Posts Tagged ‘American Revolution’

Some Thoughts on Taxes

April 17, 2012

Some Thoughts On Taxes

By George E. Sokolsky

Adam Smith, in discussing taxes on property, wrote:

“While property remains in the possession of the same person, whatever permanent taxes may have been imposed upon it, they have never been intended to diminish or take away any part of its capital value, but only some part of the revenue arising from it . . .”

The original idea of the income tax was not to deprive citizens of their savings nor to diminish their possessions but to raise revenue for the use of government. The new taxes imposed by the inequitably taxed President are actually reducing the possibility of savings and therefore of coming into possession of property. The present taxes involve not only a redistribution of earned wealth but a confiscation of earnings.

KARL MARX AIMED to abolish love of country so that the world revolution would come more quickly. Whereas in the United States the theory of life was that there would be a constant improvement, so that workers would own their own homes, buy their own insurance policies, even go into business for themselves. Karl Marx really hoped for increased poverty so that the proletariat would be more numerous.

In America, the aim was to increase the middle class; Marx sought to abolish the middle class.

Harold Laski put these ideas in this language:

“. . . If Communists are charged with seeking to abolish love of country, the Manifesto answers that workers can have no country until they are emancipated from bourgeois domination; with their acquisition of political power, the hostility between nations will disappear. So also, it will change traditional ideas in religion and philosophy. Since it puts experience on a new basis, it will change the ideas which are their expression.”

In a word, Communists seek, in every respect, to abolish our world as we have known it for at least 5,000 years.

AMONG THE MEASURES WHICH MARX advocated for the accomplishment of the revolution were these (the numbers are his; there were altogether 10):

“1. Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to public purposes.

“2. A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.

“3. Abolition of all right of inheritance.

“5. Centralization of credit in the hands of the state, by means of a national bank with state capital and an exclusive monopoly.

“6. Centralization of the means of communication and transport in the hands of state.”

(It will be noted that since 1848, when this list was published, many so-called Capitalist countries have accepted Marx’s program.)

The income tax is high on the list. The graduated income tax can reduce the individual to a constantly lowering standard of living. It can prevent savings by leaving nothing over after living expenses. The tax guarantees poverty.

When to the income tax is added a complex system of excises and hidden taxes, it is possible for government to arrange for an economy which permits the appearance of high wages and even high prices while all the time the standard of life is being depreciated and the middle class is being squeezed out of existence.

IN THIS COUNTRY, we are now observing precisely this process, particularly as it affects the white collar and professional classes. For them, very little hope of self-improvement is left. Their doom is to find rated jobs in government, jobs which pay little, permit of no initiative, require featherbedding to survive and end in a low standard retirement pension. If that is pie in the sky, it certainly is not of the American dream.

If we complain that too many Americans are on the government payroll, we are in error. For if we permit our white collar and cultural classes to be taxed out of opportunity for self-improvement, they must take government jobs as no others are available to them. In the past, such Americans made their own opportunities out of their ingenuity, their ability to save or to borrow from their neighbors. They were not inhibited by government through taxes.

IN A WORD, THE REVOLUTION which the New Deal under Harry Hopkins introduced and the Fair Deal under Leon Keyserling seeks to complete is being accomplished with even greater skill than Lenin exhibited in Russia. The Bolsheviks employed terror and murder and confiscation as weapons.

The American revolution is being accomplished by means of taxes, principally the income tax, by premeditated wasteful expenditure of the people’s money, and by depreciating the currency. And the revolutionists can truthfully say that it is done with our consent. We authorized the revolution by our votes.

(c 1951, King Features Syndicate, Inc.)

Tucson Daily Citizen (Tucson, Arizona) Nov 8, 1951

“Conway Cabal” Against Washington

November 9, 2011

Thos. Conway “Cabal” Against Washington

A MIDDLE-aged, jolly, dashing soldier of fortune came to America in 1777 and offered his services to the patriot army. He brought along with him no great military skill, but a most amazing capacity for making trouble. The soldier was Thomas Conway, a British subject, who had lived since early childhood in France. There he had joined the army and risen to a colonelcy. when he came here he was joyfully received. The Revolutionists lacked expert officers and they made him a brigadier-general.

