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More False Religion and Ideas

Arrives in America


MANIFEST DESTINY

ANOTHER FALSE RELIGION ENTERS AMERICA

From the bokk "What Is America?" by Ronald Wright


The people of this country ... covet and are ready to grasp at
all that lies upon their borders, and are ambitious of extending
their empire from sea to sea.
-William Sturgis,1845

The relation now existing in the slave-holding States ... is
instead of an evil, a good - a positive good.
-Senator John C. Calhoun, 18472

Man is a money-making animal, which propensity too often
interferes with his benevolence.
-Herman Melville, 18513


ONCE THE INDIANS WERE GONE, the land between the Appalachians and
the Mississippi became an empty mansion with squatters camping in
its silent rooms. Chicago, one traveller wrote, was "a dull
uninteresting place.... in 1832 there were only two houses."
Tocqueville called Detroit an "American village," beyond which
"the road goes into the forest and never comes out of it." St.
Louis was dwarfed by the great earthen ruin of Cahokia, a pyramid
covering sixteen acres and rearing ten storeys high on the
opposite bank of the Mississippi. In the 1830s, the big river was
about as far as the white empire had advanced.
Tocqueville remarked that America had yet to produce any
outstanding writers - a fair comment when he made it - and he was
right about the reason: "The majority lives in the perpetual
practice of self-applause, and there are certain truths which the
Americans can only learn from strangers or from experience....
there can be no literary genius without freedom of opinion, and
freedom of opinion does not exist."

America could not bear to take a hard look at itself, especially
the inconvenient truths of slavery, dispossession and genocide.
Religion and profit, "jumping together," had little time for
introspection. The slaveholder, the frontiersman and the
fundamentalist all hated the historian - and anti-intellectualism
has been a strong force ever since! Yet in the generation between
the Indian Removal and the Civil War, the intelligentsia tore off
the blinkers of the chapel and the counting-house and looked at
their surroundings as if for the first time, seeing not some
hand-me-down Holy Land shipped across the Atlantic but a
mysterious hemisphere with its own life, demanding their
engagement. Americans began to think more deeply about their
relationship to the peoples who had gone before them, leaving
ancient ruins from Ohio to Peru.

The 1840s and 1850s became a golden age in literature and
scholarship - in fiction, poetry, history, travel and
anthropology - as white America explored its world. The young
archaeologist Ephraim Squier made the first scientific studies of
pre-Columbian monuments in the United States, deducing that
American Indians, not some "unknown race," had built them. John
Stephens, a New Jersey antiquarian, travel writer and
businessman, went on a long muleback journey through Central
America, looking for lost cities "said to exist in the dense
forests of those tropical regions." The results were spectacular;
on the first trek alone, he found eight major Maya ruins. The
mysterious buildings aroused a nascent pan-American pride - and
Stephens's commercial instincts. The richly inscribed monoliths
of Quirigua, he mused, "might be transported bodily and set up in
New York."

THE VISITORS FROM THE EAST

Stephens had already visited Egypt, Greece and the Holy Land, so
he was not misled by popular theories claiming that the New
World's ancient wonders were the work of Egyptians or other
overseas visitors. In the ornate stonework and hieroglyphic
writing of the Maya he knew he was seeing a civilization
previously unknown to science: "A people skilled in architecture,
sculpture ... having a distinct, separate, independent existence;
like the plants and fruits of the soil, indigenous."
While Stephens was chopping his way through Guatemalan jungles,
his friend the historian William Prescott was unearthing
America's past from forgotten books and archives. Prescott had
been studying for the law until he was halfblinded by a crust
thrown in a Harvard bunfight - a mishap that steered him into the
calmer life of scholarship. His History of the Conquest of Mexico
and Conquest of Peru were sensations when they appeared in the
1840s and are still the classics in their field. Unable to see
for himself the land where the great conflicts had taken place,
Prescott urged both Stephens and Squier to do the travelling for
him, to find what remained of the old American empires overthrown
by Spain.
Stephens died before he could go on to South America, his health
shattered by the tropics, but Squier did get there in the 1860s,
writing his lively Peru: Incidents of Travel and Exploration
in the Land of the Incas. He found the Andes tough going, with
transport, food and lodging hard to come by - while all around
him Inca roads, granaries and post-houses lay in ruins. "The
influence of Spain in Peru," Squier wrote testily, "has been in
every way deleterious: the civilization of the country was far
higher before the Conquest than now."
 
