(Originally a post on July 31, 2006)
School starts soon. History classes will study the founding of the United States. And especially under the topical restrictions imposed by standardized testing, many kids will get a short-form version of history that leaves out some of the most interesting stuff.
James Madison gets short shrift in the current canon, in my opinion. Madison was the fourth president, sure, and many textbooks note his role in the convention at Philadelphia that wrote the Constitution in 1787. But I think Madison’s larger career, especially his advocacy for freedom from 1776 to his death, is overlooked.
Madison was the “essential man” in the founding of the nation, in many ways. He was able to collaborate with people as few others could, in order to get things done, including his work with George Mason on the Virginia Bill of Rights, with George Washington on the Constitution and national government structure, Thomas Jefferson on the structure and preservation of freedom, Alexander Hamilton on the Constitution and national bank, and James Monroe on continuing the American Revolution.
We need to look harder at the methods and philosophy, and life, of James Madison. This is an opinion I’ve held for a long time. Below the fold I reproduce a “sermon” I delivered to the North Texas Church of Freethought in November 2001.
I have left this exactly as it was delivered, though I would change a few things today, especially emphasizing more the key role George Washington played in pushing Madison to get the Constitution — a view I came to courtesy of the Bill of Rights Insitute and their outstanding, week-long seminar, Shaping the Constitution: A View from Mount Vernon 1783-1789. The Bill of Rights Institute provides outstanding training for teachers, and this particular session, at Washington’s home at Mount Vernon, Virginia, is well worth the time (check with the Institute to see whether it will be offered next year — and apply!). I am especially grateful to have had the opportunity to discuss these times and issues with outstanding scholars like Dr. Gordon Lloyd of Pepperdine University, Dr. Adam Tate of Morrow College, and Dr. Stuart Leibiger of LaSalle University, during my stay at Mount Vernon.
My presentation to the skeptics of North Texas centered around the theme of what a skeptic might give thanks for at Thanksgiving. (It is available on the web — a misspelling of my name in the program carried over to the web, which has provided me a source of amusement for several years.)
Here is the presentation:
Being Thankful For Religious Liberty
As Presented at the November, 2001 Sunday Service of The North Texas Church of Freethought
Historians rethink the past at least every generation, mining history for new insights or, at least, a new book. About the founders of this nation there has been a good deal of rethinking lately. David McCullough reminds us that John Adams really was a good guy, and that we shouldn’t think of him simply as the Federalist foil to Thomas Jefferson’s more democratic view of the world. Jefferson himself is greatly scrutinized, and perhaps out of favor — “American Sphinx,” Joseph Ellis calls him. The science of DNA testing shows that perhaps Jefferson had more to be quiet about than even he confessed in his journals. While Jefferson himself questioned his own weakness in his not freeing his slaves in his lifetime, historians and fans of Jefferson’s great writings wrestle with the likelihood of his relationship with one of his own slaves (the old Sally Hemings stories came back, and DNA indicates her children were fathered by a member of the Jefferson clan; some critics argue that Jefferson was a hypocrite, but that was Jefferson’s own criticism of himself; defenders point out that the affair most likely was consensual, but could not be openly acknowledged in Virginia at that time). Hamilton’s gift to America was a financial system capable of carrying a noble nation to great achievement, we are told – don’t think of him simply as the fellow Aaron Burr killed in a duel. Washington is recast as one of the earliest guerrilla fighters, and in one book as a typical gentleman who couldn’t control his expenses. Franklin becomes in recent books the “First American,” the model after which we are all made, somehow.
Of the major figures of these founding eras, James Madison is left out of the rethinking, at least for now. There has been no major biography of Madison for a decade or more, not since Ralph Ketcham’s book for the University of Virginia press. Madison has a role in Joseph Ellis’s Founding Brothers, but he shares his spotlight with Hamilton and Jefferson. I think this is an oversight. As we enter into the first Thanksgiving season of the 21st century, we would do well to take a look back at Madison’s life. Madison gives us a model of reason, and more important, a model of action coupled to reason. America’s founding is often depicted as a time of great thunder — if not the thunder of the lightning Ben Franklin experimented with, an experiment he parlayed into worldwide respect for Americans, it is the thunder of the pronouncements of Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence, or of George Washington, just generally thundering through history.
The use of a bolt of lightning as a symbol for this group is inspired, I think. I’m a great fan of Mark Twain, and when I see that bolt of electricity depicted I think of Twain’s observation:
“Thunder is good; thunder is impressive. But it is lightning that does the work.”
Thunder at the founding is impressive; where was the lightning?
I’d like to point out two themes that run through Madison’s life, or rather, two activities that we find him in time and again. Madison’s life was marked by periods of reflection, followed by action as a result of that reflection.
