The Father of Our Country and the Almighty

Today is the feast day of Christ the King in the Catholic Liturgical Calendar, signaling the ending of the Church year.  On this date my thoughts turn to April 30, 1789 when President George Washington commenced the government of the United States under its new Constitution with the first inaugural address.  Below is the address.  Pay special attention to the second paragraph where Washington acknowledges the role of God in bringing about the American Republic and his final paragraph where he states that America depends upon God’s cotinued blessing:  so His divine blessing may be equally conspicuous in the enlarged views, the temperate consultations, and the wise measures on which the success of this Government must depend.

Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and of the House of Representatives:

AMONG the vicissitudes incident to life no event could have filled me with greater anxieties than that of which the notification was transmitted by your order, and received on the 14th day of the present month. On the one hand, I was summoned by my country, whose voice I can never hear but with veneration and love, from a retreat which I had chosen with the fondest predilection, and, in my flattering hopes, with an immutable decision, as the asylum of my declining years—a retreat which was rendered every day more necessary as well as more dear to me by the addition of habit to inclination, and of frequent interruptions in my health to the gradual waste committed on it by time. On the other hand, the magnitude and difficulty of the trust to which the voice of my country called me, being sufficient to awaken in the wisest and most experienced of her citizens a distrustful scrutiny into his qualifications, could not but overwhelm with despondence one who (inheriting inferior endowments from nature and unpracticed in the duties of civil administration) ought to be peculiarly conscious of his own deficiencies. In this conflict of emotions all I dare aver is that it has been my faithful study to collect my duty from a just appreciation of every circumstance by which it might be affected. All I dare hope is that if, in executing this task, I have been too much swayed by a grateful remembrance of former instances, or by an affectionate sensibility to this transcendent proof of the confidence of my fellow-citizens, and have thence too little consulted my incapacity as well as disinclination for the weighty and untried cares before me, my error will be palliated by the motives which mislead me, and its consequences be judged by my country with some share of the partiality in which they originated.

  

 

  Such being the impressions under which I have, in obedience to the public summons, repaired to the present station, it would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official act my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that His benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the people of the United States a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes, and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success the functions allotted to his charge. In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every public and private good, I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own, nor those of my fellow-citizens at large less than either. No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than those of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency; and in the important revolution just accomplished in the system of their united government the tranquil deliberations and voluntary consent of so many distinct communities from which the event has resulted can not be compared with the means by which most governments have been established without some return of pious gratitude, along with an humble anticipation of the future blessings which the past seem to presage. These reflections, arising out of the present crisis, have forced themselves too strongly on my mind to be suppressed. You will join with me, I trust, in thinking that there are none under the influence of which the proceedings of a new and free government can more auspiciously commence.

 

 

  By the article establishing the executive department it is made the duty of the President “to recommend to your consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.” The circumstances under which I now meet you will acquit me from entering into that subject further than to refer to the great constitutional charter under which you are assembled, and which, in defining your powers, designates the objects to which your attention is to be given. It will be more consistent with those circumstances, and far more congenial with the feelings which actuate me, to substitute, in place of a recommendation of particular measures, the tribute that is due to the talents, the rectitude, and the patriotism which adorn the characters selected to devise and adopt them. In these honorable qualifications I behold the surest pledges that as on one side no local prejudices or attachments, no separate views nor party animosities, will misdirect the comprehensive and equal eye which ought to watch over this great assemblage of communities and interests, so, on another, that the foundation of our national policy will be laid in the pure and immutable principles of private morality, and the preeminence of free government be exemplified by all the attributes which can win the affections of its citizens and command the respect of the world. I dwell on this prospect with every satisfaction which an ardent love for my country can inspire, since there is no truth more thoroughly established than that there exists in the economy and course of nature an indissoluble union between virtue and happiness; between duty and advantage; between the genuine maxims of an honest and magnanimous policy and the solid rewards of public prosperity and felicity; since we ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained; and since the preservation of the sacred fire of liberty and the destiny of the republican model of government are justly considered, perhaps, as deeply, as finally, staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.

