I am always amazed by the naive anti-war folks on here who continue to parrot that if we'd just be friends with every nation, nobody will attack
anybody and there will be peace on Earth. Well, it's not that simple today, and if anything, it was WORSE in the late 1700s to early 1800s! Much like
all Presidents these days, some of the Founding Fathers' speeches or talking points do not reflect actual history and their actions! Most Founding
fathers are looked upon in America as hero-like Gods who would never harm a fly much less find themselves wrapped up in political scandals. Again, I
say, they were politicians after all!
If you asked John Adams, our Second President he would say that, in cases of war, "the legislative power in our constitution is greater than the
However his actions are very very questionable. Especially once the French stepped up attacks on the US economy he came up with a scheme that would go
over well even today in our corrupt American System. The XYZ Affair
matches almost exactly that of
President Obama's Fast & Furious Scandal with the documents and Federal Agents and so forth. So how could constitutionalists claim that John Adams our
second President stayed "within the powers of the constitution" after he fundamentally changed the meaning of war?
The XYZ affair led to America's first undeclared war with another country and the case against this is not really that good. During the
As French ships taunted the growing US nation on our shorelines, John Adams for the first
time under the Constitution moved naval forces out to sea with a crowd of supporters behind him chanting, "Let us have war!"
For votes, Adams hesitated and immediately agreed to peace negotiations with the French. In 1800 the Convention of Mortefontaine was signed but by
the time it reached public awareness it was too late to help Adams in the election and Jefferson had become President.
While this may seem like nothing to some people. It is of course a great stray away from the strict Constitutional ways of Jefferson. It lost Adams
the election and now Jefferson was President, but, "with great power comes great responsibility" and Jefferson once again strayed from the declaration
of war powers that was granted to a sitting President by the Constitution. Jefferson sent warship to the coast of Africa to protect American
interests, which were being attacked by pirates. (Yes those pirates) citing that, "only the president could carry on transactions with foreign
He wondered if he needed a declaration of war from Congress. "Treasury Secretary Albert Gallatin responded that the president "cannot put us in a
state of war," but if other nations put us in that state the executive could on his own use military force." This in turn allowed the Congress to
grant the President responsibility over the US Navy!
Jefferson was not done. He seized Louisiana and tried to obtain West Florida by force. He bargained with Napoleon over price and land size and
threatened the Spanish for West Florida. "He thus added to the precedents for extending presidential authority in international matters beyond its
original constitutional limits."
James Madison our Fourth President, backed a plan he thought up of in the Jefferson Presidency to seize West Florida from the Spanish. He feared,
"serious questions as to the authority of the Executive," as time would have it four months later West Florida was part of America. "One senator said
that if the president had not taken West Florida, he would have been charged with imbecility."
In June of 1812 Madison persuaded members of Congress to go to war with Britain over trade restrictions. This war was the first war in American
History to be declared officially, but it was ultimately not good for Americans, and left Madison with a tarnished record for the history books.
Our Fifth President James Monroe again extended the power of the Constitution. He was the first President to use the dreaded Executive Orders that we
know well of today. In 1817 he bypassed the Senate's veto power over treaties in the Rush-Bagot Agreement with Britain.
The threat of War loomed once again when in 1818 Andrew Jackson raided East Florida and killed two British officers. Secretary of State John Quincy
Adams warned Monroe that he was falling into dangerous territory and heeding to his demands declared that this was an unfortunate "act of self
defense." One critic mentioned, "If it be not war…let it be called a man-killing expedition which the President has a right to direct whenever he
The Monroe Doctrine was later adapted by many US Presidents and warned European powers not to interfere in US struggles. Monroe extended the powers of
the constitution here as well!
In 1831 Andrew Jackson threatened war with Argentina over the dispute with the Falkland Islands citing that they were harming American seal hunters.
In what is now known as the The First Sumatran Expedition
Jackson used force to
destroy the town of Kuala Batu after a bunch of marauders attacked and killed three US pepper traders. Of course this was an undeclared war! Which
brought critics questioning Jackson's power, they warned "a very important provision of the Constitution may in time become a mere nullity."
Jackson also secretly aided American rebels in Texas in their fight in 1836 to secede from Mexico. JQA again questioned Jacksons power and ultimately
condemned the action and declared it illegal for him to do so. John Quincy Adams foreseeing the future 200 years in advanced said this, "[the] idea
that the Executive Chief Magistrate has the power of involving the nation in war even without consulting Congress had taken root."
200 years later things would play out in the same way.
The following information has been taken from this easy to read
about the Quasi War
and its long lasting effects on the American government and the powers within the Constitution.
As a bonus section. John Tyler our tenth President "wanted to acquire Texas but could not obtain a two-thirds majority in the Senate for a treaty of
annexation. So, he asked the whole Congress to approve annexation with joint resolution that required only a mere majority. It agreed."
The quoted text is taken directly from the article unless otherwise stated. Please enjoy and read it completely. You will be hard pressed to find any
of this information in the highest college history classes!
edit on 4-9-2012 by jjf3rd77 because: (no reason given)