We don’t know a lot about Madison’s youth. He was the oldest son of a wealthy Virginia planter, growing up in the Orange County area of Tidewater Virginia. We know he was boarded out for schooling with good teachers – usually clergymen, but occasionally to someone with expertise in a particular subject – and we know that he won admission to Princeton to study under the Rev. John Witherspoon, a recent Presbyterian transplant from across the Atlantic. Madison broke with tradition a bit in attending an American rather than an English school. And after completing his course of study he remained at Princeton for another year to study theology directly under Witherspoon, with an eye toward becoming a preacher.
Witherspoon is often held up as an example of how religion influenced the founders, but he was much more of a rationalist than some would have us believe. He persuaded the young Madison that a career in law and politics would be a great service to the people of Virginia and America, and might be a higher calling. After a year of this reflection, Madison returned to Virginia and won election to local government.
In his role as a county official Madison traveled the area. He inspected the works of government, including the jails. He was surprised to find in jail in Virginia people accused of – gasp! – practicing adult baptism. In fact Baptists and Presbyterians were jailed on occasion, because the Anglican church was the state church of Virginia, and their practicing their faith was against the common law. This troubled Madison greatly, and it directed an important part of his work for the rest of his life. In January of 1774, Madison wrote about it to another prominent Virginian, William Bradford:
“Poverty and Luxury prevail among all sorts: Pride ignorance and Knavery among the Priesthood and Vice and Wickedness among the Laity. This is bad enough. But it is not the worst I have to tell you. That diabolical Hell conceived principle of persecution rages among some and to their eternal infamy the Clergy can furnish their Quota of Imps for such business. This vexes me the most of any thing whatever. There are at this time in the adjacent County not less than 5 or 6 well meaning men in close Gaol for publishing their religious Sentiments which in the main are very orthodox. I have neither patience to hear talk or think of any thing relative to this matter, for I have squabbled and scolded abused and ridiculed so long about it, to so little purpose that I am without common patience. So I leave you to pity me and pray for Liberty of Conscience to revive among us.”
By April, Madison’s views on the matter had been boiled down to the essences, and he wrote Bradford again more bluntly:
“Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise.”
Madison must have done a fine job at his county duties, whatever they were, because in 1776 when Virginia was organizing its government to survive hostilities with England, Madison was elected to the legislative body.
Madison was 25, and still raw in Virginia politics. He was appointed to the committee headed by George Mason to review the laws and charter of the colony. Another who would serve on this committee when he was back from Philadelphia was Thomas Jefferson. George Mason was already a giant in Virginia politics, and by the time Madison got to Williamsburg, Mason had already completed much of the work on a bill of rights to undergird the new Virginia government. Madison noted that freedom of religion was not among the rights enumerated in Mason’s version – but it was too late, Mason said. The work was done.
Madison quietly went to work on Mason, in committee, over dinner, during social occasions – noting the great injustice of jailing people solely because of their beliefs, and urging to Mason that it did Virginia no good to keep these fathers from providing for their families. Mason ultimately agreed to accept the amendment.
The pattern was set.
Perhaps a better example of this reflection and action cycle occurred nearly a decade later. By 1785 the war was over, independence was won, but the business of government continued. While serving as governor of Virginia, Thomas Jefferson had drafted about 150 proposals for laws, really a blueprint for a free government. About half of these proposals had been passed into law. By 1785, Jefferson was away from Virginia, representing the Confederation of colonies in Paris. Jefferson had provided several laws to disestablish religion in Virginia, and to separate out the functions of church and state. With Jefferson gone, however, his old nemesis Patrick Henry sought to roll back some of that work. Henry proposed to bring back state support for the clergy, for the stated purpose of promoting education. (Yes, this is the same battle we fight today for church and state separation.) After Jefferson’s troubled term as governor, Virginia turned again to Henry – Henry ultimately served six terms as governor. His proposal was set for a quick approval in the Virginia assembly. It was late in the term, and everyone wanted to get home.
Henry was, of course, a thundering orator of great note. Madison was a small man with a nervous speaking style, but a man who knew the issues better than anyone else in almost any room he could be in. Madison came up with an interesting proposal. Picking the religion for the state was serious stuff, he said. A state doesn’t want to pick the wrong religion, and get stuck with the wrong god, surely – and such weighty matters deserve widespread support and discussion, Madison said. His motion to delay Henry’s bill until the next session, in order to let the public know and approve, was agreed to handily.
You probably know the rest of this story. With a year for the state to reflect on the idea, Madison wrote up a petition on the issue, which he called a “Memorial and Remonstrance.” In the petition he laid out 15 reasons why separation of church and state was a superior form of government, concluding that in the previous 1,500 years, every marriage of church and state produced a lazy and corrupt church, and despotic government. Madison’s petition circulated everywhere, and away from Patrick Henry’s thundering orations, the people of Virginia chose Madison’s cool reason.