The man’s boasts and his dashing ways impressed the simpler statesmen. But George Washington read him at a glance, for a windy, vicious incompetent.

So when congress decided a little later to make Conway a major general the chief sternly opposed such a promotion and gave his reasons for doing so. From that moment Conway was Washington’s sworn foe. One active mischief-maker can sometimes work more harm than a dozen wise men can undo. Conway at once joined Washington’s opponents in congress and the army, and started a campaign for the chief’s overthrow.

He and his associates formed what was known as the “Conway Cabal,” and did all in their power to undermine Washington’s influence. In a series of anonymous letters Conway ridiculed the chief as a coward and as too feeble of mind as a leader. He suggested Gen. Horatio Gates as commander-in-chief in Washington’s place. Not only did Conway and his friends win Gates over to this scheme, but they induced several prominent congressmen to lend their influence to the movement.

It was the Revolution’s dark hour. New York and Philadelphia were in the hands of the British. Washington and his army were starving and freezing at Valley Forge after a summer and autumn of repeated defeats. Men’s hearts grew faint and their allegiance weakened. Conway’s crafty words at such a moment fell on ready ears.

The cabal waxed strong. But for a mere accident it might readily have ended by depriving Washington of power and of placing the command of the patriot armies in the hands of Gen. Gates. And with fussy, inefficient, cowardly old Gates at the head of the American troops American liberty would have been doomed. Here, in brief, is the story of the accident that saved our country:

Gates’ aid, Wilkinson, drank too much one night and babbled to a friend of the chief some of the contents of a letter from Conway to Gates in which Conway had spoken insultingly of Washington. The story was told to Washington, who called Conway to account. Conway rushed to Gates for aid, and Gates tried to get out of the difficulty by branding Wilkinson as a liar.

Wilkinson promptly challenged Gates to a duel. Gates wept on Wilkinson’s shoulder and implored him to withdraw the challenge, speaking of himself as a feeble old man who loved Wilkinson like a father. In this way the frightened old general wriggled out of fighting.

Title: Life of George Washington: Vol. III
Author: Washington Irving
Publisher: Bohn, 1856
Chapter CXIII page 922

Meantime, thanks to the first hint, Washington learned of all Conway’s anonymous letters and other treacheries. The facts were made known to the people.

The cabal was crushed under a storm of public disapproval.

But Conway was not to escape so easily. He was challenged to a duel by Washington’s friend, Gen. Cadwallader, who proceeded to shoot him through the mouth.

Conway, believing himself dying, wrote one more letter. This time to Washington, asking forgiveness for his villainies and declaring the chief to be a “great and good man.” Then he “conditionally” resigned his commission as an officer in the American service. Congress accepted the resignation, unconditionally, and Conway went back to France.

There he styled himself “Count de Conway,” and managed to win an appointment as governor of one of France’s Oriental provinces. He made such a mess of his diplomatic work in his province of the Orient that he almost wrecked the French interests there. He returned to France and became a general in the royal armies.

During the French Revolution he was condemned to death. He was saved only by an appeal to Great Britain (against which he had fought in the American Revolution), but was compelled to flee from France for his life.

After that Conway disappeared from history. He is supposed to have died about 1800 in poverty and exile.

The Gettysburg Times (Gettsyburg, Pennsylvania) Jun 27, 1912

Image and excerpt quoted below is from the Lux Libertas website:

Most historians agree that the so-called “Conway Cabal” was not an organized effort to replace Washington with Gen. Horatio Gates, the victor of Saratoga or some other general.

But there were some in the Army who felt they were better qualified than the Virginian and several politicians were critical of his performance.