 

 

  Besides the ordinary objects submitted to your care, it will remain with your judgment to decide how far an exercise of the occasional power delegated by the fifth article of the Constitution is rendered expedient at the present juncture by the nature of objections which have been urged against the system, or by the degree of inquietude which has given birth to them. Instead of undertaking particular recommendations on this subject, in which I could be guided by no lights derived from official opportunities, I shall again give way to my entire confidence in your discernment and pursuit of the public good; for I assure myself that whilst you carefully avoid every alteration which might endanger the benefits of an united and effective government, or which ought to await the future lessons of experience, a reverence for the characteristic rights of freemen and a regard for the public harmony will sufficiently influence your deliberations on the question how far the former can be impregnably fortified or the latter be safely and advantageously promoted.

 

 

  To the foregoing observations I have one to add, which will be most properly addressed to the House of Representatives. It concerns myself, and will therefore be as brief as possible. When I was first honored with a call into the service of my country, then on the eve of an arduous struggle for its liberties, the light in which I contemplated my duty required that I should renounce every pecuniary compensation. From this resolution I have in no instance departed; and being still under the impressions which produced it, I must decline as inapplicable to myself any share in the personal emoluments which may be indispensably included in a permanent provision for the executive department, and must accordingly pray that the pecuniary estimates for the station in which I am placed may during my continuance in it be limited to such actual expenditures as the public good may be thought to require.

 

 

  Having thus imparted to you my sentiments as they have been awakened by the occasion which brings us together, I shall take my present leave; but not without resorting once more to the benign Parent of the Human Race in humble supplication that, since He has been pleased to favor the American people with opportunities for deliberating in perfect tranquillity, and dispositions for deciding with unparalleled unanimity on a form of government for the security of their union and the advancement of their happiness, so His divine blessing may be equally conspicuous in the enlarged views, the temperate consultations, and the wise measures on which the success of this Government must depend.

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Published in: on November 25, 2012 at 5:30 am  Comments (31)  
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31 Comments

  1. aye yiyi. I wish our politicians would accept the same pay President Washington did!!! And would they had the recognition of our dependence upon God as he obviously did. Our forefathers would scarce recognize what we have become. They were unti-government in so many ways.

    • A country is very lucky to have a statesman of the calibre of Washington once. We have had Washington and Lincoln.

    • President Washington was one of the richest men in the country before he became President. He mostly built up his own fortune himself and nobody suggests he did not deserve it. But he could – in a situation where federal income was paltry and demands many – afford to give up his emolument. However, in general the idea of doing a job for no pay is a very bad one. It shuts out all but the very rich – who rarely have the moral calibre of a Washington or are owed the respect he gained over seven years of war – and fosters self-regard (“I am too good for money”). To the contrary, Our Lord said that “the labourer is worthy of his hire”, and He said it not of any kind of labourer, but of those who received from His own hands His priestly office of salvation. (It’s part of His commission to His disciples spreading His teachings across Judaea; Luke 10.7.)

      • I think Washington was making an important point Fabio. He did not want the office of the President to become like that of a king. That is also why he inisted that the only title that went with the office be “Mr. President”. No rich trappings of the office for him. He also viewed public service as a sacrifice that he did for the public weal and he did not wish to benefit from that sacrifice. As a practical matter few can follow the example of Washington, but I do find him refreshing from most professional politicians who live off their offices, and the connections they make while in office, and who are often a completely negative factor for the people they purport to represent. Professional politicians are a necessary evil I suppose, but lately I think most of them have been working overtime to diminish in my mind the “necessary” and maximize the “evil”!

  2. Allow me to remind you that unpaid political leadership was a commonplace in Britain at the time, and remained so for more than a century. The purpose? Quite clear: to make sure that only rich men could ever access political power. It was stated in those terms. And if you think the current political generation is bad, have a look at the British eighteenth century.

    • Oh, I don’t know Fabio, I think few contemporary politicians could stand comparison with either Pitt the Elder or Pitt the Younger. As for Edmund Burke, I think his picture should be used to illustrate the term statesman.

      • Robert Walpole. And apart that I don’t have as high an opinion of
        Burke as you do, Burke lost most of his battles. Have you read Namier?

      • Yep I have read Namier. I tend to agree with Conor Cruise O’Brien in regard to him:
        http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/1993/jan/28/burkes-livery/?pagination=false

        I think Burke long term won almost all his battles: against the Irish penal laws, against the French Revolutionaries, for Catholic Emancipation in England, against British policy as to the American colonies, and on India. Some of these victories were won long after his death, but it is the role of the best of statesmen to see far beyond their day.

