Two Posts from Seth Barrett Tillman

From President James Buchanan, Chief Justice Roger Taney, Copperheads—and the Quakers:

If our moral intuitions accord with the second view, if we credit the Quakers’ behaviour without regard to their religious inspiration, then why do our standard histories judge President James Buchanan and Chief Justice Taney so harshly?** Buchanan and Taney preferred the United States to go to pieces rather than maintaining it by war. They were unwilling to order or to support a war, and the deaths, which would undoubtedly follow. Yet very few today see Buchanan and Taney as heroes or as acting on moral principles akin to those of the Quakers. Why?


From Law of the Clinton Candidacy (Again):

#1. If Hillary Clinton resigns as the Democratic Party’s candidate prior to the general popular election, what process does the Democratic National Committee (“DNC”) use to select a new candidate?
[. . .]
#8. If President-elect Clinton were sworn in, but subsequently became incapacitated prior to her appointing any cabinet members, can the Vice President succeed her, even temporarily? See Twenty-Fifth Amendment, Section 4 (“Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments … transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.” (emphasis added)). Do acting heads of executive departments (i.e., senior high level civil servants not subject to presidential nomination and Senate confirmation) count for this purpose? Isn’t this a good reason for the members of President Obama’s cabinet to remain in office until their successors are actually nominated, confirmed, appointed, and sworn in?

Both posts are worth reading.

11 thoughts on “Two Posts from Seth Barrett Tillman”

  1. It will presumably be difficult for Hellary to lie about the emails on the Weiner laptop if she doesn’t know which ones are there. But no doubt she’ll rise to the challenge. I assume that there is no chance that she’ll be persuaded to step down from the candidacy short of O promising her a blanket pardon if she does, and a prosecution if she doesn’t. But what does the Clinton Crime Family hold on O?

    That said, SBT’s questions are indeed interesting. The key ones are perhaps the ones about the constraints on the electoral college electors. Are those constraints subject to federal law, or state law, or do they depend merely on custom and convention?

  2. Obama seems to be throwing Hillary under the bus. He has come out in support of Comey.

    Pacifism is a pretty ineffective way to conduct ones self in a world subject to The Second Law of Thermodynamics.

    Back in the 70s there was a pretty popular movie called, “Billy Jack,” which featured a supposed group of pacifists who were protected by an ex-Green Beret who kicked the crap of of anyone who molested them.

    It sort of epitomized the lives of pacifists and Libertarians, as both are dependent on a rule of law that someone else, not a pacifist or Libertarian, has to enforce.

    It just strikes me as unrealistic and likely to end badly for them in the real world.

  3. The difference between the Quakers and President Buchanan was simply that the Quakers were guided by moral principles and natural law while Buchanan was a Cronyist trying to maintain the corrupt slavery regime. Buchanan actually was a bad President through and through. The Quakers on the other hand really wanted to end slavery, only peacefully. They were instrumental in the abolition movement and organizing the Underground Railroad. They believed in the efficacy of civil disobedience, which admittedly as Mike points out only works under civilized rule of law. Lincoln understood both the values and perils of this moral stance, as he personally intervened for some Quakers imprisoned during the war (but not others).

    The Quakers do have a policy of serving in non-military capacities, such as emergency relief and ambulance services in World War II. They provided counseling for psychologically scarred soldiers coming back from Vietnam.

    Judging by their track record, I would say the time tested beliefs of religious groups like Quakers hold vastly more weight than the latest secular fads. Not only should we respect, honor, and protect their objections, but we should also look at them as bellwethers for the rightness of the mission.

  4. “Pacifism is a pretty ineffective way to conduct ones self in a world subject to The Second Law of Thermodynamics.”

    Attack me and I will fight. It’s very unlikely that I will attack you though, and I will talk the talk, as long as I can.

    A creature that relies on it’s group, more than many do, does things to break that group, at it’s peril. So cooperation in the group is good, right? My idea is to have just one group, but I’m a hopeless pacifist dreamer. I am a strong dreamer though. ;)

  5. “Attack me and I will fight.”

    Then you are not a pacifist. Your whole comment is pretty incoherent, Pennie.