MORE CRAZY JACKSON MOVES

Shortly before President Andrew Jackson left office in 1837, he
had abolished the Bank of the United States and handed the funds
to private banks that became known as his "pets." As with Ronald
Reagan's Savings and Loan scandal of the 1980s, the result was
fraud, speculation and collapse, followed by a slump that lasted
nearly a decade. Among those ruined was Herman Melville's family:
without Jackson's looting of the national treasury, Moby Dick
might never have been written. A younger son of old money and
Revolutionary fame - one grandfather had been at the Boston Tea
Party and the other at Fort Stanwix-Melville found himself unable
to earn a living or even finish his studies. In 1840, at the age
of twenty-one, he shipped aboard a "world-wandering whale ship"
named the Acushnet. "If, at my death," he wrote, "my executors,
or more properly my creditors, find any precious MSS in my desk,
then here I prospectively prescribe all the honor and the glory
to whaling; for a whale-ship was my Yale College and my Harvard."
Melville was one of those unlucky authors who lose readers with
each title. During his lifetime, his first book, Typee: A Peep at
Polynesian Life, based on his desertion from the Acushnet in the
Marquesas, outsold everything else he wrote. The young writer
became famous as "the man who lived among cannibals." Typee and
its sequels turned out to be merely the gateway to Moby-Dick, or
The Whale, but few readers followed Melville there. He had sailed
too far beyond the shallows of Romanticism, where Washington
Irving and James Fenimore Cooper splashed about in the wake of
Sir Walter Scott. Not until the twentieth century, when James
Joyce and other modernists rediscovered the waters charted by
Melville, would many agree with D.H. Lawrence that Moby Dick is
"one of the strangest and most wonderful books in the world." If
there has to be one Great American Novel, The Whale is it.

THE WHALE SHIP INDUSTRY

Melville meant what he said about a whaleship being his
education. Owned by New Englanders and manned by men of all
races, whalers went everywhere and stayed at sea for years.
In its origins, whaling was American as maize: "Where else but
from Nantucket," asks Ishmael, "did those aboriginal whalemen,
the Red-Men, first sally out in canoes to give chase to the
Leviathan?" By the time of the American Revolution, whaleships
were sailing from Sag Harbor to Brazil, their crews "in large
part Indians, who are the most capable harpoonists and are
generally named boat officers." By the 1840s, whaling had become
the first worldwide industry dominated by Americans, the
forerunner of Big Oil.

Like petroleum in our day, the oil of the sea was soon drained by
reckless exploitation. "The moot point," Ishmael asks himself,
"is whether Leviathan ... must not at last be exterminated [like]
the humped herds of buffalo, which, not forty years ago,
overspread by tens of thousands the prairies of Illinois and
Missouri ... where now the polite broker sells you land at a
dollar an inch."
Each age gets the Moby Dick it deserves. One can dig forever into
the book's rich lodes of allegory. Melville knew the real
history of America and trembled for his country's future. By
naming the ship after the Pequots exterminated by the early
colonists at Mystic, he struck a blow in what Milan Kundera has
called the fight of memory against forgetting. The Pequod becomes
a microcosm of the United States, tricked out with the "chased
bones of her enemies," recalling those who thought that Indian
bones should sweeten the land for the white man's plough. Captain
Ahab is the wrathful Puritan - "a crucifixion in his face" -
unhinged by hatred for the sea monster that took his leg, walking
"on life and death" with one limb of flesh and the other of whale
ivory. Ahab is also the modern American, his faith archaic, yet
his means those of the machine: "The path to my fixed purpose is
laid with iron rails.... Over unsounded gorges, through the
rifled hearts of mountains, under torrents' beds, unerringly I
rush! Naught's an obstacle, naught's an angle to the iron way! "

