, with the Blue Angels soaring majestically over the National Mall), the speech itself was a masterclass in what I dub “old, patriotic American history.”  It’s well worth watching—and reading my full analysis on my SubscribeStar page.

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

SubscribeStar Saturday: Mid-Atlantic Musings

Today’s post is a SubscribeStar Saturday exclusive.  To read the full post, subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for $1 a month or more.

Thanks to everyone who supported #MAGAWeek2019.  Those posts—on Alexander Hamilton, John Adams, President Trump’s Independence Day Speech, and fast food—will always be available in full on my SubscribeStar page with your subscription of just $1 a month or more.

I’ve been writing all this week from central New Jersey.  Other than a brief stay in Jersey City on a school trip to New York City in 2014, I’ve never really been to New Jersey.  Contrary to my assumptions, New Jersey is not a dystopian nightmare covered in asphalt and broken dreams (although I’m told Newark is).

To read the rest of this post, subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for $1 a month or more.

TBT^2: Happy Birthday, America!

It’s Independence Day in the United States!  God Bless America!

I hope everyone has been enjoying #MAGAWeek2019.  Remember, you can read those full entries only on SubscribeStar with a $1/mo. or higher subscription.  Your subscription also includes exclusive access to new content every Saturday, as well as other goodies from time to time.

I’m happy to announce, too, that I have my first subscriber.  You, too, can support my work for just $1 a month (or more).  That’s the price of a large pizza if you paid for it over the course of an entire year—you can’t beat that!

In case you’ve missed them, so far #MAGAWeek2019 has commemorated our second President, John Adams; our first Secretary of Treasury, Alexander Hamilton; and our national cuisine, fast food.  You can also check out all of #MAGAWeek2018’s entries.

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#MAGAWeek2019: John Adams

It’s #MAGAWeek2019 here at The Portly Politico.  Each day’s post will be a SubscribeStar exclusive.  For a subscription of $1/month, you gain exclusive to each day’s posts, as well as exclusive content every Saturday throughout the rest of the year.  Visit my SubscribeStar page for more details.

Yesterday’s edition of #MAGAWeek2019 looked briefly at the career of our first Secretary of Treasury, Alexander Hamilton.  Hamilton’s controversial financial proposals helped put the nation on a sound financial footing, but also created a rift between loose constructionist Federalists, who favored a national bank and closer commercial ties with Great Britain and protective tariffs, and the strict constructionist Democratic-Republicans, who wanted a nation of small, independent farmers and more diffused power.

Alongside Hamilton in the new Federalist Party was another important figure, one somewhat maligned by history, but who has enjoyed a revival of reputation thanks to a popular HBO miniseries and a thorough treatment from popular historian David McCullough:  our second President, John Adams.

Read More »

Southern Conservatism: John Randolph of Roanoke

MAGA Week 2019 is one week away!  Get ready to celebrate America all week long!  This year, all MAGA Week posts will be exlusive to my SubscribeStar page, so subscribe today!  $1 a month gets you full access to all posts, including new content every Saturday.

As my History of Conservative Thought course rolls on, I’m learning more about the forgotten byways and overgrown, stately ruins of the various branches of conservatism.  Students this week are reading a couple of documents from John Adams and Alexander Hamilton, the two founders of the Federalist Party, and key to the passage of the Constitution.  Hamilton, the author of the bulk of the pro-ratification Federalist Papers, also created the financial system upon which the United States functions today.

Hamilton and Adams have both enjoyed renewed interest in recent years, Hamilton due to the smash Broadway musical about his life, and Adams from a critically-acclaimed HBO series (one that, sadly, takes some unnecessary artistic license with the past).  In the case of Hamilton, American history students are often enthusiastic to get to him in my AP US History course, and Hamilton mega-fans often know more about the first Secretary of Treasury than I do.

But we’re reading a speech from another important figure from American history, albeit one largely forgotten:  John Randolph of Roanoke.

Read More »

#MAGAWeek2018 – Thomas Jefferson & The Declaration of Independence

Happy Independence Day, America!  242 years ago, the Second Continental Congress declared independence from Great Britain, changing the course of history and spawning independence movements all over the globe.

As such, it’s only fitting that today we look at the author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson.

Few figures in the period of the Early Republic have inspired as much debate as Jefferson, who clashed frequently with President Washington’s Secretary of Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, while serving as Secretary of State.  His friendship with John Adams turned into a bitter, acrimonious rivalry, as the two parted ways on the proper response to the French Revolution, then squared off against one another in the 1796 and 1800 presidential elections.  The two would make amends later in life, exchanging some of the liveliest, most insightful correspondence of the period.

After the publication of Thomas Paine’s revolutionary pamphlet “Common Sense” electrified pro-independence sentiment throughout the colonies, the Second Continental Congress put aside any hopes of reconciliation with Britain, and instead decided to declare independence.  To draft the document that would take the colonies across the Rubicon, the Congress selected Jefferson.

Jefferson wrote the Declaration with his fellow countrymen and other European nations in mind, although it was addressed to Parliament and King George III.  The Declaration is one of the most brilliant documents ever written, and its opening paragraphs are almost more important than the specific list of grievances against the English government.

Jefferson’s claim—radical at the time—that “all men are created equal”—shook the world, and its reverberations through history are well-documented.  There are, however, some other key phrases.  The phrase “When in the Course of human events” seems innocuous on the face, but carries an important meaning:  the “unalienable” rights are not unique to any one people, nation, or time in history, but are universal.  All peoples enjoy natural rights that are woven into the fabric of the universe—and which were “endowed by [our] Creator.”

Jefferson was likely a Deist, believing that a God created the universe, but afterward left it to work and unfold according to physical laws of nature.  Nevertheless, Jefferson believed—as did many of the Founders, who were often products of the Scottish Enlightenment (and, fortunately, not the more destructive French Enlightenment)—that the Creator imbued the physical universe with natural rights, just as He created gravity.

Regardless, after some revisions—the congressional committee that commissioned Jefferson had him change “Life, Liberty, and Property” to “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness”—the Declaration was adopted as both a specific list of grievances detailing America’s case to “a candid world,” and as a timeless expression of America’s belief in natural rights.  The usual disclaimers apply—women and free blacks, not to mention slaves, were left out of this consideration at the time, despite objections from Abigail Adams, wife of our second president (and mother of yesterday’s subject)—but the Declaration paved the way for all Americans to enjoy greater liberty.

When time permits, I will dive into a deeper, lengthier discussion of Jefferson’s legacy; as it is, it’s taken me several hours just to write this much, as I’m fulfilling my avuncular duties of watching my niece and nephew.  For now, I will end on one final anecdote:

On 4 July 1826, Thomas Jefferson passed away—the fiftieth anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.  A few shorts hours, in what is likely the most serendipitous event in American history, an aged John Adams slipped away, too.  Moments before his passing, Adams said, “Thomas Jefferson still survives,” although Jefferson had passed just hours before.  An attendant by Adams’s side said that, at the moment of the great man’s death, a sudden thunderstorm whipped up, as if the artillery of Heaven were welcoming him home.

***

To read a full transcript of the Declaration of Independence, I recommend this version at Archives.gov:  https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs/declaration-transcript