Wednesday, October 10, 2007

To Coin a President…

I’ve started collecting the presidential “gold” dollar coins. I’ve been pretty excited about them. After the state quarters, and the historical nickels, this is pretty cool. They’ll make one new coin every quarter (quarter year, not 25 cents), until they’ve minted all of the presidents. Of course, the only ones that are eligible are the dead ones. The ones that are still living won’t be minted. Until they die, I suppose. Which is still not much of an incentive to pass on, in my book. You know, "Keep on living; have my face on a coin. Keep on living; have my face on a coin... "

Easy call, in my book.

But anyway...

One of the cool things I’ve been doing is that when a new one comes out, before (or soon after) I get it, I read up a little on that president. That way, I get to see what happened in his presidency and know more about our great history.

The latest one is James Madison. The big historic even that went down in his administration was the War of 1812. Sometimes that war is called, “the second revolutionary war” and also “Madison’s War”. It was originally started for economic reasons. The British and the French were at war, and while America tried to stay out of it, the British started raiding American trade with France. They also tended to stop American ships and press “British subjects” aboard into the English Navy.

Apparently, it was tough for Madison to convince Americans at the time to go to war. And, in the end, while it did solidify our international standing as an independent state, the borders of the country didn’t change.

It kinda made me think of the Iraq war, and how history will perceive it 100, even 200 years from now. Will it be called, “Bush’s War”?

Madison originally started his public life as a strong proponent of state’s rights, and an opponent of a strong central federal government. But as the war progressed, and he saw how difficult it was to fight a national war with state militias, and fund it without a federal bank, his position shifted, and he established a standing federal army and a National Bank.

It’s his work before his presidency for which he is most admired, that being that he was one of the principal authors of the constitution, and also the Bill of Rights. It’s also interesting to note that initially, he was opposed to a separate bill of rights, saying that those rights were already in the constitution, and that various state constitutions had shown that the paper was really not that effective in guaranteeing rights and liberties anyway. But later, he became a big promoter of it, and worked hard to get it ratified.

Anyway, it’s pretty fascinating. Sometimes we think of the “Founding Fathers” just as inspired men who put together this nation as it is, and we forget that they had to deal with politics and conflicting opinions just like we do.

Mark Hansen

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting. Thanks for sharing. We had to learn lots of facts about early America when taking our Citizenship tests. All good stuff.

    By the way, I'm giving away a treat on my blog today :-) Hop on over and help yourself. Mind you, it could be a trick, right? It's that time of year.



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