By Patrick Murphy*

The argument James Tracy makes in his July 26 article, “The Paranoid Style of American Governance,” is sound, and well worth remembering. It is the government that is paranoid, not the people who wish the government to be put back on the tight leash the Constitution was supposedly written to constrain it with. It is now so big, and so globe-encompassing, that it has “interests” in everyone else’s business, and is terrified when they rankle and tell it to piss off. Likewise, internally; anyone who wishes to see its power reduced is by definition a threat.

In this article, I’d like to add another element to his observation, which might help to flesh out the nature of the problem and find its source.  David Hackett Fischer’s invaluable study, Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America ( tells us that America was founded in four waves of immigration, from four distinct areas of Britain to four distinct areas of America. These four groups were culturally very different from one another, and retained those distinctions as they developed their regional societies on this side of the Atlantic.  Even when completely unrelated ethnic groups migrated to those four sections of our country, they tended to acculturate to the British folkways of the place they landed, and the folkways spread with them to the places they moved as America expanded.  It all has to do with the way a region’s children grow up looking at life, and to this day there remain these four distinct “folkways” in America.  (Everyone really should read Fischer’s book.)

Rereading Tracy’s piece (and I recommend that you do), one might notice that the 19th century is not represented in his list of legislative evidences of federal paranoia. The reason has to do with the “four British folkways in America.” The puritans were the group that made New England (this “folkway” migrated across the upper midwest).  These are the Yankees.  While it’s true that the Yankees gave up their peculiar religious identity early on, they never gave up the sense that they were a new edition of God’s chosen people, destined to set everyone else straight.  The culture of the Southern states and that of the Yankees have always been as compatible as oil and water, and had been back in England–they were the two sides in the English Civil War (Kevin Phillips has a wonderful book on this whole rivalry called the The Cousins’ Wars

Yankees are pushy; they think they know what’s best for everyone, and can’t stand it when they can’t force everyone else to conform to their vision of goodness.  Today, that extends to the whole world; for example, Moslem lands, with no history of what we call “democracy” these days, must be made to change into “democratic” societies, even if it means covering them with depleted uranium dust and killing anyone who resists.

The South has never had any such notion. This proved very problematic for the Yankees when the idea came up to get rid of the Articles of Confederation and create a strong central government. This is because the South had far more people, and the House of Representatives and the Electoral College were to be filled by proportional representation. A compromise was hatched, whereby the South would agree to artificially reduce its population: in the decennial census, which determined the number of Representatives and Electors, the South would agree to throw away two fifths of the slaves in the count, thus giving the Yankee states a rough parity in representation. This is an indicator of how desperately the Southern states wanted a strong federal government (I think it was a mistake, but that’s not today’s topic).

Washington was a Southerner, and his V.P., Adams, was a Yankee. It is in those years that political parties came into being; the two very different visions of how life should be lived, and what role government should have in men’s lives, came into sharp focus at that time. The party that emerged to represent the Yankee way of thinking, the Federalists, got pretty used to getting their way over the years that their man, Adams was in charge, when he succeeded Washington

Everyone knew that Jefferson, the quintessential Southerner, was likely to be the next president, and for the Yankees this was close to unthinkable; the Alien and Sedition acts were a way to make it impossible for Jefferson to campaign. This was the first incidence of Yankee paranoia–the fear that they would not be allowed to remake the whole country in their image drove them to try and make opposition illegal.

The decades that followed no doubt made the Yankees wish the 3/5ths provision had been 2/5ths, 1/5th or even a “no slaves counted” provision (although, obviously, no Southern state would have ratified the Constitution if that were the case–3/5ths was, after all, a compromise), because the South pretty much dominated the presidency from then on. More important still, the South constituted an effective veto in Congress, blocking all the grand schemes of the Yankees to “nationalize” the Union. This drove them nuts, and in the first decades New England constantly threatened to leave the Union if they didn’t get their way. But culturally, the South opposed them fundamentally on what Henry Clay mischaracterized as “the American System” of federally directed internal improvements, crony capitalism and the like; there was no possible compromise.

This is the real reason for the War to Prevent Southern Independence. It was a psychotic child’s tantrum.  This is the reason the North cheerfully waged “total war” against civilian populations–to completely obliterate the Southern economy and way of life–and why the North proceeded to rule the South by means of military dictatorship until the job was altogether done. The war was the result of many decades of pent up anger and frustration exploding in blind rage.

Before the war, the Yankee agenda had been effectively blocked by the South, in a kind of perpetual stalemate, making expressions of paranoia impossible to legislate–all that they could do was use public relations to create the illusion of a widespread movement to abolish slavery and to demonize the people who held slaves, although that effort bore little fruit; most people in the North did not care about slavery and felt not the least bit threatened by the South.  After the war, the Yankee spirit was in complete control of America’s destiny, having successfully made internal opposition to its agenda illegal (or at least impossible to block), and thus the paranoid impulse went into remission for the rest of the century.

Having effectively eliminated any threat to domestic rivalry to its vision, it wasn’t until Wilson tried to get Americans to meddle in the affairs of distant lands that the paranoia reemerged. Ever since George Washington’s Farewell Address it had always been a core principle in this country that America does not meddle in the affairs of other countries. We didn’t mind conquering them to absorb their lands and call them our own, but to meddle was unthinkable. And, when it came to Europe, didn’t we come here precisely to get away from the endless, idiotic squabbles of those foolish kings? The idea of entering World War I–just another in an endless stream of such Old World skirmishes–was completely un-American.

So in this sense, the Espionage and Sedition Acts, the next entries in Tracy’s list, were a new brand of Yankee paranoia–the terrifying fear that the goal of remaking America, already nicely accomplished, would not be allowed to extend to the whole world.