The so-called “cabal” was a lot of mutterings and niggling criticism that finally broke out in the open with the help of an arrogant Irish-born, French-reared soldier of fortune, Thomas Conway. He was recruited in France by Silas Deane and was granted the rank of brigadier general. Washington and many other American officers took an immediate dislike to the boastful Conway.

Read more at the Lux Libertas link above.

William Cunningham: Jailer of Revolution Martyrs

October 27, 2011

William Cunningham, Jailer of New York “Revolution Martyrs”

“FOLK of fashion do complain right grievously that the groanings and lamentable cries of the rebel prisoners (both here in New York and in the prison ship on the Breucklen shore) disturb their slumbers. And they pray that Master Cunningham, our provost marshal, will devise some means to keep the poor wretches quiet of nights.”

So runs an old letter written in New York during the darkest days of the American Revolution. The British had captured New York and Philadelphia. To both cities — but chiefly to New York — they brought thousands of patriot soldiers, captured in battle, and many non-combatants who had risked freedom and life to help the cause of liberty by money, gifts or by patriotic speeches.

These unlucky captives were not treated like prisoners of war. They were housed and fed — or, rather, starved — in a way the law nowadays would not permit for cattle or swine. And the man in charge of them was a blackguard whose own countrymen loathed him, William Cunningham.

Cunningham was the son of British dragoon and was born in the regimental barracks at Dublin. In 1774 he came to America and settled in New York, where he made a living for some time by “breaking” colts and by giving riding lessons. When the Revolution broke out, in 1775, he became involved in a political row with some local patriots and was forced to flee to Boston, there to seek the protection of the British army.

His noisy loyalty to King George III, got him into trouble there and attracted the notice of Thomas Gage, the English general. Gage appointed him provost marshal to the royal army. His chance for “revenge” had come.

Image from Frances Hunter’s American Heroes Blog

Cunningham was sent back to New York and was put in charge of the Revolutionary prisoners there and in Philadelphia. There were several impromptu prisons in New York where the patriot captives were lodged. One was the city hall, another the famous old “Sugar House,” another, King’s (now Columbia) college; another the “new gaol” (the old hall of records in City Hall park, torn down only a few years ago) and — worst of all — the “prison ship ‘Jersey,'” moored on the Brooklyn shore. Churches were also turned into jails.

In the prison ship the captives were herded by hundreds in dark, foul pens, destitute of pure air and sunlight. They were given such food as a dog might well scorn, and in such tiny quantities as would not suffice to keep a dog alive. The water they drank was filthy. No medical care or chance for cleanliness or exercise was granted them. Prison fever and other maladies scourged their ranks. They died like so many flies. To such fearful condition were they reduced that the lowest city outcasts were touched by pity and secretly sent them food.

The fate of the captives in the new gaol, or hall of records, was little better. Here is an extract from Pintard’s account of their sufferings:

“So closely were they packed together that when they lay down at night to rest, on the hard oak planks, and they wished to turn, it was all together, by word of command — ‘right’ — ‘left’ — being so wedged as to form almost a solid mass of human bodies.”

All war is cruel. But such torture as this was inexcusable. And (though the British government might perhaps have bettered matters had they chosen to) the lion’s share of the blame was Cunningham’s. Here is a portion of his sworn confession, made in 1791, just before his own execution:

“I shudder to think of the murders I have been accessory to, both with and without orders from government, especialy while in New York, during which time there were more than two thousand prisoners starved by stopping their rations (which I sold). There were also 275 American prisoners executed. A guard was despatched to forbid people to look out from their doors or windows on pain of death, after which the prisoners were conducted, gagged, at midnight, just behind the upper barracks, hung without trial and then buried.”

Cunningham went back to England after the war and took to riotous living. Being short of money to squander on dissipation, he forged a draft. For this crime he was tried, condemned, and, on August 10, 1791, was hanged.

He is said to have been responsible for the shameful death of nearly 2,500 American patriots. Nor could mere hatred for the colonists account for this wholesale slaughter, since he dishonestly sold for his own profit the provisions allotted to them.

