10 February 2019

"Marshall has made his decision: now let him enforce it"

The attorneys for the missionaries sought to have this judgement enforced, but could not. General Jackson was President, and would do nothing of the sort. "Well: John Marshall has made his decision: now let him enforce it!" was his commentary on the matter. So the missionaries languished years in prison, and the Cherokees were finally (1838) driven into exile, in defiance of the mandate of our highest judicial tribunal.
Horace Greeley, The American Conflict (1864), 106.
Some high school civics textbooks report a Constitutional crisis in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court decision Worcester v. Georgia (1832). The issue in the case was Georgia law requiring a license from the state and an oath of allegiance to the state constitution for non-Indians living and working among the Cherokee. The bulk of the Cherokee Nation fell within the state boundaries of Georgia; the state sought to exercise its sovereignty over these lands. Samuel Worcester and Elizur Butler, missionaries among the Cherokee, refused to comply with Georgia's laws, were tried and convicted, and appealed their case to the Supreme Court. Chief Justice Marshall wrote the decision, which affirmed the sovereignty of the Cherokee Nation.
The Cherokee nation, then, is a distinct community, occupying its own territory, with boundaries accurately described, in which the laws of Georgia can have no force, and which the citizens of Georgia have no right to enter but with the assent of the Cherokees themselves, or in conformity with treaties and with the acts of Congress.
Worcester v. Georgia 31 U.S. 515, at 520
Marshall's decision, along with one nine years earlier (Johnson v. McIntosh) and one the previous year (Cherokee Nation v. Georgia) form the foundation of Federal Indian Law. The so-called Marshall Trilogy of cases has been celebrated and condemned and been the subject of countless books.

For the past few decades, I have occasionally checked high school civics and American government texts for how much space they devote to notions of tribal sovereignty, or to other Indian matters. The fishing rights cases of the 1970s sometimes appear, and sometimes there is a little bit about the American Indian Movement. However, the notion of tribal governments as sovereigns rarely makes an appearance. When Worcester v. Georgia is mentioned at all, Greeley's fabrication is the most frequent point.

Patriots and Peoples began as a blog concerned with two US history texts, one unabashedly liberal, and the other equally partisan on the right. Both mention Worcester. Jackson's alleged words appear no where in the historical record prior to Horace Greeley's 1864 book, published 32 years after the event.

Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen reveal no evidence of skepticism of the quote's authenticity:
Marshall's Court stated that Georgia could not violate Cherokee land rights because those rights were protected under the jurisdiction of the federal government. Jackson muttered, "John Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it," and proceeded to ignore the Supreme Court's ruling.
A Patriot's History, 208
Howard Zinn does not pass on the quote, but makes reference to the putative Constitutional crisis:
John Marshall, for the majority, declared that the Georgia law on which Worcester was jailed violated the treaty with the Cherokees, which by the Constitution was binding on the states. He ordered Worcester freed. Georgia ignored him, and President Jackson refused to enforce the court order.
A People's History, 141
The conservative Schweikart and Allen and the liberal Zinn both cite as a leading source for these events the book Fathers and Children (1975) by Michael P. Rogin. It a strong testament to Rogin's scholarship that both skewed histories choose his work as the foundation for their claims.

Where Zinn differs from Schweikart and Allen becomes evident in what follows. Two paragraphs later in Zinn and the next sentence in Schweikart and Allen, we find contrasting interpretations of Jackson's views regarding states' rights, but neither highlights tribal sovereignty.
The same year Jackson was declaring states' rights for Georgia on the Cherokee question in 1832, he was attacking South Carolina's right to nullify a federal tariff.
A People's History, 141 
Ultimately, the Cherokee learned that having the highest court in the land, and even Congress, on their side meant little to a president who disregarded the rule of law and the sovereignty of the states when it suited him.
A Patriot's History, 208
I need to sit down with Rogin's book to examine whether he proceeds in either of these directions. I am also curious how he sources the claim. Greeley's own deployment of the alleged words 32 years after the event in question stretch the bounds of credibility. Questions drive me.

09 February 2019

Gun Obsession

Recently, I became cognizant that every post on Patriots and Peoples the past three years has been about guns in one way or another. There also have been very few posts. Despite appearances, I have interests other than guns (read my more active Chess Skills for evidence). Nonetheless, my interest in guns has grown over the past few years. This interest is both personal and historical. Guns have long interested me, although for the better part of forty years that interest was mostly historical. My personal interest revived slowly over the past few years. Last fall, I returned to the woods as a hunter for the first time since the late 1970s.

Three or four years ago, a friend shared a series of quotes on Facebook that he alleged made clear the views on the Founding Fathers on the matter of guns. My initial impression was that the list was not characterized by the usual array of fake quotes that seem the norm in highly partisan collections.

Study Regimen

Over the next few weeks, I spent several hours tracking down the original sources of each quote, studying the context, and jotting down some notes in the computer file where I had pasted the collection. My intention was to create a series of blog posts assessing which quotes were credible and which were deceptive. When I saw my friend, I asked about his source. He had received the collection in an email, he recalled, but was vague on the specifics. I found the whole collection online at Buckeye Firearms Association, an Ohio gun rights organization. Their website offers:
Buckeye Firearms Association (BFA) is a 501(c)(4) social welfare organization that serves as the flagship of our grassroots efforts to defend and advance the right of more than 4 million Ohio citizens to own and use firearms for all legal activities, including self-defense, hunting, competition, and recreation.
My friend could have subscribed to their email, but he denied any knowledge of the organization. I am sure that the collection of quotes circulates several ways. It is possible that it originates with the BFA, but there may be another source.

My main concern is the authenticity and relevance of each quote. I appreciate the sourcing in the collection. That is, the collection not only credits George Washington with, "A free people ought not only to be armed, but disciplined...", but also references the president's First Annual Message to Congress. There are many fake gun quotes attributed President Washington that begin with this one.

One of my relatives shared on Facebook last week an image with a version that adds words not only that Washington did not utter, but that were contrary to his known views.

Fake Quote
His source was Mary J. Ruwart, a biochemist turned libertarian political activist. She posted this image 1 February 2017 and it continues to circulate. The measures Facebook has taken against fake news stories does not apply to images and does not apply to errors of historical fact.

I pointed out to my relative that the quote is fake and offered a link to the whole of Washington's address to Congress. I pasted my reply to Ruwart's original post.

My Response
This response and my post on Wayne LaPierre's errors with respect to a John Adams quote both were aided by the work I started three years ago or so on the BFA quotes. My series of blog posts have not materialized the way I intended, but the work has been useful. Like many projects, it has taken longer than anticipated and other interests began to crown upon the project. When I started working through these quotes, I did not have a shelf of books on guns and gun history. Now I have several such shelves and another book is scheduled to arrive today.

Yesterday morning, I started reading Adam Winkler, Gun Fight: The Battle over the Right to Bear Arms in America (2011). I am halfway through. I might post a review of this book, which I think is vastly superior to Michael Waldman, The Second Amendment: A Biography (2014), which I reviewed in 2017. I wanted to go to the shooting range yesterday morning, but the snow started falling at 6:00 am and my wife took our Explorer to work leaving me with the car that does less well on slick roads. Instead of shooting a gun or two at some targets, I spent my time reading about them.

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