Yankees are busybodies, endlessly interested in modifying everyone’s behavior.  Around the same time they were shipping our boys over to Europe to “make the world safe for democracy” (and brooking no opposition to that stupid goal), they were busily working to outlaw alcohol at home. There is no end to their tiresome meddlesomeness. The 20th century, and now the 21st, is replete with it.


In short, I think it is important to identify the source of the mindless paranoia that now defines the United States government. There is a direct line from the overthrow of the Articles of Confederation through Dr. Tracy’s list of horrible laws, to the policing and surveilling of the world, and it leads to Orwell’s 1984. When the paranoid spirit of the sanctimonious Yankee tells us that the paranoid (and dangerous) ones are those who oppose Yankee goals to unify the entire world in their image, it is a case of what head shrinkers call “transference.” Only by having an accurate description of the players can we tell who’s who in the game. We can’t stop the game, but we don’t have to let them fool us.

These days, when the government issues warnings about whom we should fear, it always seems to focus on traditional Americans, that is, people who “cling”, as Obama once put it, to guns, religion, and the Constitution.  People who do not think like Yankees, in other words, are the threat, which of course they are–to them, to the plans the Yankee spirit has to remake the world.  Anyone who dares to think about the world and the role of government any differently from the Yankee worldview is the enemy.  To not think like a Yankee has thus become Thoughtcrime.  We must all sing from the same hymnal, and if we refuse, we are suspect; something is wrong with us.

As the timeline of Dr. Tracy’s list of horrible laws demonstrates, the speed of the creation of these laws is rapidly increasing, almost logarithmically.  That is, the evidence of paranoia is growing rapidly.  I believe that this is evidence of something important, but I can’t say what.  Maybe, the Yankee spirit had such success in accomplishing its goals for the last 14 decades that the things that are unhealthy about it  have completely taken over, leaving the parts that tempered it without any effective power to tone things down, like a drunk now prone to delirium tremens.  I’m no psychologist.  But this government, unfettered, seems to be going crazier, lashing out in desperation to accomplish increasingly totalitarian goals.

*Patrick Murphy is a small businessman living in Indianapolis and the author of How the West Was Lost: Coping with Life in a Strange, New Civilization (2005). He is presently working on a followup volume. Murphy holds a degree in Computer Science from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale.

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28 thought on “Probing the Origins of American Paranoia”
  1. Interesting theory, but a) it starts with 4 lines of British Colonials, and ends with only two without telling us where the other two went, b) I believe it’s a pretty simplistic view of history, much like Marxism, and c) I was born and raised ‘a yankee’, and have lived 20-odd years in ‘the south’ and I don’t believe any of this matches my experiences with people in either place. It does a disservice to everyone in both sections of the nation by reducing us all to some insect-like drones. But history and human behavior are simply not that simple.

    Nice book report though – it saved me the trouble of reading the book.

      1. Sorry, but the War was fought because Lincoln attacked the states that had left the Union. If he had not started a war, there would not have been a war. The states that had freely joined the Union had freely left it, and would have lived at peace with their northern neighbor if Lincoln had not attacked them.

        1. The hot bed of abolitionism was Governors Island at the tip of NYC. That is where Robert Gould Shaw lived before going off to war. Those who know the movie Glory see him leaving from Boston which was movie fiction.

          For more on slavery, Lincoln, and the war outcome, see William Freehling’s The South vs the South, a brilliant analysis by the numbers of the border states who were mostly not in favor of the Confederacy, and the deep South where the large population of slaves also doomed the Confederacy.

    1. I didn’t mention the other two because they are not relevant to the story. The Quakers are one of them (they settled the mid-atlantic colonies), and the Scotch-Irish, are the other (they settled over the mountains). There was no clash of civilizations with either of them, and no economic systems or political parties emerged out of them.

      If it seems too simplistic an analysis to you, that’s fine with me. Perhaps you have a better explanation for why there were no paranoid laws between Adams and Wilson?

      As for the lives of individuals in the North and the South, individuals are not the issue. It’s the over all cultural worldview I’m pointing at. No doubt there were people in the South, for instance, who supported prohibition, but the Southern Mind, collectively, wouldn’t dream of trying to force every American to stop drinking, under penalty of law. Likewise, while lots of individual Yankees were horrified at that dreadful idea, it was just the kind of thing the logic of the Yankee Mind would make a priority. It is an expression of the Puritanism that they brought with them from England, minus the church-going.

  2. This issue is so complex, both politically and socially, it defies quick responses. I might suggest, that Northeners were not tone deaf to the plight of slaves; they simply lacked the means to express disapproval as it was set law and institutionalized from day one as Founding Fathers hammered out compromise after compromise to preserve a fragile new nation. Jefferson was opposed but relied on slaves to float his economic lifestyle. He was Southern and indoctrinated into that culture.

    One of the first organized efforts to abolish slavery was proffered by the Quakers in 1688 via the Germantown Quaker petition. In 1816, The American Colonization Society sought to send Black slaves back to Africa. They succeeded, even interdicting slave ships and transported several thousand slaves east to African shores. Such luminaries as Francis Scott Key championed this cause. In the 1830s, the Abolishionists started to heat up the conversation by publishling the real story of slavery horrors. We know the heroes by name: William Lloyd Garrison, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Frederick Douglas.

    It didn’t take much to ignite the fuse in the South to secede from the Union and Lincoln was not going to let that happen. Yes, money is always the impetus for war, but slavery cannot be dismissed as just a secondary afterthought, not in the minds of thinking, god-fearing people.

    I don’t know why so many fall back on Northern domination to let Southeners off the hook. “The War of Northern Aggression” as it is euphemistically characterized, can just as easily be seen as the greed of the plantation system that enslaved not only Blacks, but Whites as well, in a death spiral of corruption and degeneration. People of conscience know this.

    (Yes, I am a Yankee–lived in the South for several years in three states. I have no quarrel with them; for the most part, they were civil and generous.)

    1. “Lincoln was not going to let that happen.”

