Monarchism in America

Comparative politics is a sub-genre with the field of political science that deals with the different structures of government. Dissimilar forms of the State can be primarily distinguished between top-down versus bottom-up flows of sovereignty. A particular style of governance that was once considered during the formation of the early American republic was none other than monarchism.

 

 

During the revolutionary period, it must be kept in mind that the thirteen colonies had inherited a monarchical tradition from Britain. At the end of 1776, Congress resolved that “General Washington be possessed of full power to order and direct all things relative to the department, and the operations of war,” effectively making him a military dictator under the condition known as martial law. Surprisingly, Samuel Adams capitulated that it had “become necessary” for Congress to do this; even one member of that body complained that:

 

“General Washington must be invested with dictatorial powers for a few months, or we are undone. The vis inertiae of the Congress has almost ruined this country.”

 

Despite Tom Paine’s Common Sense being inflammatorily anti-monarchical, it should be kept in mind that during the Siege of Boston, both armies prayed for the person of King George III as well as the Protestant Succession.

Perhaps the biggest contingent of monarchical sympathies was within the Continental Army itself. Colonel Matthias Ogden proposed a plan to capture Prince William Henry during his visit to New York City in September of 1781, perhaps as part of a larger strategy to reconcile with England by enthroning the son of George III as the patriots’ king; despite the fact that the operation never occurred, it was approved by none other than General Washington himself. Colonel Lewis Nicola wrote the following year to the General expressing his desire for an American monarch:

 

“This abominable financial condition of Congress must have shown to all, and to military men in particular, the weakness of republics, and the exertions of the army had been able to make by being under a proper head…. [s]ome people have so connected the ideas of tyranny and monarchy, as to find it very difficult to separate them. It may be therefore requisite to give the head of such a constitution, as I propose, some title apparently more moderate; but if all other things were once adjusted, I believe strong arguments might be produced for admitting the title of King, which I conceived would be attended with some material advantages.”

 

Needless to say, the General recoiled at what the Colonel was suggesting, and thus the antipathy of Washington becoming the first American king had begun.

In the effort to form civil government, especially through the ratification of the federal Constitution, the proclivity towards monarchy was anything but absent. Following the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, a letter was published in Philadelphia stating:

 

“[T]he genius of the Americans… is of a monarchical spirit; this is natural from the government they have ever lived under. It is therefore impossible to found a simple Republic in America. Another reason that operates strongly against such a government is the great distinctions of person, and difference in their estates or property, which co-operates strongly with the genius of the people in favor of monarchy.”

 

Interestingly, the accusation of being monarchical was used by the Federalists against the anti-federalist Republicans; however, it would not be far off the mark to turn that accusation around and apply it to the Federalists themselves, specifically Alexander Hamilton, who viewed republicanism as a stop-gap of sorts before American monarchism was ready to become established. The reason why this never happened is because there was never the formation of a cohesively visible aggregation of American monarchists (composed largely of educated soldiers) who pressured openly for the total centralization of political power into a new line of royalty to which they would pledge their undying allegiance.

Contemporary American monarchism has been vastly underemphasized by the alternative media. Who could forget the fascination that typical Americans had with Princess Diana and her subsequent untimely demise? How about the fairly recent royal wedding between Prince William Arthur Philip Louis and Catherine Middleton? Or the goings-on of Queen Elizabeth II in general? Why would average Americans care one twit about the British royal family if there wasn’t still some undercurrent of admiration for monarchy? The author even admits to being a member of The Constantian Society since 1981, and he lists some other American monarchist organizations and websites, such as the Royalist Party of America, RoyaltyMonarchy.com, and the now-defunct Monarchist Society of America.

William Moody’s Monarchism in America is an absolutely fascinating examination into the monarchical undercurrent present in the history of early America. While monarchism is admittedly a form of statism, the absolute monarchists constitute some of the most virile political dissidents in these United States that I have ever seen. I would strongly suggest that, regardless of your own personal political orientation, you take a little bit of time and understand where these folks are coming from by, at the very least, listening to the 51st episode of The Last Bastille Podcast as well as taking a look at the Monarchist Party.

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One Response to Monarchism in America

  1. Pingback: Anarchist Odyssey of the Federalist Papers, Part 3 - Liberty Under Attack

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