What Did (Which) Webster Say?

Over the last several weeks Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson has offered several statements rooted in his peculiar understanding of history. In so doing he follows in a long line of presidential candidates (coming from both major parties) who make references to historical examples in support of whatever point they wish to make.

Most recently Dr. Carson has been talking a lot about his opposition to gun control measures. He cites history in support of such statements, and most recently has taken to claiming to quote (or paraphrase) Daniel Webster (not to be confused with a current Republican congressman) as saying in effect that what makes tyranny impossible in the United States is that the citizenry is armed.

For examples, look here and here to see Dr. Carson on Face the Nation today.

Understandably, people have wondered what Webster actually said and when and where he said it.

I suspect first thought that Dr. Carson is was drawing upon his understanding of Webster’s June 17, 1843 address marking the completion of the Bunker Hill Monument located on the site of the famous battlefield. Webster had spoken at the laying of the cornerstone some eighteen years before, and so this completed the process. One can find the speech here. Or here.

Among other things, Webster declared:

Standing armies are the oppressive instruments for governing the people, in the hands of hereditary and arbitrary monarchs. A military republic, a government founded on mock elections and supported only by the sword, is a movement indeed, but a retrograde and disastrous movement, from the regular and old-fashioned monarchical systems. If men would enjoy the blessings of republican government, they must govern themselves by reason, by mutual counsel and consultation, by a sense and feeling of general interest, and by the acquiescence of the minority in the will of the majority, properly expressed; and, above all, the military must be kept, according to the language of our Bill of Rights, in strict subordination to the civil authority.

You now have the text before you, and so here’s an opportunity to fact-check a presidential candidate. What did Webster say? Does Carson represent his sentiments accurately?

UPDATE: It now appears that Dr. Carson meant Noah Webster, not Daniel Webster, although he credited the former’s sentiments, shared during the ratification debate (and thus before the framing of the Second Amendment) as coming from the Massachusetts senator.

As for what Noah Webster said, go here, then make your way to page 373. Then go to section 6. This is what you will find:

6. It is said there is no provision made in the new constitution against a standing army in time of peace. Why do not people object that no provision is made against the introduction of a body of Turkish Janizaries; or against making the Alcoran the rule of faith and practice, instead of the Bible? The answer to such objections is simply this—no such provision is necessary. The people in this country cannot forget their apprehensions from a British standing army, quartered in America; and they turn their fears and jealousies against themselves. Why do not the people of most of the states apprehend danger from standing armies from their own legislatures? Pennsylvania and North Carolina, I believe, are the only states that have provided against this danger at all events. Other states have declared that “no standing armies shall be kept up without the consent of the legislature.” But this leaves the power entirely in the hands of the legislature. Many of the states however have made no provision against this evil. What hazards these states suffer! Why does not a man pass a law in his family, that no armed soldier shall be quartered in his house by his consent? The reason is very plain: no man will suffer his liberty to be abridged, or endangered—his disposition and his power are uniformly opposed to any infringement of his rights. In the same manner, the principles and habits, as well as the power of the Americans are directly opposed to standing armies; and there is as little necessity to guard against them by positive constitutions, as to prohibit the establishment of the Mahometan religion. But the constitution provides for our safety; and while it gives Congress power to raise armies, it declares that no appropriation of money to their support shall be for a longer term than two years.

Congress likewise are to have power to provide for organizing, arming and disciplining the militia, but have no other command of them, except when in actual service. Nor are they at liberty to call out the militia at pleasure—but only, to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections, and repel invasions. For these purposes, government must always be armed with a military force, if the occasion should require it; otherwise laws are nugatory, and life and property insecure.

