The First Past Presidents Forum on American Politics: Part 1

I summon them!  I summon them! I summon them! 
Let it be the quick or the dead.
So long as they are American Presidents, born and bred.
I summon them!  I summon them!                                                                                                               
You are called to the first ever Past Presidents Forum on the State of American Politics.                                                                                                                                                        

I have repeatedly cited the famous quote by Santayana that “Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it.”  What better way to discuss current events than by calling upon these esteemed and worthy (Dare I Say) experts from the past.  What better way to review the State of American Politics than through the eyes of our past presidents and leaders.  Would there be any who would say that Adams or Jefferson despite their somewhat opposing viewpoints would not be able to sit down together to discuss politics and perhaps even reach a compromise?  Note the comments of Jefferson in a letter to a friend and then ask yourself whether this seems to be characteristic of today’s politicians:

“Differing on a particular question from those whom I knew to be of the same political principles with myself, and with whom I generally thought and acted, a consciousness of the fallibility of the human mind and of my own in particular, with a respect for the accumulated judgment of my friends, has induced me to suspect erroneous impressions in myself, to suppose my own opinion wrong, and to act with them on theirs.

The want of this spirit of compromise, or of self-distrust, proudly but falsely called independence, is what gives [some opponents] victories which they could never obtain if these brethren could learn to respect the opinions of their friends more than of their enemies, and prevents many able and honest men from doing all the good they otherwise might do. These considerations… have often quieted my own conscience in voting and acting on the judgment of others against my own… All honest and prudent men [should] sacrifice a little of self-confidence, and… go with their friends, although they may sometimes think they are going wrong.” –Thomas Jefferson to William Duane, 1811. ME 13:50


John Persico:  Moderator for this discussion.  Blogger, writer, teacher and consultant.  It is my privilege to host this panel discussion on the following topic and issue:

What do you think of the state of American Government today?  

Panel Members are:  George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln.

John Persico:  I would like to introduce each of our panelists though I am sure most of you are very familiar with their backgrounds.

George Washington:  The first President of the United States of America.  You turned down the chance to become president for life or a monarch of the newly emerging federation of colonies.  You abhorred party politics and saw politics as an evil to be avoided.  You freed your slaves when you died and made no money from your role of president of the USA.  Many consider you as the greatest of American Presidents for your leadership, courage and compassion.  Your position on government can be characterized by the following quotes:

“Government is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is a force; like fire, a troublesome servant and a fearful master. Never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action.”
“The government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion.”
John Adams:  The second President of the United States of America.  You were highly educated and you represented enlightenment values promoting freedom and democracy. You advocated for a strong centralized government that would help to create uniform trade and culture between the 13 colonies.  Your position became known as Federalism.  You were a strong advocate for eliminating slavery in the new Republic.  Despite your many contributions to the new government of the United States you were defeated by your major adversary and also best friend Thomas Jefferson.  Your position on Government was summarized very succinctly in your book:

Thoughts on Government:                                                                                                                            
“There is no good government but what is republican. That the only valuable part of the British constitution is so; because the very definition of a republic is an empire of laws, and not of men.”
Thomas Jefferson:  The third President of the United States of America.  You are famous for being the principle author of the Declaration in Independence.  You served two terms as president after defeating your best friend John Adams for the presidency. You organized the Democratic-Republican Party to help get you elected.  You tended towards states’ rights and were afraid of the Federalists since they advocated a strong centralized government which would take supremacy over the individual colonies.                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
You were a strong advocate for freeing all the slaves but you nevertheless neglected to do so in your own estate.  It was also claimed that you fathered several children with one of your own slaves named Sally Hemings.  You were considered one of the leading and most influential intellectuals (along with John Adams) of your times.  You have made the following statements which somewhat reflect your thoughts on government:
“Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government.”
“The republican is the only form of government which is not eternally at open or secret war with the rights of mankind.”
“The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only object of good government.”
Abraham Lincoln:  The sixteenth President of the United States of America.  You have been named (along with George Washington) as one of the two greatest Presidents in American history.  You ran for the presidency as a Republican. You were elected during one of the most turbulent times in American history as the conflict over slavery and states’ rights reached a boiling point. Your election led to a Civil War between the states over these issues.                                                                                                                                      
Your strong leadership and bold actions led to a reunion of the country and the abolishment of slavery as a legal institution.  Many of your critics say you cared more about keeping the country together than you did freeing the slaves.  Your presidency was characterized by many actions that gave the Federal government considerable power over the states and military.  Some who say you as a new Caesar assassinated you on April 15, 1865 as you began your second term in office. You have held the following beliefs about the role of government during your life:
“It is the duty of every government to give protection to its citizens, of whatever class, color, or condition, and especially to those who are duly organized as soldiers in the public service.”
“The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but cannot do at all, or cannot so well do, for themselves – in their separate, and individual capacities.”                                                                                   

Due to the lengthy nature of their travels, we will reconvene and begin our discussion after the panelists (fresh from trips of over 200 years for some) have had a chance for some rest and sustenance.

