Thursday, October 27, 2016

So what exactly are the “Federalist Papers,” anyway?

"It has been frequently remarked that it seems to have been reserved to the people of this country, by their conduct and example, to decide the important question, whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force."

- Alexander Hamilton, in Federalist No. 1

Frequently Asked Questions about the “Federalist Papers”

Sunday, October 16, 2016

A review of PBS's “The Abolitionists”

"No person held to service or labour [a. k. a. "slavery"] in one state, under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labour, but shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such service or labour may be due."

- Article 4, Section 2, Paragraph 3 of the original Constitution  (a. k. a. the "Fugitive Slave Clause"), later superseded by the abolition of slavery by the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865

The meaning of the word "abolitionist" was kept secret from slaves ...

The future abolitionist Frederick Douglass was a young slave boy when he first heard the word "abolitionist." He said it was some time before he found out what the word meant, even though "it was always used in such connections as to make it an interesting word to [him] ... If a slave ran away and succeeded in getting clear, or if a slave killed his master, set fire to a barn, or did any thing very wrong in the mind of a slaveholder, it was spoken of as the fruit of abolition." He did not dare to ask any one about its meaning, he said, because he was "satisfied that it was something that they wanted [him] to know very little about"; and the dictionary afforded him little or no help, because it said only that it was "the act of abolishing," without mentioning what it was that was to be "abolished." (He was entirely correct that his masters didn't want him to know about it, and would have punished him severely if he had made any inquiries to them about its meaning.)

Frederick Douglass

... because it referred to the abolition of slavery

Thus, it was not until later that he finally discovered the mysterious secret of the word's meaning: "I got one of our city papers," Douglass said later, "containing an account of the number of petitions from the north, praying for the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia, and of the slave trade between the States." (He was a literate man, it should be noted; in an age when slaves who knew how to read could be punished severely for the "offense" of literacy; and he was thus one of a number of slaves who risked their lives just for the knowledge of learning how to read.) "From this time," he said, "I understood the words abolition and abolitionist, and always drew near when that word was spoken, expecting to hear something of importance to myself and [my] fellow-slaves." This early encounter with the abolitionist movement for Frederick Douglass, although brief, would have an enormous effect on his life; giving him the courage to escape from slavery once and for all (even after a first escape attempt had resulted in severe punishment), and to join the abolitionist movement as one of its most distinguished supporters - contributing much to the cause of black freedom, before and after the Civil War.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Why Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan didn't go communist (like mainland China did)

One of the basic facts about China today is that most of it is communist - the part that most of us hear about. Thus, it surprises some people to know that some parts of it are not communist at all; but have free-market capitalist systems like those found in the West. Why is this, you might ask? Why did these parts not go communist, when the rest of China did?

Flag of the People's Republic of China

China has two "Special Administrative Regions," which are Hong Kong and Macau

To answer that, you have to examine a little of the history; which explains why the country has two "Special Administrative Regions" (which are Hong Kong and Macau), and lays claim over still another region which is not communist, which is Taiwan. Why is this, you might ask? Why were these particular regions spared the cataclysmic forces that engulfed the rest of the Chinese-speaking world?

Map of the People's Republic of China

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