  6. Benjamin Franklin saw a problem with pacifism (not, perhaps, unlike the distinctions between the two strong Scottish traditions Hermann describes). The Quakers were on the coast, didn’t fight, and were becoming quite wealthy in the marketplace. The Scots Irish brought in to fight the Indians were doing just that in the wilderness areas in the interior of Pennsylvania – and losing many men, women and children. At one point they brought a wagon load of the victims of an Indian raid (some scalped I believe) bodies and put them on the courthouse lawn. I can’t find where I read this but suspect I didn’t make it up – so someone out there may have a more accurate tale. I do remember that Franklin, a merchant to his toes, got pretty irritated with the Quakers and had considerable sympathy for those borderland victims. If you want a free marketplace (and all the other freedoms) and property rights and rule of law, you probably can’t always also be a pacifist. And if you value those things, aren’t you likely, in the long run, to save rather than waste lives?

  7. Ginny, I own two books on Ben Franklin and this episode appears in neither of them. Got a source? One I can click on or buy?

  8. Ginny, I own two books on Ben Franklin and this episode appears in neither of them. Got a source? One I can click on or buy?

    Not even necessity could reconcile the Penns and Pennsylvania’s Assembly. Again, the [Penn} family’s appointed representative, Governor Robert Hunter Morris, vetoed every tax bill that included their estates. Debate raged through the summer and the fall while Indians on the frontier raided farms and slaughtered travelers. When no sign of resistance appeared, attacks intensified. Large parties raided Berks and Northampton counties, scalping colonists less than eighty miles from Philadelphia.

    Most victims were Germans. They begged Governor Morris for help. When they got no answer, more than 1,000 marched on Philadelphia, parking a wagon of scalped corpses in front of the governor’s mansion. A few days earlier, the Penns offered to donate £5,000 to the colony’s defense if the Assembly would agree to a bill that did not tax their estates. Under Franklin’s leadership, the Assembly voted £60,000 to raise and equip troops. But volunteers came forward slowly. The bill exempted Quakers – it was against their religion to serve in the army – and other Pennsylvanians were reluctant to risk their lives to defend them.

    Franklin attacked the problem in thePennsylvania Gazette,with a dialogue among citizens X, Y, and Z.

    “For my part,” said Z, “I am no coward, but hang me if I’ll fight to save the Quakers.”

    X replied, “That is to say you won’t pump ship because it’ll save the rats as well as yourself.”

    In late November came the worst news from the defenseless frontier. A Shawnee tribe surprised the German village of Gnadenhutten, killing all but a few, who escaped to the woods. The victims had been pacifists, like the Quakers. Terror swept Pennsylvania. Farmers abandoned their homesteads and crowded into villages. Governor Morris begged Franklin to organize 300 rangers and lead them to the frontier.

    Franklin accepted the assignment. He knew little about military affairs, but he knew how to lead. William, with his military experience, took charge of logistics. “My son was of much use to me,” Franklin wrote. He named his son his personal aide-de-camp and secretary to the defense commission. William enlisted many of his young friends in the militia; they were well-trained horsemen and could afford to equip themselves. Franklin marched his rangers to the frontier, organized militia in a number of towns, then advanced to Gnadenhutten, slogging through cold, sleet, and rain. He spent his fiftieth birthday in a German farmer’s barn, wet from an all-day march. Native-American snipers fired from a distance, but they didn’t have the fortitude to engage Franklin’s well-armed force.

    Franklin and his son directed the army in building a fort. Franklin noticed, on days the men worked hard, they were “good-natured and cheerful,” while on days when rain forced them to be idle, they were irritable, “finding fault with their pork, the bread, etc., and in continual ill-humour.”

    Davidson Butler’s Franklin. The more I read about Franklin, the more I admire him.

  9. Franklin’s image has taken a hit the past few years I think because the taint of Jefferson’s personal life rubbed off in some way on all the Founding Fathers because of our post-modern politically correct environment. I always loved him. He was just brilliant in France.

  10. Thanks, Gringo. Obviously some details were lost in my memory but that’s the incident. Suspect I had conflated the Fischer book’s description of ethnics with the incident; certainly the German speaking Pennsylvanians were a large group then.

  11. Ginny, your memory is better than mine. I read the book a year ago, and didn’t remember the incident. I just did a search for “Quaker” on the book to refresh my memory.

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