This series focuses on the region from where the roots of Western Judaic and Christian civilization of today are traced: the northeastern, eastern, and southeastern region surrounding the Mediterranean from Greece, Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Iraq, (western) Iran, and Egypt to Europe and then to the Americas.
The ideological rhetoric of the American Revolution promoted the concept of breaking down the concentrations of power and to create a society of essentially equal participants. Of course, those writing and selling the rhetoric at that time meant “equal participants” to be white male property owners. Because white male property owners were the only ones who were real people (as became described in the U.S. Constitution.) The idea was supposed to be that they’re more or less equal, and therefore you want to break down the concentrations of power that are oppressing them. In those days that meant Church power, state power, the feudal system—and what you were supposed to get was this egalitarian society for “the People,” people being white male property owners.
The Treaty of Paris, signed on September 3, 1783, ended the American Revolutionary War between Great Britain on one side and the American Colonies and its allies on the other. For the colonists, life had been hard during the Revolution.
Peace brought a brief period of prosperity, but this was followed by times even worse than ever. Taxes were being raised in all the colonies to pay for the war—Massachusetts farmers felt particularly hard hit. Farms, cattle, even plows were being taken to pay debts, many debtors unable to pay thrown into jail to languish. Hatred grew: hatred for the sheriffs and their minions who threw family members and neighbors into jail; hatred for judges who signed orders that would wipe out a man’s entire property; hatred for the lawyers whose scheming was being fattened by all this; hatred above all for the rich people in Boston, the merchants and bankers who seemed to control the governor and state legislature. No single leader mobilized this hatred. Farmers and laborers rallied around local men; they had names like Job Shattuck, Eli Parsons, Luke Day, and Dan Shays. In all, these were men who had fought with the rebels against England—often not paid by the Continental army and why they returned home to find themselves indebted, in arrears in taxes. Now they were rebelling against the wealthy leaders of the rebellion who were foreclosing on their property and jailing them for debt. 
Their tactic was simple: close up the courts. They called themselves Regulators. Time and again, during the late summer and early fall of 1786, roughhewn men crowded into and around courthouses, while judges and sheriffs stood by seething and helpless. The authorities feared calling out the local militia, knowing men would desert in droves in support of the farmers. Most of the time, the occupations were peaceful, even jocular and festive, reaching a high point when debtors were turned out of jail. These were proud men, small property owners, voters, They were seeking to redress grievances, not topple governments. But it was a pitting of the countryside against the wealthy of the city in control of government. Sam Adams helped draw up a Riot Act, and a resolution suspending habeas corpus, to allow the authorities to keep people in jail without trial. (Yes! Sam Adams, one of the so-called Founding Fathers suspended a law that went all the way back to the Magna Carta of 1215, and the oldest human right in English speaking civilization.)
These were the conditions and situation facing the wealthy gentry of 1786. George Washington wrote to James Madison, “If government could not check these disorders, what security has man for life, liberty or property?”
John Adams anxiously stewed over the news from his State of Massachusetts. It was his state that was setting such a bad example; and he was, after all, the main author of the Massachusetts Constitution. As American minister to the Court of St. James in London, he felt frustrated to be absent and worried about his own properties. What in earlier letters had been reported as “disturbances,” matters were now verging on anarchy and civil war. Adams wrote to his son, John Quincy, that “the new institutions in America must be built properly to last thousands of years; that free government with all of it woes, was superior to even the wisest monarchy; that the tendency of republics to turbulence could be curbed by a system of checks and balances within government; and that (in opposition to the ideas of such men as Thomas Paine) men were equal in the eyes of God and under the law, but manifestly unequal—and always would be—in beauty, virtue, talents, and fortune.”
Thomas Jefferson received the news of Massachusetts rebellions at his spacious Paris townhouse rented on the Champs-Elysees within the city walls. He felt not so much alarmed as embarrassed; for he had not expected independent farmers to disrupt courts and abolish debts. Still he was uneasy due to the correspondence from the Adames; John had assured him in November that the Massachusetts Assembly had laid too heavy a tax on the people, but “all will be well.” But in January, when the rebels were more threatening, Abigail wrote to him, “Ignorant, wrestless desperadoes, without conscience or principals, have led a deluded multitude to follow their standard, under pretense of grievances which have no existence but in their imaginations. Some of them were crying out for a paper currency, some for an equal distribution of property, some were for annihilating all debts. Instead of that laudable spirit which you approve, which makes people watchful over their liberties and alert in the defense of them, these mobish insurgents are for sapping the foundation and destroying the whole fabric at once.” Jefferson knew that Abigail was speaking of John’s views as well as her own. Indeed these were the views shared by most important leaders in America—Washington, John Jay, Rufus King, Alexander Hamilton, and other powerful men in every State.
