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Lecture INDEPENDENCE:

Review of INTRODUCTION:

GOVERNMENT- Is the institutions and officials that carryout politics on a local, state, or national level.

POLITICS- Is the process of (re)allocating scarce resources ("deciding who gets what").

IDEOLOGY- Is- Your comprehensive set of beliefs about the role of government, what it is and/or what it should be .

DEMOCRACY- From the Greek Demos Kratia - The people to rule. Remember we have a representative democracy, or REPUBLIC. And, that the basis of politics, and therefore, government, is each person's tendency to promote their own self interest. 

SECTION 1/1-

This Section and Section 2 are really important Sections in the understanding of how our system of government is meant to work.  These SECTIONs also highlight the first truly American political ideologies, and give background into the notion of a limited, local government versus an empowering, central government.

Now, to understand how we got to where we are today, we have to go back - way back- into our American history to see the conditions as they were and why we ultimately revolted to form this nation and its structure of governance.

First, ask yourself why America was "discovered" at all (and yes, I know there were already people here).  Columbus, right?  1492. . . ocean blue. . . yada yada yada.  OK, but why did Columbus even set sail?  To find the route to Japan, China and the Indies? Right, but why?  SELF INTEREST!  Columbus wanted to get paid - a lot, and he was willing to sail West - off the edge of the World- to do so.  

At this particular point in history, Europe was still emerging from the catastrophic impact the Dark Ages had had on commerce and industry.  But whereas Europe declined after the fall of the Roman Empire (and its structured central government), the Far East continued to progress culturally. In other words, they possessed a better " quality of life."  And, when trade ultimately developed between East and West, those things that add to the quality of life (namely, spices, silks, furnishings, art) were sought out.  With few exceptions, the East had what the well-to-do in the West wanted - and to get it, the West depleted their coffers of hard currency (gold and silver).  Trade was at an imbalance ( remember, the East had been able to progress their "quality of life" to a higher level than the West), and the West was on the losing end.  

This is where Columbus comes in.  The cost of "shipping" the goods from the East to the consumers of the West across land was expensive.  Every boundary crossed while transporting the goods evoked a tax - or a "toll," not to mention the perils of bandits, cut-throats, and thieves, acting on their self interest to snatch resources.  So, Columbus figures that if he could sail West ( and if the world truly was round) and come up in the East, he could load up his boat once and ship back to the West without the fear of bandits, nor the burden of taxation.  Then, if all went as planned, a portion of the money saved via the cheaper shipping would be pocketed!  Columbus would get his own slice of the resource pie ($$$)!

Columbus, however, didn't count on there being a barrier between his Spanish port and the wealth of the Orient.  This "barrier" being the continents of North and South America.  As the story goes Columbus discovered Haiti/Dominican Republic but -believing he had found the Western Passage and was actually landing on an East Indian island- never recognized the true magnitude of his discovery. Some say he died refusing to believe he was only half way to his intended destination. 

Where Columbus failed to recognize the value of the "new" continents, others were quick to capitalize.  As much as we (as Americans) owe to Columbus for burning the path, we owe a lot to a Captain named John Cabot, who was sent by English King, Henry the VII, shortly after Columbus' maiden voyage. It was Cabot's travels to "new found land" (Canada's Newfoundland. . . those witty Brits) that would ultimately allow Britain to lay claim to - what is now- our East Coast.     

The claim to the New World, meant a claim to all its raw, virgin, resources.  As a Colonial power, England amassed quite a fortune by exploiting the rich natural resources of North America.  And, through monopolizing these resources, kept other nations from reaping the same benefits.  

[At this point I should discuss something called a Unitary System of Government (which is: a System where the Central Government makes all the decisions for its citizens - no matter where they reside)] 

All colonial systems are set-up under a Unitary System of governance. And, as colonies go, when they are established it's not for the purpose of benefiting the colony -but for the benefit of the mainland (This concept is very important in the understanding of why there was an American Revolution).  This Unitary System was not very flexible.  And, from the get go,  those seeking a bit more autonomy (or self governance) by exiting for the "Colonies" would initially find it, only to have that itty bitty taste of ultimate freedom smacked from their lips sometime later.  England saw the Colonies as a " captive market," there for the betterment of England.  A quick test to this notion by the colonists was their attempt to apply market principles to the commerce that was developing.  But, when they engaged in negotiations with other countries to receive a fairer price for the raw resources that were being harvested and shipped to the factories of England, English Parliament (the legislative voice of all Brits -including the Colonists) passed the Navigation Acts of 1650.  Basically, these Acts disallowed trade with any nation other than Great Britain by any of its colonies.  Freedom tasted, Freedom slapped away.

