One of the reasons the mainstream media and Beltway elites have been so successful in owning the hearts and minds of right-wing useful idiots is the collective amnesia that afflicts the US. We understand so very little our past because the US is such a young, if not immature, nation and the victors have been able to manipulate our histories from their inception.
For example, to refer to the 1776 coup of the colonial elites in North America, against the mother country elites in England as “revolution,” is a misnomer. The US War of Independence did not bring about much in the way of social or economic change; much like our modern electoral system, the change was purely political and had likely little or no impact on the lives of common people. This may help to explain why as many as 40% of the British colonists remained loyal to their mother country.
The ultra-wealthy planter elites canonized and revered as ‘founding fathers’ in the US creation myths would no more associate with the common people of their own time, or even the contemporary masses, than today’s political and economic elites do. If the US was founded as a “Christian nation,” as many of the domestic Taliban would have you believe, it was likely only because the deist “new bosses” were not stupid and must have been aware of the power of religion as a tool of social control to keep the superstitious masses from seeking to improve their station in this life.
Ethan Allen, furniture store proprietor and ‘patriot’ knew this:
Such people as can be prevailed upon to believe, that their reason is depraved, may easily be led by the nose, and duped into superstition at the pleasure of those, in whom they confide, and there remain from generation to generation; for when they throw away the law of reason, the only one which God gave them to direct them in their speculations and duty, they are exposed to ignorant or insidious teachers, and also to their own irregular passions, and to the folly and enthusiasm of those about them, which nothing but reason can prevent or restrain; nor is it a rational supposition that the commonality of mankind would ever have mistrusted, that their reason was depraved, had they not been told so, and it is whispered about, that the first insinuation of it was from the Priests.
Although not much different than the power brokers of today, we can idealize those 18th century elites, since they are not able to contradict claims from a populist right-wing who believes that Thomas Jefferson would attend services at your local mega-church and then head over to Applebees to watch the race with you. They would have a police escort to their private clubs like any other members of today’s ruling classes.
The clandestine property destruction action carried out on behalf of Alexander Hamilton and other tea smugglers has been repurposed as an ongoing GOP campaign event and the ‘founding fathers’ were opposed to taxation, at least the taxes they were expected to pay to the British mother country. Once they took power, they were deadly serious about making sure that the rest of us paid our taxes to them.
Like Soviet dictator, Vladimir Lenin, George Washington managed to wait four years to take military action against the people who put him in power in the first place, people in Southwestern Pennsylvania. Washington commanded a force as large as the one used to gain independence for himself and others like him.
The cause? Unpaid taxes. One of the designated heroes of people who whine about paying taxes, attempted to attack people for not paying taxes. I don’t know if that is dramatic irony or poetic justice? This incident was known as the Whiskey Rebellion and it represents the first large scale mobilization of US government forces for use against US citizens and it would not be the last.
Angered by an excise tax imposed on whiskey in 1791 by the federal government, farmers in the western counties of Pennsylvania engaged in a series of attacks on excise agents. The tariff effectively eliminated any profit by the farmers from the sale or barter of an important cash crop, and became the lightning rod for a wide variety of grievances by the settlers of the region against the federal government.
While citizens in the east did not find it difficult to abide by the concept that individual states were “subservient to the country,” people west of the mountains were less accepting of decisions made by the central government.
The rebel farmers continued their attacks, rioting in river towns and roughing up tax collectors until the so-called “insurrection” flared into the open in July of 1794 when a federal marshal was attacked in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. Almost at the same time several hundred men attacked the residence of the regional inspector, burning his home, barn and several outbuildings. Pittsburgh was another scene of disorder by enraged mobs.
On August 7, 1794, President Washington issued a proclamation, calling out the militia and ordering the disaffected westerners to return to their homes. Washington’s order mobilized an army of approximately 13,000 — as large as the one that had defeated the British — under the command of General Harry Lee, the then-Governor of Virginia and father of Robert E. Lee. Washington himself, in a show of presidential authority, set out at the head of the troops to suppress the uprising.
This was the first use of the Militia Law of 1792 setting a precedent for the use of the militia to “execute the laws of the union, (and) suppress insurrections,” asserting the right of the national government to enforce order in one state with troops raised in other states. Even more importantly, it was the first test of power of the new federal government, establishing its primacy in disputes with individual states. In the end, a dozen or so men were arrested, sent to Philadelphia to trial and released after pardons by Washington.