Friday, May 7, 2010

The Golden Age

I am currently reading Gordon S. Wood's Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815, and trying desperately - and futilely - to discern the civility that surely must have permeated all political discussions in our early Constitutional Republic.

No - even without formal political parties, the debates in 1792 were as rancorous as those today. The personal calumnies unleashed by one side against leaders of the other were, if anything, far more devastating and demeaning than anything seen today... even on Fox News!

... and one does come away with the sense that, for all his priggish prickliness, Washington was the only man who could have steered the ship of state in these first tumultuous years.
His reputation for virtue was acknowledged by all.
This seems to be only thing distinguishing those days from this: the reputation of the president (if not of the presidency - which one faction viewed with great suspicion).

1 comment:

  1. There was only one other President as popular and liked by all. He would have also been elected unanimous, but one elector purposely voted for the opponent so as to keep Washington's unanimous elections the only ones. His Presidency was called: The Era of Good Feelings. That was James Monroe. Unfortunately for the country the issue of slavery started to split the country in what became known as the Firebell in the night.
    The real nastiness returned (it got pretty bad between Jefferson and John Adams) with Quincy Adams and Jackson.