When the legislature reconvened in 1786, it rejected Henry’s proposal. But Madison’s petition had been so persuasive, the legislature also brought up a proposal Thomas Jefferson had made six years earlier, and passed into law the Virginia Statue for Religious Freedom.
This was a great victory for Madison, and for Virginia. He celebrated by convening a convention to settle disputes between Virginia and Maryland about navigation on the Chesapeake Bay. Having reflected on the nature of this issue – a dispute between colonies – Madison had sought advice from others having the same problems, such as New York and New Jersey. In that effort he got the support of a New Yorker working on the same problems, Alexander Hamilton. In the course of these discussions Madison thought it clear that the difficulty lay with the form of government that bound the colonies together under the Articles of Confederation. Hamilton agreed, and they got their respective states and conferences to agree to meet in Philadelphia in 1787 to try to fix those problems.
Amending the Articles of Confederation was a doomed effort, many thought. The colonies would go their separate ways, no longer bound by the need to hang together against the Parliament of England. Perhaps George Washington could have got a council together to propose a new system, but Washington had stayed out of these debates. Washington’s model for action was the Roman general Cincinnatus, who went from his plow to lead the Romans to victory, then returned to his farm, and finding his plow where he had left it, took it up again.
Madison invited Washington, and persuaded Washington to attend. Washington was elected president of the convention, and in retrospect that election guaranteed that whatever the convention produced, the colonies would pay attention to it.
You know that history, too. The convention quickly decided the Articles of Confederation were beyond repair. Instead, they wrote a new charter for a new form of government. The charter was based in part on Jefferson’s Virginia Plan, with lots of modifications. Because the Constitution resembles so much the blueprint that Jefferson had written, and because Jefferson was a great founder, many Americans believe Jefferson was a guiding light at that Philadelphia convention. It’s often good to reflect that Jefferson was in Paris the entire time. While America remembers the thunder of Washington’s presiding, Franklin’s timely contributions and Jefferson’s ideas – it was Madison who did the heavy lifting, who got Washington and Franklin to attend the meeting Madison had set up, and got Jefferson’s ideas presented and explained.
It was Madison who decided, in late August of 1787, that the convention could not hang together long enough to create a bill of rights, and instead got approval for the basic framework of the U.S. government. In Virginia a few months later, while Patrick Henry thundered against what he described as a power grab by a new government, it was Madison who assembled the coalitions that got the Constitution ratified by the Virginia ratifying convention. And when even Jefferson complained that a constitution was dangerous without a bill of rights, it was Madison who first calmed Jefferson, then promised that one of the first actions of the new government would be a bill of rights. He delivered on that promise as a Member of the House of Representatives in 1789.
It is difficult to appreciate just how deeply insinuated into the creation of America was James Madison. In big ways and small, he made America work. He took the lofty ideas of Jefferson, and made them into laws that are still on the books, unamended and unedited, more than 200 years later.
When the ratification battle was won, when Madison had won election to the House over Patrick Henry’s strong objection, partly by befriending the man Henry had picked to defeat Madison, James Monroe, Madison could have savored the moment and been assured a place in history.
That’s not what a lightning bolt does. Journeying to New York for the opening of the First Congress and the inauguration of Washington as president, Madison stopped off at Mount Vernon to visit with Washington, apparently at Washington’s request. In what was a few hours, really, Madison wrote Washington’s inaugural address. While there at Mount Vernon, Madison stumbled into a discussion by several others on their way to New York, wondering what high honorific to apply to the new president. “Excellency” was winning out over “Your highness,” until Washington turned to Madison for an opinion. Madison said the president should be called, simply, “Mr. President.” We still do.
Once in New York, Madison saw to the organizing of the Congress, then to the organizing of the inauguration. And upon hearing Washington’s inauguration address — which Madison had ghosted — Congress appointed Madison to write the official Congressional response. Years later, in Washington, Madison engineered the candidacy of Thomas Jefferson for president, and after Jefferson was elected, Madison had the dubious honor as Secretary of State of lending his name to the Supreme Court case that established the Supreme Court as the arbiter of what is Constitutional under our scheme of government, in Marbury v. Madison. Wherever there was action needed to make this government work, it seemed, there was James Madison providing the spark.
James Madison was the lightning behind the thunder of the founding of America. We should be grateful that he lived when he did, where he did, for we all share the fruits of the freedoms he worked to obtain. And in this Thanksgiving season, let us look for appropriate ways to honor his work.
The Madisonian model of thoughtful reflection leading to action is one that is solidly established in psychological research. It is the model for leadership taught in business schools and military academies.