Jefferson, almost alone among America’s leadership, rejected this view of insurgency. He believed that the resistance to government must always be kept alive; that it would oft-times be exercised wrongly, but better wrongly than not exercised at all. He did not really approve of rebellion, certainly not a long and bloody one; he simply feared repression more. The solution, he felt, lay in better education of the people, and the free exchange of ideas. Unlike Washington, he believed in reading the newspapers, not because the press was all that dependable, but because a free press was vital to liberty. If he had to choose, he said, he would choose newspapers without government, to a government without newspapers. Still Jefferson had to recognize that liberty was impossible without order, just as he would one day prefer to run a government without certain newspapers. The problem now was to reconcile liberty—and equality too—with authority.
It was a bitter winter that defeated Shay’s Rebellion. By the time the Regulators had suffered through freezing and hardship, the city merchants had raised the money to hire and arm a militia to drive them back to the countryside, running and hiding in the brush like animals. Many of them were hanged for sedition. But the rebellions of the poor and small property owners had put fear into the wealthy elite. Country people and city people had declared a united independence a decade before. They had endorsed the ideals of liberty and equality in the declaration signed by John Adams and others. But now, it seemed that those things were coming to stand for different things to different persons. (Of course, in truth, they always had—the wealthy nationalists being fully aware of the anger of the poor against the rich and contriving how to mobilize that anger against the British rather than against themselves, which they had succeeded in doing. Now they were faced with insurrection from the poor, and this time it was against themselves—the rich white male property owners.) It was this unrest throughout the colonies that was the state of affairs and on powerful men’s minds in the winter before the planned convention in Philadelphia in 1887.
The 55 Federalists who convened from May 25 to September 17, many of them lawyers as well as being wealthy property owners (and of course, all of them male and all of them white), came armed with how to revise the Articles of Confederation – the federal form of government that the colonies had been operating under. But many, such as James Madison and Alexander Hamilton did not want to just fix this existing government, they wanted to create a new one. The view of the 55 Federalists was that a stronger Federal government was needed to keep order and protect property. Hamilton voiced his political philosophy: “All communities divide themselves into the few and many. The first are the rich and well-born, the other the mass of the people. The voice of the people has been said to be the voice of God; and however generally the maxim has been quoted and believed, it is not true in fact. The people are turbulent and changing; they seldom judge or determine right. Give therefore to the first class a distinct permanent share in the government… Can a democratic assembly who annually revolve in the mass of the people be supposed steadily to pursue the public good? Nothing but a permanent body can check the imprudence of democracy…” At the Constitutional Convention, Hamilton proposed a President and Senate chosen for life! The Convention did not take his suggestion. But neither did it provide for popular elections, except in the case of the House of Representatives, where the qualifications were set by the state legislatures (which required property-holding for voting in almost all of the states), and excluded women, Indians, and slaves. The Constitution provided for Senators to be elected by the state legislators, for the President to be elected by electors chosen by the state legislators, and for the Supreme Court to be appointed by the President.
But aside from this planned limitation of the effects of voting by the people, the real problem of democracy lay deeper in this society divided between the rich and poor. For if some people had great wealth and great influence; if they had the land, the money, the newspapers, the church, the educational system—how could voting, however broad, cut into such power?
Interesting that after 225 years, these same conditions and restrictions to democracy still exists—perhaps in 2013 more aggravated than ever! But back to 1787 and the design by the 55 Federalists – those property owners some clever historian described as “the well-bred, the well-fed, the well-read, and the well-wed” – who constructed a republic whose purpose was to protect property, not people, it gets better (or worse).
The 55 Federalists had met in secret to hammer out the new Constitution. But to get it ratified, required nine states out of thirteen to adopt it. It is through the articles written for news publications to persuade states to ratify that we know and have record of more of the views of those who had constructed it. The articles favoring adoption were written by James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and John Jay and came to be known as the Federalist Papers (opponents became known as the anti-Federalists.)
Madison argued that representative government was needed to maintain peace in a society ridden by factional disputes. Those disputes came from “the various and unequal distribution of property. Those who hold and those who are without property have ever formed distinct interests in society.” The problem, he said, was how to control the factional struggles that came from the inequalities in wealth. Minority factions could be controlled, he said, by the principle that decisions would be by the vote of the majority. So the real problem, according to Madison, was a majority faction, and here the solution was offered by the Constitution, to have an “extensive republic,” that is, a large nation ranging over thirteen states, for then “it will be more difficult for all who feel it to discover their own strength, and to act in unison with each other… The influence of factious leaders may kindle a flame within their particular States, but will be unable to spread a general conflagration through the other States.” Madison goes on to make clear whose peace, he wants the Constitution to protect: “A rage for paper money, for an abolition of debts, for an equal division of property, or for any other improper or wicked project, will be less apt to pervade the whole body of the Union than a particular member of it.”
