Thursday, December 3, 2009

Two Presidents

There's so much to be said about our beloved president and his recent wrong-headed Afghan move. I doubt if I have anything new to add to the conversation.

Instead I shall talk about another president who didn't get the ink of his predecessors yet held the most public offices of any American before or since; and that was almost 200 years ago. I am speaking of James Monroe.

Our 5th president served as a Virginia state legislator, U.S. Senator, Governor, Ambassador to England and France, Emissary to Spain, Sec. of State, Sec. of War and two terms as President...elected with no opposition.

Also of note is the fact that Virginia at the time extended west to the Mississippi and north to the Great Lakes, an area greater than Texas and California together.

In the famous painting of Washington crossing the Delaware the other figure standing up was Monroe. In fact he led an earlier crossing that Christmas night and attacked the 3,000 Hessians from the rear while Washington took Trenton and turned the war around.

Though Jefferson got all the credit Monroe actually negotiated the Louisiana Purchase. He was sent to Paris with nine million dollars to obtain New Orleans. He personally borrowed another six million and got the entire French possession in continental America.

While Madison invaded Canada leaving Washington D.C. unprotected in 1814 he handed over the defense to Sec. of State Monroe who then assumed Sec. of War duties as well. It was Monroe who saved the day directing our fleet to Baltimore harbor and at the dawn's early light our flag was still there.

And how do we remember James Monroe today? The answer is none of the above. He is consigned to one paragraph at the end of the chapter called, The Era Of Good Feeling.

We rememember only his Monroe Doctrine which said to Europe, Hands off, it's ours.The Caribbean is our pond. Central and South America are ours to exploit, invade, install canals, bases and puppet governments. It laid the groundwork for our sphere of influence in Latin America and was the first example of our muscular foreign policy leading to overt and covert actions in support of the United Fruit Company, American Railway interests and a century of corrupt regimes.

There is an undercurrent of aggresssion in our history running alongside another strain of pacifism. Let us hope Obama hears the latter and has the courage to reverse our course into yet another needless foreign adventure.

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