Thomas Hart Benton & Cultural Warfare

My late sister was the wife of Garth Benton the cousin of the famous artist, Thomas Hart Benton, who conquered the West with a paint brush, he becoming famous for his scenes of cowboys, trailblazers, folks caught up in the philosophy of his grandfather who preached Manifest Destiny.

“Go west young man!”

Senator Thomas Hart Benton did not invent the idea that it was the divine destiny for the Celtic Peoples to capture all of this beautiful country, but, he was the master of the three ring circus this destiny became, it taking us ten thousand mile across the Pacific to Vietnam. As the last of the World War Two Vets pass on, and as the baby boomers reach retirement age, then it is to the war in Vietnam that American Veterans will gaze upon, along with the diverse culture that did not go, was not buying it, and looked for alternative ways.

It is from the Alternative Seekers that the Arab Spring was born. Young people all through the Mideast have put down the divine manifest destiny of Islam, and picked up the cell phone and began to text one another, speak up while captured in a oppressive society by a dictator who had to have his way – only! Hello Mario Savio!

Last week, Egypt held the first real democratic election in a ancient land that surrendered to Islam and the prophet Mohammed. Young Lybians caught their dictator in a storm drain like a rat, and voted him out of office with a bullet to the head. The mad man in Syria uses his nation’s military to bomb his own people which is reminiscence of the John Daily employing paid public servants to destroy the anti-war movement during Chicago convention.

The antiwar movent, is anti-manifest destiny, but most of my peers do not know this because we dismissed American History because we believed it favored Military Conquest as a way of life. That the U.S. military gets a huge portion of the Tax Pie, while the Peace Movement does not get a dime, speaks volumes to me. Indeed, the Evangelical Warrior Church of Manifest Destiny has declared war on the Peace Movement and is defunding the Arts – everywhere!

During the 70s there was a anti-war movement in many Christian Churches, that has been taken over by military veterans who clam in they are ministers of Jesus, doing his war-like Crusader will. For this reason I have been asking folks if Jesus founded a Democracy anywhere in the world. One person pointed to the Great Commission.

Garth, Christine, and Drew Benton, were, and are, professional Artists. Drew is on the verge of making a living from her artistic gifts. As the family Historian and a gifted artist, I am inclined to concentrate on these creative folks, verses the military branch of our family. I will present the contributions of both so a comparison can be made, and conclusions arrived at: for there exists a better way.

Hopefully I will post on Youtube the scene I shot at the Grand Canyon where I arrive five minutes after my daughter, my grandson, and Bill Cornwell arrive – at the edge. Bill is furious and won’t look at me or talk to me, because I have ruined his trip to the canyon, intercepted his Manifest Destiny, which is to become the only adult male in my family. Bill has bonded with my grandson and can not stand the idea that his grandfather is an old hippie who insulted his father, the Vietnam Vet who chose a military career. I approach Tyler Hunt and ask this six year old boy what he thinks of this godly scene and he says;

“I’m bored!”

I talk to my daughter, but she only mutters a few words. She is fixated on Bill’s Big Mood, she backing it up, and agreeing that whatever silent meassage Her Man is braodcasting – she can only hear him loud and clear. It doesn’t take much mind or body reading here.

“This is mine – all mine! Your daughter and grandson are mine. I deserve all this and you dont! I wish your were dead. I wish you were at the bottom of this canyon in a crumpled heap. I want everything you got. It’s mine, mine, mine!”

Ahhhh! Poor Baby Billy is having a sissy-fit, because there are other males in his Grand Scene and Scheme of things, and I am not one of his like-mind drinking bubbas, so he can’t bullshit me, can’t impress me with how much beer he can belt down. When I was an alcoholic, I was called ‘Aqua-lungs’ because of the all the beer I consumed. The bullshit that spew forth from my mouth would fill this canyon – twice. I was dismayed that my future son-in-law had such a limited repertoire, there only one color on his pallet the color of – ME!

“Me, me, me!”

I have watched videos of Patrice shoving our daughter into a sweat lodge, or into the center of a Wiccan circle, she grinning ear to ear as she shouts

“Isn’t she beautiful. Isn’t she great. Isnet she so independent. And she gets it tall from – ME! Me! Me! Me!”

