Fw: July/August Imprimis: Economic Lessons from American History

From: Judith
Sent on: Thursday, August 9, 2012 10:29 PM
 
 
 
It is error alone which needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself. Subject opinion to coercion: whom will you make your inquisitors?" --Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, Query 17, 1781
 
"[W]hen the resolution of enslaving America was formed in Great Britain, the British Parliament was advised by an artful man, - who was governor of Pennsylvania, to disarm the people; that it was the best and most effectual way to enslave them; but that they should not do it openly, but weaken them, and let them sink gradually, by totally disusing and neglecting the militia." --George Mason, speech in the Virginia Ratifying Convention, 1788
 

"I think we have more machinery of government than is necessary, too many parasites living on the labor of the industrious." --Thomas Jefferson, letter to William Ludlow, 1824
 
James Madison, often called the Father of the Constitution told us his intentions. ""We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future of all of our political institutions upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves and to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God"
 
(It would reduce the whole instrument to a single phrase, that of instituting a Congress with power to do whatever would be for the good of the United States; and as they would be the sole judges of the good or evil, it would be also a power to do whatever evil they please. Certainly no such universal power was meant to be given them. It [the Constitution] was intended to lace them up straightly within the enumerated powers and those without which, as means, these powers could not be carried into effect." --Thomas Jefferson, Opinion on a National Bank, 1791
 
"
 

----- Forwarded Message -----
From: Hillsdale College <[address removed]>
To: Judith Niewiadomski <[address removed]>
Sent: Thursday, August 9,[masked]:28 AM
Subject: July/August Imprimis: Economic Lessons from American History
Imprimis
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Imprimis
July/August 2012 • Volume 41, Number 7/8

Economic Lessons from American History

John Steele Gordon
Author, An Empire of Wealth: The Epic History of American Economic Power
JOHN STEELE GORDON was educated at Millbrook School and Vanderbilt University. His articles have appeared in numerous publications, including Forbes, Worth, National Review, Commentary, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal. He is a contributing editor at American Heritage, where he wrote the “Business of America” column for many years, and currently writes “The Long View” column for Barron’s. He is the author of several books, including Hamilton’s Blessing: The Extraordinary Life and Times of Our National Debt, The Great Game: The Emergence of Wall Street as a World Power, and An Empire of Wealth: The Epic History of American Economic Power.

The following is adapted from a lecture delivered on February 27, 2012, aboard the Crystal Symphony during a Hillsdale College cruise from Rio de Janeiro to Buenos Aires.
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AMERICA  is still a young country. Only 405 years separate us from our ultimate origins at Jamestown, Virginia, while France and Britain are 1,000 years old, China 3,000, and Egypt 5,000. But what a 400 years it has been in the economic history of humankind!

When the Susan Constant, Discovery, and Godspeed dropped anchor in the James River in the spring of 1607, most human beings made their livings in agriculture and with the power of their own muscles. Life expectancy at birth was perhaps 30 years. Epidemics routinely swept through cities, carrying off old and young alike by the thousands. History tends to dwell on a small percent of the population at the top of the heap, but the vast mass of humanity lived lives that were, in the words of Thomas Hobbes, “nasty, brutish, and short.”

Today we live in a world far beyond the imagination of those who were alive in 1607. The poorest family in America today enjoys a standard of living that would have been considered opulent 400 years ago. And for most of this time it was the United States that was leading the world into the future, politically and economically.

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