Community and Civility
These were the themes of the Commencement Address given by Secretary of Transportation, Raymond LaHood, at Boston College this morning. And though he recognized these values as a present challenge, he was far from idealizing the past. As a matter of fact he said:
No one doubts that this is an age of acrimony in United States politics. Yet, it’s worth remembering that partisan animosity is as old as the republic itself. Americans have been fighting about their public affairs since they first sent delegates to the Continental Congress during the 1770s.
In 1776, John Adams arrived in Philadelphia, after a 300 mile journey from Braintree on horseback – a mode of transportation slightly faster than the B-Line. Just days later, Adams wrote: “There are deep jealousies here. Ill-natured observations and incriminations take the place of reason and argument.”
From there, the “jealousies and incriminations” only got worse. The 1780s were marked by riots and rebellions in the streets.
In 1798, one congressman spit tobacco juice in the face of another. He responded by attacking his assailant with a pair of fire tongs. All on the floor of the House of Representatives. As you might expect, they were both New Englanders.
Just a few years later, the sitting Vice President of the United States shot and killed the former treasury secretary, Alexander Hamilton, in a duel. That’s one way to settle a debate over the national debt.
The rest is here.