Over at Club Troppo, Nicholas Gruen links to an interesting (long) article on the relationship between the second and third US presidents (Adams and Jefferson). Adams comes out looking decidedly better, I think
This is part of the general process of re-evaluation that has followed, with a long delay, the Civil Rights Movement. An extreme example is Calhoun, presented as part of the ‘Great Triumvirate’ in the traditional history, and now being cancelled everywhere. But most of the US Presidents from Jefferson to Jackson (until recently, the Dems held annual J-J dinners) are being downgraded because they were enmeshed in slavery, the big exception being JQ Adams. Washington has mostly escaped this process, the fact that he freed his slaves in his will being essential.
Not just the early presidents: Grant’s stock is rising as the accusations of corruption against his Administration are seen as the biased judgement of racist historians, while Wilson is falling.
3 thoughts on “Re-evaluations”
Pr Q said:
Historical revisionism is a double-edged sword. We have seen how Great War revisionists, who have sought spread the blame for the war onto the Allied Powers, have themselves been debunked by Fischer and other diligent historians. Poetic justice.
Now the revisionists are turning their attentions to re-evaluation of Presidential reputation. They should be careful what they wish for.
Evertone now agrees that Calhoun was a Bad Man, just look at his demonic countenance. I guess Jeffersons authorship of the Declaration of Independence, critical framing of the US constitution and abolition of the trans-Atlantic slave trade wasn’t good enough to make the cut. Jackson got poor white men the vote however this is now regarded as a bug, rather than feature, of US voting laws.
But why stop at early DEMs? Liberal Presidential closets of all parties fairly rattle with racist skeletons. Starting with the Big Daddy of liberalism, Abe Lincoln. He regularly used the n-word to disparage African-Americans, favoured deporting them back to Africa (Enoch Powell eat your heart out) and most fervently did not believe in racial equality:
FDR may have ended the Depression and won WW2, but he also red-lined Blacks out of mortgages, interned the Japanese and was an anti-semite to boot. Key quote where he blames the Jews for provoking Nazi persecution:
They say victors write History and it is true that Left-liberals are winning the Culture War and are thus re-writing History to suit their own political purposes. So pretty soon there will be no one left to cancel. Then they can declare victory and go home.
But old-fashioned liberals, among whose number I count myself, need not despair. The Chinese look like they will win the race to build human-level AI and when they do you can be sure that it will consign Baizuo historians to the Dustbin of History.
I don’t believe we have time for retrospective culture wars right now and we will not have time for the foreseeable future. All of our efforts should be turned towards stopping the global COVID-19 pandemic and addressing climate change. The “Great Man” theory of history is bunkum anyway. Political and military leaders are foam on the tsunami wave of history as it swells to the surface and nears the coasts of the known. The foam is caused by the wave. The wave is not caused by the foam.
Jack said “and when they do you can be sure that it will consign Baizuo historians to the Dustbin of History.”
And you think the AI will be syphathetic to 老式的自由主义者’s!