Thursday, February 10, 2005

History For Dummies

AMERICAblog has an interesting quote from the fundamentalist American Family Association:

When Chief Justice John Marshall tried to force a national bank upon President Andrew Jackson, Jackson responded, "Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it."
A national bank? Andrew Jackson's alleged response to Marshall was in regard to the Supreme Court's ruling on Worcester v. Georgia (1832), which said, in essence, that the Cherokee nation - which had a constitutional government - was sovereign, and that the state of Georgia had no right to confiscate its land and relocate its people.

To put it more bluntly, the Cherokee sued Georgia in the highest U.S. court, and won. Legally, Jackson had no right to evict them from their land (which, coincidentally, had been found to contain gold the same year Congress passed the Indian Removal Act). But he did it anyway, and the Cherokee were driven from Georgia on a forced march that is now known as the "Trail of Tears."

Though the quote attributed to Jackson certainly reflects his contempt for the rule of law, serious historians agree that he never actually said it.

This is not a particularly obscure bit of history, and Worcester v. Georgia is widely considered to have been one of the most important decisions the Supreme Court ever made (you can read the full text here). I find it very interesting that in an article urging Bush to follow Jackson's lead, the AFA has completely misrepresented what Jackson actually did. I know conservatives who think that Jackson's treatment of the Cherokee is one of the most shameful acts ever committed by a United States president.


Aquaria said...

Just like what happened to the Lakota (Sioux) with the Black Hills in South Dakota. Whitey didn't really care all that much about the hills when he first went through, so he signed a treaty with the Lakota that promised them the Black Hills and etc. Then someone found gold in them thar hills. As expected, all hell broke loose. And we get Crazy Horse and all the rest.

In the 70s or 80s, the Sioux Nation sued the government for stealing their land. The Supreme Court ruled that the US Government had indeed violated the treaty. But they didn't return the land to the Sioux (of course not--Homestead Mining is still trashing the Black Hills for ever-dwindling supplies of gold!). Instead they offered the Sioux something like $130 million dollars for the land in question. The Sioux told 'em to stuff it, they wanted the land. They knew that if they took the money and distributed it according to tribal law (pretty much equally to everyone in the tribe), that the money would be gone in ten years. Money doesn't last. Land does.

So that money is still sitting in a bank somewhere, last I heard.

And the AFA are in the Wanker Hall of Fame. They couldn't get a fact straight if their lives depended on it. Wish it would come to that, though.

Phila said...

Thw whole thing is nuts. I didn't even touch the issue of Marshall trying to "force a national bank" on Jackson, which is sheer lunacy. Jackson vetoed Congress's recharter of an existing national bank - the second national bank, actually. It's hard to know what these schmucks are talking about.

But it does seem as though they purposefully ignored the Cherokee decision to which the alleged quote referred, and tried to make the national bank seem like some sort of socialist monstrosity imposed by an "activist judge."

They're really fucking stupid.

Anonymous said...

Surfdork from Atrios:

What I remember about REAL history (Zinn) ole Stonewall Jackass was one piece of work.

Jackasson was responsible for the trail of tears i.e GENOCIDE.

And he get's honored on our dirty currency.

Aquaria said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Aquaria said...

But it does seem as though they purposefully ignored the Cherokee decision to which the alleged quote referred, and tried to make the national bank seem like some sort of socialist monstrosity imposed by an "activist judge."

Of course they can't mention it. It goes against the "America is perfect, America does no wrong" jingoistic patriotism that they must maintain, at all times. They're still living with this warped view of the conquering of America as bloodless and happy and ordained by God, not one of bloodlust, rapine and murder. They still think that life is a 1940s Western with the good cowboys in the white hats and the bad Injuns.

They don't want us to read Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, and come away from that ashamed at knowing we have blood on our hands. I read that book for the first time when I was pregnant with the LJ spawn. That was a big mistake!

Prentiss Riddle said...

I keep waiting for a campaign to take Jackson off the twenty. Here's one, although I'm afraid it's more likely that they'd bump Jackson to enshrine Reagan than MLK.