America’s Long Journey: Great, forgotten, Gallatin

The early republic was blessed with two financial geniuses, one Federalist, one Republican. Everybody remembers Alexander Hamilton, and if there were justice in the world, they would equally well remember Albert Gallatin, who was to Jefferson what Hamilton was to Washington. The two Virginia planter-statesmen were highly intelligent and sophisticated men of the world, but they were babes in the woods when it came to finance. Hamilton and Gallatin, between them, educated the statesmen and shaped the financial underpinnings of the new republic.

Abraham Alfonse Albert Gallatin was half a generation younger than his great chief, having been born, in 1761, in Geneva, and emigrating to Pennsylvania in the 1780s. (All his life, Gallatin spoke with a decided French accent.) Gallatin’s early life is highly interesting in its up-and-down experiences typical of so many immigrants, but the story can’t be told here. He tried his hand at trading in Maine, taught French at Harvard College, bought land in western Pennsylvania, planned various schemes that didn’t come off, and one — making glass – that did. But mainly, Gallatin participated in Pennsylvania politics, first as a member of the state constitutional convention in 1789, then, the following year, as a member of the General Assembly.

He was elected to the United States Senate, but was disqualified (in a party-line vote of the full Senate) as not having had the required constitutional minimum nine years of citizenship. Gallatin pointed out his unbroken residence of thirteen years in the United States, his 1785 oath of allegiance to the Commonwealth of Virginia, his service in the Pennsylvania legislature, and his substantial property holdings in the United States, but he was removed.

Back home, he was instrumental in securing a peaceful end to the whiskey rebellion of 1791. Gallatin’s neighbors approved his advocacy of their cause and elected him to the U.S. House of Representatives for three terms, 1795-1801, where he became the major spokesman on finance for Jefferson’s party. In 1797, when majority leader Madison retired, Gallatin took his place, leading the opposition to many of Hamilton’s policy proposals. Gallatin’s mastery of public finance was an ability rare among the Jeffersonian party. It was natural that Jefferson, upon his election as president, would name him Secretary of the Treasury. Gallatin would hold that office until February, 1814, five years into Madison’s presidency.

It was a highly successful tenure. First in order of importance was the problem of dealing with the national debt. Hamilton considered a national debt a “national blessing,” because it gave so many well-to-do citizens a financial stake in the survival and success of the new republic. Jefferson and Gallatin saw it quite differently. Gallatin worked hard to lower taxes and lower the debt at the same time. In 1801, the national debt was $80 million. Gallatin applied three quarters of federal revenues to the debt, and was able to reduce it to $45 million despite the loss of revenue that followed repeal of the whiskey tax in 1802, and despite spending $15 million on Louisiana.

Reducing the debt that drastically required starving the army and navy, which could be done in those first years when Neither England nor France nor Spain was in shape to molest our finances or commerce. Later, when British harassment of America’s merchant trade led Jefferson to propose an embargo on foreign commerce, Gallatin supported him, but reluctantly. He knew the harm the policy would inevitably do to the nation’s finance.

But then he lived long enough to see the War of 1812 do far worse harm, not to mention threatening the country’s survival. In 1813, with expenditures of $39 million met by only $15 million in revenue, Gallatin was forced to reintroduce taxes on whiskey and salt, and a direct tax on land and slaves. He financed the deficit and paid the direct cost of the war by issuing $87 million in bonds. Then, seeing the need for a national bank, he helped charter the Second Bank of the United States that Andrew Jackson would kill 20 years later.

Gallatin resigned as Secretary of the Treasury to head the United States delegation in negotiating the Treaty of Ghent, which ended the war of 1812. From 1816 to 1823 Gallatin served as minister to France, then returned home to Pennsylvania. In 1825, John Quincy Adams offered him another term as Secretary of the Treasury, but Gallatin declined. In 1826 and 1827, he served as minister to Great Britain. Retiring again, he settled in New York City, and helped found New York University so that working and merchant class people might have access to university education. Finally, he founded the American science of ethnology, helping to found the American Ethnological Society in 1842. He himself was the author of A Table of Indian Languages of the United States (1826) and Synopsis of the Indian Tribes of North America (1836).

