Join newsman, Jack Scot, as he takes us through a real Army camp to interview real soldiers as they get ready for Christmas dinner. A mess sergeant talks about what goes into the rations for each man. Being in the field near the front lines, a dining room in a near by home is to be used, unless orders come to move out beforehand. Mess tents would also be available to handle the troops.
A study in American political optimism. America is full of opportunity, but the pendulum swings from prosperity to poverty, from success to failure. Its up to the industry of the individual to find his success. Roll the clock forward 20 years, and D’Toukfel is in jail as a political prisoner. Democracy in France has failed to a dictator.
He remarks that men want to be free, but they want to also be led. In doing so, they vote away their freedoms. Influence has most impact when it’s directed to the masses, not leaders.
What seems to make democracy work? Faith in man’s perfectibility, poised, religious, and very enlightened. Having a balance of equality and liberty. There needs to be a national morality, with free institutions. Rather than a dictator, or a despot, it needs self governing, self regulating bodies. Absolute equality under one man isn’t liberty, though it may be democracy if that’s what the people voted for.
Liberty needs to be in regard to valuing mankind, not the liberty of a ruler. Democracy needs a system of justice, law, order, religious belief. Is libertyy defined as the love of freedom, or simply the hate of a master? Liberty should be with no master from government, but being mastered by God and the law.
Liberty in a democracy means you’re not entirely independent, and not entirely free, giving up certain freedoms to stay balanced, and becoming successful and great.
As D’Toukfel and Beaumont get ready to depart, they are guests at a party. What have they learned in the past year of travels? Beaumont is impressed by the frontier, and diversity of wilderness and civilization trying to stake its claim. So far the wilderness is winning, but settlers keep invading.
Industry, presses, use of technology to advance the progress of men. Steamboats, communications are both technologies where their limits are insufficient for the rapid expansion. Everything a men sets his hand to do in the new land seems to succeed and prosper.
Intangible attitudes like equality, and political views are more in line with what D’Toukfel noticed. However he keeps noncommittal. There’s so much, he may have to write a book to capture it all. Discussion of topics such as immigration, character, the quality of the statesmen in government, and more are touched. Is American democracy really about equality, or about supremacy? A review of how a poor farm boy can elevate himself to high rank in society, by meeting the right people, is shared. In the end D’Toukfel claims there is no absolute in politics and governing bodies. Newspapers are so bad, they’re good, strengthening associations, and helping break the tyranny of the majority. ‘
D’Toukfel marvels at juries made of ignorant men, acting from prejudice, not from common sense. The sovereignty of the people in judging a man’s neighbor, not judging the law. Is it government by the mob? A lack of systematic uniformity somehow makes America work.
A study in American law and lawyers. The influence of lawyers in public life impressed our French travelers. Could it be due to the fact that they were lawyers themselves? They call lawyers the aristocracy in America. Not wealth, or any other institution. Their reason is that laws, and the lawyers who write them are what makes up the government. How is it accomplished that if the men in government office were to all be replaced, by voting, it wouldn’t impact the individual citizen?
Tour the nation’s capital to see the government at work. How do the laws control the operation of government, even allowing a representative who can’t read or write to hold office. How do the laws hold government in check, and keep things balanced?
Visit the president to learn what D’Toukfel and Beaumont think about the personality of Andrew Jackson. In speaking to a senator of the time, he compares politics to religion, and matters of faith. Sometimes its not logic, or doctrine, but personality, and just liking the man in office.
Politicians debate matters, even of a long dead horse who had been taken from its owners, and conscripted into military service in the Revolutionary War. Our Frenchmen note that laws are only affective, as long as the public respect the laws.
Audio warning: Not bad, but the audio speeds up in the middle. Eventually it returns to normal.
A study in American press. Earlier in the series we found how the majority squashed the literature and arts, demanding mediocrity. The editors of the press are the men who show bravery to go against the grain, and thrive on controversy. Abandoning principles, journalists openly lambast public figures, criticizing their every move Reporters thrive on scandal and notoriety.
Far from the tame world of literature our Frenchmen learned about earlier, newspapermen are fearlessly expressing opinion. They may be targets of duals, threats, and are open to printing anything, as long as you pay the price for the advertisement.
With all the varied opinions, there’s plenty of competition. If you don’t agree with an editor, drop $200 on your own press, and start your own paper. Hey, it’s the blogosphere of 200 years ago. Only its cheaper to start blogging than that.
The feeling is that equality weakens and isolates a man, but the press is the way to let others know they aren’t alone as opinions are voiced. How can someone figure out the truth amid all the noise of rumor, escandal, and sometimes outright lies? Is the power of the press so all powerful after all? The evil the press produces, is less than the evil it cures.
A study in American education. One notable thing our French travelers found was the lack of children running through the streets. Some may be working in factories, as they do in Europe, but the majority are in school. Schools, churches, and roads are the things that Americans feel is key to pave the way to a successful future. There are roughly a quarter of the population between age 5 and 16, the age of kids in schools. A high value in primary education is the norm. No matter the expense.
What about teachers for all this education? From the beginning we find teachers with substandard salaries. Teachers only stayed on for as long as they could, before advancing to a higher career. Associating with a teacher might be fine in private, but they are disdained to be seen with in public.
