(Early) Monday Smackdown: Garland Tucker: If We Don't Honor John C. Calhoun, We Will Forget How Awful He Was
Monday Smackdown: This may be the stupidest thing I have read this year! Shame on the FT for publishing it!
I get 4480 results on google for "Garland Tucker". I get no results before this morning for "'Garland Tucker' +Calhoun". The fact that Yale's Calhoun College has been named for John C. Calhoun all of Garland Tucker's life has never led him to say anything about how bad a person John C. Calhoun was. Garland Tucker has had his chance all his life before now to use the honor Yale has done Calhoun to, as he quotes Cicero, "not be a child". He whiffed it.
For, you see, Tucker doesn't think Calhoun is bad: his position as the most powerful pro-slavery politician and leading intellectual advocate for the expansion of slavery in the first half of the nineteenth century is, in Garland Tucker's eyes, vastly less important than Calhoun's being a "free trader and" and opponent of "expanding federal government... bloated bureaucracy, patronage abuses... and ever-higher tariffs..."
But John C. Calhoun's role in history is not "complex"--it is evil, starting at the top of the evil tree and hitting every branch all the way down:
Garland Tucker: Expunging slave-owners’ names erases our complex history: "Calhoun will no longer be Calhoun.... Yale... after eight decades it will rename one of its residential colleges...
...The university’s original 1931 decision to honour alumnus John C Calhoun was never intended as a tribute to Calhoun’s ignoble defence of slavery... [but] a recognition of his stature as a leading American political thinker, senator, and vice-president. For much of Calhoun’s career, the tariff—not slavery—was the battleground issue of greatest national consequence. Calhoun was a free trader and feared an expanding federal government which would mean a bloated bureaucracy, patronage abuses by the executive branch and ever-higher tariffs. It was only after the Nullification Crisis of 1833, which erupted after the state of South Carolina declared tariffs levied by the federal government null and void, that Calhoun turned increasingly to a defence of slavery....
Daniel Webster, the Massachusetts senator and former secretary of state, praised him as a “man of undoubted genius and of commanding talent”.... Elihu Yale himself participated in the slave trade in Madras.... College administrators are seeking to cleanse the American scene of any history that does not fit perfectly into 21st-century morality.... There is something useful in knowing that our forerunners were capable not only of great achievements, but also evil. Cicero saw the challenge—and the danger—clearly: “To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a child”...
John C. Calhoun was a Representative 1811-17, Secretary of War 1817-25, Vice President 1825-32, Senator 1832-43 and 1845-50, and Secretary of State 1844-45. Even Garland Tucker should be able to do the math to note that Nullification came not near the end but halfway through his career.
I teach an average of 300 students a year what a lousy person Calhoun was, and I will keep doing so. I am a person who has, in the past, used the existence of Calhoun College as a moment to maintain historical memory and teach about American slavery. Garland Tucker has not. Garland Tucker has never spoken publicly before about Calhoun's destructive role in American politics.