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Absolute monarchy or absolutism meant that the sovereign power or ultimate authority in the state rested in the hands of a king who claimed to rule by divine right. But what did sovereignty mean? Late sixteenth century political theorists believed that sovereign power consisted of the authority to make laws, tax, administer justice, control the state's administrative system, and determine foreign policy. These powers made a ruler sovereign.
One of the chief theorists of divine-right monarchy in the seventeenth century was the French theologian and court preacher Bishop Jacques Bossuet (1627-1704), who expressed his ideas in a book entitled Politics Drawn from the Very Words of Holy Scripture. Bossuet argued first that govemment was divinely ordained so that humans could live in an organized society. Of all forms of gov ernment, monarchy, he averred, was the most general, most ancient, most natural, and the best, since God established kings and through them reigned over all the peoples of the world. Since kings received their power from God, their authority was absolute. They were re sponsible to no one (including parliaments) except God. Nevertheless, Bossuet cautioned, although a king's au thority was absolute, his power was not since he was limited by the law of God. Bossuet believed there was a difference between absolute monarchy and arbitrary monarchy. The latter contradicted the rule of law and the sanctity of property and was simply lawless tyranny. Bossuet's distinction between absolute and arbitrary gov emment was not always easy to maintain. There was also a large gulf between the theory of absolutism as ex pressed by Bossuet and the practice of absolutism. As we shall see in our survey of seventeenth-century states, a monarch's absolute power was often very limited by practical realities. ...
The day after Cardinal Mazarin's death, Louis XIV, at the age of twenty three, expressed his deterrnination to be a real king and the sole ruler of France:
Up to this moment I have been pleased to entrust the gov emment of my affairs to the late Cardinal. It is now time that I govem them myself. You [secretaries and ministers of state] will assist me with your counsels when I ask for them. I request and order you to seal no orders except by my com mand, . . . I order you not to sign anything, not even a passport . . . without my command; to render account to me personally each day and to favor no one.
His mother, who was well aware of Louis's proclivity for fun and games and getting into the beds of the maids in the royal palace, laughed aloud at these words. But Louis was quite serious.
Louis proved willing to pay the price of being a strong ruler . He established a consci entious routine from which he seldom deviated, but he did not look upon his duties as drudgery since he judged his royal profession to be "grand, noble, and delightful." Eager for glory, Louis created a grand and majestic spec tacle at the court of Versailles (see Daily Life at the Court of Versailles later in the chapter). Consequently, Louis and his court came to set the standard for monar chies and aristocracies all over Europe. Less than fifty years after his death, the great French writer Voltaire used the title "Age of Louis XIV" to describe his history of Europe from 1661 to 1715. Historians have tended to use it ever since....
Although Louis may have believed in the theory of absolute monarchy and consciously fostered the myth of himself as the Sun King, the source of light for all of his people, historians are quick to point out that the reali ties fell far short of the aspirations. Despite the central izing efforts of Cardinals Richelieu and Mazarin, France still possessed a bewildering system of overlapping au thorities in the seventeenth century. Provinces had their own regional parlements, their own local Estates, their own sets of laws. Members of the high nobility with their huge estates and clients among the lesser nobility still exercised much authority. Both towns and provinces possessed privileges and powers seemingly from time im memorial that they would not easily relinquish. Much ... more
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The author of "Lift Every Voice and Sing" (often called "the Negro National Anthem"), James Weldon Johnson had a long career as a creative writer, black leader, teacher, lawyer, diplomat, and executive secretary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Through his writing he protested racial injustice, encouraged black achievement, and added immeasurably to the wealth of American literary art.
A native of Jacksonville, Florida, Johnson attended Atlanta University through graduate school. In 1901 he became the first African American admitted to the Florida Bar, but he did not re-main in Florida very long. Forming a creative partnership with his younger brother Rosamond, a writer of popular music, he began to write lyrics. They moved to New York and found fame as the ragtime songwriting team of Cole and Johnson Brothers.
and founded a short-lived newspaper called The Daily American. For ten years, he wrote editorials for the New York Age, a prominent African-American newspaper. He was one of the founders and a charter member of the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers, and he became field secretary for the NAACP in 1916. The song was originally written for schoolchildren at an Abraham Lincoln birthday celebration in 1900. The Creation
James Weldon Johnson James E. Ransome (Illustrator) Format: Hardcover, 1st ed., 32pp.
Songwriter, poet, novelist, journalist, critic, and autobiographer. James Weldon Johnson, much like his contemporary W. E. B. Du Bois, was a man who bridged several historical and literary trends. Born in 1871, during the optimism of the Reconstruction period, in Jacksonville, Florida, Johnson was imbued with an eclectic set of talents. Over the course of his sixty-seven years, Johnson was the first African American admitted to the Florida bar since the end of Reconstruction; the co-composer (with his brother John Rosamond) of 'Lift Every Voice and Sing,' the song that would later become known as the Negro National Anthem; field secretary in the NAACP; journalist; publisher; diplomat; educator; translator; librettist; anthologist; and English professor; in addition to being a well-known poet and novelist and one of the prime movers of the Harlem Renaissance.
As the first son of James Johnson and the former Helen Louise Dillet, James Weldon inherited his forebears' combination of industrious energy and public-mindedness, as demonstrated by his maternal grandfathers long life in public service in the Bahamas, where he served in the House of Assembly for thirty years. James, Sr., spent many years as the headwaiter of the St. James Hotel in Jacksonville, Florida, where he had moved the family after his sponge fishing and dray businesses were ruined by a hurricane that hit the Bahamas in 1866. James, Jr., was born and educated in Jacksonville, first by his mother, who taught for many years in the public schools, and later by James C. Walter, the well-educated but stern principal of the Stanton School. Graduating at the age of sixteen, Johnson enrolled in Atlanta University, from which be graduated in 1894. After graduation, Johnson, though only twenty-three, returned to the Stanton School to become its principal.
In 1895, Johnson founded the Daily American, a newspaper devoted to reporting on issues pertinent to the black community. Though the paper only lasted a year (with Johnson doing most of the work himself for eight of those months) before it succumbed to financial hardship, it addressed racial injustice and, in keeping with Johnson's upbringing, asserted a self-help philosophy that echoed Booker T. Washington. Of the demise of the paper he wrote in his autobiography, Along This Way, "The failure of the Daily American was my first taste of defeat in public life. . . ." However the effort was not a total failure, for both Washington and his main rival, W. E. B. Du Bois, became aware of Johnson through his journalistic efforts, leading to opportunities in later years.
Turning to the study of law, Johnson studied with a young, white lawyer named Thomas A. Ledwith. But despite the fact that he built up a successful law practice in Jacksonville, Johnson soon tired of the law (his practice had been conducted concurrently with his duties as principal of the Stanton School). When his brother returned to Jacksonville after graduating from the New England Conservatory of Music in ... more
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