Some critics have seen the white whale as the symbol of an evil
or hostile Nature, but I disagree. Moby Dick is Nature, neither
good nor bad but simply itself, abused by human beings at their
peril. Ahab-America is doomed by hubris. The great whale rams the
ship and swims away, horribly wounded, garrotting Ahab with a
harpoon line. The Pequod's mastheads sink into the deep "together
with long streaming yards of the flag." It is an end of history -
Moby Dick marked the maturing of an authentic American
sensibility: original, bold, self-aware and hence self-critical.
The same was true of Melville's later Confidence Man. This
satirical work has its doldrums and is best known today for the
chapter on Indian hating. But anyone who reads it can't fail to
be struck by the oddness and freshness of the opening sentence:
"At sunrise on a first of April, there appeared, suddenly as
Manco Capac at the lake of Titicaca, a man in cream-colors, at
the water-side in the city of St. Louis."

At that time, literary allusions were expected to be classical or
biblical. Only those who had read Prescott were likely to know
that Manco Capac was a legendary Inca king - an American Christ
and Caesar sent down to Earth by his father, the Sun, to rule and
civilize mankind. By likening one of his riverboat swindlers to
this Peruvian hero, Melville insists on a New World frame of
reference. He also draws an ironic contrast between the ancient
utopia evoked so powerfully by Prescott and the new American
empire of Indian haters, hucksters, preachers and confidence men
embarking that April First on a ship of fools.

MORE FALSE RELIGION

While American high culture was starting to digest the historical
realities of its presence in the New World, those who set faith
above fact had been brewing up spiritual moonshine. In the summer
of 1801, a crowd of twenty-five thousand had gathered near
Bourbon, Kentucky, in a kind of Pentecostal Woodstock, "jerking,
rolling, running, dancing and barking." With such events began
the religious wildfires of the Second Great Awakening (the First
being the spread of Presbyterianism, Baptism and Methodism in the
colonies before the Revolution).
Some sects, notably the Unitarians and Shakers (an offshoot of
the Quakers), believed in peace, tolerance and the right to seek
God in one's own way without denying that right to others.
Unitarianism "took a great weight from the soul of New England"
and led to the movement known as Transcendentalism. At its best -
in the hands of such thinkers and writers as Ralph Waldo Emerson
and Henry David Thoreau. Transcendentalism was morally
courageous, respectful of Nature and skeptical of worldly
progress; at its worst it became windy and self-centred, a
forerunner of the Me Generation.

The better of these radical movements were sympathetic to the
plight of Indians, blacks, women and the poor. Some embraced
forms of communitarianism, supporting themselves by cottage
industries - Shaker furniture and Oneida silverware. The Oneida
Community's free love and the Shakers' no love both caused
trouble. The celibate Shakers died out, leaving behind only the
vigorous simplicity of their style. The Oneidas went the other
way, forsaking social engineering for main-stream manufacturing.
The seeds of these sects had been carried westward by the Puritan
diaspora. Far from the deep waters of their own civilization, and
able to absorb only superficial elements of the native
civilization they displaced, the frontier folk became cultural
castaways. Religion decayed into superstition, liberty into
anarchy, education (when there was any) into Bible study and
little else. "Complex society," Frederick Jackson Turner wrote in
1893, shrinks "into a kind of primitive organization based on the
family. The tendency is anti-social. It produces antipathy to
control." This culture, in a perpetual state of insecurity and
adolescence, exerted a "founder effect" on those who settled in
its wake, especially after crossing the Appalachians - a
psychological as well as a physical separation from the seaboard.
To modern America the frontier bequeathed positive attributes of
boldness, equality and self-reliance; and negative ones of
self-absorption, xenophobia, extremism and intolerance. As the
historian Bil Gilbert puts it, the legacy of the frontier wars is
the delusion "that only a feral man can be genuinely free." Such
men bedevil the United States today in the shape of gun-crazy
survivalists, Dominionists, and vigilantes patrolling the
southern border against a feared "invasion" from Mexico.
   
CONTINUING OF FALSE RELIGION

By 1830, upstate New York - the former Longhouse of the
Iroquois - had become so notorious for the frequency and heat
of its religious fires that it was called the Burned-Over
District, smoking with delusion and quackery. There was a sect of
feral men who neither washed nor shaved, and dressed only in
bearskins. There were diviners, dowsers and necromancers. There
were assorted millennialists, daily expecting the return of Jesus
Christ - a strain of Christian belief that has survived two
thousand years of disappointment.