It was Ron Hubbard’s version of Benton’s Manifest Destiny that disapeared my daughter from my life the second. As I boarded the Greyhound bus the day after our spat at Wolf House, Patrice turned to our sixteen year old daughter and said;

“Your father is going to betray is just like Randy betrayed us. I would not lay eyes on my daughter again until she was nineteen, and pregnant out of wedlock.

When Bill called me to scold me, he said;

“I’m a traditional kind of guy.”

Oh, then you respect elders and dont’ screw my daughter, yet, because you two aren’t married

No wonder offspring was bored!

Seven years earlier I had a similar scene with Patrice Hanson as we sat on a bench looking at the ruin of Jack London’s Wolf House. I told my fiance about the plaques I read about how Jack’s widow fought the parasites who glommed on to this famous literary legacy.

“I’m going through the same thing with my sister’s legacy. There is this Getty guy who was my father’s private lender, and…………”

Patrice had a hard time hearing what I was saying, especially when I told her how Heather coming into my life was so important, because alas I have an Heir to my legacy – and the Creative Legacy in my family.

All of a sudden Patrice has a scowl on her face. She is very unhappy as she says;

“Are you saying Heather gets all her talent from you, and none from me!”

Here is a woman who had two sons from different men, and put our daughter in the arms of her husband for him to raise and enjoy as his own, and, is Patrice suggesting my daughter gets none of her gifts from me – and my creative family members! Of course she is, because she used this newborn infant to come into my creative being and take! take! take! the same was Randall Delpiano took, when he pretended to be Bob Weir.

Patrice was a happy headinest hippie, one of those hippie women liberationist who dismissed the hippie male along with all males, and adopted the divine woman, thing, which is to say it was all about Patrice.

“Me! Me! Me! ME!”

When Bill called me to scold me, he said;

“I’m a tradtional kind of guy.”

Oh, then you respect elders and dont’ screw my daughter, yet, because you two aren’t married. This is what I wanted to say to this narcissistic dude, and now got my chance when he said;

“You ruined Tyler’s trip to the Grand Canyon.”

“How did Ido that?”

“You got tired and thus he did not get to see that museum.”
“Bill. You are mistaken. We did see that museum because that’s where we found you after you had a fit because I wanted Heather to drive the rental car home.”

Bill’s retort was he was angry because I wanted to drive home. He told me I was a lousy driver, and he did not want that, he fearing for the safety of his family.

“Bill, you never beheld my bad driving skills, because I never drove with you in the car.”

“Yes you did!”

“No I didn’t”

And, that’s that, the story of how I lost my Heirs to a dude who was hung over almost every day I was around him!

I never met a drunk who was not a firm subscribe to manifest destiny, whose main complain was, there are too many people in america.

“They cramp my style. I am so bitter! why doesnt God kill most of them, so I can alas have a happy life! Just ME…………..and God!”

“You are so right! Can I buy you some more fire water, partner?”

Patrice Hanson tried to conquer America with her vagina that spewed out fatherless children of the goddess. She hae the conquering male penis philosophy that made celtic Men the rulers of most of the world because they put a chastity belt on their daughters and wives lest they give birth to usurper of the kingdom. Both Heather and her mother have traditionally ried to control The Family Power with their ability to born children. Bill Cornwell walked right into their trap, heard their witchy wish;

“Get him, the evil penis one. The pretender!”

Nice going – ace! Heather told me Tyler called Bill the best Daddy he ever had! We are expendable! We donate our sperm to the goddess, and dutifully jump off a cliff into the void!

There is a lot of talk about who killed Hippie and his movement. It was Patrice, and her ilk. For we were young, and agreed to be equal. But, our women got pregnant, born living beings into the world, and suddenly the Hippie bag of tricks looked, childish….our lava lamp, our cigar box of zig-zags and pot seeds, our, record collection, our ambiguous lawless history that rendered us – bad father material.

Sure, it was once all about me, then I started reading history – and it is all about me! Talk about manifest destiny! However, most women believe history is the biggest male trick – in history – and want no part of it!

Today, it is all about Motherhood, and fatherless children, who are not getting a education, thus, they know nothing, and that is just how Patrice and Heather like it, and like their men – dumb as all get out!

“O.K. Bill! You win. you get my famiy and the Grand Canyon, but, I get the History!”

