The Cassandra of Caroline County

“A crocodile has been worshipped,” wrote John Taylor of Caroline, “and its priesthood have asserted, that morality required the people to suffer themselves to be eaten by the crocodile.”  Such was his final judgment on the central government of the United States and the advocates of its power.  This prophecy, if such it may be called, was rendered in Taylor’s An Inquiry Into the Principles and Policy of the Government of the United States, published in 1814 but mostly written much earlier in response to the machinations of Alexander Hamilton and John Marshall.

“The present age is cajoled to tax and enslave itself,” says Taylor in the same work, “by the errour [sic] of believing that it taxes and enslaves future generations to enrich itself.”  Thus, the people have forged their own chains by the inevitable consequences of a false national opinion “that it is possible, for the present generation to seize and use the property of future generations.”  It would seem that the rustic gentleman of Caroline County, Virginia, might have something to say to a time of catastrophic government debt and billion-dollar bank bailouts.  Of course, even in his most melancholy moments, Taylor could not have conceived of a vast government debt owed not only to domestic rent-seekers but to foreigners.

Again: “A...

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