Lesson from history could help solve tensions

Posted on 21 December 2017 by admin

All the recent complaining by Palestinians and others in response to President Trump’s selection of Jerusalem as America’s future embassy location is due to the Palestinians’ historic rejection of Israel in general, including the location of its capital, Jerusalem.
During America’s war for independence (170 years before Israel’s), there were also issues concerning location of our nation’s capital. This is an aspect of America’s history your teacher may have skipped.
One can imagine the uncertainty of the times, a rebellion for independence, various self-interests seeking a break with what many considered as a tyrannical master far from our shores.
Between 1774 and 1790, our nation’s capital changed locations eight times. At the war’s end and with a peace treaty finally signed, our nation’s capital was one of the first major issues facing the new United States of America.
The primary reason there were a number of different capitals at various locations was that colonial delegates were fearful of being captured and were quick to relocate at the first hint of British troop movements in their area.
Technically, each building where the Continental Congress met and carried out governmental business was considered “the capital.” There were eight of them by war’s end.
The First Continental Congress met in Philadelphia in 1774 when delegates from 12 of the 13 colonies met to plan a unified response to England’s “Intolerable Acts.”
Successive Congresses during the next 16 years met in Baltimore, Maryland; Lancaster, Pennsylvania; York, Pennsylvania; Princeton, New Jersey; Annapolis, Maryland; Trenton, New Jersey; and New York City before the final move to a permanent national capital.
The final choice of permanent location of America’s national capital was left to George Washington, but a much greater problem was facing the new nation.
Once independence was achieved, numerous creditors were demanding to be paid back the loans made by the lenders. You might think of this as one of our nation’s first kvetches.
When Alexander Hamilton suggested that the new national government should assume all the debt of the states, the states with the least debt felt that it would be unfair for them to be taxed equally with states that owed more.
The key to solving this inequity was the creation of a compromise devised by Hamilton, Madison, Jefferson and Washington. They used their influence to gain the votes necessary to pass both bills, the Funding Act, allowing the national government to collect state taxes to pay off the nation’s debt, and the Residence Act, setting the site of the nation’s capital in the South, along the Potomac River.
The Southern location was said to have increased the Southern states’ political power as opposed to the North’s growing economic power, a fair compromise.
If only some of the same basic bargaining concepts used by our founding fathers were applied by Israel and Palestine today, there might be more solutions.
But the complexity of the Middle East leaves little room for compromise.

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