A Patriot's Journal

Jean-Pierre Crisan, author

Our Great Flag, Our Great People.

We are all the threads in the Flag of a Great Nation.
To that which the brilliance in color and
the character of strengths these sinews have,
such is that what this Great Flag can shine its splendor
for all under our Lord to see.

America and the Second Millennium

Our Nation's entry into a new millennium has presented a new roster of challenges that we and our leaders must look at with a diligent eye and realizations that with the same spirit and effort with which we have triumphed in previous tests to our Great Experiment in Government, the spirit of bold, vociferous debate, of the melding of minds of such varied ways, the looking to every direction for the best means of all disciplines for all good from which we can draw. And the effort, the efforts we ply, rooted in our very beginnings of survival in a New Land where the only dictum was necessity and endurance and the desparate need, beyond survival, was driven by a pride greater than each of us as individuals, because what we were forging together as a nation had to rise above the great monarchies, their empires military and economic, and their tenuous claims to power over their masses who could so easily, at once claim, as we have, the power to themselves.

Yes, such spirit and effort is the encyclopedic definition of America, it is that color and tone that we see and feel beyond the words that describe us. With these, we realize who we are, and can draw from that deep well to find the ways that can lead ourselves and our world to the new world in which the entire of humanity is finding itself.

Why study history?

Most of us were given an overview of our history in elementary school at an age when, more often than not, our young minds were more interested in sports, cars, girls… anything but history. As we grow and develop a better understanding of all our human systems… society, human nature, government, we begin to feel the need to know more about the greater context of how things are as they are and to find anchor points to things that we can define ourselves by and people and events that we can look to for inspiration as examples of humankind at its best.

We are all familiar with Lincoln’s Gettysburg address, and know it as a great act of unanimity. The American Civil War was arguably the bloodiest and most divisive time in our history. The statements in Lincoln’s speech and as well in his second inaugural address give us a clear image of a man who was utterly self-less and who put nothing above doing what he knew was right.

George Washington is known to us all as a brave general and a forthright yet gracious gentleman, yet only further reading reveals how overwhelming were the odds against him as he faced a superior British military, and how severe the winter conditions were in Valley Forge or crossing the Delaware river and the cunning and good fortune that prevailed in the ensuing defeat of the Hessians at the pivotal Battle of Trenton.

Only reading a private letter to James Madison, where President Washington, approaching the end of his first term expressed with selfless humility that others would be more capable than he in the presidential office, that he should not seek a second term so others could offer their talents to the mantle of leadership.

When one reads and finds a clear window to see the great moments and people of our past, it is those times in our reader’s chair that we gasp, laugh, nod our head, or exclaim “I can-not-be-lieeeve what I,m reading!” that a deeper understanding of the past helps us to define the standards we should set and what we should be able to achieve in today’s world.

Echoes of 1812

"I trust I shall not be presumptuous when I state that I verily believe that the militia of Kentucky alone are competent to place Montreal and Upper Canada at your feet."

This declaration was made by Kentucky Congressman Henry Clay as he and others like John C Calhoun of South Carolina pressed for war in 1812. Also proponents for aggressive Westward expansion as well as relocation and confinement of Native Americans to reservations, this group of young congressmen were named the 'War Hawks'.

Exaggerated or false claims were made about the threat posed by upper Midwest Indians, who suffered many losses in the ensuing battles. Three unsuccessful attempts to take Canada resulted in a retaliatory attack that left the Nation's newly built Capitol in smoldering ruins, including the Houses of Congress and the White House. The war was dubbed the Second war of Independence by its zealous provocateurs, who derided opponents as un-patriotic as divisive nationalism and partisanship challenged the unanimity of previous years.

Other areas of the 1812 war such as protecting shipping and the routing of British forces are regarded as legitimate, and can be ascertained to have improved our negotiating position in the acquisition of Florida in 1819, as well making possible the pivotal Monroe Doctrine that secured a contiguous union.

Book Review

The Pulitzer Prize winning work by Jack N. Rakove; 'Original Meanings' is a detailed and thoroughly documented account of the writing of our Constitution. From the American Revolution through ratification, the debate and the state conventions, the author presents a scholarly yet lucid picture of those times. The chapter giving an account of the 1787 convention in Philadelphia is atmospheric in its description of the day to day debates, frustrations, and compromises made by those men during that warm Pennsylvania summer. The book also presents lesser known writings such as letters and publications from that time that allow the reader to peer more deeply into the minds of our Founding Fathers... I highly recommend this fine work.

Our Responsibility to Our Constitution

James Madison’s arduous study of the world’s political history instilled in him the importance of designing a government able to withstand what hitherto had been the seemingly inexorable progression of governments towards consolidation of power in the hands of a few, and the loss of power and control by the populace. Madison and his fellow Constitutional engineers expanded their definition of ‘faction’, as they termed it, to include not only monarchy and theocracy, but as well to include ‘mobocracy’, or an opposite effect of control by a single majority interest, and as well in situations of a plurality of interests where such a ‘majority’ would still represent less than half of the popular interest.

Their lariat would have to corral a range of interests, from the agricultural, maritime and industrial, across a large area of lands with peoples of varied ancestry and beliefs. Apprehensions of creating a republic on this scale were balanced by the concept of power being well dispersed among the many interests. Much of the Constitutional debate centered on creating a legislative structure that could effectively represent all interests. One of the most difficult led to concessions by the larger states to allow equal representation in the Senate of the smaller states, such as Rhode Island, which had no delegate at the convention.

It was most important that future members of our government would uphold the sacrifices that were made in creating the document, and maintain their commitment to work in the same spirit of working together to make sure everybody gets a fair deal, even if their voices don't make it to the table. We were given not just the Constitution document, but more importantly the responsibility going forward of working as they did with careful deliberation and a willingness to balance all interests in the broader construct of a united republic.