As I said yesterday, I’m researching Maiden America III, a.k.a. Proving America, which centers around the War of 1812. Hence the reason why I’m reading 1812: War and the Passions of Patriotism by Nicole Eustace.
While I wasn’t even through the first chapter when I wrote this blog post or its predecessor, the evidence already strongly indicated that Eustace was a lot more liberal than me.
For instance, she brings up the case of Hezekiah Niles, “a Republican newspaper publisher with firm nationalistic views and… a steady promoter of renewed war with Britain.”
I do have to say that – as Eustace well knows, being a professional historian of the era – there was no “Republican” party back then. It was the Democrat-Republicans and the Federalists.
That chastisement aside, Eustace does a thorough job of crucifying Mr. Niles for being a narrow-minded bigot. Moreover, she uses his own written words as the nails. And since he was so opinionated with such a pulpit to preach from, Eustace has a lot of nails to choose from.
Here are just a few:
- About Native Americans: “Imagination looks forward to the moment when all the southern Indians shall be pushed across the Mississippi: when the delightful countries now occupied by them shall be covered with a numerous and industrious population.”
- About the British: “Upon the whole, we conceive our author would have been more consistent to have attributed the small proportion of births in England… to the very great licentiousness of manners which prevails to so great a degree… owing to the facility of sexual intercourse.” In other words, the British were disease-ridden sluts.
- About Africans: “The children are so debauched… that from the age of ten or eleven they give themselves up to every species of lustful practice,” an opinion he apparently went on to use as justification for the slave trade.
In Nile’s dubious defense, perhaps Eustace took him out of context. I mean, I kinda doubt it, but who knows. If I was wrong about the Battle of Bull Run, I guess I could be wrong about this too.
Yet even giving him that unlikely understanding, the very fact that Niles published those words – unless he was quoting someone else in order to repudiate them – was downright foolish. Those words are out there now for good, making him look like a permanent first-class jerk.
So be careful what opinions you express. For that matter, be careful what opinions you have.
Because sometimes, no matter how passionately you feel about a subject, you’re going to eventually be proven wrong. And it’s best to look as classy as possible when you are.
P.S. Any liberals who read this and are feeling smug and superior? Go back and read “I’m Right! You’re Wrong! End of Story? – Part I.” Or Monday’s “I’m Right! You’re Wrong! End of Story? – Part III.” You’re not even close to being off the hook.