Tag Archives: Equality

The “court of the US” is dead and buried! Part 2 of 2

The Washington Federalist … has published what he calls the ‘Etiquette of the court of the US.’ in his facts, as usual, truth is set at nought, & in his principles little correct to be found.

In the first place there is no ‘court of the US’ since the 4th. of Mar. 1801. that day buried levees, birthdays, royal parades, and the arrogation of precedence [an unjustified claim of superiority] in society by certain self-stiled friends of order …

In social circles all are equal, whether in, or out, of office, foreign or domestic; & the same equality exists among ladies as among gentlemen. no precedence therefore, of any one over another, exists either in right or practice, at dinners, assemblies, or on any other occasions. ‘pell-mell’ and ‘next the door’ form the basis of etiquette in the societies of this country.
Response to the Washington Federalist, February 13, 1804

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders know all are created equal and should be treated that way.
The previous post referenced President Jefferson’s guidelines for etiquette in America with regard to foreign diplomats. An opposition newspaper belittled those guidelines, as if the President’s goal was to create dissension with other nations.

Jefferson very rarely responded publicly to political opponents, but the Washington Federalist must have really gotten his goat. His response was printed in the Philadelphia republican paper, the Aurora. First, he wrote there was no longer any “court of the US,” as that had ended with his inauguration on March 4, 1801. On that day, all privilege previously associated with Washington society ceased to be recognized within the government.

He concluded with a ringing affirmation of equality for all in social circles.

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So much of your presentation was appropriate both to your days and to current times.”
President, Missouri City Clerks and Finance Officers Association
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Would you be ruled by reason … or the rod?

A just and solid republican government maintained here, will be a standing monument & example … that a free government is of all others the most energetic … compared with those of the leaders on the other side [of the ocean], who have discountenanced all advances in science as dangerous innovations, have endeavored to render philosophy and republicanism terms of reproach, to persuade us that man cannot be governed but by the rod, &c.
To John Dickinson, March 6, 1801

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Republican leaders govern by restraint, not by the rod.
Two days into his Presidency, Jefferson contrasted the nation’s new government, turned from Federalist to republican, to those of European nations. Hallmarks of republicanism were a self-governed, free and equal people.

His use of the word “energetic” could be interpreted two ways:
– A government “operating with vigor or effect,” Websters 7th New Collegiate, because it understood and stayed within its limited Constitutional role
– Describing a citizenry unburdened by a meddlesome government.
Regardless, it did not mean as activist national government.

What characterized European governments?
– They rejected “all advances in science as dangerous innovations.”
– They discredited the notion of equality for all.
– Man could only be governed by force, rather than reason.

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Missouri Association of Mutual Insurance Companies
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