Education isn’t at an equal standard through the country. Though standards fall off in southern and western regions, everyone prides themselves on their education. Reveling in what they know, and ignoring challenges to advance to higher learning. Why bother with literature, or arts, or college, if you can be successful in business with your primary schooling? Being self educated is a badge of honor, even if it is lacking.
A study in American Freedom. Does freedom have any drawbacks? When majority rules, the idea is that if you have a different spin, you’re welcome to it… just keep it to yourself… or else. What do Americans think of the findings of our French travelers? They love to hear about their successes, being industrious, how great their women are, but just don’t offer any negative criticism. Hurt feelings are sure to abound.
Beaumont and D’Toukfel discuss experiences in folks expressing their ideal of freedom and equality. Sometimes the majority wants to press the minority, and other stigmas get squashed in social pressure. Individualism suffers, and it takes a brave man to step out for his cause. People give lip service of being a free country, but many discrepancies are exposed.
One area our Frenchmen have had trouble with is the lack of quality arts and literature in America. They explore why the mediocrity exists. It’s hard for authors to be self expressive when the majority demands middle of the road content. Is it really a fact that the majority is where the wisdom lies? Public opinion even has an iron hand on manners, and propriety. Going against the grain, and being independent is frowned upon in polite society.
Majority opinion is demonstrated to put a tailor out of business, including the lawyer who defended him, all for operating his business on a Sunday, when it isn’t acceptable among majority opinion. Though the negro race is equal and free on paper, and in the legal system, prejudice in the public opinion effectively bars them from voting. If the majority is so oppressive to the minority, why do people put up with it?
Despite the contradictions in the system, it places the watchful eye of tyranny on the people, and not on a corrupted government to lay the iron fist on the people.
A study in American prisons. Even in America, there are those who don’t follow the rules of society, and find themselves in trouble with the law. More precisely, they go to a penitentiary, rather than capital punishment. Our French visitors go to Sing Sing to talk to the warden about the new conventional wisdom that men can be reformed. They just need a place for penitence, not to be simply tossed into prison.
More investigation into the hopeful system turns up mixed results. Early, strict penitentiaries kept inmates in virtual solitary confinement, and not allowed to speak. Living the life of a virtual monk. The whip being the means for punishment in breaking the rules. Even so, wardens realize that not every man can be reformed, and share their doubts. Is it because the inmates learn a trade that men reform? Why do men who behave well in prison, soon revert to their old ways. Quaker prisons are run like monasteries, with a vow of silence, and religious teaching. Does it reform… or break spirits… It only seems to add resentment, and to harbor dedication to not get caught again? Interviews with inmates reveal more glimpses at the failings of this new way of punishing crime.
Though philanthropists of the day want it to work, and are optimistic about it, cracks in the system are clear. At this point in history, only time will tell, but our Frenchmen don’t think its much better than the judicial system in the old country. I think they’re right.
A study in American progress. Can society be perfected, or changed? The trait of equality isn’t responsible for either, but it puts those ideals into a different light. Public meetings are called to denounce the government, or deplorable conditions, or to suggest improvements to the quality of life. Taking a hand in government and discussing it seems the only concern. God is invoked as backing the purpose of the reformer.
Americans, whether on land or sea, seem to have a knack for succeeding and making money. Americans may not have the best ships, or skill, but they feel God is on their side. They fail, but they get back on their feet, and push on toward success. What makes American ships so efficient, compared to other nations?
Resources are abundant, and even if products aren’t durable, the expectation is that more can be made, and things are always improving. Anything is possible, is the attitude of Americans. Associations and societies are organized with the purpose of self improvement. A society against slavery, is spotlighted, and the push to defend equal rights. By comparison, our French travelers look at Southern oppression of slaves, and removal of their rights.
People of like mind band together for a cause to increase their public voice, and become stronger. One popular society was on temperance. What is that? Our travelers learn about the push to make alcohol of any kind illegal in the state.
American ideals include: The pursuit of virtue, and good. Not caring for what has been, but for the imagination of what is to come. Progress, and striving for perfection.
A study in American religion. Religious institutions have remained distinct from government institutions. Our French travelers are amazed at the cross-denominational preaching in a prison from pastors of different faiths to the inmates each week. It works because they stick to general morality, and not teaching dogmas of the faith to far.
Sunday is noted as different from the week when even New York city streets are silent. Men on the street ensure that carriages aren’t permitted to drive past a church, and disturb worship. To be well received in society, a declaration of belonging to a church is vital. Worship is more from habit than convictions. With the abundant choices of religions, every one has the right to choose a creed, and mode of worship for themselves.
An extreme tolerance in religion is noted. Or is it an attitude of indifference? A priest shares the power in religion is to stay out of seeking political power, and seeking liberty and equality. A protestant minister shares that he feels there’s no conflict or pressure with government. Judges in court even declare that it is unheard of for people not to believe in God, and that religious teaching is the basis for good laws, and testimony.
Separation of church and state doesn’t mean to take God out of daily life. What do politicians say? Men in high position, or talent may not express their faith, but hold that religion is on the side of democracy.
Religion Takes no part in government, but is regarded as the first political institution.