One of the Burned-Over District's strangest fires--and ultimately
the most successful - was the Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-Day Saints, better known as the Mormons. The sect
was founded near Rochester in 1830 by a farm boy named Joseph
Smith, a tall, handsome youth with shining blue eyes shaded by
unusually long lashes, giving him an otherworldly gaze that
enhanced the magnetism of his personality. His creed absorbed
almost every element of frontier metaphysics, along with social
and sexual unorthodoxy.
The cultural critic Harold Bloom argues that Mormonism and other
"post-Christian" sects amount to a form of Gnosticism, an
idiosyncratic approach to faith that has become the American
religion - pervading all denominations, even Catholic and
Episcopalian. Certainly, the American way of belief emphasizes a
personal relationship with God transcending history and society:
a lifelong conversation like that of the lonely child with an
imaginary friend. Although radical in their beginnings - posing a
moral, political and military threat most Latter-Day Saints have
since become conservative, drawing closer to other Christian
fundamentalisms. Americans were not much alarmed when a Mormon,
Mitt Romney, ran (briefly) for the U.S. presidency in 2008; it
was a different matter when Joseph Smith himself did so in 1844.
Even as they tried to escape the American empire, the Mormons
became an important force in its westward march, and their early
history opens a revealing window on the frontier soul. Like the
Puritans (the original "latter-day Saints"), Smith intended
nothing less than to build the City of God on Earth. But he trod
where Puritans had feared to go. His peculiar genius was to
Americanize Holy Writ by adding the "Bible of the Western
Continent," or Book of Mormon, claiming to unveil the New World's
ancient history. While men such as Stephens and Prescott were
making this inquiry through scholarship, Smith (who was at best
half-literate) did so by divine revelation. America's two
cultures - high and low - were responding to the same need in
their distinctive ways.

JOSEPH SMITH

Since childhood, Joseph Smith had been having visions, possibly
linked to seizures. Inspired by his father's looting of ancient
mounds, which sometimes held silver and copper artifacts for
which collectors would pay well, he became curious about the
remote past. At that time the Egyptians and the Lost Tribes of
Israel were high on the list of Old World peoples thought to have
built the New World's monuments. A fascination with Egypt had
been filtering into Euro-American culture since the previous
century, not least via Masonic lodges. Early in the 1820s,
Jean-Francois Champollion had made his great breakthrough in
deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphics by means of the Rosetta Stone
- an achievement widely covered in American newspapers. So Joseph
Smith's claim that he had unearthed an ancient book of gold
sheets covered with "reformed Egyptian" writing from a New York
hill would not have seemed as unlikely as it does today. Even so,
his tale of being guided to the find by an angel named Moroni was
widely mocked, especially as only a few witnesses were willing to
swear they had seen the golden book before the angel came back
and collected it.
By then, with the help of magical eyeglasses - also supplied and
retrieved by Moroni - Joseph had deciphered the writing and
dictated his translation from behind a bedsheet. The resulting
Book of Mormon makes up for the Bible's awkward silence on the
Western Hemisphere. It turns out that a tribe of Israelites had
sailed to America in 590 B.C. Before long they split into two
clans, the Nephites and the Lamanites, the first righteous by
inclination, the other "an idle people, full of mischief [who]
seek in the wilderness for beasts of prey." 
Originally they had all been European in appearance, but God
cursed the Lamanites by darkening their skins. Nevertheless,
these two scions of Israel were persuaded to reconcile when Jesus
Christ himself visited America soon after the Resurrection. Both
clans then became Christian. All went well until the Lamanites
slid back into wickedness and unbelief. Things came to a head at
a great battle in 384, when the evildoers slew their righteous
brethren on the very hill in upstate New York where Joseph Smith
would later unearth the golden book.