This sets the context for the remark in question, made in section 9, and to be found on pages 397 and 398 of this document:

Another source of power in government is a military force. But this, to be efficient, must be superior to any force that exists among the people, or which they can command: for otherwise this force would be annihilated, on the first exercise of acts of oppression. Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom in Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops that can be, on any pretence, raised in the United States. A military force, at the command of Congress, can execute no laws, but such as the people perceive to be just and constitutional; for they will possess the power, and jealousy will instantly inspire the inclination, to resist the execution of a law which appears to them unjust and oppressive. In spite of all the nominal powers, vested in Congress by the constitution, were the system once adopted in its fullest latitude, still the actual exercise of them would be frequently interrupted by popular jealousy. I am bold to say, that ten just and constitutional measures would be resisted, where one unjust or oppressive law would be enforced. The powers vested in Congress are little more than nominal; nay real power cannot be vested in them, nor in any body, but in the people. The source of power is in the people of this country, and cannot for ages, and probably never will, be removed.

And there you have it. It’s a case of the wrong Webster … and you can still try to find fault with Noah Webster’s reasoning or with Dr. Carson’s use of this Webster’s argument. I’ll leave that to you.

46 thoughts on “What Did (Which) Webster Say?

  1. Mark October 11, 2015 / 4:55 pm

    I think Carson’s interpretation is accurate. But you can’t see it in the part quoted above. Also, remember this isn’t US Grant writing orders in a newer more modern and direct style, also displayed brilliantly in his memoirs. Webster was an orator, and that is of an older tradition that has its own ways. In the speech I see Webster making some very direct linkages with self-government and security. Emphasis with asterisks is mine of course.

    “The city is ill led with armed men ; *not a free people, armed and coming forth voluntarily* to rejoice in a public festivity ; but hireling troops, supported by forced loans, excessive impositions on commerce, or taxes wrung from a half fed, and a half clothed population.”

    I know the language of an orator sounds strange now. But I don’t think when he said “armed men” “rejoicing in a public festivity” he was talking about a parade of any sort. It’s common language for public participation that still survives to this day. I read a book written in 2007 last week that used the word ‘celebration’ for such public participatory functions.

    And here again in the speech we see a linkage of self-governing to security as Webster extols the virtues of the Colonies way of governing:

    “But another grand characteristic is, that in the English colonies, political affairs were left to be managed by the colonists themselves. There is another fact wholly distinguishing them in character as it has distinguished them in fortune, from the colonists of Spain. Here lies the foundation of that experience in self-government, which had preserved order, and security, and regularity amidst the play of popular institutions.”

    Now just looking at the first part of the last sentence without the earlier statement or anything later one might think he’s talking about self-governing and security merely in terms of civilian authority over the military or militia. He certainly does talk about that in the quote Brooks posted. But in light of the earlier quote I provided, and that the sentence in this last quote finishes by juxtaposing order and security against “popular institutions” … It sounds to me as though that part of the speech also backs Carson’s view.

    • Brooks D. Simpson October 11, 2015 / 5:14 pm

      One should read the entire speech, with is why I provided two links.

  2. Mark October 11, 2015 / 4:59 pm

    To be clear, of course no one thinks literally that an armed populace makes tyranny impossible. The Founders and most who support the 2nd amendment today think it makes opposition to tyranny possible. They think it is a necessary condition of opposing tyranny. Of course it isn’t sufficient. No one could possibly think that.

    • Jimmy Dick October 11, 2015 / 8:20 pm

      Based on the number of people who are fond of saying Nazi Germany would never have happened if the people had not been disarmed I would disagree. They really dislike being corrected and shown that an armed Germany not only allowed for the Nazis to take control, they voted them into office and supported them willingly.

      • Mark October 11, 2015 / 9:25 pm

        Hey Jimmy, why not stick to the point? Not sure if your caricature is accurate. Do people really think that the Nazis would never have risen to power without disarming (BTW, have you seen the pre-Nazi Noah Webster quote?), or is it that these people you’re lampooning merely think you can tell if you have budding tyrants in the offing if and when they want to disarm you? Maybe the former, eh? People that think they’re superior to us, eh? Substantive claims on message are always appreciated.