      Who did he think he was? The Union was not the mafia, or a Roach Motel, where once you join it you will be killed if you try to leave it. Lincoln, the tyrant, transformed it into that.

      Slavery was a fact of life all over the world at the time, and every country ended it peacefully. This is the only country where a war ended it (actually, a Constitutional Amendment ended it after the war was long over). Lincoln murdered 600,000–800,000 of his fellow citizens, and he never freed a single slave in the process. Something is very wrong with this picture.

      If the war was fought to free slaves, tell me why did Lincoln didn’t free any, when he had the chance? If you read his Emancipation Proclamation (and you should), it “frees” all the slaves he had no power to free, and lists in detail–down to individual counties–all the slaves that would remain enslaved. The ones he did not free are every single slave he had the power to set free.

      If all those murdered Americans had been the price that had to be paid to set those captives free (and it was not the price any other country had to pay), you might have an argument. But you don’t. Lincoln murdered all those people, and no captive was set loose. I’d say something else had to be going on.

      1. Well, gee, Patrick, Lincoln was President of the United States of America. In that capacity, he may have seen himself as anointed to hold it together, not preside over its disintegration. You think? (Unlike O’bummer who obviously believes he was appointed to sell out the US under divine right of kings.)

        Lincoln was a politician, adept at keeping all pins in the air, as politics demands compromise of diverse and competing needs. Everyone wants their piece of the public pie. He was cautious, even at war, to mend fences, preferring the slave issue be gradually settled. What to do with a million emancipated Black folks? He was not naive enough to think they could be easily integrated into the White population. He rather fancied the idea of resettling them back to Africa. Conflicting scenarios must have raged in his mind. He was a man of deep conviction and profound courage. He said as each new territory gained statehood, those citizens could choose–free or slave. Well, as you might expect, that didn’t work out too well, either. Tribal politics spilled over into Kansas and points west as we marched on to “manifest destiny.” Such is the human condition. No one man can stem our penchant for killing once the dogs of war are loosed.

        I thought the first shots were fired by the South. I thought there were major advances by southern troops into Pennsylvania–northern territory.
        Wonder where we would be today if the Confederacy had prevailed?
        How much longer would the plantation mentality have survived with its strange, warped idea of right and wrong?

        Just asking….I may be illogical but somehow it makes sense to me.

        1. “In that capacity, he may have seen himself as anointed to hold it together”

          Even if that were so, which it was not, he would have been wrong. His responsibility as president was to the Constitution, not to keep member states from leaving. And as for his real job, upholding the Constitution, he did just the opposite. Everyone knows that he broke that fundamental law by eliminating habeas corpus, but he also closed down newspapers in the North that disagreed with him, arrested and deported (to Canada) an Ohio congressman who kept denouncing him in Congress, and illegally broke off the western half of Virginia to create a new state that would side with him. He was, in short, not president but dictator. He was a tyrant who brooked no opposition, no matter how many people would have to die for him to get his way.

          Sure, he was able to trick the South into firing the first shot, so he could claim the South started it, but no one thinks the South wanted a war. They didn’t want to leave the Union, either, which is why the creation of the Confederacy was not easily of one mind. Mainly, the election of an agent of the Yankee spirit made clear to the South that there was no way they could share the same government any longer. It is a sad story.

          It is true that Lee crossed into the North very late in the war, but give me a break. That’s no indication that the South wanted to fight the North. All they were certain of is that they did not want to be in a country that was ruled by the likes of Lincoln, and I can’t blame them.

          “Wonder where we would be today if the Confederacy had prevailed?”

          Well, every country in the world ended slavery peacefully, and the South was America, that is to say a largely decent and enlightened people, so it’s a sure bet that it would not today be the one remaining slave society.

        2. I have pondered the “where would we be” if the Confederacy had prevailed. The Gulf of Mexico was as important then as now for trade (sugar, cotton, etc) and Mexico was often unstable. There was a family living on the outskirts of Washington (Iturbe) which was friendly with John Wilkes Booth, one of these disaffected formerly powerful lobbyist kinds of families (think Iranians from the glory days of the Shah and possibly even the Shah’s grown son wanting to return to power as he might feel entitled – or as some ex-pat Iranians might see him). So some restoration was what they felt entitled to, and I can imagine that just as Texans are often involved in Latin American politics today, it would be a natural sphere of influence, if not outright conquest. My great grandfather having been born in antebellum New Orleans, I imagine his family fortunes would have been different and they would not have moved to Cincinnati (an enclave of Southern refugees). I’m not even sure my Yankee father would not have met my mother, because his family was involved in growing cotton in Texas after the Civil War made them rich (temporarily), so my parents might well have met in Washington DC, just as they actually did.

  3. Hello Professor Tracy,

    The following cannot be effectively communicated in this sort of commentary. So I’m not going to give you the whole pole, show you the hole and teach you how to fish – I’m just going to give you some bait to fish with, okay? it’s about connecting some dots, so that we can ‘see’ the bigger picture, for the first time in eons. Sorry if it gets too long. Slice it or dice it, if you don’t think it’s suitable. I was compelled to share my findings with you and your amazing supporters.

    Defining the Infinite –

    So, which is it? A ‘republic’ or a ‘democracy?’ Is it a ‘republic’ and a ‘democracy’ – or is it a ‘republic’ with the ideals of a ‘democracy’ or vice-versa?

    Here’s something i found out a while back. It may all go deeper than just mere ‘words’ and here’s ‘why.’

    You see, being born in Philadelphia, I was raised to believe that a ‘republic’ is when 99% of the People do not have the right to change or alter the rights of the 1% because ALL of our ‘rights’ are inalienable, and were meant to be UN-amendable.