Only a handful of Nephites escaped the killing, among them their
patriarch Mormon and his son Moroni. Soon Moroni was the only
Nephite left alive, a paleface Last of the Mohicans. Before
leaving Earth for his future as an angel, Moroni buried the sad
story of his people's extermination. From that day until 1492,
the New World lay in the bloody hands of the "red sons of Israel"
- the American Indians.
This saga has not, I need hardly say, been borne out by
scientific research. (Besides all the archaeological problems,
American Indians and Semites have no genetic link except as
fellow members of the human race.) There are also blunders in
Joseph Smith's text that were known anachronisms in his day:
pre-Columbian horses, Israelite ships with compasses, and more.
Mormons are understandably touchy about factual challenges to
their beliefs. Yet, as Jon Krakauer points out in his recent book
"Under the Banner of Heaven," their mythology is hardly less
credible than that of most other religions, Christianity
included. It was Mormonism's bad luck to arise in the glare of
newspapers and scholarship instead of the forgiving mists of
time.

JACKSON AND THE BOOK OF MORMON

There is a startling resemblance in thrust (though not style)
between the Book of Mormon and President Jackson's State of the
Union address on the Indian Removal, quoted in the previous
chapter. Both Mormon and Jackson appeared in 1830; both claimed
that America once belonged to a civilized race wiped out by the
existing "savage tribes"; both imply that the extermination of
Indians is therefore historically and morally justified.
Of course, I am not suggesting that Jackson perused a copy of
Mormon before drafting his speech; rather, that both documents
reveal the Zeitgeist. It isn't hard to see the appeal of Smith's
creed on the frontier. His race of fair-skinned Christian Jews
become spiritual ancestors for the white invaders, while the real
victims of genocide - the Indians - are made the perpetrators of
it. And the redskins' evil triumph happens right inside the
Iroquois Longhouse, which had been taken over by incomers like
the Smiths only a generation before Joseph began talking to
Moroni.

MORE OF SMITH'S MADNESS AND DELUSIONS

Nor was this all. In 1831 Smith revealed that the Garden of Eden
hadn't been in the Holy Land but in Missouri, thus making the
frontier the centre, not the periphery, of sacred space. He also
restored the age of miracles to the here and now, bringing back
the days when the Lord spoke out of the whirlwind to prophets and
patriarchs. Smith is named Prophet in the Book of Mormon, and the
head of the church has held that title to this day. Mormons
believe their Prophet is in regular touch with the Almighty,
receiving orders on policy matters, great and small. New
"revelations" often contradict earlier ones. But that doesn't
matter, because history doesn't matter: as in all fundament-
alisms, faith trumps fact and reason.

The most notorious of Joseph Smith's instructions from God nearly
destroyed his sect in the 1840s and has been a thorn in its side
ever since. The Prophet told trusted friends that the Lord had
given the nod to bringing back the ancient practice of polygamy,
or "plural marriage," even though the Book of Mormon in-
conveniently (and ungrammatically) states that a man may have
only "one wife ... for I the Lord God delighteth in the chastity
of women." The Lord's change of mind was not made public until
some years after Smith's death in 1844, but shocking tales had
leaked out long before that. Like many a cult leader, Smith was a
ladies' man. "Whenever I see a pretty woman," he admitted, "I
have to pray for grace." It seems that grace had not been enough
to stop Joseph already married to Emma - from bedding a
fifteen-year-old while the Smiths were lodging with the girl's
family in 1832.

SMITH NOW TEACHES THE SWORD AND THE WORD

For this the Prophet was nearly castrated by a mob. Had his
assailants carried out their surgical vengeance, the history of
Mormonism might have been quite different. In all, Joseph is
thought to have "married" more than forty women, several in their
early teens. To a man who had already rewritten the Bible,
revising the sexual code of Christendom was no big thing: Smith
the Puritan accommodated Smith the seducer by redefining sin.
Their leader's libido, the audacity of their beliefs and the
financial clout of their cooperative endeavours did not endear
the Mormons to their neighbours. The sect kept wearing out its
welcome with local "Gentiles" (non-Mormons), who came to regard
Smith as a whoremonger and heretic. Before the golden book had
been in print one year, Smith led his flock from New York to
Ohio. Less than a year later, they moved on to Missouri, intent
on buying up Eden.
But the serpent of slavery had reached the garden first, and the
abolitionist sympathies of some Mormons were unwelcome. Local
mobs and state militia were soon giving the Saints the kind of
treatment the Cherokees were getting from Georgia at the same
time. In October 1838 Joseph Smith made a fiery speech, reminding
his followers - who then numbered about ten thousand - how they
had been driven from one place to another by "unscrupulous mobs
eager to seize the land we have cleared and improved." He then
veered into megalomania, invoking not Christianity but the
founding conquests of Islam: "If they come on to molest us, we
will establish our religion by the sword. We will trample down
our enemies and make it one gore of blood from the Rocky
Mountains to the Atlantic Ocean. I will be to this generation a
second Mohammed.... Joseph Smith or the Sword!" 

