Ah To Be In American History Class, Now the Election is Upon Us
Youth is wasted on the young – and so is high school.
I know this because I live with a high school junior, aka my daughter. She's taking American History with perhaps the equivalent enthusiasm I mustered for it in my junior year. However, as an adult in this election cycle, it is riveting to study. Just sayin'.
I cannot help her with Physics or Algebra/Trig. Forget that. French and English, perhaps a bit. Theology, yes. Studio Art is her power alley. Absolutely nothing to contribute there. But then there's American History. The Revolution. The First Continental Congress. The Second Continental Congress (necessary, because the roadmap of the First did not work out so well).
We read of President Washington installing Thomas Jefferson, a strong anti-Federalist, as Secretary of State, and Alexander Hamilton, an ardent Federalist, as Secretary of the Treasury. In one statement in her textbook, I read clearly about the unresolved issue bouncing around and through the echo chamber that is our history: "President Washington tried to remain above the arguments between Hamilton and Jefferson...their conflict divided the cabinet and fueled a growing division in national politics."
One can't help but wonder in a casual game of 'What If.' Washington at the height of his power had come down clearly on the side of a strong Federal government vs. the notion of state sovereignty. Her text is chock-a-block with examples – tariff wars of the early 1800s through the Civil War and beyond – of disagreements ratcheting up to the use of force. I’d forgotten, if I ever knew, that Andrew Jackson (from South Carolina) got Congress to pass the Force Bill in 1833 allowing him to “use the Army and navy against South Carolina if state authorities resisted paying proper duties.” And who can forget the Calhoun’s ‘nullification theory,’ which held that because it had taken the states to ratify the Constitution, clearly the states held the upper hand over the Federal government, so they didn’t have to obey the laws they didn’t like.
But then, I think, perhaps Washington in refusing to be ‘the strong man’ (or decider-in-chief) saved us from a much more worrisome history and present.
Then, I think, phew. She has to take the tests and write the essays. Another bullet dodged.