The sister-in-law of Christine Rosamond Benton was Maryanne Thoraldson, who was adirect descendant of Eric the Red Thorvaldsen whose son, Leif Ericson, discovered America, according to some Historians. Here is the arhcitypal Manifest Destiny that was made into a movie about the Sinclairs being descended from Jesus – and Vickings! Rena and Bill Arnold also have Vicking blood.
My ex-wife lived with the Beat writer, Thomas Pynchon, knew one of the Chicago Seven, and painted a life-size portrait of Mimi Baez, the sister of Joan Baez, the Queen of the Anti-war Movement – because Bob Dylan refused to serve, refused to be King and lead us……show us the way!

Garth Benton looks like Senator Thomas Hart Benton.

Jon Presco

Copyright 2012

Erik the Red, byname of Erik Thorvaldson, Norwegian Eirik Raude, or Eirik Torvaldsson (flourished 10th century, Norway), founder of the first European settlement on Greenland (c. 986) and the father of Leif Eriksson, one of the first Europeans to reach North America.

As a child, Erik left his native Norway for western Iceland with his father, Thorvald, who had been exiled for manslaughter. In the Scandinavian style of the time he was known as Erik Thorvaldson and in his youth was nicknamed Erik the Red.

Manifest Destiny had serious consequences for Native Americans, since continental expansion implicitly meant the occupation and annexation of Native American land, sometimes to expand slavery. The United States continued the European practice of recognizing only limited land rights of indigenous Peoples. In a policy formulated largely by Henry Knox, Secretary of War in the Washington Administration, the U.S. government sought to expand into the west through the nominally legal (by United States law) purchase of Native American land in treaties. Indians were encouraged to sell their vast tribal lands and become “civilized”, which meant (among other things) for Native American men to abandon hunting and become farmers, and for their society to reorganize around the family unit rather than the clan or tribe. The United States therefor acquired lands by treaty from Indian nations, usually under circumstances which suggest a lack of voluntary and knowing consent by the native signers, and in many cases a lack of authority by the signers to make any such transaction.

Manifest Destiny was always a general notion rather than a specific policy. The term combined a belief in expansionism with other popular ideas of the era, including American exceptionalism and Romantic nationalism. While many writers focus primarily upon American expansionism when discussing Manifest Destiny, others see in the term a broader expression of a belief in America’s “mission” in the world, which has meant different things to different people over the years. This variety of possible meanings was summed up by Ernest Lee Tuveson, who wrote:
A vast complex of ideas, policies, and actions is comprehended under the phrase ‘Manifest Destiny’. They are not, as we should expect, all compatible, nor do they come from any one source.[7]

John L. O’Sullivan, sketched in 1874, was an influential columnist as a young man, but is now generally remembered only for his use of the phrase “Manifest Destiny” to advocate the annexation of Texas and Oregon.
Journalist John L. O’Sullivan, an influential advocate for Jacksonian democracy, wrote an article in 1839[8] which, while not using the term “Manifest Destiny”, did predict a “divine destiny” for the United States based upon values such as equality, rights of conscience, and personal enfranchisement– “to establish on earth the moral dignity and salvation of man”. This destiny was not explicitly territorial, but O’Sullivan predicted that the United States would be one of a “Union of many Republics” sharing those values.[9]

Six years later O’Sullivan wrote another essay which first used the phrase Manifest Destiny. In 1845, he published a piece entitled Annexation in the Democratic Review,[10] in which he urged the U.S. to annex the Republic of Texas, not only because Texas desired this, but because it was “our manifest destiny to overspread the continent allotted by Providence for the free development of our yearly multiplying millions”.

The United States had long been interested in acquiring Cuba from the declining Spanish Empire. As with Texas, Oregon, and California, American policy makers were concerned that Cuba would fall into British hands, which, according to the thinking of the Monroe Doctrine, would constitute a threat to the interests of the United States. Prompted by John L. O’Sullivan, in 1848 President Polk offered to buy Cuba from Spain for $100 million. Polk feared that filibustering would hurt his effort to buy the island, and so he informed the Spanish of an attempt by the Cuban filibuster Narciso L√≥pez to seize Cuba by force and annex it to the U.S., and the plot was foiled. Nevertheless, Spain declined to sell the island, which ended Polk’s efforts to acquire Cuba. O’Sullivan, on the other hand, continued to steal money for filibustering expeditions, eventually landing him in legal trouble

