April 25, 2021

SKEPTOCISM IS THE HEALTH OF THE REPUBLIC:

How Founders Lost Faith in American Experience: a review of Fears of a Setting Sun: The Disillusionment of America's Founders By Dennis C. Rasmussen (Mark G. Spencer
April 25, 2021, Imaginative Conservative)

Of course, Franklin did not live to see but the first three years of the American experiment, dying in 1790. By the ends of their lives, Washington, Alexander Hamilton, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson all feared America's sun was setting. From 1792, Washington despaired that America was hopelessly divided by party. He "recognized that not only Congress, but all the American people had become thoroughly and irretrievably partisan," writes Rasmussen. Hamilton was disillusioned from the outset. He complained that the federal government lacked sufficient "energy." By 1804--on the eve of his fatal duel with Aaron Burr--Hamilton was writing of the "Dismemberment of our Empire." Different phantoms haunted Adams. He feared Americans' lack of virtue would render them unfit for republican government. Meanwhile, Adams's political rival, Jefferson--the most sanguine of the bunch--also lamented the nation's demise. Expanding commercialism was a problem. But slavery? Bondage, Jefferson thought, would be "the death knell of the union."

Posted by at April 25, 2021 12:00 AM

  

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