Consider the list: politician, diplomat, ethnologist, linguist, founder of the University of the City of New York, co-founder of the American Ethnological Society, author of two scholarly books, and, not least, the longest-serving Treasury Secretary in our history. He died in 1849, and was gradually forgotten, which hardly seems just.


Human, but so much more….

Friday March 17, 2005

(8 a.m.) Katrina, are you around, honey?

Yes, I am here.

You are doing all right? It has been a while since I woke you up, or rescued you, or whatever, and I don’t know how the passage of time on this side affects you on your side.

You don’t know if you are dealing with a child or a teenager or an adult or some ageless being.

Yes, precisely. Doesn’t sound much like a child!

Remember we are all of two components, spirit and soul. The soul is formed by its experiences in the body and its form, its essence, is more or less limited by the limits of that life’s experience. But what that form, that essence, learns and becomes afterward is up to the soul’s future experience. Your retrieval starts the clock for me again, you see.

Almost, but say some more.

There would be little point in developing a point of view – which is what the shaping of a soul may be seen to do – and then never using it. But how can it be used? In your time people seem to think it is used only if it reincarnates, as though its unfinished business were the raw material entering your world again, taking up where it left off. That stems from thinking that sees everything as disconnected individuals. You know all this. It does not take into account our participating in your lives, nor our living lives that to you are only possibilities or even probabilities.

Humans are unique in the natural system, just as mama would have taught me if she had lived long enough. For it is strange but true that so much truth is in the Catholic theology, so poorly understood, so disbelieved even by those who teach it and insist on others saying that they believe it.

Minerals, plants, animals, angels – and many natural forces that your time does not recognize, such as elementals, genies, and what you might call organization-intelligences – we can talk about them later if you wish but I don’t want to stay for it now – all these forms are alive, even minerals, whether you can perceive it or not – but none of them evolve. None change. None by striving alters to something different in nature than it began.

Man does that. Humans, only.

I do not mean “human” in the sense of human beings on planet earth. I mean any of the spiritual essence that is human, regardless whether it incarnates on earth or on worlds you will never see – and regardless whether that life is carbon based or not; regardless whether it has anything that you would even recognize as a body. See Swedenborg for valuable clues. That grave kindly scientific man in his long spiritual discourses was permitted to see many things, and bring them back in his mind for description – but it takes one to read as well as one to write, or the communication does not take place.

All creatures may be described as beings, each in their prescribed and circumscribed courses, forever – and humans, who were created, let us say, as the exception to the rule, the uncircumscribed course.

You like to think of souls of animals graduating to become the souls of people. That is because you project onto them your own nature, so that seeing a particularly intelligent cat or dog you think – without realizing that you think – “if I were that smart, I’d be ready to become a human” and in that thought you would illustrate a difference between humans and all others. Yes, a human would be ready to move on. No other life form would even consider it. You might joke that of course a cat would not think of it as a promotion, but I assure you that even a dog – who adores humans – would have no wish and no ability to leave its part of the dog-soul to become human. Another way to say that is, the dog would not withdraw its portion of the dog-soul to go naked and chilly into the life of a human soul, which lives its life in bodies in a profound solitude that animals could neither imagine nor endure.

That took us pretty far afield.

It didn’t, actually. It bears directly on the question that was in your mind. You retrieved the soul of a little girl who had died of abuse at age eight. She was in a dream – that is how it seems, anyway; she had no consciousness from 1942 to 1992 when there was a stirring, then in 1995 her waking life resumed. Eleven years later, you wonder, is that little girl age eight still? And the answer, you see, cannot be yes or no; cannot even quite be both yes and no; it is more like neither yes nor no.