When economic interest is seen behind the political clauses of the Constitution, then the document becomes not simply the work of wise men trying to establish a decent and orderly society, but the work of certain groups (the wealthy) trying to maintain their privileges, while giving just enough rights and liberties to enough of the people (the middle class merchants and small property owners—all white men as well) to ensure popular support. And remember, it would be only the white male property owners who would vote to ratify this new Constitution!
In the new government, Madison would belong to the Democrat-Republicans along with Jefferson and Monroe. Hamilton would belong to the rival party (the Federalists) along with Washington and Adams. But both parties agreed—slaveholders from Virginia, and merchants from New York—on the aim of this new government. They were anticipating the long-fundamental agreement of the two political parties in the American system: Hamilton wrote elsewhere in the Federalist Papers that the new Union would be able “to repress domestic faction and insurrection.” The Constitution was a compromise between slaveholding interests in the South and moneyed interests in the North. Unlike the Declaration of Independence that professed to support “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” the Constitution substituted “life, liberty, and property.” The Constitution illustrates the complexity of the American system: that it serves the interests of the wealthy elite, but also does enough for small property owners, for the middle-income mechanics and farmers, to build a broad base of support. The slightly prosperous people who make up this base of support are buffers against the blacks, the Indians, and the poor whites. (Women did not count whether they be married to a rich man or a poor man, as common law decreed them as being merged with their husbands, and as individuals they had no voice in such matters.) This American system adopted and ratified enabled the elite to keep control with a minimum of coercion, a maximum of law—all made palatable by the fanfare of patriotism and unity. The Constitution became even more acceptable to the public at large after the first Congress, responding to criticism, passed a series of amendments known as the Bill of Rights. Those amendments seemed to make the new government a guardian of people’s liberties: to speak, to publish, to worship, to petition, to assemble, to be tried fairly, to be secure in their own home against official intrusion. What was not tested, thus unknown, was the reality of the shakiness of anyone’s liberty when entrusted to a government of the rich and powerful. Thus was the birth of the nation-state of the United States of America.
In writing about the development of the nation-state system which basically developed in Europe since the medieval period, Noam Chomsky tells us: “It (the nation-state system) is not necessarily the natural form of human organization; in fact it’s a European invention.” (And since it was designed in Europe following medieval times, it’s also a Christian invention.) “And it was extremely difficult for it to develop: Europe has a very bloody history, an extremely savage and bloody history, with constant massive wars that was all part of an effort to establish the nation-state system. It has virtually no relation to the way people live, or to their associations, or anything else particularly, so it had to be established by force—centuries of bloody warfare. That warfare (in Europe) ended in 1945—and the only reason it ended is because the next war was going to destroy everything. However, the nation-state system was exported to the rest of the world through European colonization. Europeans were barbarians basically—savages: very advanced technologically, and advanced in methods of warfare, but not culturally or anything else particularly. And when they spread over the rest of the world, it was like the plague—they just destroyed everything in front of them. They fought differently, they fought more brutally, they had better technology—and they essentially wiped everything else out. The American continent is a good example. The process of colonization (in America and elsewhere) was extraordinarily destructive, and of course was, and continues to be very hierarchical and unequal and brutal.”
Certainly the preceding chapters (Parts) give shocking evidence of Christian European savagery: the Crusades, the Inquisitions, the witch-hunts, the slave-trade. The savage and brutal annihilation of the indigenous people of the Americas is but another glaring evidence of their barbarianism. They had multiple and ample examples of the righteousness of sacking cities and civilizations, slaughtering all the people, and taking the virgins and other property they confiscated as their own in the Bible—indeed by the directive of the monotheistic (white) male God—He did become white in the Europeans thinking and consciousness. The rightness and righteousness of this male barbarianism was in their DNA from millennium earlier and reinforced through the centuries.
Some historians have written that perhaps the first glimpse of a more civilized society was via the Iroquois Confederacy—the knowledge of their social structure discovered by a few such as Thomas Jefferson, but primarily by women: women suffragists such as Matilda Joslyn Gage and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Though the patriarchal European-descended savages would annihilate the Iroquois along with all the other North American Indians, a few would envision a new and better possibility of human organization from seeing first-hand the Iroquois system of balance between men, women, children, and nature. And they would began to struggle against the white male elite who controlled their government and their destiny.
 Noam Chomsky, edited by Peter R. Mitchell and John Schoeffel Understanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky, (the New Press, New York, 2002) p 267
 James McGregor Burns, The Vineyard of Liberty, The American Experiment, (Knopf, New York, 1982), Chapter 1, The Strategy of Liberty
 Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States, (Harper Collins, New York, 1999) p 94
 Burns, Ibid., Chapter 1, The Strategy of Liberty
 Zinn, Ibid. p 96
 Ibid. p 96
 Burns, Ibid., Chapter 1
 Zinn, Ibid., p 96
 Ibid, p 96-97, quoting from Federalist Paper #10
 Ibid., p 97
 Ibid., pp 98-99
 Chomsky, Ibid., p 314.