  3. Hmmm, I see your point Fabio about only the rich serving. It seems to me Washington took expenses. Also as I understand the work of Governance (since it was a hands off our stuff, secure the borders kind of thing) was done in less than two months so there was NO professional Politician as we are cursed with today. They went home to their businesses and farms. I think men and women like these would make a better political forde. What we have are poser hungry twits using other peoples money to maintain their elite postion. The idea of service is very small portion of their day it seems. When a business man gets rich he has provided a product or service that others including those in his employ have benefit from. The politician and those in his employ are leeches, sucking the blood out of my two cows. I am starting an anti-incumbency campaign, kick all the old farts out. They are killing the greatest experiment in government. WAUGH!!! That is pretty much how I really feel.

  4. The French Revolutionaries failed, as may be seen by the flourishing state of the House of Bourbon and the vast unpopularity of republican ideals in France and surrounding countries. The British failed in India, as may be seen by the fact that the Indians took over wholesale the administrative, legal, economic and political system of Britain. Sorry, but if you are touting the man as a prophet, you would do better to show a more than 50% record. As for CCO’B, I don’t even see where his real point is. An analysis of a half-century of (profoundly corrupt and ultimately reactionary) political history in a great power, reduced to the attitude – whether true or not – of the writer to a single man? As well write a history of nineteenth-century America and be criticized on your view of Mark Twain. I would rather say that the errors to which Alan Ryan admits are so gross as to make me wonder why he ever opened his mouth (everyone knows that de Maistre drew on Burke, and to mistake the First Lord of the Treasury with the Secretary of the Treasury shows utter ignorance of British Government institutions) on such a subject. But that’s another matter.

    • “The French Revolutionaries failed, as may be seen by the flourishing state of the House of Bourbon and the vast unpopularity of republican ideals in France and surrounding countries.”

      No, Fabio, the French revolutionaries were defeated and what flourished in their defeat was the type of parliamentary government championed by Burke, rather than murderous anarchy followed by oligarchy, followed by military dictatorship which was the fate of France between 1793-1815. His support of the American colonies and his opposition to the French Revolution is the starting point of modern conservatism as opposed to mere reaction.

      “The British failed in India, as may be seen by the fact that the Indians took over wholesale the administrative, legal, economic and political system of Britain.”

      Burke opposed the misrule of John Company in India Fabio, not the role of the British in India. With his Irish heritage he would not have been surprised that the Indians would have learned valuable lessons from the good government that the British were capable of at their best. His views were ably set forth in the speech linked below:

      http://www.econlib.org/library/LFBooks/Burke/brkSWv4c5.html

      • Sure the French revolutionaries were defeated. In the very, very short run. Parliamentary government of the British kind? they tried that between 1815 and 1848 and it failed. Constitutional monarchy tanked in France, again and again, whether labelled Bourbon, Orleans, or Bonaparte. The Third, Fourth and Firth Republics were NOTHING like Burke’s boss-based, rotten-borough-ridden, narrow, cliquish Parliament; in fact, France does not even have a “Parliament” – she has a “National Assembly”, and the difference is in more than just name. Even before Charles de Gaulle invented the wholly peculiar institution of the modern French presidency, the National Assembly was limited in its powers and prerogatives in a way that the Westminster Parliament would never have allowed itself to be – just consider the institution of the Council of State, something that has no parallel in Britain or America. And on the other hand it was much more concerned with representing the country as a whole, rather than its constituent localities. That is why there is a presumption in favour of proportional representation. And if you want to insist that any elected parliamentary body is in the long run like any other, I suggest you start arguing against American exceptionalism.

      • “The Third, Fourth and Firth Republics were NOTHING like Burke’s boss-based, rotten-borough-ridden, narrow, cliquish Parliament;”

        I believe the comparison would be all to the advantage of the Parliament that Burke belonged to Fabio, hence the number of Republics that followed the Second Empire, the Second Republic, the July Monarchy, the Restored Bourbons, the First Empire, the Consulate, the Directory and the First Republic. I have always admired French cuisine, French governance, not so much.

        Although the French would like to think they are Europe they are not, and I stand by my contention that the Parliamentary government championed by Burke was the wave of the future and not the various schemes dreamed up by the French revolutionaries. DeGaulle basically turned himself into a King with the General Assembly as his Parliament.

