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The Quasi Effect: War Mongering Founding Fathers

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posted on Sep, 4 2012 @ 02:58 PM
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 executive."

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 Quasi War 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 governments."

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 pleases."

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 article 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)

posted on Sep, 4 2012 @ 05:50 PM
reply to post by jjf3rd77


Nice work, OP!

Anyone who believes isolationism breeds peace is purposely ignoring the history of the world. Many peaceful peoples where crushed while minding their own business. Having said that, I think what many people often rally against is aggression that is perceived to be unwarranted, particularly aggression by the US or Israel.

There are very few people who wouldn’t support the US whooping some butt if we were attacked….that includes those in the “anti-war” crowd. Even the biggest pacifist will stand up when backed into a corner.

posted on Sep, 4 2012 @ 10:10 PM
Using the Barbary pirates and the XYZ Affair as examples of how the Founders would approve of our foreign policy is misleading at best. Both Jefferson and Adams were responding to attacks on U.S. ships. Jefferson refused to pay an annual protection fee to keep our ships from being seized. He sent 7 frigates to deal with the problem. He even scaled back the Army and Navy to save money and to cut the national debt. In the XYZ Affair, our merchant ships were being attack by both the French and the British. When we were attacked on 9/11, Ron Paul voted to go in to get those responsible.
Both the Founders and Ron Paul never claimed to be isolationists. Washington was for foreign trade but told us to steer clear of foreign political connections. This is exactly what Ron Paul's view on foreign policy. Since the 50s we have been going into other countries and covertly supporting the overthrow of governments not willing to play ball with us. This has caused backlash. No where in the Constitution does it say that we should be the police of the world. On top of that, how can we afford it when we are 16 trillion in debt? Those troops and money are better spent at home, guarding our borders.


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