Monday, November 30, 2009

Jefferson Was A Putz



Modeling a persuasive argument

I. Introduction
a. Background
i. Great President polls
ii. Confusion over pre-president/presidential actions
b. Define criteria for judgment
i. Protection of the Constitutional System
ii. American Military strength
iii. Commonweal (measured economically)
iv. Political climate
v. Moral Leadership
c. THESIS: Jefferson’s presidency was catastrophic in each category
d. Historical judgment: Jeffersonian ideals consistently refuted by historical experience
i. Fear of tyranny
ii. Small farmer ideal
iii. Importance of a strong military
e. Contemporary judgment
i. Very unpopular
ii. Own party embraces Federalist ideals
iii. Jefferson himself tacitly acknowledges failure
f. Jefferson’s self-evaluation as transition.

II. PROLEPTIC paragraph – Deal with pre-presidential “yabbuts”
a. Declaration of Independence
b. Charter of Religious Freedom
c. UVA
d. Excellent ideals and propagandist BUT not presidential accomplishment
e. Pre-presidential balance: The Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions
f. Jefferson’s autobiographical epitaph: TACIT admission of presidential failure

III. PROLEPSIS again – Louisiana Purchase
a. Louisiana Purchase: Great!
b. But hypocritical
c. Proves Jefferson himself new strict contructivism was impractical.
d. The best and ONLY good thing accomplished by Jefferson was done in direct contradiction to his own ideals: Proves Hamilton was right
e. Furthermore, it was not any action that Jefferson took
i. Sale actually caused by wars of the French Revolution (Amiens)
ii. Jefferson actually surprised by offer
iii. You cannot credit this achievement to any Jeffersonian Action – and the acceptance of the offer was Hamiltonian.
IV. Constitutional Protection: Impeachment of Chase
a. Alien and Sedition Acts were a challenge to First Amendment (very bad!)
i. Alien and Sedition Acts expired w/o Jefferson’s help
ii. Rather than learning from this failed challenge at Constitutional limitations, Jefferson began his own challenge: The Impeachment of Chase
b. Impeachment of Chase: Background
i. Midnight Judges: Judiciary as Federalist Stronghold
ii. Understandable, but very dangerous
c. Why dangerous?
i. Importance of consistent, gradually changing rulings
ii. Commerce
iii. Upheaval in society
iv. No guidance for legislatures.
v. No check on the executive: Promotes tyranny
vi. Bush/Yoo/Gonzales example
d. Principal of STARE DECISIS: Deference to precedent
i. Marbury v. Madison: Judicial Review
ii. Rare overturns:
(a) Plessy v. Ferguson set aside by Brown v. Board
(b) Miller set aside by Heller v. D.C.
iii. Hopes to set aside Roe v. Wade
e. Tremedously dangerous to our whole Constitution: Imagine the catastrophe!
f. Own party realized it and rejected Jefferson’s proto-Tyranny: Chase not removed.

IV. Military
a. Fear of tyranny = cutbacks after Revolution of 1800
i. Reduction of army
ii. Mosquito fleet
b. Negative consequences
i. Limits of foreign policy options (push to embargo)
ii. Tripolitan War (Barbary pirates)
iii. War of 1812 (On Madison’s watch but Jefferson’s fault)
1. Loss of chance for Canada
2. Destruction of seaboard cities
3. Washington burned
4. Rumsfeld quote “You go to war with the military you have, not the military you want.”

V. Economic
a. Reduces tariffs (pre and during presidency)
i. Whiskey rebellion
ii. Roll back benefits of Hamilton’s plan
b. Embargo
i. Ineffective at maintaining peace: War does come, and is promoted by Jefferson’s own Francophile rhetoric.
ii. Creates sectionalism
iii. Seeds of secession
1. V and K resolutions bite Jefferson in the butt.
2. Hartford Convention
iv. Economic catastrophe
1. Ograbme!
2. Political division
3. GDP graph

VI. Political Atmosphere
a. Disagreement = wickedness
b. Attribution of malice
c. Long term echo effects
d. Transition: Out of the poisoned atmosphere came the first Hemmings charges.

VII. AD HOMINEM – Sally Hemmings
a. RAPE of a teenager
b. Can’t be cleaned up by “love affair crap:” Lack of ability to consent
c. Jefferson himself condemned MISCEGENTION regularly.
d. Transition: In fact, he routinely condemned the evils of slavery while being a slaveowner.

VIII. Moral judgement
a. Many people condemned slavery but accepted it as a necessary, temporary evil. So while T.J. was hypocritical, he wasn’t EVIL by the standards of the day.
b. BUT… Although he frequently condemned slavery as evil, he actively promoted its spread
c. Historian Gary Wills: Jefferson and the Negro Power (available at Green Valley)
d. Why did he promote the spread and expansion of slavery and hope to prolong it as long as possible?
i. Slaveowners vote Democratic-Republican
ii. Slaveowners could serve as a counterweight to pro-business interests.
e. Essentially, Jefferson promoted evil for short term political gain and as a long term retardation of America’s economic future.

IX. Conclusion
a. Narrowed scope of presidential analysis
b. Discount LP due to hypocrisy/inevitability
c. Chase Impeachment could have destroyed our republican (small r) democracy.
d. Dangerous to America’s security – made us tie pirates and lose to Britian!
e. Economic catastrophe
f. Deepening and spread of slavery – but that didn’t cause any problems (heavy sarcasm)
g. Hamilton right across the board on every political issue
i. Material wellbeing
ii. We don’t speak German

Questions?

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Allow kids to challenge weaknesses of argument.

Hopefully they will come up with:

Cheap debating trick: limit scope: Is it fair to define the debate to exclude the good things Jefferson did?

Can TJ really be blamed for the poisonous political atmosphere?
CAUSATION v. CORRELATION difference

Ad Hominen – what does that have to do with presidential action (limited scope violation)

Emotional appeal, not reasoned appeal with Sally Hemmings.

Madison’s share of blame for 1812.

German! Isn’t that a stretch?

Lewis and Clark – why didn’t I mention it?


The argumentation errors don’t really help the case do they? In fact, by introducing weak or irrelevant information, the persuasiveness of the argument is reduced: people can fixate on those elements rather than the more damning ones.

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