Tuesday, July 24, 2012


Charles Pierce has an interesting post up today about the Morrill Act which created the land-grant college system.  This is the college system that was intended to give us better farmers and schoolteachers and has given us all so very much more.

On July 2, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed into law what was known as the Morrill Act. The new law authorized the creation of what became known as "land-grant colleges," the purpose of which, as described in the Act was: "...without excluding other scientific and classical studies and including military tactic, to teach such branches of learning as are related to agriculture and the mechanic arts, in such manner as the legislatures of the States may respectively prescribe, in order to promote the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes in the several pursuits and professions in life."

If you've ever attended a state college or university because the in-state tuition was actually affordable, then you have this act to thank.

But it's not only that.

From the established land-grant colleges came the cooperative extension services that aided farmers all over the country and the agricultural experimentation centers that produced, among other things, the National Arboretum in Washington, D.C.

So if you've ever taken a class at an extension service, or if you've ever been a farmer or if you've ever eaten food then this act has helped you in some way.

Also, if you've ever participated in 4-H then you've been helped by this act.  From Wikipedia:

The foundations of 4-H began around the start of the twentieth century, with the work of several people in different parts of the United States. The focal point of 4-H has been the idea of practical and hands-on learning, which came from the desire to make public school education more connected to rural life. Early programs tied both public and private resources together to benefit rural youth. 
During this time, researchers at experiment stations of the land-grant universities and USDA saw that adults in the farming community did not readily accept new agricultural discoveries, but educators found that youth would experiment with these new ideas and then share their experiences and successes with the adults. So rural youth programs became a way to introduce new agriculture technology to the adults.

These universities have helped millions of us live better lives, no?

Of course back then there was opposition:

This heavy reliance upon Article IV led to strong counterattacks.Democratic Senator Clement Clay of Alabama was by far the most eloquent to stand against it. He insisted that the land grants were a "magnificent bribe" to encourage Alabama to "surrender to the federal power her original and reserved right to manage her own domesticand internal affairs." He argued that public lands were never meant to support such arrangements. This was followed witha long, vivid picture of judicious forefathers building limitation afterlimitation into the Constitution concerning the powers of the Federal Government. With the last stroke of his brush, Clay asked if one could believe that such a careful limitation was only a sham, that through deliberate intent or stupidity these great men had provided a means to circumvent their careful limitation of federal power.

(Please remember that since then the Democrats and Republicans have completely flipped their positions on pretty much everything.)

In the end we were only able to pass it because the states that opposed the idea of a national system of universities had already seceded from the Union.

You know, these guys.

(found here)

Do I really need to go into the whole Christian Patriarchy thing again?

Sara Robinson wrote a piece recently about how we're all living in PlantationLand now.  There's almost too much to quote there, so just go read the whole thing.

David Hackett Fischer, whose Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways In Americainforms both Lind’s and Woodard’s work, described just how deeply undemocratic the Southern aristocracy was, and still is. He documents how these elites have always feared and opposed universal literacy, public schools and libraries, and a free press. (Lind adds that they have historically been profoundly anti-technology as well, far preferring solutions that involve finding more serfs and throwing them at a problem whenever possible. Why buy a bulldozer when 150 convicts on a chain gang can grade your road instead?) Unlike the Puritan elites, who wore their wealth modestly and dedicated themselves to the common good, Southern elites sank their money into ostentatious homes and clothing and the pursuit of pleasure — including lavish parties, games of fortune, predatory sexual conquests, and blood sports involving ritualized animal abuse spectacles.
.....In the old South, on the other hand, the degree of liberty you enjoyed was a direct function of your God-given place in the social hierarchy. The higher your status, the more authority you had, and the more “liberty” you could exercise — which meant, in practical terms, that you had the right to take more “liberties” with the lives, rights and property of other people. Like an English lord unfettered from the Magna Carta, nobody had the authority to tell a Southern gentleman what to do with resources under his control. In this model, that’s what liberty is. If you don’t have the freedom to rape, beat, torture, kill, enslave, or exploit your underlings (including your wife and children) with impunity — or abuse the land, or enforce rules on others that you will never have to answer to yourself — then you can’t really call yourself a free man.
When a Southern conservative talks about “losing his liberty,” the loss of this absolute domination over the people and property under his control — and, worse, the loss of status and the resulting risk of being held accountable for laws that he was once exempt from — is what he’s really talking about. In this view, freedom is a zero-sum game. Anything that gives more freedom and rights to lower-status people can’t help but put serious limits on the freedom of the upper classes to use those people as they please. It cannot be any other way. So they find Yankee-style rights expansions absolutely intolerable, to the point where they’re willing to fight and die to preserve their divine right to rule.

Kind of fits together, doesn't it.  I have the divine right because God says so.  And you can't go to college because you might become more and that would take away from me somehow.
Please remember, we've been fighting this beast for 150 years.  Either keep fighting or give them the country they want, let them go.  Don't given them the whole thing.