In this spirit of jihad, the Mormons attacked their Gentile
neighbours, burning down fifty houses. The governor of Missouri
responded by ordering his militia to treat the white tribe as
enemies and either "exterminate" them or drive them from the
state. Thus began the first, and worst, of the three Mormon Wars
(of 1838, 1845 and 1857). At Hawn's Mill, eighteen Saints were
gunned down inside a log building, including a ten-year-old boy
shot in cold blood on the excuse that "nits will make lice." 
The Mormons trekked 150 miles east to the Mississippi and crossed
into Illinois, where news of their harsh treatment had aroused
some pity. The sudden arrival of so many new voters gave them
influence in what was then a thinly peopled state, recently
emptied of Indians by the "Black Hawk War." With energy and
speed, the Mormons settled on good land not far from where Black
Hawk himself had farmed eight hundred acres and began building a
town called Nauvoo (a Hebrew word for beautiful). The Illinois
legislature granted Smith a charter with enough powers for him to
forge a semi-autonomous citystate. Before long, he was styling
himself "King, Priest, and Ruler over Israel on Earth." He was
also the commander-inchief of the Nauvoo Legion - well armed and
five thousand strong. Finally, in the electoral campaign of 1844,
Smith ran for the presidency of the United States. 

SMITH IS KILLED

Once again the Saints had made too many enemies, and the open
secret of polygyny had caused a serious rift within the sect.
Smith's heavy crackdown on dissidents fed Gentile fears of
theocratic tyranny - fears already aroused by the Prophet's bid
for the White House. That summer, militia and vigilante groups
gathered for an attack, and Smith was arrested by Illinois on a
charge of treason. In June a mob rushed the jail and murdered
him. The Mormon faith was barely fourteen years old, and its
Prophet dead at thirty-eight.

BRIGHAM YOUNG TAKES CONTROL

After a power struggle between monogamists and polygynists, the
leadership went to Brigham Young, a short, stout, unprepossessing
but gifted man with several wives. No seer or dreamer, Young knew
how to get things done. His first accomplishment was to reach
terms for ending the Second Mormon War. If the Gentiles would
leave them alone for the winter, the Saints would pack up in the
spring of 1846 and leave the United States forever. The Mormons
prepared to trek west into the Great American Desert, to
unconquered Indian territory which, on paper, belonged to Mexico.
And so, only a decade after the Indian removals, a strange white
tribe was also driven beyond the writ of the American empire. The
Saints were alien enough to be treated like Indians by the
settler society from which they sprang - even to the point of
expulsion, murder and threats of extermination - an ironic fate
for a sect whose beliefs de-nativized the real Indians. In short,
the Mormons were both products of the frontier culture and
victims of its intolerance. As in conservative America today,
talking about freedom was one thing, doing it quite another.

MORMONS HEAD WEST

The Mormon wagons rolled west for thirteen hundred miles beyond
the Mississippi, wintering on the way. The hardships of the trek
cemented the Saints' neo-biblical identity: now they had their
Exodus, their Moses and at last their Promised Land. In July 1847
they crested the Wasatch Mountains and looked down on the Great
Salt Lake of Utah. The Prophet arose from his sickbed and
pronounced, "This is the Place!"

HOW THE WEAT LOOKED

The western edge of the American empire was still a fretwork of
free and semi-independent states, some white, some native and
some belongingto Mexico. With its independence in 1821, Mexico
had inherited Spanish claims to all territory west of the
Louisiana Purchase and south of British America. Some parts, such
as Texas, California and New Mexico, had a thin scattering of
missions, ranches and outposts. Before the 1849 goldrush,
California had only twelve thousand non-Indian residents, of whom
perhaps one thousand were Americans involved in whaling,
sea-otter peltry and the cowhide trade. In the rest of the
territory, indigenous peoples were still free. The ancient
Pueblos of Arizona and New Mexico - whose cliff-top towns of
stone and adobe may be the oldest continuously occupied buildings
in the Americas - had driven out the Spaniards in 1680 and,
despite reprisals, had managed to keep a high degree of autonomy
ever since.