The special spirit that is divine and human – I speak here of a force, not of a personality – that spiritual essence that is what we are, came into time and joined with a newly formed body to create a soul. That soul lived Katrina’s life; it was and is Katrina. When the link between spirit and body was broken by the body’s death, the soul continued to exist but was entranced until you were able to reawaken it. That soul then continued its existence, and although we have great difficulty giving you an idea of our life, it is not harps and not stagnation – but it is not necessarily bodies on earth again either.

So much to say, and so little ability to say it! I am ageless, as are you; I am a particular soul’s point of view, as are you. I extend, I interact, with so many others who share my particular frequencies, as you put it. So do you, so must we all. And because I am created human – because I am of the human spirit, not any other spirit, I strive and change, regardless whether I am in a body – and regardless if I was ever in any kind of body! The essence of being human is change and striving; it does not depend upon existence in the physical. The reason we are so often there is the reason it was created – it is easier to change more profoundly there than here. This has all been explained to you, and you can translate to others; that is why you went there.

The essence of it is: I am the product of an eight-year existence, yes, but I am not limited to that any more than you are limited to your little finger. You know this too.

It is true, I do – but I don’t always connect the dots.

You do all right, just keep connecting.

Tell me, then. How did the retrieval affect you. I know it awakened you to the fact that you were not still on earth in a Nazi death camp. But what followed because you awakened?

You mean besides the change in you?

I see; yes, everybody you are part of felt the change, I suppose. I had that thought at the time. Certainly a good thing. Other effects?

It freed me to devote my attention to my life here, nothing short of that. And of course as I change you have the opportunity of changing in resonance; that’s another benefit for you.

TGU on correcting imbalance

Thursday March 16, 2006

Well, I suppose I should get to work. You splendid gentlemen and ladies – feel free to chime in. Say, while we’re on the subject, is it that I have mentally categorized you as “the gentlemen upstairs,” or “the guys upstairs,” that no women have appeared? Rita remarked on it, a while ago.

And the question is — ?

The question is, why have no other lives as a woman come to the fore, and no women appeared to talk, in the way Mr. Lincoln did, or Henry, or others.

Perhaps it is a lack of imagination on your part?


Well, if you cannot feel your way toward someone, it is harder for her to manifest.

You mean, it is easier for me to imagine myself a monk than a nun, say.

Exactly. And easier to imagine yourself “modern” or western than “ancient” or eastern. And the only two “ancients” you remember are closely tied to your work connecting to the other side.

Thus giving me a means of approach – affinity of temperament if no other.

Yes. So the approach should be clear.

Hmm. I think I see. Maybe I should set my control panel to particular openness to the feminine side of life?

Any way of expressing (that is, solidifying) intent will do; nothing wrong with the control panel if that approach pleases you.

But then maybe a better approach would be to set my intent for all unbalanced aspects of my life to come into balance.

Could be a little chaotic, but yes you could, as you use your “what question should I be asking but am not thinking of..” Still, why not focus a bit, at the moment? You are on a major thread; follow it.

And don’t think I don’t recognize the prompting that led me to bring up the subject in the first place. It gets harder to distinguish, as I get better at smelling rats. And perhaps this is because it was only an arbitrary distinction to begin with.

Thoreau: Invisible workings

Tuesday March 14, 2006

Friend Henry, you wrote in Walden that after a while sometimes at two in the afternoon things got a little slow – that you were on the edge of being bored. That seems to be where I am now, in my freedom that is only a few months old, and perhaps temporary at that. Can you offer suggestions beyond “Get to work!”?

How many times recently in walking in the woods have you had my words running through your consciousness, if a man walks in the woods half the day for love of them he is in danger of being thought an idler—

It is true, what your friends are telling you, sometimes you need to stop. You don’t think you are doing much and so you wonder how much less you should be doing, but consider that much of your work goes on invisibly to you. It is not as though you ceased to think, to ponder, to daydream, to imagine – to put these activities in ascending order of abstraction – and so you needn’t chain yourself to your plow. The ox won’t thank you for it and you won’t be a better plowman for sleeping at the plow waiting for the ox to wake up!

“Lowly faithful, banish fear,” as Waldo said.