    The definition of a sovran? It’s because we have no one to answer to, and no on can tell us what we MUST do or cannot do – that ‘we the People’ ARE the kings and queens of America. We are sovrans, with no one ‘to govern’ nor govern us, but ourselves. “And that is why, we say, “and to the republic for which it stands…” or so i was told. That might be the style of the principle, but the CORPORATE FORM is something else, by ‘definition.’

    REPUBLIC; a CORPORATE (manly) FORM of governing the population, under a ‘god, king or like we have today, here in America – ‘under the leadership of,’ the president – a CEO – The Chief Executive Officer of a foreign-owned CORPORATION called, THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA (INC). In a REPUBLIC all property was ‘registered’ with the “Registrar” of the ruler, even the children. If you look on your BIRTH CERTIFICATE you’ll see the evidence, that ‘we the People’ are also ‘regis’ (king) property, defined as ‘LIVE STOCK’ and our ‘values’ are traded on the global STOCK EXCHANGE & why BIRTH CERTIFICATES are printed on STOCK PAPER.

    DEMOCRACY; a MILITARY/CORPORATE (manly) CONSTRUCT A FORM of governing the population of the sovereign Country, territory, island or inherited lands thereof, of the Peoples who were declared the enemy and conquered. For the ‘good of the all’ the conquered People must ‘register’ (‘to surrender’) their ‘private’ (military enemy combatant term) property (including themselves) to the King, or Caesar, Czar or whatever other pretentious titles they like to give themselves.

    Under a ‘democracy’ however, 51% – the ‘deemed majority’ CAN change the rights of the ‘deemed’ minority – the 49%. That’s where it’s rigged from day one. Voting? A farce. With no paper trail anymore, it’s what Stalin said that matters; “I care not who casts the votes, but on who counts them.” And since 34 out of 44 of the US presidents are all related and descend from George Washington, it looks like ‘the definition’ of democracy (the right to vote) was compromised long ago.

    However, the (genuinely honest & decent) Architects of their own ‘declaration’ (the business offer to the King entitled “The Declaration of Independence”) knew that there was salvation and remedy at the end of the rainbow – if they ‘made the King an offer he couldn’t refuse.’ It was very clever indeed. They called their remedy “the Great American Republican Experiment.”

    “Republican” – ‘feminine’ – ‘plenary’ – complete, lacking nothing, equality, unity, as one People known as ‘the State.’ A style and form of governance which ensures that all have rights and responsibilities, and the intended principle of governance is inclusive, and defined by the laws of nature and unity as mankind; being your brother’s keeper, as if, we are all one ‘family’ – because the People realized that we are.

    That, was what Jefferson & Co. were doing – making a contractual ‘offer’ to the king by putting it into words – the same words that the king used to ‘colon-ize’ the conquered, keeping them ‘bent over,’ slaving away & ‘sticking it to them’ all the time. The now self-declared ‘Sovrans’ sent a few words of their own, in writing, saying enough is enough – we are severing our ‘business’ with you.

    The King of England only had so much time to respond, (in writing). & If he didn’t, (& he didn’t), it became a declaration of truth, by evidence (the lack of it) in writing from the King, and if he did respond, the king, would have made it ‘valid’ by responding with his offer, He acted like he was crazy & his handlers ran the show, and his backers, were already plotting how to get it all back, on paper – by hook or crook.

    I was, like every other child in America – made to believe (programmed with) a myth: “George Washington never told a lie.” So when I found out that the Washington family is closely related to the King of England, and that he was allegedly reported to have said that the framers created “a Republic; if we can keep it” –

    I have to wonder how it is that a Master Mason, no, “THE” Master Mason of America AT THAT CRITICAL TIME, (a strictly MALE order) and knowing what i do of our alternative versions of the official stories called, ‘history’ including extensive studies into the genealogy of the vast cousinage of the monarchies, did Washington really say, “a (CORPORATE/MANLY) Republic” if it was supposed to be a feminine, plenary/Republican – just the opposite OF A REPUBLIC?

    At the original gathering, right after everyone signed the ‘offer’ to the king, that declared his declarations accepted for value, but unacceptable, as a ‘business’ arrangement, it’s recorded that one of the men in there that day, stood up and said, “Now that we have done that, let’s form a Bill of Rights!” The room went silent. Then someone stood up and responded by saying, “Why would an entire nation of men and women who just declared themselves to be soverans, with no one to govern them and no one to govern, NEED a ‘BILL’ of rights? Who would we present ‘this BILL’ to? There is ONE above us, and no one else – WE are the kings and queens!” Then the report goes on to say that the man immediately left the room, leaving his papers scattered on the chair he just vacated. After someone took a look at those papers, it was discovered that the Man was a ‘lawyer.’ And all laws ‘patent’ are ‘patented’ by London, The City, in Britain, which is ‘owned, lock, stock and barrel’ by the Monarchy – even the people – the King or Queen’s ‘subjects.’ (see: owned slaves).

    From what i came to understand, Jefferson & the ‘true’ members of the Great American “Republican” Experiment, made it clear from ‘before day one’ that NO LAWYERS could hold office in the representation of the People – because it is a relationship where they RE-PRESENT the People as the PERSONS who are CORPORATE IDENTITIES because under their ‘former arrangement’ with the king, ‘lawyers’ and the corrupt COURT SYSTEM WERE “THE PROBLEM” to begin with. They weren’t our advocates, they were our adversaries, who need controversy and our ignorance & acquiescence to allow them to inject their system into our lives.

    LOGOS (words) – LEGIS (LEGAL words) – LEGIS-lators; playing God with LEGALESE & ‘ACTS’ & portraying themselves as OUR Representatives, BUT through LEGALESE are beholding to the COURT SYSTEM before their clients. They actually provide RE-PRESENTATION of the People to the system used by the owners to manage their ‘property’ – ‘us.’

    How many ‘lawyers’ reside in our body politic right now? Hmm?

    And remember, Soverans don’t vote – Soverans, elect. Soverans don’t pay taxes, ‘subjects’ do. ‘Free’ or ‘owned?’ That’s what we have to ask ourselves.

