I have started a new blog at https://historycharlie1.wordpress.com/. This is the blog that will continue to be updated.
I have been thinking about the threat large standing armies could potentially pose to the security of the United States. Historically, large armies have been dangerous for the security of many democracies around the world. In Ancient Rome, the power of a large standing army would eventually lead to the fall of Roman democracy and the rise of a tyrannical empire. In more recent years large standing armies have caused political instability in Latin America. Some would say that we need this giant standing army to defend ourselves. But I have no doubt that we could defend ourselves adequately with a much smaller army, and the money saved could be used to help the economy.
I have been thinking about that Theodore Roosevelt quote, “We demand that big business give the people a square deal; in return we must insist that when anyone engaged in big business honestly endeavors to do right he shall himself be given a square deal.” and I think it has given me some ideas. In TR’s time, big businesses paid their employees very low wages and had them work under terrible conditions. I think the quote is still relevant today. We need to make sure that big businesses treat people fairly, and we need to make sure that we reward big businesses that do the right thing. Here is what I would do. I would levy a gradual income tax that would rise according to the level of income of the taxpayer. This would mean that the wealthiest Americans would be taxed more money than the poorest ones. But I would also reward businesses that did things like giving money to charity with tax credits. This would have to achieve the difficult balance of enough credits to reward the business in question, but not enough to be a loophole. We must give everyone, rich and poor, a fair deal.
THE COMMON SENSE PARTY
In the year 2012, the Common Sense Party shall, in order to create a new birth of freedom, work for these principles.
It is this parties belief that the United States of America has strayed to far from the founding father’s ideas. This is not to suggest that we should follow a strict adherence to the original constitution. Rather, it is the belief that the idea of government of the people, by the people, and for the people should not perish from the earth at the hands of corporate interests. Mankind originally being equal in the order of creation, the equality could only be destroyed by some subsequent circumstance; the distinctions between rich and poor may largely be accounted for, as Thomas Paine said in his pamphlet Common Sense. The Common Sense Party believes that Paine’s words apply especially to the tyrannical and greedy nature of today’s corporations. The immediate examination, and possible elimination, of various corporate tax loopholes will be considered essential. The party will also support measures to cap corporate power as well as campaign finance reform.
The Common Sense Party believes that, the spirit of this country being totally adverse to the existence of a large military force, reducing the size of the military should considered be a priority.
The Common Sense Party believes that, under ideal circumstances the United States should be able to welcome the worlds huddled masses, however the economy cannot handle the number of illegal Mexican immigrants. Therefore the party believes the United States of America should take steps of sending humanitarian and financial aid to Mexico, in cooperation with the Mexican government, to improve the standard of living in Mexico and end the drug trade.
The Party also believes plebiscites should be held in the territories of Puerto Rico, Guam , and The Virgin Islands on matters pertaining to their independence.
The Common Sense Party will, humanitarianism being one of the highest concerns for any republic, propose that aid be given to the poorest countries of the world.
The Common Sense Party believes that, the well being of our planet being equivalent to the interest of every inhabitant of the world, investment in green energy should commence immediately.
The Common Sense Party believes that, education being one of the highest concerns of every republic in the world, steps should be taken to dramatically reform education. Steps of increased federal spending on education will begin immediately.
The Common Sense Party believes that, good health care service being in the best interests of the nation, the implementation of policies to ensure the complete coverage of the population of the United States will commence immediately.
The Common Sense Party believes that, marriage being the civil union of two people regardless of gender, homosexual marriage will be legalized.
The Common Sense Party believes that, the Guantanamo detention center violates the very principles on which our republic was founded; its closure will be considered a priority.
Here is something I have written on the battle of Gettysburg, which was during the American civil war. Part one is about the prelude to the battle, while Part 2 will be about the battle itself. Hope you will enjoy.
BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG, PRELUDE
By Charles Sherrard
In 1863, after two years of war, the confederate army of northern Virginia, under command of General Robert E Lee, began its second invasion of the north. His victory at Chancellorsville, Virginia, had almost resulted in the destruction of the army of the Potomac, the northern army in the east. But he had lost over 10,000 of his troops, among them one of his greatest generals, Thomas “Stonewall Jackson. Jackson’s death was not a usual one in war. As he approached his own camp, confederate sentries, confused by the unclear evening night, fired their guns at him. One of the bullets hit him in the shoulder, and it was soon apparent that the arm would need to be amputated. This was carried out, but soon afterwards he developed pneumonia. Robert E Lee sent a message that stated “you may have lost your left arm, but I have lost my right arm” he said, referring to Jackson. On May 10th 1863, Jackson died. His death was mourned throughout the south, and Robert E Lee himself never seemed quite the same afterwards.
