Jefferson and his Republicans (not related to today’s Republicans) advocated states’ rights, a weak federal government and strict construction of the Constitution. The Tea Party can claim legitimate descent from Jefferson and Madison, even though they founded what became the Democratic Party. On the other hand, Washington and Hamilton — founders of no mean stature — embraced an expansive view of the Constitution. That would scarcely sit well with Tea Party advocates, many of whom adhere to the judicial doctrine of originalism — i.e., that any interpretation of the Constitution must abide by the intent of those founders who crafted it.
Of course, had it really been the case that those who wrote the charter could best fathom its true meaning, one would have expected considerable agreement about constitutional matters among those former delegates in Philadelphia who participated in the first federal government. But Hamilton and Madison, the principal co-authors of “The Federalist,” sparred savagely over the Constitution’s provisions for years. Much in the manner of Republicans and Democrats today, Jeffersonians and Hamiltonians battled over exorbitant government debt, customs duties and excise taxes, and the federal aid to business recommended by Hamilton.
Mr. Chernow goes into what many will recognize as familiar territory – the battle between Jefferson and Hamilton over a strong central government and a central bank ( like today’s Federal Reserve). Hamilton and George Washington clearly won on the structural side of the argument. On the other hand most of us have, however frequently challenged, Jeffersonian ideals about egalitarian government – i.e. equal justice, civil liberties and aspirations to be an enlightened society.
Science history, with the charm of a fairy-tale legend, records some of the high points and iconic details of that saga. Young Miss Goodall had no scientific credentials when she began, not even an undergraduate degree. She was a bright, motivated secretarial school graduate from England who had always loved animals and dreamed of studying them in Africa. She came from a family of strong women, little money, and absent men. During the early weeks at Gombe she struggled, groping for a methodology, losing time to a fever that was probably malaria, hiking many miles in the forested mountains, and glimpsing few chimpanzees, until an elderly male with grizzled chin whiskers extended to her a tentative, startling gesture of trust. She named the old chimp David Greybeard. Thanks partly to him, she made three observations that rattled the comfortable wisdoms of physical anthropology: meat eating by chimps (who had been presumed vegetarian), tool use by chimps (in the form of plant stems probed into termite mounds), and toolmaking (stripping leaves from stems), supposedly a unique trait of human premeditation. Each of those discoveries further narrowed the perceived gap of intelligence and culture between Homo sapiens and Pan troglodytes.
The toolmaking observation was the most epochal of the three, causing a furor within anthropological circles because “man the toolmaker” held sway as an almost canonical definition of our species. Louis Leakey, thrilled by Jane’s news, wrote to her: “Now we must redefine ‘tool,’ redefine ‘man,’ or accept chimpanzees as humans.” It was a memorable line, marking a very important new stage in thinking about human essence. (bold mine)
Not everyone takes offense, but it is amazing how any discovery which chips away at the superiority or uniqueness of human beings is so often taken as a personal insult. Jane Goodall fans and science history buffs should find the full article worth a read.