    THE CLUES are everywhere. In Black’s law dictionary, if one were to look up ‘human being’ – it says: “see: monster.” Then look that up, and you’ll know how the elite ruling class, who have always used their ‘royal COURT’ system to manage their chattel through fear of loss & reprisals, and LEGALESE, REALLY feel about all of us ‘little (expendable) People.’

    It appears to me now, that this massive ruse, designed & coordinated by those who had loyalty to royalty, goes much, much deeper, but it makes me wonder about what Cornwallis was said to have told Washington when he was captured. (using IMAGINED content, but preserving the reported ‘context’ of the alleged conversation:

    Cornwallis: “These colonists will never getaway with this. ‘They’ won’t let them. They WILL get this land back sooner or later, one way or another.”

    I don’t know… maybe what was said, if anything was said at all, may have been more like this:

    Cornwallis: “The ‘war’ may be ‘over’ – but ‘the total Global takeover has only just begun.”

    Then I can imagine, Washington leans in and whispers in his ear: “I know. As THE Master Mason of the Colonies, I’m the architect of it all. My cousin is the King of England. And I got them all eating out of my hand over here. They already want to make ‘me’ their new king. Useful Idiots. I have everything & everyone, ‘under our control” again.

    In my final analysis – It’s all a big ‘word’ game, being played with those who have ‘patented’ the words (& names) that we ‘the People’ use, and that ‘they’ use different dictionaries (Law Dictionaries) than ‘we, the People” do. (You can’t win the game if you don’t know the rules. or as they like to say: “Ignorance is no excuse for the Law.”

    I feel that it’s time to examine this ‘business relationship’ that we the beneficiaries of Mother Nature & natural-born Americans who have the rights of our common heritage have with the CORPORATE FICTION that we the People created to oversee our commerce only, called, GOVERNMENT.

    And, ‘the word’ GOVERNMENT says it all. In Latin, ‘gubenare’ – to control. “Mente” is ‘mind.’ Therefore, “GOVERN-MENT” means, ‘mind control.’

  4. Hello all, and thanks for that Patrick. I think Albion’s Seed is a must-read for anyone studying American history and folkways in any depth. I do think that Quaker Pennsylvania is significant in that our industrial society came out of Pa. and Delaware originally (from the Dupont chemical manufacturing dynasty of Delaware to the mines and steel mills of Pittsburgh’s Carnegie and others). Philadelphia, by the way, was a watering hole for Southerners visiting their bankers and lawyers, and from which their slaves regularly escaped when they came with them.

    New York City and environs is another region unto itself, in which religious toleration was always big, unlike the Puritan enclaves. Add Rhode Island to it, which is a kind of strange hybrid state, originally a refuge from Puritanism and even the Spanish Inquisition (in a roundabout way), containing a long-standing Sephardic Jewish presence, as did NYC.

    Upstate New York is more like New England, and it gave rise to movements of all kinds – including the Mormons, feminism, religious revivals, health cults, etc. Not all bad, in some instances. I am particularly in favor of helping runaway slaves to freedom, including latter-day ones. Today, it is known as a socially conservative region, in spite of its history. That’s where stretching Albion’s Seed into the present doesn’t always work precisely.

    After all, too, there have been many immigrant contributions. For one example, I would cite the influence of the 1848 German exodus to the US as influencing midwestern progressive thinking along the lines of free education, antiwar isolationism (combining with similar antiwar attitudes found in Pennsylvania Dutch and neighboring Quaker enclaves), and also trying to get a decent deal for farmers.

    Okay – here’s my contribution in the form of an observation I made yesterday walking on my street near Boston (you know, “Boston Strong” Boston, in a town which bills itself as also “(My Town) Strong”.
    There is a new front license plate “Vermont Strong”. You should look it up online. The graphics are retro military. I’m going “What the hell? Are they also having copycat attacks?” Well, no. Talk about movements in New England. As you probably know the phrase was adopted for Boston immediately after the events of April 15, Patriot’s Day Marathon explosions. This one makes reference to the flood disaster from a hurricane, but you can see that there is a hidden reference to something deeper going on, because it has intense state sponsorship:

    Check it out:

    I’m just wondering if the “(Political Entity) Strong” isn’t a campaign to impress people with their victimhood and their need to strike out in some way which isn’t quite on the up and up. Normally, you’d think it would not be necessary to make these assertions, but that there were agencies in place to deal with disasters of all kinds. What does this phrase represent? Obviously in Vermont, it is a fund-raiser, allegedly for disaster relief. But it isn’t as though such things have not existed before the state decided to pass the hat. I’m trying to wrap my mind around this weird new phrase. I would say that it puts you into a frame of local loyalty, and kind of seems rather British in the sense of having military entities with strong regional affiliations. I smelled a rat the minute Boston adopted it wholesale. It was clearly a campaign waiting in the wings. What does it portend?

    Meanwhile, in a global view, I can say that my town’s real estate is being sought by Asian investors. America is for sale cheap these days, I guess, so perhaps this movement is some kind of reaction to it?

    1. Are you serious? There is no more perfect exemplar of a Yankee family than the Bush family. Look up Prescott. Look up the George Herbert Walker after whom George the First was named after. Yale/Skull and Bones, Kennebunkport. The whole Texas schtick always amused me.

      As for Bubba, he went to Yale, too, and was a Fulbright Scholar. Poor hillbilly boy elevated into the Yankee establishment, always faithful to do the establishment’s bidding (and remunerated wonderfully for it).

      Bill started out a real bubba who became a Yankee’s Yankee; George the Second is a Yankee’s Yankee who amusingly pretends to be a born-again bubba.

      If either one could have been mistaken for Ron Paul at any moment of their careers, which would prove them not to be Yankees, they would not have been allowed to be president.

