History, History Column

“Our Government is a Game at Leap Frog”

By ©2023 Sarah Becker

On February 9, 1775, the British Parliament “declared the colony of Massachusetts to be in rebellion.” The colony’s, colonial America’s Continental Army was created soon after the April 19th Battle of Lexington and Concord. The same month John Adams, the “Atlas of Independence,” nominated George Washington to serve as the Army’s Commander-in-Chief.

Delegate John Adams, a member of the colonies First and Second Continental Congresses [1774-1781], voted in favor of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. A member of the drafting committee, he was one of 56 signatories.

“Yesterday, the greatest question was decided, which ever was debated in America, and a greater, perhaps, never was nor will be decided among men,” Adams wrote wife Abigail on July 3, 1776. “A resolution was passed without one dissenting colony, ‘that these [13] United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, and as such they have, and of right ought to have, full power to make war [and] conclude peace.’”

“The Second Day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha in the History of America,” Adams continued. “I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations as a great anniversary Festival.”

“I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration,” Adams concluded. “Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means.”

Although President John Adams [MA-F, 1797-1801] was the first U.S. President to occupy the White House [November 1800], Thomas Jefferson [VA-DR, 1801-1809] was the first President to celebrate July 4th while living in the White House. The White House Festival included diplomats, civil and military officers; citizens, Cherokee chiefs and the Marine Band.

In 1813 James Madison was President [VA-DR, 1809-1817] and the War of 1812 was ongoing. Wrote former President Adams to Jefferson: “The same political parties which now agitate the U.S. have existed through all time. And this is precisely the complaint in the preface to the first volume of my defence [A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America, 1787].”

“While all other Sciences have advanced,” Adams continued, “that of Government is at a Stand; little better understood; little better practiced now than 3 or 4 thousand years ago. What is the Reason?”

“I say Parties and Factions will not Suffer, or permit Improvements to be made,” Adams declared. “As Soon as one man hints at an improvement his Rival opposes it. No sooner has one Party discovered or invented an Amelioration of the condition of Man or the Order of Society, than the opposite Party belies it, misconstrues it, misrepresents it, ridicules it, insults it, and persecutes it.”

“Records are destroyed,” Adams explained. “Histories are annihilated or interpolated or prohibited Sometimes by Popes, Sometimes by Emperors, Sometimes by Aristocratical and Sometimes by democratical Assemblies and Sometimes by Mobs.

Was it not a violent mob—of seditious Oath Keepers like Stewart Rhodes and Kelly Meggs; Proud Boys; the Texas Freedom Force and other white extremists who fomented the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. capitol building?

“If you ask my Opinion who has created all this havoc, I will answer you candidly,” Adams concluded. “Ecclesiastical and Imperial Despotism has done it to conceal their Frauds.”

“Truth must be more respected than it ever has been before any great Improvement can be expected in the Condition of Mankind,” Adams replied to Jefferson in 1816.

Truth, as defined by the American Heritage Dictionary: 1. Conformity to fact or actuality.  2. A statement proven to be true.

“Power always thinks it has a great Soul, and Vast Views, beyond the Comprehension of the Weak,” Adams continued, “and that it is doing God’s Service, when it is violating all his laws…Power must never be trusted without a Check.”

“I Still pray that a Century of civil wars may not desolate Europe, and America, too,—South and North,” Adams foreshadowed. The Massachusetts State Constitution, which John Adams drafted in 1779 outlawed slavery in 1780.

“A house divided against itself cannot stand,” Republican Abraham Lincoln reminded the Illinois electorate in 1858.

“In the midst of a civil war [1861-1865] of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign states to invite and provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved,” President Lincoln said in 1863. “[H]armony has prevailed except in the theater of military conflict.”

Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense have not arrested the plow, the shuttle, or the ship,” Lincoln continued. “Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege, and the battlefield, and the country.”

“No human counsel hath devised, nor hath any mortal hand worked out those great things,” Lincoln concluded. “They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God.”

“Virtue is not always amiable,” Delegate John Adams said in 1779. “Integrity is sometimes ruined by Prejudices and by Passions…and party disputes.”