      • If you really like universal parliamentary corruption, then I have to admit that the French, Stavisky affair and all, are mere amateurs next to the British elites of the eighteenth century. Other than that, I hardly see the superiority. As for the constitutional changes, there was more institutional continuity between the First Empire and the Fifth Republic than between the England of George III and the England of Elizabeth II. In that case, the continuity in nomenclature is a mere facade, disguising monumental, revolutionary changes in structure, power and institutional principle. England in 1783 did not even have a “civil service”, only a gallimaufry of offices and sinecures connected more or less vaguely with royal, parliamentary and local power and handed out mostly to loyal servants of this or that powerful person. The very concept of a “civil service” was imported – not from the Continent, but actually from India, in imitation of the Mughal administration, and thanks mainly to that Company of the East Indies that Burke so despised. Since then the British state has experienced the rise of the civil service, the destruction of aristocratic “interests” beginning with the Great Reform Act, the formation of mass-based political parties, the reorganization of public beneficence first into the Poor Law and then into the Welfare State, the complete remaking of the whole educational system, the invention of the British police (a body with a very different character from both Continental and American correspondents), the destruction of local authorities, Conversely, you cannot point to one institution in the State, except for the Presidency, that was not in place in the French State by 1816. National Assembly, Government chosen by the Assembly, Departments, prefets, a national conscript army supported by professional bodies, local mayors, the shape and power of courts, police forces, ministries and Council of State – all would be easily recognizable to someone who had seen Napoleon fall. The Third and Fourth Republic are largely the same thing, and the invention of the Gaullist Presidency was carried out in order to amend the great problem that had shown itself in France since 1871 (and in Italy, which imported the French institution wholesale): the weakness of the Governments, which, being based on a National Assembly that always included a large number of parties, inevitably tended to fall in a year or two. The solution? Have the President rather than the Assembly appoint the Prime Minister. That is the one great reform brought into the French political body in a time when the British was made literally unrecognizable.

      • “If you really like universal parliamentary corruption”

        Fabio, I get paid for arguing in my professional life. I do not waste my time tangling with strawmen.

        “As for the constitutional changes, there was more institutional continuity between the First Empire and the Fifth Republic than between the England of George III and the England of Elizabeth II.”

        I’d disagree with that contention Fabio, but the intriguing thing is that since 1688 the English have managed to make modifications to their government with virtually no violence, something the French, sadly, cannot claim.

        “The very concept of a “civil service” was imported – not from the Continent, but actually from India, in imitation of the Mughal administration, and thanks mainly to that Company of the East Indies that Burke so despised.”

        The English have never been hesistant about adopting foreign ideas or institutions. I will leave for another day the debate as to whether the civil service was a good idea.

        “Conversely, you cannot point to one institution in the State, except for the Presidency, that was not in place in the French State by 1816.”

        That would come as a vast surprise to Clemenceau and any number of other French politicians who helped create the Third Republic. To take one example, compare the appointive chamber of peers under the restoration to an indirectly elected Senat under the Third Republic. The French changes in government are not mere names, but reflect the inability of the French to establish a working balance between liberty and authority, unlike the British. Since DeGaulle the French have been stable. We shall see if that stability persists throughout the current debt crisis. With Hollande at the helm of the French Republic I rather wonder if a Sixth Republic might be in the offing in a few years.

      • To take one example, compare the appointive chamber of peers under the restoration to an indirectly elected Senat under the Third Republic.
        And to take another? The House of Peers was part of the infelicitous Bourbon and Orleans attempt to imitate the British monarchy. It did not change the centrality and significance of the National Assembly, which outlived it. Please find something – one other institution. And political transformism under the carnival mask of a pantomime monarchy does not impress me as much as it impresses you. I have lived among the British for thirty-five years, and, year after year and decade after decade, I have seen them being kicked around in a way that would bring any Italian or Frenchman to the streets. Believe me, peaceful change in society is a colossally overvalued idea. As a fine political slogan from my country has it, Meglio le botte che l’indifferenza – fisticuffs are better than indifference.

      • “Believe me, peaceful change in society is a colossally overvalued idea”

        Living in a country Fabio where some 750,000 Americans died when we didn’t manage peaceful change, I must vigorously disagree with that statement.

  5. Your view of the eighteenth-century parliament leaves one to wonder why Patrick Henry, George Washington and so on should ever have wanted to be rid of such a wonder of governance, and indeed to write their laws in such a way as to insure that its most typical features – rotten boroughs, aristocratic factions, a House of Peers – could never happen in America. Either admire the politics of the revolutionaries, or admire the corrupt creature of Walpole and North; you can’t do both.