Manifest Destiny had serious consequences for Native Americans, since continental expansion implicitly meant the occupation and annexation of Native American land, sometimes to expand slavery. The United States continued the European practice of recognizing only limited land rights of indigenous peoples. In a policy formulated largely by Henry Knox, Secretary of War in the Washington Administration, the U.S. government sought to expand into the west through the nominally legal (by United States law) purchase of Native American land in treaties. Indians were encouraged to sell their vast tribal lands and become “civilized”, which meant (among other things) for Native American men to abandon hunting and become farmers, and for their society to reorganize around the family unit rather than the clan or tribe. The United States therefore acquired lands by treaty from Indian nations, usually under circumstances which suggest a lack of voluntary and knowing consent by the native signers, and in many cases a lack of authority by the signers to make any such transaction.

Wandering Lizard
History Biographical Notes
Thomas Hart Benton
Thomas Hart Benton was born on March 14, 1782. His father and mother, Jesse and Ann (nicknamed Nancy) Benton, had a small plantation just outside of Hillsborough, North Carolina. Jesse speculated in land and practiced law in Orange County. He was an investor in the Transylvania Company and acquired title to extensive lands in areas that later were to become Kentucky and Tennessee. When she married Jesse, Ann Gooch was the ward of Thomas Hart, a representative to the first North Carolina revolutionary convention and a colonel in George Washington’s army. Jesse and Ann named their first son after their friend, benefactor, and business associate, Thomas Hart. In 1783 the family moved to a larger plantation called Hartford that they had purchased from Thomas Hart. As young Thomas was growing up, Jesse continued to add to the family’s land holdings, but went into debt to do it. When Jesse died in 1791, Ann became despondent and seriously ill, but, with help from Thomas Hart, she managed to pay off her husband’s debts and retain an estate of over one thousand acres. She also home schooled her son with readings designed to facilitate a legal education. In his early teens Thomas attended a private school in Hillsborough. In 1798 he entered the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, but was expelled the following year for having stolen money from a fellow student.

After the disgrace at Chapel Hill, Thomas returned home, but in 1801 Ann decided to move her family to Tennessee. They settled on land twenty-five miles south of Nashville. Nineteen year old Thomas helped build their new home, clear their land, and plant their first crops. Their fields were planted to corn and cotton and worked by slaves. The family also leased out parts of their land to other settlers and a small community grew up around their home. In the fall of 1801 Thomas was called to jury duty in a case heard by Judge Andrew Jackson. Thomas was impressed with Jackson and adopted him as something of a role model. In 1804 Thomas taught school in a place called Duck River about forty miles from home. In 1806 he was granted a license to practice law in Tennessee and on July 15, 1806, he began his practice in Williamson County, Tennessee. In 1807 Thomas again ran into Jackson and was adopted into the older man’s political following. In 1808 Thomas began writing articles for publication in local journals. Signing his name as Sir John Oldcastle, his first articles were critical of Tennessee’s legal procedures. A second set of articles signed Oldcastle addressed the presidential election of 1808. The articles were well received by the public and started him on a career in politics. In 1809 he was elected to the State Senate of Tennessee. One of his first accomplishments as a senator was passage of legislation reforming the legal system.

In 1810 Benton was involved in a court case of interest to Andrew Jackson. Although it did not result in the outcome that Jackson wanted he was impressed with Benton’s performance and the two men became personal friends. At the time Jackson was extremely influential in state politics and the public noticed Benton’s association with the “kingmaker.” In 1812, as war with England approached, Major General Jackson commanded the Tennessee state militia. Benton was initially commissioned captain of a militia infantry company and in November he was elected colonel of the Tennessee Militia’s Second Infantry Regiment. He was also assigned to Jackson’s staff as an aide-de-camp. In January 1813 Jackson led his troops including Benton’s regiment south to reinforce New Orleans in case of an attack by the British. In February Jackson was ordered to disband his troops because the British were no longer expected to attack New Orleans. Jackson decided to march his troops back to Nashville rather than abandon them as ordered. During this march Jackson’s men were impressed with the toughness of their commander and started calling him “Old Hickory.” In May 1813 Benton went to Washington in an effort to get a commission in the regular army and an assignment that would get him into combat. He succeeded in obtaining a commission as lieutenant colonel with assignment to the Regular Army’s Thirty-ninth Infantry Regiment.

