Wednesday, March 05, 2008

And Boy, Do We Need It Now

An excellent post from Sheila on the Boston Massacre, which occurred 238 years ago today.

My favorite part:

One of the most important things about the Boston massacre is John Adams' part in the aftermath of it. He, a lawyer in the area, defended the British soldiers. Nobody could accuse him of harboring sympathies for the British crown - although, of course, that was what he was accused of. And whatever he may have thought about the soldiers, he did think they deserved a defense. And whatever this new entity would be ... whatever this new nation would be, if they ever freed themselves from the British yoke - Adams was committed to the idea that it would be a nation "of laws, not men".

Laws above men. It is the principle of the thing. (It reminds me of the great story of Alexander Hamilton lambasting the unruly crowds clamoring to attack the pro-British president of King's College. He was just a student at that time, and although he was on his way to being a full-time revolutionary - any mob like that terrified and angered him. He stood on the steps of the college and made a fiery speech about liberty that people talked about later - it was remembered. Pretty amazing.) The detachment of these gentlemen. Principled detachment.

Think about it. "Laws above men." "Principled detachment."

Principled detachment.

Something that is likely to be in very short supply between now and November.

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