Soon afterwards Lee began his invasion of the north. He had several reasons for doing this. First of all, he knew that the fields and orchards of Maryland and Pennsylvania were untouched by the war, especially compared to war torn Virginia. Second, there was a growing peace movement in the north, lead by a faction of the Democratic Party and called “copperheads” (after the snake found in the northeastern United States) by President Abraham Lincoln and his Republican Party. Thirdly, he still hoped that the nations of Great Britain and France would come to the aid of the south’s cause, though this was made unlikely by Lincoln’s emancipation proclamation, which declared the slaves of the south free. The European nations and Great Britain in particular had sought to end slavery, and to recognize the south’s independence at this point would mean massive loss of face. Finally Lee hoped that an invasion of the north would force northern forces under General Ulysses S Grant to send reinforcements to help stop Lee’s invasion, away from his own army, which was besieging the city of Vicksburg Mississippi, one of only two ports along the Mississippi river still in southern hands. The confederate President Jefferson Davis wanted Lee to send a division of confederate infantry to Vicksburg to break the siege. Lee rejected this plan, saying it weakened his own army, and manage to persuade Davis to let him operate under his plan. In any case, the confederate troops probably would have arrived to late to affect the outcome of the siege.
The army of the Potomac, meanwhile, was in shambles. They had suffered yet another defeat in a long string of defeats since the beginning of 1863. The army’s leader, General Joseph Hooker was facing dissent from within his own army since the defeat at Chancellorsville, which was part of a string of defeats that had started at the end of 1862. It seemed the army could never win a victory on southern soil. President Lincoln wanted to replace Hooker, but he had run out of generals with whom he could even hope for success. Lincoln wanted to appoint Grant head of the army of the Potomac, but Grant was busy with Vicksburg All the while, a faction of Hooker’s own subordinates was criticizing him. This faction was lead by Generals George Meade and John Reynolds. Only General Daniel Sickles, a political general with no military experience prior to the civil war, still supported Hooker.
Sickles had an interesting story, before the war he had discovered that his wife had been having an affair with another man, Philip Key, son of Francis Scott Key, who wrote the star spangled banner, and shot him. Sickles was brought to trial on charges of murder. His lawyer, the future secretary of war under Lincoln, defended Sickles by saying he had been temporarily insane, the first time this defense was used in a court of law.
Lee meanwhile, was beset with problems. His cavalry commander, General JEB Stuart, had submitted a plan in which he would ride around the army of the Potomac. Stuart was a jovial and boyish general, on one hand this made him incredibly bold, and it was in such moments that this boldness was needed that he rose to greatness. On the other hand, this boldness sometimes prevented him think things through. Stuart had done this sort of ride before in 1862. He had ridden a complete circle around the army of the Potomac gathering a massive amount of information and been a huge success. Lee complied. Stuart’s raid was a disastrous failure. He raided the area around Washington DC before heading north where he captured a large amount of supply wagons. While at first these wagons looked like a blessing, they later turned into a curse when they slowed him down. Stuart was cut off from the rest of Lee’s army and was only reunited at the end of the second day of battle.
Lee’s army, meanwhile, was spread out of a large area of southern Pennsylvania and, without Stuart gathering information, unaware that the army of the Potomac was approaching his rear. Lee was only made aware of this fact when a spy hired by General James Longstreet told him. Longstreet was one of Lee’s most trusted subordinates. It was because of the trio of Lee, Longstreet and Jackson that the army of northern Virginia, achieved its greatest victories. The spy told him the whereabouts of the army of the Potomac. Lee ordered his army to march to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania to unite.
On June 28th 1863, just a few days before the battle of Gettysburg, Lincoln replaced Hooker with General George G Meade. Meade had a short temper and was often called “the old snapping turtle” behind his back. Nonetheless Meade was a good general Meade then laid out a plan to march the army of the Potomac to a patch of high ground in northern Maryland. This place, along Pipe creek, would have been almost impossible to attack. Meade also sent cavalry under General John Buford, to Gettysburg.
And so, both armies marched to their fate, the army of northern Virginia, proud of their many victories over a foe that they held in contempt, the army of the Potomac, desperate to gain a victory, over a foe that beaten them again and again, both of them marched to their destiny, where many of them would give their “last full measure of devotion.”