In June 1813, Jackson served as a second for Billy Carroll in a duel with Jesse Benton, Jr., Thomas’s brother. Both men were severely wounded and the Benton-Jackson friendship came to an abrupt end. In September, in Nashville, Jesse and Thomas Benton met Jackson and one of his friends, Colonel John Coffee. Fist-fighting erupted, knives were used, shots were fired, and Jackson was badly wounded in the arm while Thomas Benton received several minor knife wounds. Before the fight ended several other people got into it and it finally ended when the last men standing fell down a flight of stairs. The Bentons claimed victory, but recognized that Thomas’s political future in Tennessee was damaged beyond repair. Later that month, Jackson led the militia against a band of Creek Indians led by Chief Red Eagle and scored what was counted to be an important victory against British inspired hostile Indian attack. Benton, no longer in the militia, was involved in organizing and training the 39th Infantry Regiment. In 1814 Benton’s unit was ordered to join General Jackson in an all-out attack on hostile Indians, but, to his dismay, Benton was directed to return to Nashville on recruitment duties. In June Jackson assumed command of the entire Southwest Military District. Benton tried repeatedly to get into action with either Indians or the British, but Jackson consistently refused to permit it. In frustration Benton again went to Washington seeking a combat position in the north. After a very long wait he was finally ordered to Canada just as word came of Jackson’s victory in New Orleans and the signing of the treaty that ended the war.

Biographical Notes
Thomas Hart Benton
In 1815 Benton resigned his commission and determined not to return to Tennessee. Instead he headed for St. Louis, Missouri. In St. Louis he took up temporary residence in the home of Charles Gratiot, an early French settler and well-connected merchant. Through Gratiot, Benton was quickly introduced to the Missouri Territory’s leading citizens. In October 1815, Benton registered to practice law in St. Louis and soon developed a successful practice that emphasized land claim litigation. In May 1817, Benton brought his mother to live with him in St. Louis. That same year Territorial Governor William Clark appointed him to the Board of Trustees for Schools in St. Louis. He also began writing articles for the Western Emigrant newspaper. In September Benton killed Charles Lucas in a duel on Bloody Island in the Mississippi River opposite St. Louis. Charles was the son of Judge John B. Lucas. Judge Lucas had already taken a dislike to Benton and following the death of his son became an even more embittered lifelong enemy. In 1818 Benton became editor of the Western Emigrant and changed the name of the newspaper to the St. Louis Enquirer. Benton’s articles dealt with a wide variety of issues and did much to get his name and views out into the political arena Benton also involved himself in various business activities including an investment in the Bank of St. Louis. This bank had a troubled history, collapsed, and was replaced by the Bank of Missouri. Benton took a great interest in banking and the Enquirer ran numerous articles on the subject.

By 1819 Benton was advocating statehood for Missouri, adjustment of land titles derived from Spanish grants, protection for fur traders, an end to the government operated trading posts (the factory system), privatization of the local salt and lead industries, a series of transportation improvements and the establishment of St. Louis as being a U.S. port of entry with its own customs house. The slavery issue complicated the argument for statehood and two opposing factions emerged locally and at the national level. Benton was quick to take the pro-slavery side in the debate vigorously arguing that Missouri should be admitted as a slave-holding state. One of the most ardent leaders of the anti-slavery cause was Judge Lucas. In 1819 Benton was elected to the Board of Trustees for St. Louis. In the closing days of 1819 the first Missouri compromise was proposed by Senator J. B. Thomas of Illinois. This bill called for the admission of Maine as a non-slave state and Missouri as a slave-holding state. President Monroe signed the legislation on March 6, 1820. In September Thomas Hart Benton and David Barton were elected to be the first two senators to represent Missouri in the United States Senate. On the way to Washington right after his election, Benton stopped in Cherry Grove, Virginia, and proposed marriage to Elizabeth McDowell. He had proposed to her once before in 1815 on his way to St. Louis, but she had rejected him. This time she said yes.