      1. Yes, the Bush’s are Yankee through and through. They are Mayflower descendants and early settlers of Fairfield County, Ct. Not only that, Barbara and George are distant cousins (maybe as close though as Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelts). “Marvin” is a New England family name. They summer in Maine (who does that? it’s cold!) I am sorry to say I am related to both of them on my father’s side, and one of my first cousins hangs out with them, but given his entitled attitude of being “just American” he knows little about his own family tree that his mother and I haven’t traced for him. The “thousand points of light” is a very Puritan concept (like Reagan’s “City Upon a Hill”) and they are old time Republicans, however I think their fortunes were made first in the Midwest, not New England (which supplies a bedroom community for the New York Wall Street and journalistic crowds, that and parts of New Jersey). Oh, and Yale. Sending kids to board at prep schools – quintessential New England.

      2. Thanks Patrick. You’re right. I guess being devoid of Self righteous Yankee sensitivity is more than just geographical; this Northerner
        is far from being a Yankee as defined by the article.

  5. Patrick Murphy does us all a service by promoting dependable scholarship on the palpable differences among our white ancestral typologies. I haven’t delved into such material since reading James Webb’s “Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America”. My reading of Hofstadter never strayed very far from his assertion that paranoia was a style attributable to a certain faction within the arena of American politics. Political paranoia was abt what certain groups of people were certain the government was poised to do to them. As such, I am often “calling Richard Hofstadter” when I hear assorted town criers alert their countrymen to Obama’s communist agenda, or to his fascist agenda or to his rueful animus against the constitution. Dr. Tracy and Mr. Murphy are, however, putting the psychopathological turd squarely in the pocket of “governance” and “the government”, adverting to what the state, in fact, has done, as distinct from what people think it is going to do – what the state has done that elicits the diagnosis that it is the state that is paranoid.

    James Tracy’s list of what the government has done for fear of seditionists among the people since 1798 is helpful and should be posted on every community bulletin board and telephone pole in the country. Past a certain point (9/11 is well past that certain point) I believe that what has happened is that the state has, in actuality, ceased to “fear” for its perdurance. At some point, the state lost its insecurity concerning its survivability and embarked on a campaign not to suppress “aliens”, but to control not just aliens, but the rest of its subjects as well, using the meme of national security in the name of its subjects against its subjects. This isn’t paranoia, but deadly self-assurance.

    What Mr. Murphy says abt Yankee meddling and the tendency of Yankees to export their moral imperatives is true. I learned that this was the attitude that the descendents of the Cavaliers held toward this New Yorker the first day he set foot on the William and Mary campus. But if I had to choose a cultural gene underlying the current dire situation we face that was imported from the old country, I should have to settle on the imperial aspirations of Britain’s bloodline monarchy. You could rumble through the post-revolution demographics of New England and you would, I believe, find that not all Tories fled to Canada. They maintained their ties, however circumspectly, to the crown and the enterprises it found favor with. The American Dominion gene has long since crossed with similar aspirations of unsettling and, well, alien virulence. Our political life, which once upon a time, could feel the effects of populist will, has been entirely infiltrated and is now playing third feature way in the back of Plato’s cave. Dollar discounts for Saturday admission.

  6. Calgary Canada is where the tail of the snake lives and will exist if your able to sever the head of the Yankee snake. Both Vancouver and Calgary are big time into the sex slave trade and pedophilia, they are huge and that is the smell of the beast.
    way it is.

  7. Patrick –

    I’m not sure this will pass moderation, but I must question some what is in your post and in your comments. I’m assuming you wrote both the article and the comments by ‘Patrick.’ – correct me if I’m wrong on that.

    War to Prevent Southern Independence (oh my)? And I certainly object to the characterization of Yankees. BTW, Yankees are not the only ones who want to remake things as they want. Please reference Tears for Fears’ song, “Everybody Wants to Rule the World.” Not sure whether you are just reporting what the book says or what, but I strongly object to that blanket categorization. How can you demonize Yankees and wink at slaveholders?

    I also object to what you said about Lincoln (a President I actually admire). I thought Marilyn Jay A posted quite well on that.

    You also asked why we were the only country to need a war to end slavery. I think that the slaveholders were not going to give up slaves voluntarily. I have to agree that it’s a shame that such violence and loss of live had to occur.

    You also asked what if the confederacy (sorry, can’t bring myself to capitalize it…) had prevailed. I shudder to think of that ever happening. You say you think that by now slavery would have surely ended. I’m not so sure. The very repugnant Dred Scott decision was poised to – basically have slavery spread all over the country. Eventually slaves might not have been needed as much on plantations. But I think there might have been a real possibility slave labor could have spread to manufacturing (where, as the country industrialized there were lots of abuses of workers to begin with).

    You might try reading the opening chapter in the “Legacy” section of Malcolm Gladwell’s “Outliers”. Made me wonder if Presidents such as Andrew Jackson got their – I’ll say feistiness – from “culture of honor” ancestors. So cultural legacy certainly can and does have an effect on us. But you seemed to take only one side to task.

    I guess to sum it up I’d say I’m a proud Yankee.

    1. Yes, I am the author.

      The very best name for the war should indeed reflect the fact that it was fought to stop the Southern states from going their own way; it only became a “civil war” once the South was forced to fight back, and bitterness grew in the Southern breast against the relentless aggressors.

      Indeed, you are correct that I am only reporting Fischer’s thesis, but I agree that the four British folkways explain a very great deal. Read in conjunction with Phillips’ The Cousins’ Wars, it’s very clear that the puritan/anglican rivalry is central to understanding not just English history, but our own. I can understand if a Yankee doesn’t like the characterization, any more than a Southerner is disgusted when told that the war was fought to defend slavery, as if all white Southerners had some stake in the slave economy–a vicious lie. Only 8% of Southern whites held slaves, and the vast majority of them held only a few (in which cases both owners and slaves usually regarded each other as part of the same family).

