Political Hay

The Spirit of ‘05

When two worlds collide...

By 5.9.05

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The following was written after reading the New York Times and Ron Chernow's Alexander Hamilton on the same subway ride...

PITTSBURGH, AUGUST, 1794 - In a striking display of divisions that have plagued the fledgling United States government, thousands of insurgents in Western Pennsylvania have set fire to homes, kidnapped public officials, and vowed continued defiance of a federal excise tax on whiskey.

Facing an insurgency that is proving itself resilient, President Washington mulled sending federal troops to quell the rebellion. Such an action would be sure to draw harsh criticism, creating deeper fissures within the already fragile nascent American republic.

The president's opponents seized on the crisis to revive questions about the rationale for the War of Independence, renewing criticism that colonial intelligence overstated the threat that was posed by the British monarchy.

"This is exactly what I've been telling people all along," said Josephus Kerry, whose intention to seek the presidency in 1796 is somewhat of an open secret. "When he was a general, Washington misled the colonies to war without a plan to win the peace."

Others were more emphatic in their criticism, especially Michael Morbid, whose blockbuster pamphlet "Fahrenheit 1776" alleges that the War of Independence occurred because the British government backed out of secret plans to build a beer pipeline from Massachusetts to Virginia.

"People seem to forget that in the 1750s, Washington was fighting alongside the British in the French and Indian War," Mr. Morbid said. "It was only after King George III put the kibosh on the pipeline project that things changed."

He added, "From the top down, this Administration is rife with ties to big beer. It's no coincidence that the vice-president's cousin is Sam Adams."

A member of the Move On Society, speaking under the condition of anonymity, said the group planned simultaneous protests in several cities during August, which they have declared, "Impeach Washingcrook" month.

The increasing boldness of the insurgency in Pennsylvania is just the latest blow to the Washington Administration, which has also grappled with maintaining a cabinet. At the end of last year, Thomas Jefferson resigned as Secretary of State amid bitter infighting with Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton.

Meanwhile, members of Congress geared up for a contentious battle over whether to recall John Jay from his position as an envoy to England. Mr. Jay has been tarnished by new revelations suggesting that he is not very nice.

In 1790, according to testimony, Mr. Jay belittled a subordinate by brusquely refusing to share a portion of plum pudding with him.

"This incident raises serious questions about his ability to serve in a diplomatic capacity," said Connecticut Senator Christopher Dolt.

To experts, this perfect storm of events underscores the difficulties confronting America's radical experiment with government. More than a decade after the end of major combat operations in the Revolutionary War and six years since the ratification of the U.S. Constitution, deep factional feuds still remain.

"There's a reason why there aren't any successful representative republics in the world," said Sir Alfred Talksalot, the objective manager of the non-partisan Brookings Lodge. "Any attempt to impose too much freedom on a society breeds anarchy. And I think that's largely what we're seeing now."

With the fate of the nation and the future of liberty hanging in the balance, opposition leaders Nancy Pilates and Hollow Reed issued a terse joint-statement: "Whatever it is, we're against it!"

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About the Author

Philip Klein is The American Spectator's Washington correspondent. You can follow him on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/Philipaklein