Benton arrived in Washington in November and attended the opening session of Congress on December 13, 1820, as a senator elect. Judge Lucas wrote to all of his acquaintances attempting to poison Benton’s reception, but most Washingtonians seemed to like him. The sole exceptions were the allies of Andrew Jackson. In Congress the question of Missouri statehood was under a cloud because of a provision in the new state’s constitution that prohibited free black persons from entering the state. Henry Clay crafted the second Missouri compromise which got around the issue by having Missouri legislature pledge that it would not enact any legislation which conflicted with the U.S. Constitution. Congress adjourned on March 3, 1821, and Benton was married to Elizabeth McDowell on March 20. In May they arrived in St. Louis. The economy was seriously depressed in 1821 and Missouri was hit hard. The opening of the Santa Fe trade helped to stimulate Missouri’s economy, but not before the Bank of Missouri was forced to close its doors. Benton as a director of the bank was saddled with additional debt with the bank’s failure. In December 1821, when Congress reconvened, Benton was at long last seated in the senate. Benton went to work quickly and offered numerous bills designed to deal with the issues that he believed faced his state and the union. Most of them were focused on Spanish land titles, the fur trade and the lead mines. In May 1822 he succeeded in getting legislation through both houses of congress which eliminated the government operated trading posts in Indian territory.

In 1823 Benton began focusing on Oregon, arguing that steps should be taken to assure that the territory would eventually become part of the United States. An agreement with Great Britain calling for joint occupation was to expire in 1828. In 1824 Benton began agitating for a constitutional amendment that would do away with the electoral college and permit direct election of the president. He also offered a plan to change the government’s land policy making it easier for common citizens to purchase government lands. In support of his various proposals he began printing leaflets for public distribution in an attempt to gain public support for his policies. In the fall of 1823 Jackson was elected to the Senate from Tennessee. He and Benton reconciled their differences, sat next to each other in the senate, and worked well together on the Military Affairs Committee. On May 31, 1824 Elizabeth gave birth to their second child – Jessie Ann Benton. In the run up to the 1824 presidential election Benton supported his cousin-in-law Henry Clay over Andrew Jackson, John Quincy Adams, and William H. Crawford. In that election eighteen of the twenty-four states selected their candidate of choice by popular vote rather than by the respective state legislatures. Jackson received the greatest number of popular votes but only 99 electoral votes. Adams was next with 84 electoral votes, then Crwaford with 41 and finally Clay with 37. None had received enough electoral votes to win the presidency and the elction was thrown into the House of Representatives.