          • Mark October 11, 2015 / 10:21 pm

            I know this well enough. I guess the problem is over reasonable generalizations isn’t it? Jimmy spoke of those “fond of saying Nazi Germany would never have happened.” That is a caricature. Now you want to make a piece over Carson’s generalizations over guns, namely absolutist statements such as “a combination of …” and “likelihood of Hitler being able to accomplish his goals would have been greatly diminished …” Oh wait, those aren’t absolutist at all. Jimmy’s statement was, and that was to whom my response was directed.

            Isn’t it funny how all these arguments by the usual suspects come down to “hey, X wouldn’t have mattered anyway”. That seems to be the real offense. Offering an argument that individual action *might* have mattered, as if the question would make no difference morally. Is is morally justified to deprive people of their own means of self-defense? Hey, no worries it wouldn’t have mattered anyway! Oh right. And how do we know that? Oh right, we just do. As if any real thought is required to say “No it wouldn’t have.” It’s just too easy to say anything. It wouldn’t have mattered because of planet alignment, because something that happened later would have made it unnecessary or worse or better, or fill_in_the_blank.

            So now we’re trying to make Carson’s generalization seem absurd by citing an article that hangs him on the fact that he doesn’t know that supposed fact that the German public was disarmed earlier by England, France, and the United States because of the “onerous limitations Versailles”? That BS about Versailles is seldom true, and there is a limit to how much you can argue over reasonable generalizations. Oh sure, it is interesting to me and now I’ll have to look into Versailles on that question, but last I checked I was dinging Jimmy for hyperbole or whatever that was that he said. Carson seems much more restrained in his generalizations than Jimmy, and that was kinda the point.

          • Brooks D. Simpson October 11, 2015 / 10:24 pm

            Indeed, people have challenged that reading of the Versailles Treaty, specifically Article 169. As for whether Carson’s restrained, well, I’m sure that’s a matter of perspective.

        • Jimmy Dick October 12, 2015 / 6:58 am

          All I have to do is look at the FaceBook memes ran by the gun nuts who think Hitler disarmed all Germans. He did not. They think Hitler seized power illegally. He did not. He was elected. They keep making the claim that only an armed civilian population can prevent tyranny. That’s a joke. I haven’t seen democracy replace a totalitarian government in my lifetime because the people had guns. I’ve seen it done because the people including the military forces rejected totalitarian rule. Take a look at Tunisia.

          So my statement stands. People actually think that Nazi Germany would never have come to power without disarming the people. These people don’t pay attention to actual history. They have beliefs to support their ideology. If you shook the neo-confederate tree some of them would be found there as well.

          I don’t know why you think it is a caricature. Those people believe this as fact. To them, any attempt to institute gun control is analogous to creating a dictatorship. Facts and statistics are ignored in favor of beliefs. So then they go out and support people like Trump or Carson who have no clue on how to actually govern, but sure do know how to say what people want to hear.

          • Mark October 12, 2015 / 8:29 am

            Yeah, see ranting about the supporters of politicians is off topic. Hey, Brooks is here for you buddy. Just post whatever makes you feel better.

          • Brooks D. Simpson October 12, 2015 / 9:04 am

            Your last sentence can apply to so many people, Mark. 🙂

          • Jimmy Dick October 12, 2015 / 9:21 am

            WTF is your problem, Mark?

          • Mark October 12, 2015 / 9:26 am

            True, but is does seem like the last bastion of scoundrels. People used to worry about demagogues. Just shoot me when I start complaining generically about the supporters of politicians. It’s a free country dammit.

          • Mark October 12, 2015 / 12:13 pm

            Jimmy, what’s your problem with me evaluating your comments? You must have hated Simon Cowell. 🙂 I’m that guy. So?

          • Jimmy Dick October 12, 2015 / 12:23 pm

            No, it just seems like you want to make an argument that doesn’t hold up. If it bothers you, that’s your problem. Unfortunately, people really do believe the BS about Nazi Germany and it stems from their modern political ideologies. Many people construct their historical knowledge not from facts, but from what they want the past to be. Dr. Carson is one of those people.

  3. Bob Nelson October 11, 2015 / 5:17 pm

    I think Dr. Ben may have his Websters confused. “The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword because the whole body of the people are armed.” Noah Webster, 1888, “An Examination into the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution.”