    • “such a wonder of governance”

      The Fpunding Fathers kept much of the English political system Fabio, modifying it to meet American circumstances. What caused them to rise in rebellion was the denial by the English government of their traditional rights of Englishmen. They cherished these rights and were willing to fight to maintain them. Burke understood this:

      “First, the people of the colonies are descendants of Englishmen. England, Sir, is a nation, which still I hope respects, and formerly adored, her freedom. The colonists emigrated from you when this part of your character was most predominant; and they took this bias and direction the moment they parted from your hands. They are therefore not only devoted to liberty, but to liberty according to English ideas, and on English principles.”

      The Americans cherished Burke for his understanding of what they were seeking and viewed him as representative of all they loved and sought to uphold in the traditional English political system.

      • And the English parliamentary classes uniformly rejected him.

      • “And the English parliamentary classes uniformly rejected him.”

        Not really Fabio, certainly not in regard to Catholic Emancipation which Burke saw the beginnings of, and in his call for war with revolutionary France to the knife which was embraced by most of Parliament. In regard to America Burke was proven right be events as I think almost all of his critics at the time would have conceded by the end of the American war. In regard to India Burke had to wait for vindication until long after his death, but vindication came.

      • Whether war with France in alliance with the worst reactionary powers in Europe was desirable – remember, it was started long before Napoleon had been heard from – it certainly had a poisonous effect on the British body politic, setting back needed reforms by two generations and heralding time of repression and paranoia. If you quote Catholic emancipation and Irish reform as Burke’s great ideas, ask yourself whether the great war set them forward or back. Even if revolutionary France had been all that Burke and you call it, the most sensible path for Britain would not have been alliance with Russia – already recognized as a natural enemy – or with oppressive Austria and bloodthirsty Prussia, which just at the time when Britain joined them were completing that monstrous crime, the partition of Poland. It would have been armed neutrality, which Britain, defended by her fleet, certainly had the means to enforce. I can’t think of one reason except Hannover, that undesirable and insignificant bond on Britain, that would have made it better for Britain to join that hideous gaggle of bandits. The effects of this effective betrayal of freedom poisoned European politics for three generations. And ask yourself whether Napoleon would even have had his opportunity, had not the war, financed by British money, dragged on even after France had achieved all its original strategic goals on the Rhine.

      • “Whether war with France in alliance with the worst reactionary powers in Europe was desirable”

        I can think of few things more reactionary Fabio than oligarchy and that was France under the misnamed First Republic. The so-called reactionary powers had no choice as the French revolutionaries were out for expansion and plunder.

        “setting back needed reforms by two generations and heralding time of repression and paranoia.”

        England was a heaven of liberty Fabio compared to France under, pardon the expression, The First Republic or the Consulate or the Enpire. Reforms came in England, and somehow they came without revolution and without England falling to military dicatorship.

        “If you quote Catholic emancipation and Irish reform as Burke’s great ideas, ask yourself whether the great war set them forward or back.”

        Catholic emancipation was greatly helped by the presence of French Royalist Catholics in England as allies. Ireland was set back due to the mistake of the Irish in believing in 1798 that the French could give them effective assistance. The true path of Irish liberation was that trod a generation later by Daniel O’Connell, the Liberator.

        “would not have been alliance with Russia – already recognized as a natural enemy – or with oppressive Austria and bloodthirsty Prussia, which just at the time when Britain joined them were completing that monstrous crime, the partition of Poland. It would have been armed neutrality, which Britain, defended by her fleet, certainly had the means to enforce.”

        British policy since the time of Elizabeth I Fabio has been to make certain that no power in Europe is dominant and it is a policy that has served Britain well. After France had achieved dominance on the Continent it is fanciful to think that they would not have clashed with Britain.

        “The effects of this effective betrayal of freedom poisoned European politics for three generations.”
        There was no betrayal of Freedom Fabio. The French revolutionaries stood for anarchy followed by tyranny, not for freedom. The difference between us is that you view the French Revolution positively and I fully share Burke’s view of it.

      • You will not find one European to agree with you on that nonsense. It is merely an American notion, and a novel one at that. From the start of the French Revolution to the making of the film Casablanca, Americans, like Europeans, understood the French Revolution as part of the process of the rise (or rather the return – it was native to the West from of old: http://fpb.livejournal.com/141494.html ) of representative popular government.

