This morning, thanks to reading comments to an Ann Althouse post, I came a across a fascinating essay that I highly recommend -- The Birth of the Blues. Only, this is no discussion about music or the Southern genesis of American blues. This is all about New England, in general, and Boston, in particular:
In politics, the blues were born farther north: in the Puritan commonwealth of 17th century New England centered around Boston. For the Puritans, the construction of a godly society was the first order of business. The state was not the enemy of liberty; the state was society’s moral agent.
Today’s libertarians sometimes like to call their blue model liberal opponents “unamerican”. Nothing could be farther from the truth: if Yankee New England isn’t American, nothing is. If John Winthrop, Cotton Mather, the Mayflower Compact and the first Thanksgiving aren’t part of the American story, friends, we don’t have a story. That doesn’t mean Boston is always right, much less that in its current state the Puritan big-state tradition in American has useful answers to offer, but it also means that Americans inspired by this tradition will continue to add to the discussion over our future.
And far from being dead and buried, the Puritan political tradition in America is best represented by our current president; intellectually and morally, President Obama is a distinguished representative of Boston at its best.
Fascinating. And it rings true to me. Read the whole thing for yourself and see what you think. It was a particular comment, however, that especially sparked my curiousity. Specifically this assertion:
Much emphasis is given to the way in which the Constitution compromised in dealing with the incompatibility between the Founding principles of liberty and equality, and Southern states insistence on maintaining slavery, perhaps more attention needs to be paid to the way in which the Constitution also compromised its principles of liberty and equality in permitting individual states to establish religion and enforce moral laws perhaps as odious to those who disagreed with them as slavery was to those who favored abolition.
Hmmmmm. That is truly interesting stuff to me, especially the context vis à vis "other" compromises made in order to get the American constitution adopted. Individual states establishing religion when the nation was first created definitely gets glossed over these days. Had that also been a unique component of the Southern situation, we'd never hear the end of it these days. But it's New England, and that changes everything.