    • Brooks D. Simpson October 11, 2015 / 5:30 pm

      Very good, although I am sure the quote was about a century old in 1888. Others are coming up with the same answer elsewhere.

    • Mark October 11, 2015 / 5:34 pm

      Earth to Bob. You just used Webster to endorse Carson’s view. You misread the sentence you quoted, AND left out the context. Reading comprehension is a beautiful thing.

      “Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom of Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any bands of regular troops that can be, on any pretense, raised in the United States. …”

      If I’d known about that quote I wouldn’t have read the Bunker Hill speech, but I’m glad I did.

      • Mark October 11, 2015 / 5:37 pm

        Oops. That was Noah Webster’s “An Examination into the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution.” LOL, See what you made me do Bob?

      • Bob Nelson October 11, 2015 / 5:50 pm

        No, I didn’t include the whole quote although I read it. Was only interested in paralleling the Webster phraseology and Dr. Carson’s phraseology.

        • Mark October 11, 2015 / 6:04 pm

          Oh yes I see. Sorry, it was my reading comprehension that was faulty. Thanks indeed for providing the quote.

  4. Mark October 12, 2015 / 12:45 am

    It seems funny that after all the Nazi interest and scholarship over the years gun policy wasn’t considered. We have:

    A History of the Weimar Republic
    The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich
    Hitler: A Study in Tyranny

    The German Dictatorship: The Origins, Structure, and Effects of National Socialism
    The Hitler State: The Foundation and Development of the Internal Structure of the Third Reich
    The History of the German Resistance, 1933-1945
    Big Business in the Third Reich

    None of these discussed gun laws. It’s pretty amazing when you think about it. In any case, about eight months after enacting the 1938 Nazi gun laws, Hitler imposed regulations prohibiting Jewish persons from possessing any dangerous weapons, including firearms. The Nazi regime enacted the prohibition by confiscating guns from Jewish persons, and afterwards engaged in genocide of the Jewish population.

    • Mark October 12, 2015 / 12:50 am

      Oh and let’s not forget “IBM and the Holocaust” for the tech nerds. You know who you are. The Holocaust wouldn’t have been possible on such a wide scale if not for the Hollerith card system to handle the shuttling of victims across a relatively small camp system in a relatively small country in a relatively short time. Stalin didn’t have such limits. Efficiency was required to murder that many people. It’s harder than it sounds.

  5. bob carey October 12, 2015 / 3:40 am

    Todays conservatives, and I include Dr. Carson among them, are very much in favor of second amendment rights, and they are in favor of a large military. I think that these views contradict each other based on why the second amendment was adopted. Therefore it is wrong to cite either Webster in support of his stance on gun control.

    • Brooks D. Simpson October 12, 2015 / 8:16 am

      That is a remarkable observation. You would think that arguing for a larger and better-equipped military would simply increase the threat to individual liberty that would be defended by increasingly inadequate weaponry in individual hands.

      • Mark October 12, 2015 / 9:10 am

        I don’t think Conservatives fear that in part because of the Comitatus Act, but far more it is the long-standing social constraints that the act merely formalized. Libs tend to act like the armed services are mindless drones following orders, but in fact it would be very difficult to use the military in significant ways other than humanitarian and disaster relief inside the US. I’m amazed at how easy everyone things it is giving orders and having them followed. People didn’t sign up for the Army or Marines to operate in ways other than training in their home states, and it isn’t clear how many would actually do it even if it didn’t cause a popular uproar which it almost certainly would.