Other Acts would be passed (such as the Molasses Act and laws limiting colonial manufacturing), each one tightening the constraints placed upon the colonies, while ensuring the mainland would reap the benefit (remember, this is a Unitary System).  The "American's" were beginning to resent their ties to England (not in mass, but enough to raise some concern by the Crown.)

Then in 1754, conflict arose between expanding the English interests West (into the Ohio Territory), and the Colonial French and their already established trading routes through Ohio and trade relations with the Native-Americans.  The Colonies would be "invaded" -yet again- by the British regulars on their way to fight for "King and Country" (fully expecting the Colonists to join in the fight).  This time, however, following the war ( French and Indian War), rather than return home many of the British soldiers would stay .  Why? To protect the interests of England and to keep an eye on the increasingly resistant Colonists.  "Babysitters," the colonists certainly did not want around.  And, to add fuel to the fire, Parliament decided the Colonists would have to flit the bill for the unwanted interlopers.

Paying for our "babysitters" without a say as to whether or not we wanted to, is where we get "Taxation without Representation," as a familiar battle cry.  The taxation came in the form of the Stamp Act of 1765 ( which was a tax on printed materials).  Enough Colonists resisted paying the tax, harassed officials, and openly denounced the action, that Parliament repealed the Act ( it wasn't worth it), but the troops still had to be supported.  While repealing the Stamp Act, Parliament passed a resolution known as the Declaratory Act of 1766.  

[ Now this is important] The Declaratory Act among other things was a declaration that stated in no uncertain terms that, " We [Parliament] are the Government, You [Colonists] are the Subjects.  We tell you what to do . . . YOU DO NOT TELL US!"    In other words, Power flows from us to you, and therefore, you are only as powerful as we say you are.  See below:

 

Needless to say this didn't set real well with the Colonists.  And, because those in Britain still demanded that the "uppity" Colonists pay for their protection (Babysitters), Parliament passed the Townsend Duties (1767)- which was a tax that couldn't so easily be thwarted (A tax on imports/exports).  OUCH!  

This Act eventually leads to further unrest, culminating in the Boston Massacre (1770), the Colonials burning the Gaspee -a British patrol boat seeking smugglers and contraband (1772), which was followed by the Tea Act -a tax on tea- and the accompanying Boston Tea Party dumping of British tea into Boston Harbor (1773), then came the Coercive Acts - outlawing speech against the Crown (1774), leading to the Battle of Bunker Hill (1775), which finally leads to our own "declaratory act" - THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE (1776)!  In which Jefferson outlines the true nature of Government, and the relation to those governed: 

    "We hold these truth to be self evident [Meaning: No KING has to tell us this] that all men are created equal [Meaning: There is no "divine right" to rule] that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable Rights [Meaning: These basic rights extend to everybody, simply by being born] that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness [Meaning: Each human has the right to pursue FREELY what makes them happy (ah, there's that self interest)] .  That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just power from the consent of the Governed [Meaning: To protect the Free pursuit, Men create a Government, and that Government operates because the PEOPLE want it to ( power flows up)] , That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends [Meaning: Fails to protect or listen to the People] , it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government [Meaning: WE, THE PEOPLE, WILL REVOLT IF YOU, THE GOVERNMENT, BECOME TYRANNICAL!] ."  See Below:

 

Jefferson spells it out pretty well,  "King George, you have forgotten the bottom line principal of Government:  Governments exist to serve the people.  And, so we shall setup a new Government that will reflect the will of the people!

At any rate, as you know we win the Revolution and do indeed  - eventually- establish a sound government. See Below:

 

 


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