Tuesday, November 1, 2011

American Heroes Contd.

In a previous post I mentioned that I found that Americans of the civil war generation(s) make better, more relatable heroes than those of the Founding generation(s), because they came from a democratic society.  Thinking it over again, I realized that I should perhaps attack the point from another angle.

The Americans of the Founding generation created something new.  They did not know what they were creating -- Providence (as they themselves might say) had it's own ideas about the future shape of the Republic.  But they were creating a new nation and laying out it's principles for the first time.  They were not burdened with a previous constitution or government -- the Articles of Confederation were cast aside after less than a decade in force.  Once British dominion was overthrown, all cards were on the table.

Perhaps this is why their debates can have such an abstract, philosophical quality to them -- things were newer then, and much of what Jefferson or Hamilton thought about what made a republic work was so much theory.  There was no roadmap to creating a republic out of a formerly subject nation.

This is radically different from our situation in the present day.  We have over 200 years of laws, legal precedent and custom to deal with.  Our constitution is older than that of any other major nation, and many provisions, such as the Senate and the Electoral College, started to show their age long ago.