Sebesta strikes back!
Last Friday, our "This day in history" posting noted the anniversary of the 1783 Treaty of Paris, which marked the successful conclusion of the American colonists' War for Independence against Britain.
Here's how I ended that post: "Notice George III recognized EACH former colony as an independent nation. That's why we refer to 'sovereign States.'"
The same day, Ed Sebesta posted a response on his blog entitled, "Treaty of Paris, getting it right." He never refers to my post, but starts his with, "Neo-Confederates like to quote Article 1 of the Treaty of Paris of 1783 in odd ways."
Eh? "Odd" in what way? You have to slog through Sebesta's tortured prose to get to his point, which is this:
The sentence is:
His Britannic Majesty acknowledges the said United States to be free, sovereign and independent States; ....
The treaty is saying the United States is an independent States.
Ah! As a trained interpreter of Sebesta-speak, I can state with 90% confidence he's claiming the Treaty of Paris does NOT acknowledge the independence of the 13 former colonies, but that of the single entity known as the United States.
Once again, Ed Sebesta is not just wrong, but stupefyingly and entertainingly wrong. He not only ignores history, but manhandles grammar to claim the Treaty can be summarized as "the United States is an independent States [sic]."
Then things get really weird. Sebesta quotes part of the Treaty:
"His Brittanic Majesty acknowledges the said United States, viz., New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, to be free sovereign and independent States...."
In standard English, the word "viz." means "namely." It indicates you're listing the particulars of a group noun. An example would be, "The article was about the Watergate conspirators, viz., G. Gordon Liddy, Jeb Magruder, and John Dean." So the above-quoted text from the Treaty of Paris means George III was forced to acknowledge the sovereignty and independence of all 13 former colonies. But that's not what it means to Ed Sebesta:
"The viz. is just explaining of which [sic] former colonies these States are. It wouldn't do to have the United States be declared independent while his Britannic majesty was still claiming one of the former colonies."
Then Sebesta claims it doesn't matter what the Treaty of Paris says about the sovereignty of the former 13 colonies:
Article 1 is merely saying, the United States is independent and making sure that all the former colonies are included with our [sic] without the capitalization. Finally, when does the King of Britain define what American government would be, or a peace treaty with a formerly hostile power define what American government is?
We didn't ask George III to define our sovereignty. We demanded he recognize it. THAT is what independence is all about.
Sebesta ends his masterpiece with this triumphant observation: "The mind of neo-Confederacy is constantly straining to grasp straws."
Of course, Sebasta's history is as hallucinogenic as his prose. Here's what the Declaration of Independence has to say about the sovereignty of the States:
That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do.
A year after the former colonies proclaimed their independence, they ratified the Articles of Confederation, which made it clear they were not melding into a single governmental entity, but retaining their sovereignty while delegating specific powers to the central government:
Article I. The Stile [name] of this Confederacy [not a unitary nation!] shall be "The United States of America."
Article II. Each state retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every Power, Jurisdiction, and right, which is not by this confederation expressly delegated to the United States, in Congress assembled.
The principle that the sovereign States retained their non-delegated rights was reinforced in the Tenth Amendment of the Constitution:
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
Once again, reality fails to square with Sebesta's obsessive views. But what else can we expect of a man who "sees" secret Confederate designs in Tommy Hilfiger sportswear?