Government: A Rejoinder to The Guff of History
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A Rejoinder to The Guff of History.
By Samuel Blodgett.
To govern or not to govern; that is the question between Bro. Kuehn and myself.
He may guff and guffaw all he pleases, for it seems it is the best noise he can make, and he must squeal or burst (I think he will burst anyway).
I predicted he would reiterate his old saying about what authority never did, and what liberty always does, and I was right. He has whistled it so much it is like the boys whistle; “It whistles itself.”
I did not know as he would swagger quite so much, but the readers will understand that this is no evidence that he is carrying a sober, level head, and all who have not got his peculiar malady bad will give him the proper credit for his wobbling statements, as I diagnose his case, I do not think there is any doubt but he will die with it; but it is not very contagious, and I would not recommend sending him to the pest house. The general mental health will not suffer to have him run at large as long as he is able.
It is interesting to see him striding down the sidewalk, inflated with what he has got in him, reeling from side to side, and every few steps falling into the gutter, and I would feel sympathy for the poor man if he did not enjoy his mishaps so well.
Sometimes he stands erect when he relates history, and you might think he is getting better, but the next step he takes he goes into the mud. It is true, as he says, that neither the Republican party nor the President, when that party came into partial power, intended to destroy slavery by governmental action. There was not only no such intentions, but the fact was clearly stated. Not only so, the Southern fire-eaters deliberately threw the election of the President into the hands of the Republicans by refusing to support the best Northern friend they had, Stephen A. Douglas. Further, had they stood their ground after Lincoln’s election, the Republicans were powerless to harm them, for they had the senate by a large majority. They had Lincoln so tied that he could not select a cabinet obnoxious to the slave power.
After stating a little truth our tangle-foot friend loses his balance. The secession of the Southern states was not. as he says, “A protest against Federal interference with a perfectly legal and constitutional privilege,” and he owns he knows better himself, when he states the Republican party and its President had no such intention. Well, what did they secede for? It was just a case of “Whom the Gods wish to destroy they first make mad.”
When the government realized that the way to preserve the Union was to destroy slavery, it destroyed slavery, its authority accomplished its first purpose, preserving the Union, and it accomplished its second purpose, when it grew into having it; it destroyed slavery. This is admitted, while denying that it ever accomplished any purpose. It destroyed state banks of issue on purpose, by taxing them, and this is admitted and denied, like the others. He tells us government instituted slavery. If it did it accomplished its purpose at the time. These self-contradictions fit him admirably for the church called Christian. No matter whether he takes the Protestant or Catholic wing. Just join, and swear by the Trinity. It will be no feat for him to believe one is three and three is one.
Just imagine our friend trying to brush the mud off from the last tumble I have called attention to, viz., that “authority instituted slavery” and “It could not have existed otherwise,” therefore it “did not accomplish its purpose” in this, and never accomplished its purpose in anything. Just imagine him refer to this again and say, “‘No, no, I—d did not say that, I, I meant to say authority created slavery, but it was not its purpose; it did not intend to do it. No, this is not what I mean to say it did accomplish its purpose, but it was not a good purpose. Authority afterwards emancipated the slaves. This was a “military expedient,” not intended to abolish slavery. No, I mean that the intention was to abolish slavery when the emancipation was issued, but there was no intention of issuing it at the time it was issued or at any other time, therefore authority never had any purpose to emancipate the slaves. No, it had a purpose in emancipating the slaves, but it was not a good purpose. “Authority certainly accomplishes much,” but “it never accomplishes its purposes,” therefore it never had any purpose to destroy slavery, etc., etc.
When he tries to clean himself he just rubs it in. I will give him credit for being as good a success at that as any man I ever struck.
He does not think the Vigilance Committees in the early settlement of California and Colorado exercised any authority in hanging the thieves and robbers, and therefore when that drastic methou put a check on those who were not a law unto themselves, authority had nothing to do with it.
(“The light shineth in darkness and the darkness comprehended it not.”) Poor man! ‘The Vigilants combined to preserve their liberties,” therefore their success was not authoritative!
An enlightened man would say there was authority used in roobing, and there was a counter authority used in hanging the robbers—that was superior. There was an authority that institutea, and was determined to extend and perpetuate slavery indefinitely, and there was an opposing authority that overpowered it. A wise man knows that authorities frequently clash, and that when they do one or the other has to give way. I am sorry his vision is so dim as not to realize that the authority of taxing state banks of Issue did not accomplish its purpose, and that removing that tax would be an invitation for the old kind of state banking. I am also, more sorry that he and those like him do not see they are not obliged to use government money. They can institute the inexpensive credit plan that they are in love with, and use it between themselves to their hearts’ content without government interference. If it proves the boon they imagine, other people will tumble over each other to Join them till government money will drop out of sight of Its own weight. They also have the freedom of the tree exchange of products which I pointed out before; though he mistakes in assuming I claimed we have free trade. I am not so ignorant as that.
I am far from being satisfied with our banking system. Awhile ago I wrote a treatise on the money question to a leading magazine which after a long delay was returned, with a statement that their readers were not interested in the subject. I shall try again.
While I am conscious we have not nearly reached the limits in perfecting the best money plan, I know there has been a great advance over that of fifty years ago.
I will gratify Kuehn by informing him that it is the avowed purpose of government to furnish a medium to facilitate exchanges. I will also inform him that he does not believe his own statement that the money we have is a hindrance. If he did so believe, it is a self-evident fact that he would not use it.
• • • •
Having seen both the foregoing contributions I thing that Mr. Blodgett has distinctly the better of his critic. While Kuehn shows that the abolition of slavery was not an avowed purpose of government, Mr. Blodgett proves that it might have been. And Kuehn’s statement that liberty never fails to redeem its promises has also been disposed of by Mr. Blodgett’s excellent showing that Authority and resistance to Authority amount to precisely the same thing. Mr. Blodgett clearly convicts Kuehn of insincerity in his closing paragraph, notwithstanding that it must not be accepted as a fixed formula of logic that a vegetarian is a humbug because he eats meat when deprived of access to all other sustenance.
Samuel Blodgett and Henry Carmichael, “Government: A Rejoinder to ‘The Guff of History,’” To-Morrow 2 no. 11 (November, 1906): 45-47.