“Our Government is a Game at Leap frog,” former President John Adams wrote fellow Declaration signatory Benjamin Rush in 1808. “Once in a dozen years there will be a Revolution in Administration. The Democrats will reign for about that Period, and make the President their Slave then the Aristocrats will leap over their backs and Shoulders, and reign in their turn making the President their Machine.”

“I think instead of opposing Systematically any Administration, running down their Characters and opposing all their Measures right or wrong, We ought to Support every Administration as far as We can in Justice,” Adams explained.

Justice, as defined by the American Heritage Dictionary: 1. The principle of moral righteousness. 2. Fair treatment and due reward in accordance with honor, standards, or law.

“For my Part I always thought and am Still determined to Support every Administration whenever I think them in the right,” Adams continued. “Our obligations to our Country never cease but with our Lives.”

“Instead of being Frenchmen or Englishmen; Federalists or Republicans, We ought to be Americans and exert every Nerve to convince and persuade our Country to conquer its Sordid Stinginess,” Adams concluded. “The miserable struggle for place and power must be laid aside!” [Italics Added]

The nation’s politics are indeed Sordid. Congress is horribly divided, as are many State legislatures. If colonial lawyer Margaret Brent [1601-1671] has any say  women’s rights, the Equal Rights Amendment are centuries overdue! Then there is the economy; the recent debt ceiling dilemma; global warming; immigration and campaign finance reform; the internet, technology, and AI.” Gun statistics speak for themselves.

When celebrating your July 4th Festival, think of the Founding Fathers their understanding of Unity.

Ask yourself!  For what reason is a politician’s age now a front page factor? Pennsylvania’s Benjamin Franklin was 70 years old when he signed the Declaration of Independence.

Or why London School of Economics comparative politics Fellow Brian Klaas titled his book The Despot’s Apprentice: Donald Trump’s Attack on Democracy?

Last month the U.S. Department of Justice charged Trump-45 [NY, FL-R] with 37 federal counts including conspiracy to obstruct justice. The initial criminal trial is scheduled for August 14, Trump appointed U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon presiding. DOJ special counsel Jack Smith’s second criminal case remains under investigation.

“The American story depends…On ‘We the People,’” incoming President Joe Biden [DE-D] said in 2021. “Few periods in our nation’s history have been more challenging…”

“To restore the soul and to secure the future of America requires more than words,” Biden continued. “It requires…Unity.

“Disagreement must not lead to disunion,” Biden explained. “Politics need not be a raging fire destroying everything in its path.” According to Pew Research—as of 2014, 92% of Republicans are to the right of the median Democrat, and 94% of Democrats are to the left of the median Republican.”

“There is truth and there are lies,” Biden concluded. “And each of us has a responsibility—to defend the truth and to defeat the lies…We must end this uncivil war that pits red against blue….”

“[I]f we mean to support the Liberty and Independence which it has cost us so much blood & treasure to establish, we must drive far away the demon of party spirit and local reproach,” President George Washington [VA-I, 1789-1797] wrote in 1790.

Reproach, as defined by the American Heritage Dictionary: 1. Blame; rebuke. 2. Disgrace; shame.

“Posterity!” John Adams reckoned in 1777. “You will never know how much it cost the present Generation to preserve your Freedom! I hope you will make good Use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in heaven that I ever took half the Pains to preserve it.”

“The man who has come to regard the ballot box as a juggler’s hat has renounced his allegiance,” retired Union General and 23rd President Benjamin Harrison [IN-R] concluded in 1889. “Let us exalt patriotism and moderate our party contentions.”

Founded in 2010 the No Labels organization now pursues political power: “In between today’s extremist Far Right and Far Left political tribes resides the ‘exhausted majority.’”

About the Author: Sarah Becker started writing for The Economist while a graduate student in England. Similar publications followed. She joined the Crier in 1996 while serving on the Alexandria Convention and Visitors Association Board. Her interest in antiquities began as a World Bank hire, with Indonesia’s need to generate hard currency. Balinese history, i.e. tourism provided the means. The New York Times describes Becker’s book, Off Your Duffs & Up the Assets, as “a blueprint for thousands of nonprofit managers.” A former museum director, SLAM’s saving grace Sarah received Alexandria’s Salute to Women Award in 2007.  Email: a bitofhistory53@gmail.com


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