Wednesday, November 30, 2005


Guess that year!

It's time for an exciting round of ... "Guess that year!" Your task is to read the following statements, all made by Senators and Representatives on the floor of Congress, and then decide whether each statement was made in 1848, during debates over a war being fought in Mexico, or in 2005, during debates over a war being fought in Iraq. Answers can be found below, so don't peek until you have guessed your years!

1. "The President himself ... [has] attempted to argue every silent vote given in favor of supplies for the war into an approval of his conduct in the commencement of it, and of his mode of prosecuting the war."

2. "One of the things that I am so desperately worried about is whether the people in this body and in this Republic truly understand what we are facing, not only as a Nation, but as ... [a] Civilization. ... We truly are at war, and to undermine the sacrifice and blood-bought advancement of our valiant American soldiers ... is unconscionable. A nation divided against itself simply cannot stand ... And those of us in this body, along with all Americans, must unite."

3. "The only way we can lose ... is if we defeat ourselves, if we refuse to stay the course. The path to progress is slow and steady. It has milestones, but it does not have timelines. We must remain behind our troops. Over [???] years ago, our Founding Fathers began the great American experiment. They set out to create a government defined by its commitment to liberty and freedom. ... I will continue to support those [who] stay the course ..."

4. "[This war] was the policy of our Government, not simply of [the President], but of the entire Government. ... And we cannot recede from that policy."

5. "... the war would have long since been brought to a close but for the divisions at home. ... We all know the effects of these party conflicts on the enemy, who is led to reflect on the consequence of this disunion ... [which is] weakening and distracting our efforts ..."

6. "Mr. Speaker, the American people want this Congress to debate the war. ... We should have had a debate before we entered into this war. Instead, we rushed into it. ... Rather than engaging in a debate, what we hear from the other side ... [are] those who claim [the critics of the war] are somehow being unpatriotic. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Dissent in the face of policies that you disagree with is patriotism. To remain silent as you see this country going down the wrong path is not patriotism, it is moral cowardice."

7. "[The President's speech] declared that we were to prosecute [the war] more vigorously, until at last it ... told us that the continued successes of our arms may fail to secure a satisfactory peace, and perhaps we may ... [convince the population of the country] to throw off their rulers and adopt our Government. And then it concludes that we may fail in this, and goes back to the old thing, and recommends a vigorous prosecution of the war, which it was just admitted might fail to secure the end desired. ... [The President] took up one suggestion, and tried to argue us into it, but argued himself out of it; he then took up another, and went through the same process, and returned to the first. ..."

8. "The President accuses his critics of rewriting the history of this war. Nonsense. The history of this war was clearly enunciated by this administration and is available for all to reread. The President, the Vice President, and their top advisers repeatedly presented their rationales for this war and predicted its outcomes, and they were repeatedly wrong. ... I say that with sorrow because when the President of the United States is wrong, all Americans suffer the consequences."

Scroll down for answers ...


1. 1848! Rep. Abraham Lincoln (Ill.), Cong. Globe, 30th, 1st Session, p. 154

2. 2005! Rep. Trent Franks (Ariz.), House of Representatives, November 18, 2005.

3. 2005! Sen. Ted Stevens (Ark.), Senate, November 17, 2005.

4. 1848! Rep. Alexander Sims (S.C.), Cong. Globe, 30th, 1st Session, p. 347.

5. 1848! Rep. Hopkins Turney (Tenn.), Cong. Globe, 30th, 1st Session, p. 343.

6. 2005! Rep. James McGovern (Mass.), House of Representatives, November 18, 2005.

7. 1848! Rep. Abraham Lincoln (Ill.), Cong. Globe, 30th, 1st Session, p. 156.

8. 2005! Sen. Mark Dayton (Minn.), Senate, November 14, 2005.

Quotes were taken either from the Congressional Globe, or from the Congressional Record. Unfortunately, the latter does not seem to support permalinks.

Collective Improvisation:
The style of language and some of the words used give most of them away, to me at least. The only confusing one is (2) where the use of the apparently high-falutin' "Civilization" initially leads one the wrong way. But the rest of the quote has modern forms.

Posted by Anonymous Anonymous on 12/01/2005 09:03:00 PM : Permalink  

I figured the syntax would be a give-away. It would have been even easier if I had not inserted so many ellipses. On (2), for instance, the original said "Western Civilization," which probably would have gotten you back on track. But, hey, I had to make it somewhat interesting.

Posted by Blogger Caleb McDaniel on 12/02/2005 03:47:00 PM : Permalink  

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