        No, what causes angst is non-military armed federal armed forces. These people aren’t particularly brave or service oriented, and are hoping mostly for a pension and often do seem to enjoy ordering people around. I slap Conservatives around about this constantly. Because the Border Patrol is exhibit A for this sort of thing, though by no means the only armed federal agency. I know a border patrol is necessary, but Conservatives are complete fools that think throwing more money in and more agents is the solution. They are entirely betraying their principles, though in ignorance of the border and basic understandings of how security works and what it does. Anyway, just in the case of the border patrol, it is now a larger more corrupt force than ever. And I’ve crossed the border hundreds of times and it still amazes me how slow these guys walk and uninterested they seem to be about inconvenience to others, and how many snarky irrelevant questions they ask even for a white guy like me to get back in the country on foot with skinny jeans and a passport in hand. You’d think they were Perry Mason. Who asks them to ask these things anyway? And everyone is afraid to smart off to these guys since they can dismantle your car and/or strip search you for any or no reason and everybody knows it.

        So I think the Founders, would be most surprised and alarmed not so much by the official standing armies we have, but the unofficial ones. And Conservatives should know that it doesn’t take the Marines to seize your property and deny your freedom. It just takes an organized force with guns, and there are so many of those armed federal agencies now I’ve lost count.

      • Jimmy Dick October 12, 2015 / 9:27 am

        It is obvious from reading the words of the Founders that they would have been appalled by our modern military. There is no doubt in my mind they would seen it as an instrument capable of destroying the republic. Its use following WWII would also have been condemned by many of them as well although there is no way to prove that obviously. Comparing their views with modern situations is pretty subjective.

        • Mark October 12, 2015 / 9:43 am

          It isn’t obvious. They weren’t absolutists, but practical men. The citations you have in mind (as with the ones by Daniel Webster in his speech above) about standing armies weren’t merely railing against ideas, but historical European practice. You think they would have chosen to not oppose the expansionist Soviet Union? Seriously? It would have been national suicide. You don’t think their revulsion of tyranny didn’t have international implications? You are aware of the naval acts of the Continental Congress and then the US congress in 1775 and 1794 respectively aren’t you? They organized forces to go pirate chasing in international shipping lanes. Why?

          • Jimmy Dick October 12, 2015 / 12:37 pm

            If you actually read the words of the Founders you would find it obvious. They disliked and rejected the idea of a standing army because in history standing armies were the tools of dictators. All previous republics had failed when their military forces took control of the government. That is why they wanted a militia.

            We do not know what they would have done about a Soviet Union for sure, but since it was not in the Western Hemisphere I can say fairly easily they probably would not have gotten into Vietnam. As for the Barbary Pirates, they were attacking US shipping. Having a standing Navy was something they saw as necessary in order to protect US commercial interests. Even then some disagreed about that which is why the Navy was practically non-existent in 1798 when John Adams fought to get it going.

            The 1794 act contained a clause that said construction of the six frigates was to stop if a peace with Algiers was signed. It was in 1796 and construction halted. Washington and Adams fought to get some of the ships finished because they foresaw a renewal of the threat. Ironically it was the French threat of interdicting US merchant shipping that finally saw the other three completed and got the Navy going for good.

            Recall that the Founders existed in a world of tyranny. Notice they didn’t get involved in European affairs unless dragged into them? That was the result of their way of thinking. Even when WWI began many in US opposed any involvement because it was not in the interests of the US.

        • bob carey October 12, 2015 / 9:57 am

          Ike warned us about the military industrial complex do you think that security and intelligence should be added to the list?

          • Mark October 12, 2015 / 10:11 am

            That and the Suez debacle are the two most boneheaded things Ike ever did/said. He gets covered in the idealistic and romantic glory of the post-WWII era, when everything was grand, so he gets a pass on everything.

          • Mark October 12, 2015 / 10:42 am

            No, it wasn’t. A decent rundown on the history of Ike idealism was given by David Greenberg in a New Republic book review of Jean Smith’s “Eisenhower in War and Peace”.


            It is a very common thing for people to idealize Ike as they romanticize the post-WWII era to then condemn current or recent politicians or policies. I hear people doing that all the time. The truth is something different.

        • Mark October 12, 2015 / 1:34 pm

          I have actually read the words Jimmy, as I referenced a founder doing what you claim I’m unaware of just moments ago.

