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MHQ Reader Comments: Republicans and Democrats in 1812

8/28/2009 • MHQ Letters

MHQ Comments
Summer 09

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I have to question the use of the term “Republican” to describe the U.S. congressional majority party of 1812, more commonly called the Democratic-Republicans [in Stephen Budiansky’s “Giant Killer,” Spring 2009]. While it is true that some members referred to themselves as Republicans, there is also documentation that they referred to themselves as Democrats.

In these highly partisan times, I would think it advantageous for a history periodical to avoid using current labels for political affiliation when there are other, more widely used terms associated with the era in question.

—Robert Dalton, Chicago, Ill.


Stephen Budiansky responds:
While it is correct that one faction of the party founded by Jefferson and Madison would later give rise to the modern Democratic Party, “Republican” was what they most often called themselves during the period I was describing. “Democratic Republican” and “Democrat” were terms almost exclusively used by their Federalist Party opponents, who meant it as disparagement—“democrat” carrying the connotation of “mob rule.”

One Response to MHQ Reader Comments: Republicans and Democrats in 1812

  1. Ronald B. Greene, MD says:

    rabs were constantly attacking it. Israel had no strategic depth, yet it had offered to make peace with the Arabs since the day it declared statehood. It was the Arabs who refused every offer of peace and only wanted war.
    Mr Browne’s statement that the Israeli’s wanted the war to galvanize the nation is so out of touch with reality to border on offensive. If Israel wanted all of Jerusalem, it would have never told King Hussain that if Jordan didn’t attack Israel, Israel wouldn’t atttack Jordan. Israel’s population was not declining, since it was taking in Jewish immigrants from all over the world. It is tru that it was not doing well economicly, but Israel never looked at war as a way to increase its economy, since it had to import everything to fight a war, putting it in debt to other countries.
    Mr Browne also forgets how the Israeli Army has always been organized. It has a small standing army and a large reserve that has to be called up for any conflict. A massive invasion by competant armies could overrun Israel before the reserves could even reach their organization locations.
    Israel won the six day war because of advance planning, luck, courage , and competance. The Arabs lied to each other and started a war of conquest. The Israeli’s were fighting for survival.
    As to Mr Browne’s contention that Israel wanted to expand the country and conquer territory, I point out that the Israeli’s offered to return the conquored territories in exchange for peace treaties as soon as the war was over.
    Mr Browne’s contention that Israel decided to invade Egypt, Jordan, and Syria ignores the fact that it was Israelwho was attacked, and in good military fashion it conquored its assailants and went to defensable borders when stopping its trooops.
    I point out that Jerusalem was designated by the UN to be an open city and the Jordanians captured it in 1948 and refused to let the Israeli’s in the city as well as destroying Jewish religious and historical structures in its possession. Israel had as much right to conquor Jerusalem as the Arabs, and Israel has allowed the Arabs to have access to its religous sites from the day of the 1967 conquest.
    Had the Arabs not wanted war, they could have left the UN peacekeepers in the Sinai, not blocked the Straits of Tiran and stopped the terro attacks from their territories. They didn’t, because they thought they would win. Mr Browne takes their poor judgemnt as a reason Israel shouldn’t have responded to their attacks and acts of war. He also implies that since the Israeli’s had made up war plans in case they were attacked, it means Israel wanted war.
    Taking that logic one step further, it would seem that any country that plans for its own defense and makes war plans in anticipation of possibly being attacked by its neighbors , is automatically guilt of starting a war if the other side should eventually attack it. That is not even worthy of comment/ Every country plans for its own defense in order to assure its survival. Some countries don’t plan well as we all recall from the attack on Pearl Harbor.
    Mr Browne seems to imply that since the Israeli’s planned better then their enemies that somehow they should have just allowed themselves to be attcked. Mr Browne has pointed out how outnumbered the Israeli’s were. He has pointed out how any outside observer, including myself, would have assumed the Arabs would win. He seems to have a problems because the Israeli”s did win..
    The years of conflict since that time were not due toIsarl’s attempt to hold on to conquored regions. It was due to the Arabs refusal to make peace with Israel. Maybe he doesn’t remember the famous three “No’s” from the Arab meetings. Maybe he doesn’t remember that Israel tried repeated to make peace and was turned down – evn though it was on record as being willing to retreat from the territories. Perhpas he has forgotten that eventually Jordan and Egypt made peace with Israel. Egypt got it’s Sinai back. It didn’t want Gaza and refused to take it. Jordan made peace and didn’t want any of the West Bank or Jerusalem because of the Palestinian problems with Jordanian rule.
    I don’t know if Mr Browne has been on the Golan Heights. I was below it in 1964 and on top in 1983. Israel annexed it for goot military reasons that even American military experts agreed with.
    Peace has not come to the Arab-Israeli conflict because the Arabs have always hoped to eradicate Israel along with its population. A concept that was confirmed in military papers captured in the six day war along with poison gas meant to be used against the non-military Israeli population. The Israeli’s have absorbed hundreds of thousands of Jews expelled from Arab lands with all their possessions stolen by those countries. Those people have become citizens of the State of Israel. The Arabs, on the other hand, have kept the epople who fled the 1948 fighting – most at the behest of the Arab leaders who told them they could return after the conquest of Israel and steal what was left from the dead Jews – locked in refugee camps, refusing to give them resettlement and citizenship so they could be pawns in the Arab strategy of demonizing Israel. The Arabs could have had peace – and all their territory in 1967 if they sign peace treaties with Israel and ended the conflict. Instead, they refused to make peace and today we have the result of over fifty years iof refusal.
    Israel planned well for the conflict in 1967. In fact, it was the only strategy that they could have followed to avoid annailation. Had they no destroyed the Arab Air force planes, we would be talking about the arab elimination of Israel and the execution of its population – a concept the Arab leaders alwyas talked about freely and openly. If Mr Browne wants to speculate that they wouldn’t have done that, he should reread the history of the holocaust.
    Mr Browne covered the military strategy well, he just got too involved with his bias of history and his lack of political facts. I still like reading the Quarterly and it is in my waiting room for patients to read.
    Ronald B. Greene, MD

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