MEXICO AND THE WEST

Texas had so few non-Indian residents (only four thousand
Mexicans in 1821) that Mexico had invited Americans to settle
there, hoping they would adopt the Catholic faith, become Mexican
citizens and form a buffer against the rising Anglo-Saxon empire.
The invitation was taken up mainly by slave-owning cotton
growers, and Mexico soon saw it had made a big mistake. By 1830
there were three white Americans for every Mexican in Texas. At
first these Anglo-Texans tried to work out a modus vivendi, but
those hopes were quashed by the vainglorious Mexican dictator
General Santa Anna, who massacred American settlers at the Alamo
and Goliad in 1836, and was then beaten (but spared) by Sam
Houston at San Jacinto.

AMERICA AND MEXICO AND DECEPTION

For nearly ten years, the Lone Star became an independent white
republic with its own dreams of expanding to the Pacific. Texan
desires to join the United States were blocked by Eastern
abolitionists fearful of adding another slave state to the Union.
Westerners and Southerners took the opposite view; some even
toyed with the idea of leaving the Union and joining with Texas
to form an empire of their own. In a cynical phrase with recent
echoes, ex-president Andrew Jackson argued that the admission of
slave-holding Texas to the United States would be "extending the
area of freedom." This view eventually prevailed. When the
annexation went through in 1845, the London Times commented that
the Americans had won their new province "as the cuckoo steals a
nest."
The subsequent provocation and conquest of Mexico was America's
first great foreign adventure and one of its least justifiable.
President James Polk (a Jackson protege) started the war by
sending a small force into disputed territory; when this was
repelled, as he hoped it would be, he told Congress that Mexico
had shed American blood on American soil - a statement Abraham
Lincoln later called "the sheerest deception." 
The eighty-year-old statesman John Quincy Adams charged Polk with
"unscrupulous suppression" of facts and said that Congress's
control of the right to declare war was "utterly insufficient ...
as a check upon the will of the President." Adams would be proven
right: Congress's last declaration of war was immediately after
Pearl Harbor; all America's wars since 1945 have been fought
without one.

Henry David Thoreau, then dwelling on Walden Pond, denounced the
Mexican war, withheld his taxes and spent a night in jail. (The
story goes that when Emerson came in the morning to get him out,
saying, "Henry, why are you in here?" Thoreau answered, "Waldo,
why are you not in here?" The incident sparked Thoreau's famous
essay "Civil Disobedience," which would inspire opposition to
other wars, above all Vietnam. But not all the intelligentsia
could resist the drumbeat. The young poet Walt Whitman, drunk
with patriotism, cheered Polk on: "Yes, Mexico must be thoroughly
chastized... Let our arms now be carried with a spirit which
shall teach the world that ... America knows how to crush, as
well as how to expand!" And then there were those - as there
always are - who found a way to dress greed as altruism: "The
universal Yankee nation," cried the New York Herald in 1847, "can
regenerate and disenthrall the people of Mexico in a few years;
and we believe it is a part of our destiny to civilize that
beautiful country."


Besides locking its hold on Texas, the United States wanted
California and the great natural harbour of San Francisco. Of
course, everything in between would have to come too. Instead of
simply occupying the desired territory, the Americans struck at
the Mexican heartland. After bombarding Veracruz, where Cortes
had landed in 1519, they marched through the mountains to the
high Valley of Mexico, where the ancient capital of the Aztecs
lay within its ring of smouldering volcanoes.
In September 1847 the Americans took the castle of Chapultepec
outside Mexico City and at last reached the National Palace - the
"Halls of Montezuma." Peace was signed in 1848. Some of Polk's
backers wanted to annex all of Mexico, but that had never been
his objective - a nation of 7 million was too much for white
America to swallow. Polk's strategy was to conquer the whole but
keep only the northern half. The rest could be left independent,
sovereign in name yet subservient to American interests and
investment: the same kind of relationship the Aztecs had once
forced on their unhappy neighbours. Mexico became the first
client-state under American hegemony.