          Of course the Founders existed in a world of tyranny. That is obvious. And we all, including myself, oppose foreign involvements when they aren’t in our national interest. The entire foreign policy of the US (and all other democratic nations too) could be summed up as a discussion over what being “dragged into it” means. Was it obvious that the Barbary pirates had to be dealt with? No. Many Europeans never even considered it. We could have traded elsewhere, or just paid the pirates off. So how were they “dragged” into that?

          There are no wars that are begun by unanimous consent, or anything close. There are also none that don’t feature bitter recriminations and changing sides when the going gets tough after they’ve begun. Your statement that it is obvious that the Founders would agree with your view just displays your own idealism. If history shows anything it shows you are wrong. But rather than face this fact you apparently prefer to consider those who disagree with you are any or all of unintelligent, uninformed, or just plain unable to think straight. You choose for me the second option in your first sentence. Are you beginning to see why your idealism discredits your view? How avoiding history on a historical blog isn’t a good idea?

          • Jimmy Dick October 12, 2015 / 2:31 pm

            For someone who interjects their own idealism into the conversation and then whines about me doing so you sure do like to run your mouth. You would do well to actually study history and stop trying to shout me down by continually making the same statement which I find erroneous.

            The actions of the Founders contradict your statements. There is a historical record that shows what they did. We cannot say what they might or might not have done in the present which is exactly what I was saying in the original statement which you overlooked (I know, I’m sure that didn’t fit into your way of thinking).

            The facts show us the Founders opposed a standing army and involvement in European affairs. The lack of a standing army helped contribute to that way of thinking. Fast forward to post-WWII when the US did have a strong standing military after Korea. It existed and the temptation to use it was too good to pass up. Hmmm…sounds like the Founders ideas were ignored and what they feared came to pass.

            Are you going to say the US was dragged into Vietnam? Are you going to say the US was dragged into Iraq in 2003?

            The US did everything they could in the Napoleonic Wars to prevent being dragged into them and were still involved despite those efforts. Fortunately, saner heads prevailed in keeping the US out of the larger conflict until the War of 1812 which was practically a disaster for the US. Had the British decided to continue the war, the US would have a very, very different history and it might not be US History either.

            You want some history in a historical blog? Bring it on.

  6. Mark October 12, 2015 / 3:16 pm

    Jimmy, the Founders opposed a standing army and involvement in European affairs all things being equal. All things are seldom equal. This is why I say your view is idealistic. It has a purity that exists in the mind only. So you tell kids not to hit people, and then when the bully on the playground shows up they might want to learn how to hit people. And on and on. Moral wisdom is about exceptions to general rules in anything. The Founders weren’t absolutists. No one is in life, but some are in their verbal expressions. They think reality should match their verbal expressions because they sound so elegantly simple, but it doesn’t. If Pharisaical adherence to rules made a good person or neighbor, or a state or foreign policy, life would be much easier than it is. Something like a cartoon perhaps.

    We’re on different sides of a foreign policy debate that has existed since the country was founded and before. Both sides have legitimate points. I see the merits of your argument and I’m perfectly will to credit the realist (realpolitik), and to a lesser extent the moralist or utopian view of things. Everything has a place. What I’m not willing to credit is your refusal to recognize the merits of the other views. I’m not willing to credit your dismissal of other views. I’m not dismissing your view of foreign policy. I’m disdainful of your inability to see any merit in those with whom you disagree.

    I’m merely asking if it was so obvious that the Founders opposed these things absolutely why is is that even before modern communications and travel that the country did not follow them? History refutes that what you say is so obvious is so obvious. I wish the debate were about the real details of history, but it isn’t. Sorry I wasn’t clear enough about what I meant.

    And don’t give me this crap “Are you going to say the US was dragged into Vietnam and Iraq?” You’ve already smoothly dodged my question about the Cold War for heaven’s sake after your assertions of perfidy after WWII. Do you really think I’m so stupid as to let you dodge such questions and chase the shiny object of your favorite hobby horses? I’m not that stupid.