      You must ask yourself why the 92% fought so valiantly? It was not to defend a way of life they had no part in (slave ownership); it was because they were being invaded. They were defending their homes and their families.

      Again, the war did not end slavery; a Constitutional amendment did, long after the war. (Another amendment was required as well, to address the central fact that the Dred Scott decision was based on: because of the way black people came to this country, they were not, by definition, citizens of the United States, so they had to be awarded that honor via Constitutional amendment.) Lincoln never freed a single slave: he specifically maintained the enslavement of the only slaves he had the power to free. This is simply despicable. If you choose to love the dictator, that’s your prerogative, but if you re-read the facts about the man I state in earlier comments, you should then ask yourself why such a tyrant is worthy of your admiration?

      I don’t agree with any of your conjecture about the viability of slavery in the aftermath of the industrial revolution. Slavery was a very, very, expensive way to do business. Slaves themselves were very expensive (about the price of a farm combine today), and the owner had to take care of all the needs of all his slaves from cradle to grave. Children and old people don’t produce, they just consume; women are far less capable of hard labor than strong young men. By contrast, a Northern industrialist had an endless stream of immigrant labor jostling to take any job they could get at any wage. The employer had no interest in or concern for the man’s family; he was just a cheap, replaceable, cog in a machine. How the Slave society could compere with that is impossible to imagine. No, the slave owner would have to find a way out, or be destroyed economically, as the world modernized. It was only a matter of time. The logic of mechanization and cheap immigrant labor could not be escaped.

  8. Interesting reply. I again have to take issue with a few things. First of all, you say slaves were supposed to be “cared for.” Oh my, I think most slaves would have loved to do without the type of caring they received. Even from not so bad masters. I saw on C-Span a fellow who wrote a book about Washington and his slaves. His slaves had quarters that could barely qualify as any sort of shelter. Even clothing was poor when provided. I don’t know, but I can see at least some of the Robber Barons converting from cheap labor to something else! You point out that cheap labor was a “cog in the wheel” and the shop owners didn’t really care about them. I think that there were lots of slave owners who certainly didn’t care much about their slaves or their treatment.

    In regard to why so many Southern non-slaveholders fought — I’ve heard it said that the Civil War (that’s what I call it, anyway…) was a ‘”rich man’s war and a poor man’s fight.” I’m sorry if I don’t have a better answer than that, but I’m flummoxed as to how those solders could fight so hard for a cause I consider to be so repellant. BTW, I don’t buy the Civil War as some “War of Northern Aggression”. If you look at the build-up: Dred Scott, Fugitive Slave Act, Kansas-Nebraska, etc., to me it seems clear to me that pro-slavery forces wanted to expand this ‘institution’ (and Jefferson also laid the way open for its expansion in the Louisiana Purchase).

    As far as Lincoln, no he wasn’t perfect, but I don’t consider him to be a tyrant. I think he showed more leadership than is evident today. As far as him not freeing slaves – I think the way he and Congress worked to pass the 13th Amendment speaks for itself. And I believe that had Lincoln lived, the transition after the Civil War would have been a lot better; I feel he was a much better leader than A. Johnson. Getting back to the Congress of Lincoln’s time, I am proud to say that my Grandfather was named for Thaddeus Stevens! You might not think much of Rep. Stevens, but I see him as a pretty stand-up guy.

    1. “I think that there were lots of slave owners who certainly didn’t care much about their slaves or their treatment.”

      Perhaps, but they would be exactly like an idiot farmer today who leaves a combine worth hundreds of thousands of dollars out in the field all winter and never changes the oil. Some people don’t mind throwing their money away; most take care of their investments. Beyond this, the mentality you portray would presuppose that blacks were treated more or less as farm animals. This is preposterous. As I say, most slave owners held only a handful, and they were emotionally close to one another. Both sides, after all, were human beings; humans who grow up together and depend upon one another tend to care about each other. On the other hand, it is certainly reasonable to expect the large plantations to develop the more or less heartless attitude toward labor that prevailed in the minds of the Northern industrialists: less personal contact, layers of middle management, etc. But the focus on the large plantations is completely misleading.

      It is very annoying when you characterize your list (“Dred Scott, Fugitive Slave Act, Kansas-Nebraska”) as a “build-up” to war. Because it’s not remotely true. The only reason there was war was because Lincoln invaded the South. If he had let the South alone, there would not have been a war. The South did not want war. The South was only defending itself. That is self evident.

      It is true that the economic disaster that was slavery required expansion into new territories, like a ponzi scheme, holding off the inevitable crash, and that was a longstanding source of tension that would have to be resolved one way or another. Slavery was an ugly business, and those who were utterly dependent on it would do ugly things to avoid ruin (think of Bernie Madoff). But if you think that the large plantation owners could have gotten the average Southern man to join an army to invade the North over it, you’re crazy. As I say, the average Southern man fought valiantly not to uphold the interests of large planters, but because aliens were invading their towns and despoiling their farms.

      You may not consider Lincoln a tyrant, although I can’t understand why not. If I didn’t tell you his name, but described his actions, you’d think he was the leader of a benighted Mille Eastern country: upon his “election” half his country broke away in terror of his rule; he immediately launched a war against the breakaway, which he waged against the civilian population, intentionally to break the spirit to resist; in the part of the country he still rules, he closes all privately owned newspapers that print opinions he disagrees with; a lawmaker in the part he still rules takes to the floor and regales his colleagues with the truth about the tyrant’s depredations, so the dictator has him arrested and deported to a foreign country; he illegally schemes to break one of the departed provinces in two, so that half would rejoin the old federation and side with him. Egypt? Iraq? Libya? Sudan? What do we call the “leaders” of these countries when they show that kind of character?

