The spirit of the master is abating, that of the slave rising from the dust, his condition mollifying, the way I hope preparing, under the auspices of heaven, for a total emancipation, and that this is disposed. However, this is vital for contextualizing the French connection in that he had no problem considering himself a republican of the Jacobin type.
It is therefore important to look deeper into the cultivation of his early radical thought in America. For instance, during his travels to France in , he observed the various inequities present in French society and began to take issue with the right of private property. Some of this becomes clear in his letters to Madison:.
It should seem then that it must be because of the enormous wealth of the proprietors which places them above attention to the increase of their revenues by permitting these lands to be laboured. I am conscious that an equal division of property is impracticable. But the consequences of this enormous inequality producing so much misery to the bulk of mankind, legislators cannot invent too many devices for subdividing property, only taking care to let their subdivisions go hand in hand with the natural affections of the human mind.
Another means of silently lessening the inequality of property is to exempt all from taxation below a certain point, and to tax the higher portions of property in geometrical progression as they rise. Whenever there is in any country, uncultivated lands and unemployed poor, it is clear that the laws of property have been so far extended as to violate natural right.
In this passage, Jefferson without reservation proclaims that the unequal distribution of property is in direct violation of natural rights.
This is a significant deviation from the traditional consensus of laissez-faire economics that pervades American history. Unlike the Federalists, who upheld the principle of property as the keystone of natural rights, Jefferson offered a critique that sparked consciousness of social class divisions and the need to mitigate such inequality through progressive reform, including taxation on the value of assets. The wealthy, on the other hand, and those at their ease, know nothing of what the Europeans call luxury.
They have only somewhat more of the comforts and decencies of life than those who furnish them.
Though Jefferson led a public campaign against the wealthy and the institution of slavery, he was not successful in deconstructing its edifice during his tenure. Additionally, he benefited from its institutionalization in his private life. The fact of his owning slaves is a testament to the pervasive obsession with property rights in American history. Even those who publicly stood against it were privately participating in it, and even profiting.
Slavery continued well into the age of Jackson and beyond. Republicans would eventually establish themselves as a political party in America aimed at deconstructing institutions of unfettered capitalism while ensuring centralized governance. Slavery, for most abolitionist Republicans, was the epitome of private excess.
Individuals like Alvan E. All these actors were primary figures who were committed to a progressive transformation of America. Its early organization would seek a redefinition of American identity and restructure society to accommodate the most downtrodden. They would reignite the egalitarianism of Jefferson and institute a comprehensive approach to regulate the market by first eliminating the institution of slavery and redistributing property to the most vulnerable.
This antagonism, however, stems back to the original founding party platform of Alvan E. Bovay was a Free Soiler lawyer who had been a prominent Whig Party member. He grew frustrated with the passage of a series of acts that violated the Missouri Compromise by permitting slavery where it was outlawed. This group was made up of a variety of political stripes: new Republicans, former Whigs, disenchanted Democrats, and other radicals.
The group would acknowledge that the South and their representatives had disgracefully sold their political will to slave power and would have to face an absolute opposition party made up of individuals seeking to transform the nation. The Republican Party had been born. Bovay had to reach all opponents of slavery, including people who were not on board with total abolition.
That meant garnering support from Democrats who were merely for putting a halt to the expansion of slavery. While opponents of slavery extension were critical of slavery and wanted to see it come to an immediate halt, they hesitated at its complete removal from society.
However, those who were for complete abolition had the more successful argument.
As he shows, these works undermined in very different ways conventional assumptions about America's divine mission. In the darkly philosophical Clarel , Melville found echoes of Palestine's apparent desolation and ruin in his own spiritual doubts and in America's materialism and corruption. Obenzinger demonstrates, however, that Melville and Twain nevertheless shared many colonialist and orientalist assumptions of the day, revealed most clearly in their ideas about Arabs, Jews, and Native Americans. Combining keen literary and historical insights and careful attention to the context of other American writings about Palestine, this book throws new light on the construction of American identity in the nineteenth century.
50 Essential Documents | The Abolition Seminar
Obenzinger turns an extraordinarily improbable, not to say problematic, comparison and contrast between Melville and Twain into a splendid examination of the nineteenth-century American metaphysics of Holy Land-loving. Obenzinger writes with insight, authority, and great thoroughness. And his historical backgrounding is consistently interesting, entertaining, and instructive.
American Palestine contains one of the most searching critiques I know of the complexities of dissent in Melville's work. There is no better survey of Americans abroad in the Gilded Age and no sharper analysis of the West-as-metaphor in Twain's work. American Palestine is a distinguished contribution to American literary and cultural studies.
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Overview In the nineteenth century, American tourists, scholars, evangelists, writers, and artists flocked to Palestine as part of a "Holy Land mania. About the Author Hilton Obenzinger is a critic, novelist, and poet. He teaches American literature and writing at Stanford University. The related internet page characters divided that occupation and manufacturing Progress a. No matched Based in , , and as a engineering of tough strike color.
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