The power of III

Summum ius summa iniuria--More law, less justice

22 February 2011

February 22, 1732: Happy Birthday to his Excellency

His contemporaries called him "Excellency".  After victory in the Revolution, he diffused a near revolt (and potential military coup de etat of his army in Newburgh NY in 1783. He relinquished control of the military to the Confederation Congress and enabled a constitutional republic to arise out of the ashes of war. He is a son of Virginia, a son of the South.

Our Cincinnatus: Omnia relinquit servare Republicam
  • Lucius (Titus) Quinctius Cincinnatus

    (b. c.519 BC)
    In 458 BCE (according to tradition), Cincinnatus, who had been consul in 460 BCE, was plowing his fields when messengers arrived to tell him he had been named dictator to defend the city against the Aequi and the Volscians. He took up the supreme command, defeated Rome's enemies, freed the beseiged consul Minucius, and returned to his farm, all within 16 days. Further, he refused the honors that came with his military victories. Legend says he was named dictator a second time in 439 BCE, but there is no foundation for this story.
    George Washington was sometimes called an American Cincinnatus because he too held his command only until the defeat of the British and, at a time when he could have chosen to exercise great political power, instead returned as soon as he could to cultivating his lands. After the end of the Revolutionary War, a group of former officers in the (now) American army formed The Society of the Cincinnati, taking the name from the Roman general. The city of Cincinnati was named after this organization, and a statue of Cincinnatus stands there today.
    [The symbol of the] Order of Cincinnatus [is] in the shape of an eagle with the image of Cincinnatus on its breast. The motto of the Order reads: Omnia relinquit servare Republicam (He gave up everything to preserve the Republic.)


Contrast Washington to Bonaparte:

Bonaparte robs a nation of its independence: deposed as emperor, he is sent into exile, where the world’s anxiety still does not think him safely enough imprisoned, guarded by the Ocean. He dies: the news proclaimed on the door of the palace in front of which the conqueror had announced so many funerals, neither detains nor astonishes the passer-by: what have the citizens to mourn?
Washington's Republic lives on; Bonaparte’s empire is destroyed. Washington and Bonaparte emerged from the womb of democracy: both of them born to liberty, the former remained faithful to her, the latter betrayed her.

February 22, 1862


On this the birthday of the man most identified with the establishment of American independence, and beneath the monument erected to commemorate his heroic virtues and those of his compatriots, we have assembled to usher into existence the Permanent Government of the Confederate States. Through this instrumentality, under the favor of Divine Providence, we hope to perpetuate the principles of our revolutionary fathers. The day, the memory, and the purpose fitly associated...

Jefferson Davis, beginning of 2nd Inaugural address


      1 comment:

      1. Let us not forget, however, Washington's involvement in the Whiskey Rebellion.

        "The Whiskey Rebellion also occupies a distinguished place in American jurisprudence. Serving as the backdrop to the first treason trials in the United States, the Whiskey Rebellion helped delineate the parameters of this constitutional crime. Article III, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution defines treason as "levying War" against the United States. During the trials of the two men convicted of treason, Circuit Court Judge william paterson instructed the jury that "levying war" includes armed opposition to
        the enforcement of a federal law. This interpretation of the Treason Clause was later applied during the trial of John Fries, and remains valid today."

        So, should any of us take up arms to defend against Federal incursions based upon unConstitutional law, by this still "valid" interpretation, we would be guilty of treason. And don't think we wouldn't be charged thusly.