Founding Fathers would be appalled by Trump’s plan to host G-7, historians sayHistorians in the News
tags: Founding Fathers, historians, Trump, G-7
It would be nice to think that all Americans — Republican and Democrat, conservative and progressive — were equally gobsmacked when President Trump used an international economic summit Monday as an infomercial for his hotels.
Trump plugged his golf resorts in Britain and Ireland while meeting with the new British prime minister, Boris Johnson. Then at a post-summit news conference, he raised the idea of holding next year’s G-7 event, which the United States is hosting, at his Doral resort near Miami.
“There’s never been anything like this,” said Brian Murphy, an associate professor of history at Rutgers University-Newark who specializes in colonial-era economic matters.
“Yes, the Founding Fathers had business interests,” he told me. “But they never attempted to steer government contracts to themselves or to directly profit from their public service. There was an understanding that this was a line that couldn’t be crossed.”
“This was in part an anti-aristocratic gesture and a way to prevent any U.S. official from being, in effect, bribed by a king or foreign government,” said Virginia Anderson, a history professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder.
Robert Parkinson, an associate professor of history at Binghamton University, said the Founding Fathers didn’t build more anti-corruption measures into the Constitution because they never anticipated a federal public servant being so self-serving.
“There was a strong cultural group dynamic among the Constitution’s framers,” he said. “And coming out of the Revolution, they shared a belief in putting the nation’s interest before their own.”
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