I would compare religious liberty to a mighty oak tree, under which we might seek shade on a hot summer day, from which we might draw wood for our fires to warm us in winter, or lumber to build great and strong buildings. That big oak we enjoy began its life long before ours. We enjoy its shade because someone earlier planted the seed. We enjoy our freedoms today because of men like James Madison.
How do we give thanks? As we pass around the turkey to our family, our friends, we would do well to reflect on the freedoms we enjoy, and how we got them.
Finally, remembering that someone had to plant those seeds, we need to ask: What seeds must we plant now for those who will come after us? We can demonstrate our being grateful for the actions of those who came before us by giving to those who come after us, something more to be grateful for. A life like Madison’s is a rarity. Improving on the freedoms he gave us might be difficult. Preserving those freedoms seems to me a solemn duty, however. Speaking out to defend those freedoms is an almost-tangible way to thank James Madison, and as fate would have it, there is plenty of material to speak out about. A postcard to your senators and representative giving your reasoned views on the re- introduction of the Istook Amendment might be timely now – with America’s attention turned overseas for a moment, people have adopted Patrick Henry’s tactic of trying to undo religious freedom during the distraction. I have had a lot of fun, and done some good I hope, in our local school system by asking our sons’ science and biology teachers what they plan to teach about evolution. Whatever they nervously answer — and they always nervously answer that question — I tell them that I want them to cover the topic fully and completely, and if they have any opposition to that I would be pleased to lend my name to a suit demanding it be done. We might take a moment of reflection to ponder our views about a proposed Texas “moment of silence” bill to be introduced, and then let our state representatives have our thoughts on the issue.
Do you need inspiration? Turn to James Madison’s writings. In laying out his 15-point defense of religious freedom in 1785, Madison wrote that separation of church and state is essential to our form of government:
“The preservation of a free Government requires not merely, that the metes and bounds which separate each department of power be invariably maintained; but more especially that neither of them be suffered to overleap the great Barrier which defends the rights of the people.”
How can we express our gratitude for such a foundation for religious liberty? Let loose a few lightning bolts, in remembrance of Madison.
Copyright (C) 2001 and 2006 by Ed Darrell. You may reproduce with attribution. Links added in May 2013.
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[…] was one of our nation’s top two legislating presidents, on a par with Lyndon Johnson. The essential ally for the creation of America, he is known as the Father of the Constitution for his work to shepherd that compact into existence. A great ally of George Mason, Thomas […]
It seems clear Mr. Ambrose clicked the wrong box. I’m going to work to copy his posts over to the other thread he’s been contributing to, to consolidate discussion where it seems more appropriate.
I don’t think he’s trying to make an overt attack on James Madison and the Constitution.
Did you miss the memo?
Jesus hates spam. That is all.
Yeah well is there a single thing that right wingers like Jay actually obey Jesus on? Because I sure can’t think of anything.
Did you miss the memo?
Jesus hates spam. That is all.
Ah, not only does he do a bang up job of copy and paste, but spam too, and on a completely off topic post. WTG.
I know the Millard Fillmore blogger does not like the Wall Street Journal, but consider the facts here:
In 2006, after 25 years and 50 million preventable deaths, the World Health Organization reversed course and endorsed widespread use of the insecticide DDT to combat malaria. So much for that. Earlier this month, the U.N. agency quietly reverted to promoting less effective methods for attacking the disease. The result is a victory for politics over public health, and millions of the world’s poor will suffer as a result.
The U.N. now plans to advocate for drastic reductions in the use of DDT, which kills or repels the mosquitoes that spread malaria. The aim “is to achieve a 30% cut in the application of DDT worldwide by 2014 and its total phase-out by the early 2020s, if not sooner,” said WHO and the U.N. Environment Program in a statement on May 6.
Citing a five-year pilot program that reduced malaria cases in Mexico and South America by distributing antimalaria chloroquine pills to uninfected people, U.N. officials are ready to push for a “zero DDT world.” Sounds nice, except for the facts. It’s true that chloroquine has proven effective when used therapeutically, as in Brazil. But it’s also true that scientists have questioned the safety of the drug as an oral prophylactic because it is toxic and has been shown to cause heart problems.
Most malarial deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa, where chloroquine once worked but started failing in the 1970s as the parasite developed resistance. Even if the drugs were still effective in Africa, they’re expensive and thus impractical for one of the world’s poorest regions. That’s not an argument against chloroquine, bed nets or other interventions. But it is an argument for continuing to make DDT spraying a key part of any effort to eradicate malaria, which kills about a million people — mainly children — every year. Nearly all of this spraying is done indoors, by the way, to block mosquito nesting at night. It is not sprayed willy-nilly in jungle habitat.