The Newark Advocate (Newark, Ohio) Sep 19, 1912

Charles Lee: The Traitor Who Threatened America

October 20, 2011

Gen. Charles Lee — The Traitor Who Threatened America

GEN. WASHINGTON and his staff thundered up, through the broiling summer heat, to the stricken battlefield of Monmouth. News had reached the commander-in-chief that his trusted leader, Gen. Chas. Lee, had disobeyed orders and that as a result, the American army was retreating.

Washington took in the situation at a glance. The patriots were falling back. The British were everywhere successful. His blue eyes ablaze with anger, the chief galloped across to Lee.

“In heaven’s name, General,” he shouted, “what means this ill-timed prudence?”

“I know of no one,” sneered Lee, “who has more of that abominable virtue than your excellency.”

At this retort the last barriers of Washington’s patience gave way. He hurled at Lee a public reprimand that the latter never forgot nor forgave. It was a case of a just man’s wrath at a blackguard’s misdeeds.

Charles Lee was born in England in 1731. He joined the British army as a mere child. At the age of eleven he was a commissioned officer. He fought in America during the French and Indian war and rose fast in rank to a lieutenant-colonelcy. But he had a sarcastic tongue and an ungovernable temper. He criticised his superior officers and made fun of their weaknesses. This sort of thing does not help a man on in any walk of life. It led at last to Lee’s practical dismissal from the army. He drifted to Poland and Russia, where, serving as a soldier of fortune, he received the rank of major-general. He also won doubtful fame as a ferocious duelist.

Leaving Russia, Lee made his way to America a short time before the Revolution. He hated England and he loved intrigue. So he plunged into the stirring politics of the day, siding with the patriots. The Revolutionary army was short of experienced officers and was delighted to accept the services of so noted a soldier as Lee. He was offered the rank of second major-general under General Washington. He bargained shrewdly with congress before accepting this honor, declaring that King George’s government would surely confiscate his British estates, and demanding to be paid for them. Congress agreed to give him $30,000 out of the impoverished patriot treasury as recompense for this possible loss.

Now began Lee’s American military career. From the first he seems to have had two aims. One, to seize Washington’s position as commander-in-chief; the other, to sell the American cause, at the best possible terms, to the British. After more than once risking the army’s welfare by disobeying Washington’s orders, Lee was captured at Basking Ridge, N.J., by the British. Whether or not he consented to the capture in order to carry out his treason plot cannot be known. But during his captivity (most of which he spent in a suite of rooms in New York City Hall) he came to terms of understanding with the British general, Howe, and explained to him his ideas on how best to crush the Revolution. Thinking he would be of more use to them in the Revolutionary army than in prison, the British set him free in 1778 and he went back to his duties. (The complete draft of Lee’s plan, by which the colonies might be overthrown, was found in 1857 among General Howe’s private papers.)

Then came the battle of Monmouth. The English, under Clinton, in June, 1778, evacuated Philadelphia and retreated across New Jersey to the British headquarters at New York. Washington resolved to smash part of the British army at Monmouth, N.J., on its march. Lee begged him not to make the attempt, but Washington sent him with an advance guard of 6,000 men to overtake the enemy. Lee caught up with the British at Monmouth on June 28, 1778, and began the battle in so strange and incompetent a way that Lafayette, in alarm, sent a secret message begging Washington to hurry to the front. Washington arrived in time to meet Lee in full retreat. He rebuked the traitor, rallied the army and saved the day.

No one could understand Lee’s odd behavior, for no one then knew he was false. In rage at the rebuke, he wrote two insulting letters to Washington, who promptly ordered him arrested. A court-martial suspended him from active service for a year. In rage, he retired to a mountain hut, where, for months, he lived like a hermit.

As his year of suspension drew to an end, Lee wrote an abusive letter to congress, and was at once dismissed from the army. He went to live on an estate he had bought in the Shenandoah Valley. In 1782 he visited Philadelphia, where he fell ill and died.

Daily Commonwealth (Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin) Jul 16, 1912