We live in a culture that fears death and seems to think that death is tragedy. When you really think about it, that’s a weird idea, which as much as says that life is a failure in that it ends.

Death is an ending, yes, but it is not a tragedy, just a natural culmination. However, still it is an ending, and there’s no talking it away.


I’m thinking these thoughts because my friend, publisher, and longtime partner in Hampton Roads, Bob Friedman, died on Monday the seventh, just a few weeks shy of his 77th birthday. He died of a relatively short illness which was apparently painless, not a bad way to go.

He leaves behind not only his beloved companion Beth Hines, and his four children, but friends too many to count, and a rich legacy of books.

Bob founded or co-founded no fewer than three publishing companies (The Donning Company in 1974, Hampton Roads Publishing Company in 1989, and Rainbow Ridge Books in 2009) and, in a career spanning more than 40 years, published more than 1,000 books.

Mary Summer Rain, Mary Elizabeth Marlow, Winter Robinson, Neale Donald Walsch, John Nelson, and so many others: Bob gave them their first chance. Without him, would they ever have found a sympathetic publisher? Without their books, would thousands of people have received the encouragement and inspiration they needed? And what of the people that these people may inspire and encourage in turn?

Certainly he changed my life! Changed, enriched, complicated, provoked, encouraged, facilitated…. Anything I accomplished as editor or author, I accomplished because Bob and I teamed up to start a publishing house. Anybody I encouraged came out of that base, which means it is a secondary effect of Bob’s life. You see the point, there’s no end to it.

For that matter, it was Bob’s idea that he and I do Gateway together in December, 1992, and put the cost on the company. The consequences that flowed from that decision make up an entirely different but equally important chain of influences.

There is no way to estimate this one man’s influence, because for one thing we will never see the end of it. Seems to me there’s an encouraging lesson there for all of us.



Lincoln Steffens: How to transform society

Monday, March 13, 2006.

I remind myself, I told Michael Langevin I would see if Lincoln Steffens had any advice for him.

Mr. Steffens, if you are here, I want to say explicitly what I gather you know anyway – having access to the content of my mind, it seems – that I found your book the single most enlightening book I ever read. Plus, I love your ideals. Do you have any words for Michael on how to transform society and make a living at the same time?

The only way I could ever figure out was to do what was important to me and figure there would be a market for it sometime, some way, or I wouldn’t be led to do it. You do remember that I was blacklisted for the decade of the twenties after I came back from Russia and told what I saw. If I had not had independent means during that time it would have gone hard for me.

There would have been no use, at any time, in my trying to provide magazine editors with what everybody else could provide. At the same time, there would have been no use giving them the right piece at the wrong time. To a large extent this never became a problem, because rather than my writing a story and then looking for an audience for it, the magazines sent me. That is why I investigated Pittsburgh. It wasn’t my idea! I didn’t know where to begin. But the magazine paid my way and I wrote.

Later when I was one of the owners of a crusading magazine I learned of the pressure on editors and businessmen that had caused them to pressure us writers. That’s in my book; he will not learn as much as you did but he will find ideas in it.

Here is my suggestion, but he may not find it practical. It may be time in “your time” to begin to fuse spiritual transformation and social transformation. The only way to do that will seem strange to you, perhaps repugnant at first glance, and that is to cease to endorse only left-wing or liberal or “progressive” politics, and become a meeting place for people from many formerly antagonistic strands of political and ideological thought. The old “isms” are going to be homeless; those still desperately clinging to their “ism” – which may be their last shred of idealism – are going to be homeless. Give them a home.

How? By redefining the ground they stand on. By making explicit the links between how you see the world and how you see possibility. You say you believe in the future: Believe in it! But you do not have to create it yourself, nor could you – nor could anyone. It will be a common creation as always. What you can do is offer a forum for your readers to struggle with their viewpoints until they see daylight and common ground.