WHO is not saying that DDT shouldn’t be used. But by revoking its stamp of approval, it sends a clear message to donors and afflicted countries that it prefers more politically correct interventions, even if they don’t work as well. In recent years, countries like Uganda, Tanzania and Zambia have started or expanded DDT spraying, often with the help of outside aid groups. But these governments are also eager to remain in the U.N.’s good graces, and donors typically are less interested in funding interventions that WHO discourages.
“Sadly, WHO’s about-face has nothing to do with science or health and everything to do with bending to the will of well-placed environmentalists,” says Roger Bate of Africa Fighting Malaria. “Bed net manufacturers and sellers of less-effective insecticides also don’t benefit when DDT is employed and therefore oppose it, often behind the scenes.”
It’s no coincidence that WHO officials were joined by the head of the U.N. Environment Program to announce the new policy. There’s no evidence that spraying DDT in the amounts necessary to kill dangerous mosquitoes imperils crops, animals or human health. But that didn’t stop green groups like the Pesticide Action Network from urging the public to celebrate World Malaria Day last month by telling “the U.S. to protect children and families from malaria without spraying pesticides like DDT inside people’s homes.”
“We must take a position based on the science and the data,” said WHO’s malaria chief, Arata Kochi, in 2006. “One of the best tools we have against malaria is indoor residual spraying. Of the dozen or so insecticides WHO has approved as safe for house spraying, the most effective is DDT.” Mr. Kochi was right then, even if other WHO officials are now bowing to pressure to
From 21sr Century Science and Technology Magazine
Full text of Editorial from Summer 2002 issue
The 1972 U.S. ban on DDT is responsible for a genocide 10 times larger than that for which we sent Nazis to the gallows at Nuremberg. It is also responsible for a menticide which has already condemned one entire generation to a dark age of anti-science ignorance, and is now infecting a new one.
The lies and hysteria spread to defend the DDT ban are typical of the irrationalist, anti-science wave which has virtually destroyed rational forms of discourse in our society. If you want to save science—and human lives—the fight to bring back DDT, now being championed by that very electable candidate for the Democratic Presidential nomination, Lyndon H. LaRouche, Jr., had better be at the top of your agenda.
Sixty million people have died needlessly of malaria, since the imposition of the 1972 ban on DDT, and hundreds of millions more have suffered from this debilitating disease. The majority of those affected are children. Of the 300 to 500 million new cases of malaria each year, 200 to 300 million are children, and malaria now kills one child every 30 seconds. Ninety percent of the reported cases of malaria are in Africa, and 40 percent of the world’s population, inhabitants of tropical countries, are threatened by the increasing incidence of malaria.
The DDT ban does not only affect tropical nations. In the wake of the DDT ban, the United States stopped its mosquito control programs, cutting the budgets for mosquito control and monitoring. Exactly as scientists had warned 25 years ago, we are now facing increases of mosquito-borne killer diseases—West Nile fever and dengue, to name the most prominent.
What DDT Can Do
Malaria is a preventable mosquito-borne disease. It can be controlled by spraying a tiny amount of DDT on the walls of houses twice a year. DDT is cheaper than other pesticides, more effective, and not harmful to human beings or animals.
Even where mosquito populations have developed resistance to DDT, it is more effective (and less problematic) than alternative chemicals. The reason is that mosquitoes are repelled by the DDT on house walls and do not stay around to bite and infect the inhabitants. This effect is known as “excito-repellency,” and has been shown to be a dominant way that DDT controls malaria-bearing mosquitoes, in addition to killing them on contact.1 Studies have demonstrated this for all major species of malaria-bearing mosquitoes.
It costs only $1.44 per year to spray one house with DDT. The more toxic substitutes cost as much as 10 to 20 times more and require more frequent applications, making spraying programs
prohibitively expensive. In addition, replacement pesticides have to be applied more frequently and are more toxic.
Banned to Kill People
DDT came into use during World War II, and in a very short time saved more lives and prevented more diseases than any other man-made chemical in history. Millions of troops and civilians, in particular war refugees, were saved from typhus because one DDT dusting killed the body lice that spread that dread disease.
Why was DDT banned, 30 years after its World War II introduction and spectacular success in saving lives? The reason was stated bluntly by Alexander King, founder of the Malthusian Club of Rome, who wrote in a biographical essay in 1990, “My chief quarrel with DDT in hindsight is that it has greatly added to the population problem.” King was particularly concerned that DDT had dramatically cut the death rates in the developing sector, and thus increased population growth.