        American conservatism is a novel thing, (I have actually compared iits rise with the POST-REVOLUTIONARY origins of Socialism in France – http://fpb.livejournal.com/286650.html ) and one of the features of new political movements is a sudden rush to rewrite the past. It is only in recent decades that any American writer started treating the French Revolution as the lesser brother of the Russian, by which of course they mean Lenin’s coup. (This, I may add, concedes one of the most despicably partisan of Communist points. But a lot of conservatives and Thatcherites have similarly unreconstructed Marxist pseudo-history at the back of their minds.) The kinship of the American and French revolutions is a fact, and if we are talking about civil violence, the country that had a War of Secession in order to achieve a reform that every other slave-holding country from Britain to Brazil achieved by parliamentary agreement cannot give lessons to anyone. Liberty was rarely ever gained or defended without blood – in France, in America, and anywhere else going right back to Athens.

        But this absurd misrepresentation of French events is, I regret to to say, a conservative Vulgate in America, where it serves to deny any really revolutionary nature to the movement whose ideologues were Paine and Jefferson, and to pretend that the European democracies, every single one of which arises from the example and contagion of France, have more to do with the horrors of the Soviet Union than with “real” democracy, which, supposedly, exists in America alone. With such a vulgate I cannot fight, because it is a matter, not of history, but of self-image.

      • “You will not find one European to agree with you on that nonsense.”

        Fabio, it is a mistake to begin an argument with a sentence that is self-evidently untrue.

        “From the start of the French Revolution to the making of the film Casablanca, Americans, like Europeans, understood the French Revolution as part of the process of the rise (or rather the return – it was native to the West from of old: http://fpb.livejournal.com/141494.html ) of representative popular government.”

        Rubbish Fabio. The French Revolution had wide spread detractors in this country from the very beginning. It was a staple of debates between Republicans and Federalists.

        “American conservatism is a novel thing”

        Not at all. You really need to read Russell Kirk.

        “It is only in recent decades that any American writer started treating the French Revolution as the lesser brother of the Russian, by which of course they mean Lenin’s coup.”
        Untrue Fabio. The biggest fan of the French Revolution among the Founding Fathers was Thomas Jefferson and even he ultimately reconsidered his support for it:

        http://www.monticello.org/site/research-and-collections/french-revolution

        The treatment of Lafayette by the Revolutionary regime helped turn public opinion in America against the French Revolution along with its endless atrocities.

        “The kinship of the American and French revolutions is a fact,”
        No, Fabio it is not, as the fortunes and the histories of the two revolutions clearly indicate.

        “But this absurd misrepresentation of French events is, I regret to to say, a conservative Vulgate in America, where it serves to deny any really revolutionary nature to the movement whose ideologues were Paine and Jefferson,”

        Jefferson I have already dealt with. As for Paine, even his wild enthusiasm for the French Revolution waned after he narrowly avoided execution by it.

        a”nd to pretend that the European democracies, every single one of which arises from the example and contagion of France, have more to do with the horrors of the Soviet Union than with “real” democracy, which, supposedly, exists in America alone. With such a vulgate I cannot fight, because it is a matter, not of history, but of self-image.”

        Quite untrue Fabio. Our criticisms of the French Revolution do not extend to current European democracies, as unstable as they tend to be. Incidentally although I do not oppose using the term myself, many American conservatives do not view America as a democracy at all but rather a constitutional republic. A typical argument along these lines:
        http://www.redstate.com/2012/11/07/a-constitutional-republic-not-a-democracy/

  6. P.S.: it is very unwise to take the position of speaking for Europe against me.

    • “P.S.: it is very unwise to take the position of speaking for Europe against me.”

      I don’t speak for anyone or anything Fabio beside myself, and as always I am happy to debate what I believe to be correct in regard to History.

      • In that case, don’t inform me as to what the relationship of France and Europe is. If I were not very well informed about it, I would not deserve the name of historian or my nationality.

      • “In that case, don’t inform me as to what the relationship of France and Europe is.”

        I feel free to make any remark I please on my blog Fabio, a liberty I extend to my guests here.

      • Considering that you seem to imagine that there is no intimate historical and institutional relationship between France and the rest of Continental Europe, I feel justified in believing that you overestimate your understanding of these things and underestimate mine.

  7. The kinship of the American and French revolutions is a fact,

    What utter nonsense. The former was a revolt against a distant government ruling the home colonies. It was not a societal revolution that completely re-worked all governing structures. Aside from some nasty legislation that was aimed mainly at sticking it to Loyalists, there wasn’t a hint of the internal bloodletting that highlighted the French Revolution.


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