      Finally, if you knew anything at all about the history of Lincoln’s support of the 13th Amendment, you would be embarrassed to have been taken in by Doris Kearns Goodwin’s pack of lies, as retold by Stephen Spielberg. In truth, Lincoln lobbied extremely heavily for a different 13th Amendment, which he hoped would keep the South in the union. It would explicitly make it impossible for the federal government to ever inhibit slavery in any way, ever. (You can read the whole, sordid, tale here:

  9. Patrick –

    I just don’t know where to begin. First of all, I just don’t believe that slavery was as benign as you try to paint it. I’ve read online a bit about it – usually I just get depressed as it always seems to get worse and worse the more I learn of it. I did find a link – more balanced that I probably would like, but I think it shows things were not all that great. The link:

    Doris Kearns Good\win’s book a pack of lies? Well, according to this ( ) Lincoln indeed champion that first version of the 13th Amendment, but it failed to be ratified (Civil War intervened). But he also did support the 13th Amendment that did get passed. I think that shows something about him : he grew personally and professionally.

    Of course tensions over slavery were a run up to the Civil War – this from the first link I have mentioned: “Although slavery was at the heart of the sectional impasse between North and South in 1860, it was not the singular cause of the Civil War. Rather, it was the multitude of differences arising from the slavery issue that impelled the Southern states to secede.”

    I guess you see things quite differently, but don’t ask me to have any sympathy for the confederacy.

    BTW, Prof. Tracy – thank you for your kind indulgence in allowing this dialogue.

    1. Mollie,

      I would say that after all this discussion–and what I think are very compelling arguments on my part–if you cannot put aside your obsession with the tiny minority in the South who held a great many slaves, and put yourself in the shoes of the average Southerner, you verify the thesis of my article.

      You say “don’t ask me to have any sympathy for the confederacy”. No, I don’t suspect it’s possible for a dyed in the wool Yankee ever to put herself in the shoes of a typical Southerner, no matter how aggrieved, and innocent that fellow is of the taint of slavery. You can’t even bring yourself to admit the most obvious fact I keep repeating: that if Lincoln had simply let the South alone, there would never have been a war. This is because for a Yankee, war was inevitable: the South had to be made to change, to be remade in the image of the North. It is inconceivable for a Yankee to simply live and let live. War was inevitable because the notion that the South simply peacefully break away and be allowed to have its own, quite different, culture, is unthinkable. The South, upon the election of Lincoln, was repeating these hallowed words: “when it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them,” they should be allowed to do so. King George didn’t think so, and neither did Lincoln, sad to say–because the war was completely unnecessary.

      The Yankee always hated the Southerner just as the Puritans aways hated the Cavalier. They fought a civil war in England because of it, and they launched one here because of it, too.

      Note that I did not say the South hated the North. They did not like Yankees, true, because they thought their values dictate an unpleasant way to live. The difference between the two is that Yankees insist upon changing those they disagree with, and Southerners just shake their head and ignore those they would not in a million years want to be like.

      Adams’ Federalists could not abide Jefferson being president, so, naturally, they outlawed his campaign. (Jefferson despised what he called “stockjobbers”, people who made money not by creating things but trading financial instruments–the thing that essentially defines today’s Yankee culture, but he never sought to outlaw it).

      Wilson’s Democrats could not abide the traditional American ethos that we do not meddle in the squabbles that European kings and emperors are endlessly prone to, so they outlawed any expression of it, and weaseled until they forced us into a wholly unjustifiable European war. From then on, the Yankee paranoia streak was up and running, and never looked back, as Dr. Tracy’s list of horrible laws makes clear. Now, we police the world, endlessly fiddling with alien peoples’ governments, forcing “democracy” on them by means of assassinations and an endless supply of depleted uranium bullets.

      I tried to demonstrate why we had a century of no such laws in between Adams and Wilson, and you did not like my theory, but I think in the course of our conversation you helped to prove it. I thank you for that.

      And I, too, thank our gracious host for providing a forum for a conversation like this to take place.

  10. Dear Patrick –

    I was hesitant to respond, mainly because I do not want to wear out my welcome at Prof. Tracy’s fine blog. So I slept on it and still felt there were some things I should say.

    You take me to task for not considering individual Southerners. Yet you said the Yankee always hated the Southerner. You seem to tar all Yankees with the same brush. Of course we should recognize that certainly not “all” Southerners”, “Confederates”, “Northerners”, or “Yankees” are the same. When I speak of the confederacy, I speak to the construct, not necessarily to specific individuals. BTW, I am a Christian and of course, was taught not to hate. That doesn’t mean I approve of any sort of behavior, though.

    You continually make the point that the South just wanted to be left alone. I think you should ask yourself “Left alone to do what?” I think when all is stripped away, the answer is to continue the institution of slavery. Slavery, something that is just WRONG, WRONG, WRONG. A human being is not to be a piece of property. It was wrong in ancient/ Biblical times, wrong in the colonies and the U.S. ,and is still wrong today in the human trafficking we unfortunately hear of.

    So, it’s not surprising that some Yankees (not all – and it took quite some time for public opinion to sway toward the direction of Emancipation/Abolition) thought this institution needed to go. Let’s not also forget the fact that there were also some Southerners who saw this institution as wrong and wanted change. Angelina Grimke Weld comes to mind.

    You also blame the war solely on the North. Seems to me that there was plenty of blame for that to be laid at the feet of both sides. And it does seem as though compromises just didn’t work out.

    I’ll try to wrap up with one final thought. While meddling may not always be the best course – for individuals or for nations – there may be times where some use of outside ‘influence’, ‘pressure’ may not be such a bad idea. I’m thinking of apartheid in South Africa. International pressure and hings like divestment probably helped end that hateful practice. And hasn’t there been a great tradition of boycotts in the U.S. to change practices of states or companies? Somehow, I don’t see advocating for changes you feel necessary is always bad.

    Again, thanks, Prof. Tracy and Patrick as well.

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