As King correctly observed, the incidence of malaria, and its death rates, were vastly reduced by DDT spraying. To take one example: Sri Lanka (Ceylon) had 2.8 million cases of malaria and more than 12,500 deaths in 1946, before the use of DDT. In 1963, after a large-scale spraying campaign, the number of cases fell to 17, and the number of deaths fell to 1. But five years after the stop of spraying, in 1969, the number of deaths had climbed to 113, and the number of cases to 500,000. Today, malaria rates have soared in countries that stopped spraying. In South Africa, the malaria incidence increased by 1,000 percent in the late 1990s.
The Silent Spring Fraud
The campaign to ban DDT got its start with the publication of Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring in 1962. Carson’s popular book was a fraud. She played on people’s emotions, and to do so, she selected and falsified data from scientific studies, as entomologist Dr. J. Gordon Edwards has documented in his analysis of the original scientific studies that Carson cited.2
As a result of the propaganda and lies, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency convened scientific hearings and appointed a Hearing Examiner, Edmund Sweeney, to run them. Every major scientific organization in the world supported DDT use, submitted testimony, as did the environmentalist opposition. The hearings went on for seven months, and generated 9,000 pages of testimony. Hearing Examiner Sweeney then ruled that DDT should not be banned, based on the scientific evidence: “DDT is not carcinogenic, mutagenic, or teratogenic to man [and] these uses of DDT do not have a deleterious effect on fish, birds, wildlife, or estuarine organisms,” Sweeney concluded.
Two months later, without even reading the testimony or attending the hearings, EPA administrator William Ruckelshaus overruled the EPA hearing officer and banned DDT. He later admitted that he made the decision for “political” reasons. “Science, along with economics, has a role to play . .. .. [but] the ultimate decision remains political,” Ruckelshaus said.
The U.S. decision had a rapid effect in the developing sector, where the State Department made U.S. aid contingent on countries not using any pesticide that was banned in the United States. The U.S. Agency for International Development discontinued its support for DDT spraying programs, and instead increased funding for birth control programs.
Other Western nations—Sweden and Norway, for example—also pressured recipient nations to stop the use of DDT. Belize abandoned DDT in 1999, because Mexico, under pressure from the United States and NAFTA, had stopped the manufacture of DDT, which was Belize’s source. Purchases of replacement insecticides would take up nearly 90 percent of Belize’s malaria control budget. Mozambique stopped the use of DDT, “because 80 percent of the country’s health budget
came from donor funds, and donors refused to allow the use of DDT,” reported the British Medical Journal (March 11, 2000).
The World Bank and the World Health Organization, meanwhile, responded to the rise in malaria incidence with a well-publicized “Roll Back Malaria” program, begun in 1989, which involves no insect control measures, only bed nets, personnel training, and drug therapies—a prescription for failure.
POPs Convention Is Genocide
In 1995, despite the official documentation of increases in malaria cases and malaria deaths, the United Nations Environment Program began an effort to make the ban on DDT worldwide. UNEP proposed to institute “legally binding” international controls banning what are called “persistent organic pollutants” or POPs, including DDT. Ratification of the POPs Convention, finalized in 2001, is now pending in the U.S. Senate, where it has the support of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, including committee chairman James Jeffords (Ind.-Vt.) and committee member Joe Lieberman (D.-Conn.). President Bush has already endorsed the U.S. signing on to the POPs Convention.
The evidence of DDT’s effectiveness is dramatic. In South America, where malaria is endemic, malaria rates soared in countries that had stopped spraying houses with DDT after 1993: Guyana, Bolivia, Paraguay, Peru, Brazil, Colombia, and Venezuela. In Ecuador, however, which increased its use of DDT after 1993, the malaria rate was rapidly reduced by 60 percent.
But DDT spraying is not a magic bullet cure-all. Eliminating mosquito-borne diseases here and around the world requires in-depth public health infrastructure and trained personnel—as were in place in the 1950s and 1960s, when DDT began to rid the world of malaria. And mosquito-borne illness is not the only scourge now threatening us. A growing AIDS pandemic, and the return of tuberculosis and other killer diseases, now also menace growing parts of the world’s population, particularly in those areas where human immune systems are challenged by malnutrition and poorly developed (or nonexistent) water and sanitation systems.
To solve this worsening problem as a whole—a disgrace in face of the scientific achievements the world has made—we must reverse the entire course of the past 30 years’ policymaking and return to a society based on production, scientific progress, and rationality. The onrushing world depression crisis, demands a new FDR-style approach to economic reconstruction in the United States. The recognized spokesman for such a reform of our economic and monetary policies is the very electable candidate for the Democratic Presidential nomination, Lyndon H. LaRouche.
The United States should not ratify the POPs Convention with its phase-out of DDT and other valuable chemicals. On the contrary, this nation should bring back DDT now, under the provisions of existing U.S. law that allow the use of DDT in health emergencies. If the continuing mass murder of millions of people is not an emergency, what is?
