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The Romantic Period: An Exposé on American Nationalism

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posted on May, 28 2010 @ 10:49 PM

The Romantic Period

I would like to take a moment with my fellow ATS members to peruse history, and to put current trends in their proper context. As an American, I find it hard to except that our idea of liberty has been watered down into nothing more than symbol-worship, and emotionally charged Nationalism; something that I personally feel the Romantic Era of art, philosophy, and literature can take some credit for.

What is the Romantic Period? The Romantic Era of art, philosophy and literature was an outcry of the people of Western Europe during the Industrial Revolution. In every way it was a rebellion against the Enlightenment Period of human development. Many people felt that human beings had been diminished as nothing more than means-to-an-end in the factories of, in particular, Great Britain. Life for many factory workers in the city was cold, dirty, and the majority were treated as nothing more than numbers. The Enlightenment Period, which in many ways freed mankind from servitude to Kings, became the enemy of humans when logic and rationalism were seen as no longer working. For many, imagination, and sweeping emotions became an obsessive escape from the dreary day-to-day that they felt their lives were.


The theme of the Romantic Period, of sweeping emotion and captive imagination, would play its role in shaping what would become in the 20th Century Nationalist fervor.

Romanticism and Nationalism

One of Romanticism's key ideas and most enduring legacies is the assertion of nationalism, which became a central theme of Romantic art and political philosophy. From the earliest parts of the movement, with their focus on development of national languages and folklore, and the importance of local customs and traditions, to the movements which would redraw the map of Europe and lead to calls for "self-determination" of nationalities, nationalism was one of the key vehicles of Romanticism, its role, expression and meaning.

as the French Republic became Napoleon's Empire, Napoleon became not the inspiration for nationalism, but the object of it.

It is interesting to note that Napoleon truly set the stage for what Hitler would become in the 20th century. The problem with Nationalism is the fact that we as humans become blind in our support of a Nation or Government that has turned despotic. Symbols that once stood for freedom are used years later when the majority of a population has forgotten what liberty; so now, we are left holding a flag bereft of meaning, and our only definition of freedom has become hot dogs on the fourth of July.

I for one would like to see Nationalism left in a hand basket and sent to its proper destination. As Citizens of a republic it is our collective duty to study our history, the history of these United States, and to know what our forefathers meant, and to know what they said (because they did write their thoughts down)and to reapply that meaning in its proper context.

But where do we start?

Natural Law

Natural Law is the philosophy that rules for Government are handed down from a higher power, usually some deity, to the ruling Sovereign chosen by that power.

The Code of Hammurabi

When Anu the Sublime, King of the Anunaki, and Bel, the lord of Heaven and earth, who decreed the fate of the land, assigned to Marduk, the over-ruling son of Ea, God of righteousness, dominion over earthly man, and made him great among the Igigi, they called Babylon by his illustrious name, made it great on earth, and founded an everlasting kingdom in it, whose foundations are laid so solidly as those of heaven and earth; then Anu and Bel called by name me, Hammurabi, the exalted prince, who feared God, to bring about the rule of righteousness in the land, to destroy the wicked and the evil-doers; so that the strong should not harm the weak; so that I should rule over the black-headed people like Shamash, and enlighten the land, to further the well-being of mankind.

Now, let me state that Natural Law can and has been used to the detriment of the people. It is entirely too easy for some power-hungry leader to come along and convince people that they have the right to rule over them because some God said so. Sound familiar? Of course it does, For centuries Europe was ruled by Monarchs, or by the Divine Right of Kings. Leaders that were chosen by God to rule their Kingdoms and shires absolutely, and it placed humanity under the servitude of the Sovereign King.

Now, the philosophy that helped to give birth to the American Republic was a Natural Law philosophy...but not in the way that we would think of it. Many people make the error of believing that these United States were at its inception a Christian Nation, but that could not be farther from the truth. Many of our forefathers were Deists which was a philosophical outlook spawned from the Enlightenment period.

Deism (pronounced /ˈdiːɪzəm/, us dict: dē′·ĭzm)[1][2] is a religious and philosophical belief that a supreme being created the universe, and that this (and religious truth in general) can be determined using reason and observation of the natural world alone, without the need for either faith or organized religion. Many Deists reject the notion that God intervenes in human affairs, for example through miracles and revelations. These views contrast with the dependence on revelations, miracles, and faith found in many Jewish, Christian, Islamic and other theistic teachings.

Of The Religion of Deism Compared With
the Christian Religion
by Thomas Paine


when the divine gift of reason begins to expand itself in the mind and calls man to reflection, he then reads and contemplates God and His works, and not in the books pretending to be revelation. The creation is the Bible of the true believer in God. Everything in this vast volume inspires him with sublime ideas of the Creator. The little and paltry, and often obscene, tales of the Bible sink into wretchedness when put in comparison with this mighty work.

The Deist needs none of those tricks and shows called miracles to confirm his faith, for what can be a greater miracle than the creation itself, and his own existence?

Deism was, and is, a more rational and scientific form of searching for God...or as the Deists put it the God of Nature. Now we can begin to take a look at the Natural Law, Deist philosophy that shaped our early republic:

The Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government...

It is clearly evident, from the very writings of our forefathers that we did not set up our republic to be ruled, or to be subjects in the land that they conquered. Our republic was a threat to the Old World because we took that ancient concept of Sovereignty and declared that all peoples are the sovereign authority. The Articles of Confederation and our Constitution were literally a contract among Sovereigns...because they, and we, have the authority to make contracts amongst ourselves.

Notice in the Declaration that it says that we are:

endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights

That is a Natural Law perspective. Basically a higher power endowed us with our unalienable rights. So as Citizens of this fine republic we have what you would call natural rights.


en·dow (n-dou) tr.v. en·dowed, en·dow·ing, en·dows
1. To provide with property, income, or a source of income.
2. a. To equip or supply with a talent or quality: Nature endowed you with a beautiful singing voice. b. To imagine as having a usually favorable trait or quality: endowed the family pet with human intelligence.

If you are endowed with something by a higher authority that means that no mortal, or institution of man has the rightful authority to take that thing from you. That is a philosophy in stark contrast to the phrase "civil rights."

civ·il (svl)
1. Of, relating to, or befitting a citizen or citizens: civil duties.
2. Of or relating to citizens and their interrelations with one another or with the state: civil society; the civil branches of government.
3. Of ordinary citizens or ordinary community life as distinguished from the military or the ecclesiastical: civil authorities.
4. Of or in accordance with organized society; civilized.
5. Sufficiently observing or befitting accepted social usages; not rude: a civil reply. See Synonyms at polite.
6. Being in accordance with or denoting legally recognized divisions of time: a civil year.
7. Law Relating to the rights of private individuals and legal proceedings concerning these rights as distinguished from criminal, military, or international regulations or proceedings.

When you claim to have "civil rights" you are basically stating that your rights are merely granted to you by the consent of the majority. Which could not be further from the truth.

posted on May, 28 2010 @ 10:59 PM
The majority, nor any minority, cannot grant to you what your Creator endowed you with.

The philosophy of our forefathers was profound in its depth and rich in its meaning; and we are doing an injustice to our republic when the original intent of this Union has been utterly trampled by despotic agendas, and our anger is only enticed when our symbols that have lost their meaning are "disrespected." To understand what the United State's flag represents, don't ask a current politician, ask the men who shaped our Union to begin with.

The Federalist Papers

The Anti Federalist Papers

[edit on 5/28/2010 by dalan.]

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