Once it was clear that Clay could not be elected, Benton switched his support to Jackson, but Adams emerged as President and Clay was made Secretary of State. Jackson’s supporters claimed that Adams had made a “corrupt bargain” with Clay that would ensure that Clay would succeed him to the presidency in 1828. Benton rejected this charge, but no longer supported Clay. Eventually the two men ceased to be personal friends. In April 1825 Benton was part of the official welcome party for the Marquis de Lafayette’s visit to St. Louis. That same year a new newspaper was established in the city and absorbed the Enquirer. The Missouri Advocate continued the Enquirer’s earlier support of Benton, but over time drifted away from him. During the four years of Adam’s presidency Benton was in the forefront of the political opposition to the president and his policies and grew closer to Jackson who was planning to contend for the presidency again in 1828. Benton’s fellow senator from Missouri, David Barton, took the side of the administration. The two men became political opponents and eventually refused to speak to each other. In March 1826 Elizabeth had their third child – Sarah Benton. Benton was overwhelmingly reelected to the senate in 1826. In February 1827 the Adams administration demanded payment of Benton’s share of the obligations still due of the defunct Bank of Missouri.
Benton’s popularity was growing nationally. In May 1827 the Philanthropic Society of the University of North Carolina decided to expunge his earlier disgrace by readmitting him to its membership. With the 1828 presidential election approaching, Benton campaigned vigorously for Jackson and helped build a strong grass roots organization to get out the vote. When the votes were tallied Jackson decisively defeated Adams in Missouri and in the nation. In 1829 in a series of articles signed Americanus and another signed LaSalle, Benton argued that Texas should be purchased from Mexico. On November 11, 1829, Elizabeth gave birth to their first son – John Randolph Benton. In December 1830, Jackson called on Congress to replace the Bank of the United States (B.U.S.) with a new organization that was not privately held. Benton enthusiastically supported Jackson’s attack on the B.U.S. and began publicly calling for paper money to be replaced with hard currency. In 1831 Nicolas Biddle decided to press for immediate renewal of the B.U.S. charter rather than to wait for the end of its charter in 1836. Benton opposed the move, but Congress voted to approve the renewal. Jackson vetoed the legislation and his opponents were unable to override it. In 1832 Benton was again overwhelmingly reelected to the senate. In 1832, presidential candidates were selected for the first time in national party conventions. In the subsequent election, Jackson decisively defeated Clay.
In 1832 some tariff legislation sparked a debate over state’s rights and the meaning of the constitution. A state convention in South Carolina declared that a state had the right to nullify federal tariffs. Vice President Calhoun resigned as Vice President to take a seat in the Senate and better argue South Carolina’s case. Eventually South Carlolina threatened to succeed from the Union if the federal government attempted to enforce the collection of the tariff. Jackson introduced the “Force Bill” which would provide for the administration to force collection of the tariffs. Benton was worried about the impact of the Force Bill and abstained when it came to a vote. It was passed, but never implemented because a compromise on the tariff was negotiated in 1833. In December 1833 Jackson publicly endorsed Benton’s long standing effort to lower the price of public lands, but they were unable to get legislation approved by Congress. In 1833 Jackson decided to remove all government deposits from the B.U.S. In order to accomplish this the president had to remove the existing Secretary of the Treasury and replace him with Roger B. Taney. Biddle fought back in congress and in the economy. Business leaders screamed and the senate condemned the president’s action over Benton’s stout opposition. A study of the economic health of the nation demanded by Biddle’s supporters concluded that the economy was doing much better than anyone had thought. The crisis passed and Benton even managed to get a currency reform measure passed.
In December 1835 Jackson announced that for the first time in the history of the United States the public debt had been completely paid off. In 1836 Benton was nominated for Vice-President by the Mississippi Democratic Party Convention. Benton declined. He was also rumored to be in line to be appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Benton recommended Treasury Secretary Taney for the position. A month later Taney was so appointed. In 1836 the Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Society of Friends presented Congress with a petition asking that slavery be banned in Washington D.C. Benton argued that, as it had done in the past, Congress should accept the petition but not act on it. In 1836 Martin Van Buren was elected president and attempted unsuccessfully to bring Benton into his cabinet. On May 10, 1837, the banks in New York suspended specie payments and a general depression soon followed. Van Buren proposed the establishment of an Independent Treasury to help deal with the economic woes of the nation and Benton continued to defend a policy of hard money. In January 1838, Benton’s mother died after a prolonged illness. That same year he was again handily reelected to the senate. Early in 1839 on Benton’s recommendation, Joshua Pilcher was appointed to replace William Clark as Superintendent of Indian Affairs. In 1840 legislation was passed that created the Independent Treasury as well as a system of sub-treasuries. The legislation also stipulated that by 1843 all federal revenues would be paid in gold or silver coin.

In 1844 William Henry Harrison was elected president with John Tyler as his Vice-president on the Whig ticket. Van Buren was defeated and Benton and the Democrats went into opposition. In April 1841 Harrison died and Tyler assumed the presidency. Shortly after that, Congress passed legislation repealing the Independent Treasury act and its hard money provisions. Benton’s daughter, Jessie, fell in love with Lieutenant John Charles Fremont, but her parents felt that they were too young for marriage. Fremont was sent off on a surveying trip. In October, on his return, they married secretly. In 1843 the senate again debated the future of the Oregon Territory with Benton arguing that it was rightfully United States territory. In February 1844 Benton was injured in the explosion of the “Peacemaker” canon aboard the Princeton and Secretary of State Abel P. Upshur was killed. President Tyler appointed John C. Calhoun to replace Upshur. In April 1844, Calhoun negotiated a treaty that would annex Texas to the Union and in his argument for the treaty emphasized the importance of protecting Texans’ right to own slaves. Benton supported annexation, but worried that it might provoke war with Mexico unless it was handled carefully and not rushed. Van Buren also questioned “immediate” annexation, while James K. Polk declared his support. Benton introduced a bill that would authorize the president to negotiate with both Texas and Mexico. In the subsequent debate Benton warned that the issue of slavery in Texas might ultimately lead some to advocate disunion. Van Buren’s position on Texas lost him the Democratic nomination for president. It went to Polk instead.