1. A summary of this work can be found in an article by Donald R. Roberts, et al., Emerging Infectious Diseases, Vol. 3, No. 3 (1997), pp. 295-302.
2. J. Gordon Edwards, “The Lies of Rachel Carson,” 21st Century, Summer 1992.
Edwards, a professor emeritus at San Jose State University in California, drank a spoonful of DDT in front of his entomology classes at the beginning of each school year, to make the point that DDT is not harmful to human beings. Now
And just to head off a potential argument at the proverbial pass, lets also recall it was Madison who said:
“The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe in blood for centuries.”
-1803 letter objecting use of gov. land for churches
“It may not be easy, in every possible case, to trace the line of separation between the rights of religion and the Civil authority with such distinctness as to avoid collisions and doubts on unessential points. The tendency to unsurpastion on one side or the other, or to a corrupting coalition or alliance between them, will be best guarded agst. by an entire abstinence of the Gov’t from interfence in any way whatsoever, beyond the necessity of preserving public order, and protecting each sect agst. trespasses on its legal rights by others.”
James Madison, “James Madison on Religious Liberty”,
When the 23-year-old James Madison got to the Virginia Assembly, he was appointed to the committee that had just completed work on the Virginia Bill of Rights, under the direction of George Mason with a large assist from Thomas Jefferson. Madison noted no protection for religion in the document. Against the advice of others, and with the admonition from Mason that the work was done, Madison set about persuading Mason to open the thing up to insert that religious freedom clause. Ultimately, to everyone’s surprise, Madison prevailed on Mason.
In 1786, Madison pushed through the Virginia Assembly the Statute for Religious Freedom, which had been written by Thomas Jefferson seven years prior. Within eight months Madison was in Philadelphia earning his nickname, The Father of the Constitution. Madison was also the sponsor of the 12 amendments that were proposed in 1789, ten of which became the Bill of Rights in 1791.
Madison’s fingerprints are there, if you dust it. No wonder it all looks similar.
I’ve heard it said many times that the US Bill of Rights was modeled upon the Virginia Declaration of Rights.
Until now I’d never actually read the Virginia Declaration of Rights. I found the relgious freedom declaration especially interesting:
“XVI. That religion, or the duty which we owe to our Creator and the manner of discharging it, can be directed by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and therefore, all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity towards each other.”
Hello, I stumbled across this blog and now visit it daily.
When I read the founding fathers, I am a Deist, in normal life I am atheist (small “a”). I like being a Deist better, so I time travel a lot. I’ve read lots of Jefferson, Paine, some Adams, a little Washington, various histories and biographies, I know where Madison fits in the general history, I have not read him specifically, I will remedy that after reading your “sermon.”
[…] academic interest leaned more toward James Madison’s role. I thought then, and I still think, that Madison deserves a good, popular biography to complement the great recent […]
[…] James Madison, “go-to” guy […]
No, not only did I not attend JMU, despite living and spending a lot of time in the area over 15 years I never set foot on the campus. I was Utah, Arizona, and George Washington.
I regret that I don’t always remember to plug Madison’s birthday, at least, not far enough in advance that I can do anything meaningful. Let’s work to remember it in the next year.
What’s an appropriate way to celebrate Madison’s birth? Buy a newspaper? Go to a church of one’s choice?
Today, June 18, is the anniversary of the declaration of war against Britain that formally started the War of 1812, by the way. Not sure that date needs commemoration . . .
Ed, Did you go to JMU? I am a JMU graduate (too long ago to be giving the year!) I think that Jimmy’s birthday needs more celebration and when I looked up the date on Google your site came up. Great info. Anyway, I am a member of the Pacific Northwest JMU Alumni Chapter and I do not intend to let next year’s birthday go by uncelebrated. Thanks for your great work!
[…] James Madison, “go-to” guy […]
Oh and Jim…Abraham was not a Christian. He was, like Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Madison, Franklin and more then a few others..a deist.
I guess any religion that professes the existence of God is my answer. So I also guess that means Judaism, Christianity, Islam and others I am not aware of. I suppose what you are getting at is that Easter is a Christian holiday and Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday. So, yes, Thanksgiving Day is a more inclusive holiday, but it still leaves out atheists, says I.
No it doesn’t leave out atheists. Atheists would be thankful for the gifts in their lives. Like their families. I would suggest you quit trying to impose your view on atheists and then finding them lacking because they, unlike you, don’t thank God.
And as for Abraham’s speech, it’s just a speech. It holds no official weight and it sure isn’t a law. Quit trying to give the speech more power then it has.
Hello. I am a music teacher and I heard a folk song that I can’t seem to find anywhere. It was talking about “you took my toy” or that’s my toy something along those lines. It dealt with children fighting over a toy and how adults do the same thing. If anyone knows what song I’m referring to please email me the title so I can see if I can order it. Thanks.