Time for Questions:

In keeping with our modern technology, I would invite any of you who have questions for the panelists to either put them in the comments section today, send them to me by email or text message me at 612-310-3803.  Tom and John were particularly curious about our new technology and would love to see it in action.

Life is just beginning.

“There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”   —  Issac Asimov

8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Seeker
    May 18, 2012 @ 02:24:17

    Other than turn down the title King, and get really lucking in the Revolutionary war (luck is always wonderful), I have never been in awe of Washington.

    What the hello makes you believe freed his slaves? First of all, he grew rich on slaves, and didn't free any until he was dead. Furthermore, he left many of them slaves anyway.

    For some ungodly reason, every well known slave owner, such as Washington, Robert E Lee, and Thomas Jefferson, we try to pretend they were somehow kind. What total HS.

    Robert E Lee, it turns out, regularly had his wayward slaves tied up and whipped, and was particularly motivated to capture and torture light skinned slave girls. Oh you didn't know that? here, let me help you out.

    And the only reason we know that is by happenstance — Lee's account books, recently the subject of a book by Elizabeth Pryor, shows in Lee's own handwriting that he had slaves whipped, and paid by far his largest rewards for the capture and punishment of young LIGHT SKINNED slave girls.

    Lee was obessed with light skinned slave girls. And by odd coincidence, his mulatto slave girls gave birth to babies so light,Lee himself wrote they could pass for white. See the picture of one of his very light colored slave girls in the book “Reading the Man”

    And –imagine if Lincoln's account books were examined, and he paid for the torture of slave girls. No matter what color girls Lee had whipped– and whatever else he did to them–his torture of girls was only one aspect of his cruelty. He also regularly separated the mothers from the children.

    So if a child molester (which Lee was) can be called a paragon of virtue, truth simply doesn't matter, when itcomes to myth making. And so I dont think other slave owners, like Washington, were necessarily some kind of saints. The fact that these men got rich on slaves, sold children, used terror and torture on the innocent — and then insisted God ordained it– shows they were sociopaths. And if you think men with this power to delude themselves and justify torture andslavery, would not justify any other desire they had, you are out of your mind.

    Ever wonder why there were so many mulatto slaves? Who do you think fathered those slaves? Casper?

    SO Washington was supposedly anti slavery and supposedly freed his slaves. I doubt it.



  2. Anonymous
    Jul 09, 2012 @ 03:13:35

    You stated: “Lee's account books, recently the subject of a book by Elizabeth Pryor, shows in Lee's own handwriting that he had slaves whipped, and paid by far his largest rewards for the capture and punishment of young LIGHT SKINNED slave girls.”

    Sorry, I did not see anything in that book that showed (in Lee's handwriting or not) that Lee had anyone whipped. If I have misread this part of that book, please quote for us (along with the page number of the book) where Lee admits or indicates that he has had anyone whipped.

    According to that book, Lee's account book states an amount (a large amount as you stated) and that amount seems to have been connected with the recovery of Wesley Norris and the others who ranaway; however, I did not see thing to indicate a whipping from Lee.

    I look forward to your quote this part from the book to clarify this situation.

    Also, I might add, the only indication that Lee ever had anyone whipped seems to come from the Wesley Norris account and other anonymous sources. Did Norris and others have a motive or motives for exaggerating part of this story?

    Tom Forehand, Jr.



  3. John Persico
    Jul 09, 2012 @ 22:32:16

    Dear Tom,

    I never said that in my blog.

    That was a comment posted by a reader who made that statement.

    You can contact him directly if you want to clarify it. His email address is on his comment




  4. Anonymous
    Aug 03, 2012 @ 22:53:00


    If I mistook the words of someone else for your words, then I apologize.

    My overall intent was to respond to the accusation against Lee.

    Tom Forehand, Jr.



  5. Handwriting Franchise
    May 22, 2013 @ 10:39:50


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  6. Isha Sharma
    Jul 24, 2013 @ 05:22:36

    This one is great and is really a good post. I think it will help me a lot in the related stuff and is very much useful for me. Very well written I appreciate & must say good job.

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  7. John Persico
    Jul 24, 2013 @ 17:31:54

    Thanks Isha, I am glad you found it useful. There are three or two parts to this post. Hope you can check out the other posts that are part of this one.



  8. John Persico
    Jul 24, 2013 @ 17:33:17

    Thank you, I appreciate your compliment.



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