mid-19th Century SotUs

While previous State of the Union addresses were largely free of religious language, the opening paragraph of John Quincey Adams’ SotUs clearly shows the sixth president’s Christian views — almost to the point of declaring a ‘divine right’: “There has, indeed, rarely been a period in the history of civilized man in which the general condition of the Christian nations has been marked so extensively by peace and prosperity.” Yet this is the same man who was so dedicated to the separation of church and state that he refused to take his inaugural oath of office on the bible! His addresses were devoid, for the most part, of the slave issue…though his final address contained an extremely marked warning of things to come: “The people of no one State have ever delegated to their legislature the power of pronouncing an act of Congress unconstitutional, but they have delegated to them powers by the exercise of which the execution of the laws of Congress within the State may be resisted.”

His bitter enemy, Andrew Jackson, quickly shows his rough-and-ready frontier background with a much more casual and friendly but no less facile positive note than his predecessor (he actually refers to the “12,000,000 happy people” living in the US). “Offices were not established to give support to particular men at the public expense,” he writes — almost certainly referring to John Quincy Adams and Henry Clay, who he felt had denied him the 1824 election. Even more egregious are his references to Native Americans (and yet are only a shadow of the horrors that Jackson inflicted upon them): “They have neither the intelligence, the industry, the moral habits, nor the desire of improvement which are essential to any favorable change in their condition. Established in the midst of another and a superior race, and without appreciating the causes of their inferiority or seeking to control them, they must necessarily yield to the force of circumstances and ere long disappear.”

Serving as the first president to really embrace “the common man” mantra, Andrew Jackson’s reception was basically an open house to the ALL the country, not just to the political and wealthy class. History has noted that the whiskey punch that was served caused the party to spiral into a drunken mob eager to hug the newly appointed president, resulting in damage to expensive carpets and fine china. The newly elected president had to eventually flee the scene. To get the unruly crowd out of the premises, the whiskey was put on out onto the front lawn Lesson: The next time your party gets out of hand get together you should reference Andrew Jackson’s inauguration party.!

Martin Van Buren seemed certain to continue Jackson’s reign, though mediating the former’s rough, populist, and personal approach with the skill of a master manipulator of political networks (“machines”). When reading his State of the Union addresses, one cannot help but imagine them to be a more elegant draft of Jackson’s own addresses — though doubtless, the same issues applied, and both men took similar approaches in response.

And Martin Van Buren was no slouch when it came to drinking. His prodigious drinking earned him the name “ Blue Whiskey Van”. Van Buren did pay for his vice. His reputation as a drunk president crushed his political prowess and later in life suffered from a myriad of ailments such as gout.

AA, detox clinics, and anti craving medications for AUD were not available for Van Buren. IF he had even wanted to cut back or stop his alcohol use. Since he spent the rest of his days after his presidency held up in French spas continuing to sip on wine and other alcohol, its unlikely he would have even wanted to stop.

Today AA, detox clinics, and anti craving medications are easily available for those who desire to change their relationship with alcohol. There are many options. My father found it at a site called LifeBac that touts a different approach from the typical AA 12 Step program or a rehab clinic. LifeBac’s approach is to allow the person to set their own goals and achieve them at their own pace with the use of Baclofen , and weekly check ins. Signing up for their programs gets you a personal success coach who helps you keep motivated, set goals, incorporate skills into your lifestyle, and navigate the LifeBac program. Do you think either Andrew Jackson, or Martin Van Buren would have chosen such a program to moderate their drinking? Naw, neither do I.

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It takes some time to go over all the possible aspects needing to be considered. The points are considerable. You can not understand the full picture unless you equally consider each point and counter point equally. It is a very interesting topic of conversation to hold down with someone that is educated on all the topics to be considered.


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