THE VAIN MIND-SET OF SOME FOR A WORLD AMERICA

The mood of the day - after this victory and just before
Commodore Matthew Perry's "opening" of Japan - was well expressed
in a colourful outburst by the Southern journalist and cotton
trader James De Bow.

     We have a destiny to perform, a "manifest destiny" over all
     Mexico, over South America, over the West Indies and
     Canada.... The gates of the Chinese empire must be thrown
     down by the men from the Sacramento and the Oregon, and the
     haughty Japanese tramplers upon the cross be enlightened in
     the doctrines of republicanism and the ballot box. The eagle
     of the republic shall poise itself over the field of
     Waterloo, after tracing its flight among the gorges of the
     Himalaya or the Ural mountains, and a successor of
     Washington ascend the chair of universal empire.

Not even Joseph Smith at his most Mohammedan had soared quite so
high on his own updraught. "Manifest destiny" was on every
patriotic tongue - a reissue, in broader currency, of the old
Puritan (and new Mormon) belief in Americans as the Chosen
People. Like other self-serving notions of what Providence had in
mind, the phrase shone a beam of divine approval on anything
America might seize or do in the Aladdin's cave of the New World.

In his 1935 book "Manifest Destiny," the distinguished historian
Albert Weinberg called it a monstrous alchemy turning "democratic
nationalism into a doctrine of imperialism."
..........

AND SO IS MORE OF THE TRUE HISTORY OF AMERICA. FALSE RELIGION,
VAIN SELF-EGO MIND-SET, THE GREED OF THE HUMAN HEART, THE CRAZY
INDEAS AND LAWS OF RUTHLESS PRESIDENTS AND OTHER OF THEIR CLONES,
WHO ENVISIONED EVEN A WORLDWIDE AMERICA CONQUERING THE WORLD.

SUCH MEN AND THEIR THOUGHTS WERE NOT THE THOUGHTS AND PLANS OF
THE ALMIGHTY GOD IN HEAVEN. JOSEPH MANASSAH WOULD BE THE MIGHTY
SINGLE NATION OF THE END TIME, AS PROMISED LONG AGO TO ABRAHAM,
ISAAC, JACOB, AND JOSEPH. BUT IT COULD HAVE BECOME SO IN A MUCH
DIFFERENT WAY - A RIGHTEOUS LOVING, GIVING, SERVING WAY, BUT IT
CHOSE THE VIOLET, DECEITFUL, WARING AND SMASHING DOWN THE
RELATIVELY PEACEFUL FIRST INHABITORS - THE INDIANS. EVEN ITS SO-
CALLED "CHRISTIAN RELIGION," IN ITS DECEPTION, TOOK UP ARMS AND
KILLED.

AMERICA WAS FOUNDED UPON VIOLENCE AND DECEPTION AND SIN. SO IT
SHALL COME TO PASS THAT VIOLENCE AND DEATH WILL BE THE PUNISHMENT
GOD WILL GIVE TO ISRAEL FOR ALL ITS SINS, WHICH MULTIPLY DAILY.

GOD IS NO RESPECTOR OF PERSONS, AND WHAT A NATION SOWS THAT SHALL
IT REAP. THE TIME IS COMING WHEN THE PATIENCE OF THE LORD WILL
COME TO AN END, AND THEN THE LAST 42 MONTHS OF THIS AGE, AND ALL
THAT BIBLE PROPHECY PROCLAIMS, WILL COME TO PASS, AND AMERICA
WILL FACE HER GOD. THAT WILL BE NO PLEASANT DAY, BUT OUT OF IT
ALL WILL COME A PEOPLE WHO FOR THE FIRST TIME, WILL TRULY REPENT
OF SIN AND SERVE THE TRUE GOD IN SPIRIT AND IN TRUTH.

HE THAT HAS AN EAR TO HEAR WITH, SHOULD HEAR!!!

Keith Hunt


 
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Other Articles of Interest:
  Migration of the Nations #1 Early Britain #1 Daniel's 2300 days #1

 
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