    • Jimmy Dick October 12, 2015 / 8:24 pm

      Fine, we are on opposite sides of the foreign policy debate. I see the Cold War as a major mistake that the US participated in. We are paying the price for that error and will continue to pay it for a long time coming.

      Your arguments with the Founders would have done still doesn’t stand well. They made their choices for their reasons. Communication and distance would not have changed those choices. Their political speech was pretty clear on what they wanted and why they wanted it.

      • Mark October 13, 2015 / 9:16 am

        It’s an amazing claim that communication and increased travel wouldn’t have effected their choices. Surely that defines idealism. They made no such claim that you can point to to support your extreme isolationism. None whatever, and these were verbose fellows weren’t they? If WWII wasn’t involvement in the affairs of Europe I don’t know what was. Now you can think WWII was a mistake if you like, as does Pat Buchanan and the Paleoconservatives. I have no problem with that. In fact I have a problem with the romanticization of that war and era. It’s everyone’s favorite “just war”. It’s the war everyone loves because they imagine all the lines were so clear. Most isolationist types elevate this perfect war to condemn all the others. Classic romantic move.

        You don’t seem to be doing that, but if you’re biting the proverbial bullet, but there is no reason to think the Founders statements about European wars would have meant they would have opposed WWII. They opposed them for particular reasons. European wars that had until that time been fought for reasons they Americans didn’t even want to fight over. They wanted to make a new beginning. But not fight over matters of the security of their citizens abroad? That’s an astonishing claim. You’re trying to turn the Founders into isolationists, and the Barbary adventure shows they weren’t. You assertion that it was an exception because it was a “direct” attack shows the confusion of your position. What would they do about “direct” attacks on our embassies abroad?

        And what does it even mean to oppose a “cold war”. Do you oppose “phoney wars” too? How about imaginary wars? What does war even mean for you? Notice the unintentional humor in saying “I see the Cold War as a major mistake that the US participated in.” Participated in? How do you not participate in a non-shooting war? This clearly displays political idealism. That wars come about because of mean and stupid people and actions, or that it is usually caused by misunderstandings or some such. Is that what the Founders thought? Nope. You’re just reading into their words your own assumptions. It just doesn’t work.

        • Jimmy Dick October 13, 2015 / 11:01 am

          There is obviously no point is discussing this with you if you think protecting American shipping meant a complete rejection of American isolationism spoken about by the Founders. I guess Washington’s farewell address and the writings and actions of men like John Adams and Thomas Jefferson mean nothing as well.

          I think it is pretty clear you are interjecting your own ideology onto the Founders.

  7. Matt McKeon October 12, 2015 / 6:20 pm

    Dr. Carson’s holocaust talk is probably better understood in the context of the extremist rhetoric that has become more prevalent in politics. The enemy is always a Hitler clone, because Hitler is the worse, and any disagreement can’t be a honest difference, but evil madness….like Hitler!

    • Mark October 12, 2015 / 8:10 pm

      “Become more prevalent in politics”? This is a howler. It’s attack of the romantics, or is it more romantic than thou? Are “they” always invoking Hitler, or are you always invoking others invoking Hitler? This is unintentional self-parody. You’re killin it man. Absolutely killin it.

      • Matt McKeon October 13, 2015 / 3:04 am

        The hysterical pitch of your response makes my point.

        • Jimmy Dick October 13, 2015 / 10:59 am

          I agree with you, Matt.

      • Mark October 13, 2015 / 1:44 pm

        Of course. To you everything makes your point about linking extremist rhetoric to Hitler. Or nothing. Your made your own point by demonstrating an example of it. Like I said, unintentional self-parody.

        You could always make a substantial point about Hitler that could be argued and discussed. But you didn’t. Small wonder.

  8. Matt McKeon October 12, 2015 / 6:26 pm

    To be fair, privately owned firearms have played an important role in resisting federal action. I mean Martin Luther King and Medgar Evans weren’t going to shoot themselves, were they? Those civil rights workers in Mississippi weren’t going to gun down themselves on a dark highway anymore than they were going to bury themselves in an unmarked grave.

    Let’s give credit where credit is due.

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