TREASON/PATRIOTISM: Deceit. Collusion. Betrayal. Conspiring with Foreign Nationals. Abuse of Power.
239 years before Donald Trump, Benedict Arnold, a major-general in the U.S. Continental Army and commander of Fort West Point—the military stronghold of a burgeoning America—conspired with the British to surrender the fort for personal gain (money and position in the British army).
Today, in an ironic play of events, An american president, born on Arnold’s day of death, faced impeachment and removal from office for obstruction of congress and abuse of power—conspiring with a foreign nation (Ukraine) for personal gain (benefiting himself in the U.S. Electoral process).
After serving two terms, George Washington, the first president under the U.S. Constitution, in his 1796 Farewell Address, said of foreign influence: “Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence . . . the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake, since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government. . . . The rule for conduct for us, in regard to foreign nations, is, in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible.”
President Washington’s experience with foreign influence would include French interference in U.S. politics—In 1796, a French agent released private information to the public to try and sway the election in favor of Thomas Jefferson—and with England conspiring with Major-General Benedict Arnold to surrender the U.S. military stronghold of West Point, New York. The latter (British collusion) happening before America’s independence and the former (French interference) happening afterwards.
Today, in an ironic play of events—Russian interference replacing French interference and Ukrainian collusion replacing British collusion—Washington’s rule for conduct regarding foreign nations is being put to test. The 1st president’s warning abandoned not only by prominent members and critical offices of our government, but by the 45th president (Donald J. Trump) himself. The president openly (and privately) soliciting foreign political intervention against U.S. citizens and U.S. democratic processes: “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.” Presidential Candidate Donald Trump pled in a July 27, 2016 speech regarding political rival, Hillary Clinton.
“And by the way,” President Trump informs reporters in an October 3, 2019 interview, “China should start an investigation into the Bidens [his political rival Vice President Joe Biden and son, Hunter Biden]. Because what happened in China is just about as bad as what happened with, ugh, with Ukraine.”
History has Lessons to Teach Us
“. . . history and experience,” said President Washington, “prove that foreign influence is one of the most [destructive enemies] of republican government.” Coupled with collusion, personal gain, and abuse of power, he saw its destructive potential; most notable in the betrayal of Major-General Benedict Arnold.
Personal Gain/Abuse of Power/Foreign Influence
Before President Trump’s conspiracy with Ukraine for personal gain, there was Major-General Arnold’s conspiracy with the British for money and position.
Unlock the in-depth article in the March/April 2020 issue of C2Change. Read the conclusion below!
Conclusion: Death by Suicide?
223 years ago (1796), the United States’ first president, George Washington, forewarned the nation about patriotism and foreign influence through his own interactions with both—through the betrayal of Benedict Arnold and France’s interference in the U.S. Presidential Election between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. (Arnold conspiring with the British for personal gain shortly after being cleared of crimes and unbecoming behavior in a court martial trial. France, disseminating information to sway the 1796 Presidential election in favor of Thomas Jefferson.)
Fast-forward to the present. We find history repeating itself with a technology-based foreign attack on America’s elections by our adversary, Russia, to sway the election in the favor of Donald J. Trump. And the president, himself, conspiring with a foreign power (Ukraine), for personal gain, just shortly after being cleared by Attorney General William Barr of an investigation regarding Russian Election interference and presidential obstruction.
With history repeating itself with the experiences, lessons, and warnings of past leaders forgotten with time; it seems imperative that we relive their experiences (as we’ve done in the previous pages) and redeliver their messages and warnings.
One such noteworthy warning comes from a young Illinois Senator, Abraham Lincoln (soon to become the nation’s 16th President), in his The Perpetuation of Our Political Institutions speech where he warned his audience of an impending destructive force. A force not from outside the nation as President Washington had warned 41-years earlier, but a destructive force coming from within the country itself: A destructive force he would call the Towering Genius. “Distinction,” Senator Lincoln said of him, “will be his paramount object, and although he would as willingly, perhaps more so, acquire [distinction] by doing good as harm; yet, that opportunity being past, and nothing left to be done in the way of building up, he would set boldly to the task of pulling down.” The man (or woman) Senator Lincoln spoke of would not be satisfied with a path well traveled by others; or maintaining the traditions, norms and rules of law already established; but his or her goal would be to dismantle and destroy if distinction would be the end result.
Today, one may argue that we are living within, and witnessing, an age of one or a multitude of the “Towering Genius” Lincoln spoke of—whether residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, housed at the Department of Justice, or walking through the Halls of Congress.
What do we do?
Lincoln poised the question of what to do when such a “Towering Genius” would sprout up among us; and answers the question with: “And when such a one does, it will require the people to be united with each other, attached to the government and laws, and generally intelligent, to successfully frustrate his designs.”
Lincoln’s speech would come on the heels of horrific scenes of violence which stunned the nation. (In two separate incidents, a mob would murder Elijah Lovejoy, a Presbyterian minister and abolitionist, for printing anti-slavery literature; and abduct a Negro (Francis McIntosh) from jail, tie him to a tree, and set him ablaze.) In the wake of the violence, he warned of the demise of a country without the rule of law. But a more important take-away from his speech—as we enter another election season with foreign intervention—is that of a foreign attack on the nation: “At what point shall we expect the approach of danger?” he asks. “By what means shall we fortify against it? Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant to step the ocean and crush us at a blow? Never! . . . At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.” And in this time of ambivalent patriotism—if destruction be our fate—one can only question if the gun is already in Lady Liberty’s hand, with the finger of a dying democracy on the trigger.
- 16th President
- 45th President
- Abuse of power
- Benedict Arnold
- British collusion
- Conspiring with foreign nationals
- Elijah Lovejoy
- Federal Campaign Laws
- Foreign election interference
- Francis McIntosh
- French interference
- Hillary Clinton
- Hunter Biden
- July 25th call
- June 14
- Marcus Tullius Cicero
- President Abraham Lincoln
- President Donald Trump
- President George Washington
- Russian interference
- Senator Abraham Lincoln
- Towering Genius
- U.S. Democratic process
- U.S. Elections
- U.S. Electoral Process
- Vice President Joe Biden
- Volodymyr Zelensky