As a suggestion – what if the authors of the book about the cultural creatives are looking for a new forum and new possibilities? You might be able to create a totally new kind of magazine, of which you would be perhaps only a minority owner because serious capital would attract serious talent while you helped set the vision. But left-wing politics is not a way forward for your time, but backward. You don’t need to divide comfortable from afflicted, you need to provide a way forward for the desperate and disconsolate of all mentalities and temperaments and (therefore) ideologies.

Let me rephrase this to sound as businesslike and practical as possible: you need new challenges, new visions, new forms to pour the vision into and through.

Left wing politics is passé.

Politics is passé.

Practical vision-pursuits is your particular specialty. Make it more practical. Be the weird guy who brings unusual thinkers and doers together, in conferences, courses, whatever you wish. You admired Buckminster Fuller, well and good. But his forte is not yours. Instead of thinking of Bucky Fuller, think of yourself more as a Marshall McLuhan, often cryptic, not always clear, but leading into a certain type of future.

Hone the vision, gather your co-workers (in your mind, I mean) and then know where to seek the capital, the organizers, and the workers to begin this new enterprise – and you do not run it or sell for it – you go around giving the vision, which attracts business for your company, as you go.

I know you wanted what you might call a quick fix. I offer something better: stop fixing and buy another car. That is, create a new vehicle.

Herds and outliers

[These reports keep morphing in nature, blending the personal and the abstract more than they used to. Not always an entirely comfortable experience.]

Monday, January 7, 2019

7:10 a.m. I get up and am pouring water into the coffeemaker when I think “Robert Parker.” Effortless – only, last night when I was trying to think of the name of the author of the Spenser series, I couldn’t dredge it up for love or money. Pretty delayed action. I had thought of one of his novels, couldn’t remember the title, at first wasn’t sure it was [the unnamable] Parker rather than Lee Child or John Sandford, both of which names I could recall. As I told Nancy Ford the other night, my experience is that if I don’t press, the name comes, but this is pretty delayed. Wouldn’t have been much good in practical terms. Can’t remember the title of the book I’m thinking of, either, but that isn’t anything new, and doesn’t bother me. If I were to go down to the basement room where I keep all my mysteries, I’d find it easily enough, it being a singleton rather than a Spenser or a Jesse Stone, I wouldn’t expect to remember its title unless it were a special favorite, which it is not. (Considered John D. MacDonald, too.) Wilderness is the title, come to think of it.

So, guys, what is it with the way our memories associate? I know that if I associate one thing to another – especially if I can link a visual memory to whatever name it is I am looking for – I can come to it, usually. And, you’ve told Rita and me – 18 years ago, it must have been – that I don’t have a memory problem but a memory access problem. I take it that isn’t peculiar to me, but to all people with problems accessing memories on demand.

Bear in mind, similar symptoms, similar conditions, may stem from many different causes. Alzheimer’s is more than an exaggeration of the normal process of increasing difficulty in accessing memory that comes with age. Your own situation, which has been with you since your 20s, differs from both, though it is now being overlain by the process of aging.

And my condition is –

Let’s say, you live at a remove from the physical world, mentally. This won’t come as news to you, surely. Even when you spend your time reading of the world, understanding the world, conceptualizing the world, you aren’t really participating in it the way other people do.

Which is why I interact so badly with practical things. Have such anxiety when faced with the prospect of looming events such as a trip or a meeting or even a social event.

You used to say, in a different context, that you were always playing “away” games. There’s something in that.

It is very difficult for me, participating in the world around me.

Let’s say, it is difficult for you to do things in the way others do, for you can do things others can’t, and for the same reason. You live from a somewhat different standing-place. You are scarcely alone in that, of course, but by nature you and others in that situation experience yourselves as essentially alone.

That needs some clarification. Not that you are alone in a world in which others are associated together, but that you are alone in a world you do not really share with others except by the narrowest of connections.

I don’t think that clarifies much.

No, it is difficult to state, because the words are not there to express it. The differences, not being widely experienced, have not come into common use in language.

But it is my experience that most things can at least be pointed at, if not described. It’s a matter of taking the time and trouble. And here we are.