In November 1844 Polk was elected president and Benton was reelected to the senate. Texas was annexed. In June 1845 Jackson died. During 1845 and 1846 Benton continued to advocate the absorption of Oregon into the Union. The northern border of the Oregon Territory became an issue. Benton argued for a demarcation along the 49 degree line. Polk agreed and the final treaty was negotiated on that basis. Also in 1845 relations between the United States and Mexico deteriorated and eventually led to war in April 1846. At first reluctant to declare war on Mexico, Benton eventually cooperated with Polk in prosecuting the war. Benton was chairman of the Senate Military Affairs Committee and claimed to be the one who first suggested the plan for the southern campaign against Mexico City. In fact Benton wanted to lead it himself. John C. Fremont became involved in the conquest of California, during which he and Major General Stephan Kearny got into a serious disagreement and Fremont was court-martialed. Benton defended him during the court-martial proceedings, but he was found guilty on all charges and dismissed from the service. President Polk agreed that Fremont was guilty of insubordination, but offered to reinstate him in the army. Fremont refused and Benton was furious with the army and with the president. In January 1848 gold was discovered in California. During 1848 the senate debated the issue of governance in Oregon and California. Slavery quickly became an issue blocking agreement and Benton recommended that the citizens organize their own governments.

In November 1848 the Whig candidate, Zachary Taylor, was elected president. In January 1849 Benton proposed legislation that would create a national road from the Mississippi River to San Francisco Bay. At the same time a group of southern politicians led by John C. Calhoun prepared and signed the so-called Southern Address declaring that the Federal Government had no right to restrict slavery. Benton refused to sign. Within Missouri Benton was faced with severe opposition by pro-slavery advocates. In October 1849 Benton spoke at the St. Louis Railroad Convention in support of his National Road proposal. In the 1850 senatorial debates concerning the legal status of the new lands taken from Mexico, Benton supported President Taylor and opposed the Clay compromise. In the process he parted company with many Democrats and began to isolate himself politically. In January 1851 Benton was defeated and the Whig pro-slavery candidate, Henry S. Geyer, was elected to the Senate in his place. After his defeat, Benton started writing a book but also remained active in the Missouri political scene. On August 2, 1852, he was elected to the House of Representatives and took his seat in Washington in December 1853. In the spring of 1854 the first volume of Benton’s book, Thirty Years View, was published. It was criticized by many political leaders but well received by the public. It sold well and Benton made money on it.

Franklin Pierce was elected president in 1852. At first it was thought that Pierce might support Benton for Speaker of the House, but it did not happen. Benton continued to support his national road and to argue against the spread of slavery into territories where it had not previously existed. In April 1853 he asked Edward F. Beale to explore the feasibility of a railroad through Utah to California on his way to take up his duties as Superintendent of Indian Affairs in California. Benton’s position on slavery did not sit well with either pro-slavery advocates or abolitionists. Political fallout from the passage of the Nebraska-Kansas bill in 1854 further exacerbated the situation. He was defeated for reelection to the House that year. His wife, Elizabeth, died on September 10, 1854. In 1855 he ran for the senate, but no candidate was able to gain enough votes to be elected. Missouri left the seat vacant for two years. That same year a fire started in the chimney of his house burned all of his papers including the manuscript of the second volume of his book. he immediately set to work to rewrite the destroyed manuscript and in May 1856 he published the second volume. It was judged to be weaker than the first volume and did not sell as well. In 1856 the newly formed Republican Party nominated Charles Fremont for president. Benton supported the Democratic candidate James Buchanan and advised Fremont to reject the nomination. Benton was nominated for Governor of Missouri but lost in the election August 4, 1856. In the next few years Benton devoted himself to lecturing on the dangers of disunion. In 1857 Benton wrote an article attacking Chief Judge Taney opinion in the Dred Scott case. He continued to write to the very end. He died on April 10, 1858. He was buried in St. Louis on April 16, 1858.

About Royal Rosamond Press

I am an artist, a writer, and a theologian.
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1 Response to Thomas Hart Benton & Cultural Warfare

  1. Reblogged this on Rosamond Press and commented:

    There exist a conspiracy around the removal of the statue of Senator Thomas Hart Benton’s statue from under the Dome that was attacked by crazed Trump Lovers who wrote their name with their shit on our sacred ground. This is what the Kimites did to me.

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