Nick, Thanks for your reply. To answer your questions, I don’t think that everyone else gives thanks to God. That was part of the reason I posted here. You wrote that you know atheists who give thanks for their families. My main point was if a person gives thanks, they must give thanks to something or somebody, not just be thankful for things. So what I want to know is what or who do the atheists you know give thanks to for having a family. Their parents? Their siblings? Although there is nothing wrong with that, my guess is that Abraham’s whole point of having Thanksgiving Day proclaimed was for citizens of the U.S. to give thanks to God and nobody else. You asked me what church or religion is officially involved. I don’t know what you mean by officially. I guess any religion that professes the existence of God is my answer. So I also guess that means Judaism, Christianity, Islam and others I am not aware of. I suppose what you are getting at is that Easter is a Christian holiday and Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday. So, yes, Thanksgiving Day is a more inclusive holiday, but it still leaves out atheists, says I.
I have read Abraham’s speech, or proclamation, but it has been years since I did. Right now I am reading some other things, so I don’t plan to read it again real soon. If there is something in it that you think will enlighten me about this, please let me know. If I remember correctly, Abraham did not use the word ‘God’, but rather ‘Heavenly Father’. Like I wrote, it has been years. Maybe he used ‘Creator’.
I guess you don’t think that having Thanksgiving Day a national holiday is an example of violation of the principle of separation of church and state. I guess you think having Easter and Hanukkah national holidays would be. To me, all 3 would be violations of that principle.
Yeah Lincoln did mention God. Of course it was just a speech by a President so he could say what he wanted without running afoul of the law.
And the atheists I know give thanks for their families, among other things, Jim.
Now I have a question for you. Why do you apparently think that just because you give thanks to God that everyone else does so as well? And how is it an example of “not separating church and state”? What church and/or religion is officially involved?
Oh..and you may want to actually read Lincoln’s speech to see what exactly he was giving thanks for.
Ed, Do you think that having Thanksgiving Day a national holiday is an example of not separating church and state? I do.
You wrote about passing around the turkey and reflecting on our freedoms. I presume you are referring to Thanksgiving Day. It is not called Thankful For Day or What I am Thankful for Day. If we are to give thanks, we have to give it to someone or something. If not God, then who or what? Farmers? Grocers? Turkeys? James Madison?
The only thing that makes sense to me is to give thanks to God. I think Abraham Lincoln mentioned that when he made his proclamation for a day of thanksgiving. Have you ever thought about how atheists observe Thanksgiving? To what do you think they give thanks?
its all a big mess it should go back to an individualized governing bodies so as to each produce more at home than always trade it would help
Jefferson was generally interested in the rights of men and women; Jefferson saw church involvement in government as a threat to human rights. I don’t think that’s fairly summarized as “for the benefit of the state,” although he did say that getting the church out of government improved government. Government existed, in Jefferson’s view, to secure and protect the unalienable and other rights of citizens.
For that matter, I don’t think Madison’s views were really much different from Jefferson’s, though in the Memorial and Remonstrance he pointed out that marriage of church and state did as much damage to the church as the state:
In order to protect citizens against abuse of scripture by priests, whom they usually referred to in the more pejorative, “romish” fashion, both Jefferson and Madison advocated education. A population that could read the Bible would do so, they reasoned, and therefore would not be fooled by misstatements of scripture, as had the uneducated masses of Europe been fooled.
Nice that the WSJ would even pay attention to Madison. Generally the editorial writers have a great distaste for everything he did.
I thought this was a good follow up article to what you wrote, Ed.
I think it’s interesting that while Jefferson was interested in separation of church/state for the benefit of the state, it was Madison who was in favor of it for the church’s benefit.
[…] James Madison, “go-to” guy […]
i think this is great, i had to do a report on this in my history class, and it gave all the info i needed
Well done, great analogy.
Excellent summation, Ed.
Very well written, I enjoyed the read! I will say one thing about the dynamic between Henry/Madison and Adams/Jefferson etc. was that they shared a common bond beyond that of politics that for the most part, allowed men of principle to compromise policy, while maintaining their core values and beliefs. Not to paint a naive picture, but the level of statesmanship and respect is something sorely lacking in our national politics today.
What impressed me about Madison was his defence of the Constitution later in his life against Calhoun’s Nullification doctines.
One “nit” about Jefferson and Sally Hemmings. Today, a relationship between a dominating male and a young woman totally within his power would be considered sleazy. How much leeway to withhold consent does a slave have? However, in the context of its time, the relationship was probably “acceptable” as long as it was not publicly acknowledged. Either way, it does Jefferson little credit.
Well said. This is one essay I’ll save.