Yes. Well, we are willing to make the effort. We’ll see. Start with [Laurens] van der Post’s analogy of the herd and the outliers.

He said that in nature, he had observed that herds of some animal (deer, maybe; doesn’t matter) would have one or more members who for one reason or another were not fully accepted into the herd but were not quite outcast either. He said the outlying positions of these individuals made them hypervigilant, continually alert, even more so than the rest of the herd, and therefore provided the herd with an advantage.

Yes, because the outlier sensed danger quicker than those who were to some degree more sedate, more lulled by the proximity of their fellows, even though all experienced their lives as continually requiring alertness.

Only, van der Post’s analogy didn’t refer to danger specifically, but to increased sensitivity.

That’s right. The race’s sentinels don’t necessarily persuade anybody; they react, and their reactions alert the rest through a process of contagion.

Emerson said in his journal somewhere that every time he received a letter that did not condemn him, he felt like he had had a reprieve. (Not his word.) I understood, eventually, what he meant. He instinctively expected criticism, condemnation, accusation. And this from a man who never responded to criticism, but smiled and left the criticizer to his opinion.

Artists, scholars, prophets, eccentrics – we don’t mean to set such people upon a pedestal nor to smile at them as if they were to be pitied – there is a whole class of outliers in any society, and they serve a function, just as the relatively compact mass that forms a society’s center of gravity serve a function. That does not guarantee that either outlier or mass is comfortable.

To return this to the question of memory –

We haven’t left the subject. We are attempting to set it in context. You will remember, we said there is no language to describe it directly. At least, no language that is easily employed and easily understood.

So, hold the herd-and-outlier analogy in mind. Now consider, 3D life is only a subset of All-D life, and the non-3D part of life goes on in the same space (so to speak) as the 3D world. Or, put it that the 3D portion of the world goes on within the larger All-D world. Difficult to express, even after so many months of exposition attempting to express the essential unity.

Your microscope analogy?

Yes, that serves. Twist the focusing screw and you see the world differently.

I am teetering on the edge of understanding where you are going with this.

If your mental world is anchored in one place, it won’t be anchored in a different place. The way you see the world will necessarily be different from any other person’s way of seeing it, of course, because you are all experiencing it as individuals. But beyond that, some of you will experience it as outliers and others as part of the center of gravity. That is, you won’t be living quite in the same world, nor quite in different worlds. You will be tenuously bound together.

Now, having said that, bear in mind, you are all experiencing the 3D world while being part of the greater all-encompassing world of which it is a part. We’ve said many times, you must be in all dimensions. But that doesn’t mean you are all equally aware, or even roughly equally ware, of the encompassing world we have been calling the non-3D.

And the difference is our degree of awareness produces the differences in how we experience the world.

Well, that is tautology. But beyond that, everyone’s particular position on a scale of awareness of the non-3D in ordinary life determines, or anyway facilitates, their particular interim report.

I don’t understand.

You all feed situation reports to the larger beings of which you are a part. Those reports affect the non-3D being – or did you think we are merely voyeurs, here? – and in turn affect our feedback to our 3D components. You understand, language is overemphasizing separation here and understating the degree of connection.

Yes, labels like 3D and non-3D. Can’t be helped, really, I suppose.

Inventing our own argot as we go has helped somewhat, but it continues to be a problem needing to be recognized.

Let’s sum it up this way. Every possible place on the scale of experiencing must be experienced and reported. Therefore,

That didn’t come out right, did it?

No. Let’s try again. All aspects of the world deserve and receive equal attention, which in effect means everything gets reported on, and these reports are collated and summarized and fed back into the morning briefings of the participants, who then go about their day in light of the developing situation. That ought to be an analogy that provides a flexible understanding without luring you to read it literally.

I see. And I hear “And that’s enough for the moment.”

If we did not say it, you would, your hour being up.

Well, at one point I got, between the lines, that I really do need to provide a summary of the understandings gleaned from so many years’ conversations.

If you will not do it, your understanding will not be conveyed in 3D, obviously.

Thanks as always.