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Sunday, September 05, 2004

Those democratizers

In the "What Else Happened" section of today's entry in the Lewis and Clark weblog, we learn the following:

A few days ago, William Claiborne, governor of the newly-acquired Louisiana Territory, wrote President Jefferson a long letter reporting on his work in Louisiana. He cautioned Jefferson that the inhabitants of Louisiana were not yet ready to participate in a democracy:
The fact is, that the people of Louisiana, are not prepared for a Representative Government, and the experiment would be hazardous.... In New-Orleans and its vicinity, the Society may be considered as tolerably well informed; But in other parts of the Province, the great Bulk of the Inhabitants are in a State of wretched Ignorance, and very much under the Influence of their Priests.

That letter was written on August 30, 1804. What Jefferson's reaction was, I have no idea. At some point the inhabitants of Louisiana did become ready for a democracy. How and when, I don't know. I'm not a history teacher.

But, as I read Claiborne's letter, I can't help but think of the people of Iraq. Are they ready for a representative government? Are we conducting an experiment there that would be hazardous to them? To others? What examples do we have where democracy was forced on a people that weren't ready for it. I'm using the word "forced" because that's what it looks like to me.

I believe in democracy. I embrace it. I think it's the best way. I just don't know if forcing democracy on others is such a good idea.

Did anyone write a letter to President Bush advising him that the people of Iraq are not ready for a representative form of government?

Posted by Marie at September 5, 2004 11:36 PM