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Historian Savagely Schools GOP Rep Who Wonders 'What the Founders Would Say' About Stay at Home Orders

Historian Savagely Schools GOP Rep Who Wonders 'What the Founders Would Say' About Stay at Home Orders
Graeme Jennings-Pool/Getty Images // VPM/YouTube

Echoing outgoing President Donald Trump's rhetoric, many Republican lawmakers have voiced opposition to precautions designed to slow the spread of the virus that's killed over 300 thousand Americans.

One of the most major points of contention has been regarding community shutdowns and stay-at-home orders requiring non-essential businesses to close their doors or limit capacity and urging private citizens to only leave their homes when necessary.

While no one wants to shut down businesses frivolously, these measures have been components of the most effective strategies for slowing the spread of the virus. Nevertheless, Republicans say these measures are draconian efforts to control Americans and deny them freedoms.

Congressman Jim Jordan (R-OH)—one of Trump's most ardent followers in the House of Representatives—is one such politician.

On Tuesday, Jordan pointed to those affected by shutdowns and implied the founding fathers would have disapproved.

Jordan asked "What would the Founders say?" about issuing stay-at-home measures.

Historian Kevin Kruse had an answer.

Kruse pointed out that American soldiers in the Revolutionary War were fighting the spread of smallpox just as urgently as they were fighting the British, who were largely immune to the disease due to its endemic nature in Europe and the immunity enjoyed by its survivors.

Washington initially quarantined his troops amid the Siege of Boston in 1775 before eventually enforcing mandatory inoculations, writing to future President John Hancock in 1777:

"This Expedient may be attended with some inconveniences and some disadvantages, but yet I trust in its consequences will have the most happy effects. Necessity not only authorizes but seems to require the measure, for should the disorder infect the Army in the natural way and rage with its usual virulence we should have more to dread from it than from the Sword of the Enemy."

People echoed Kruse's point that quarantines and stay-at-home orders are nothing new, even among those living in the times of the Revolution.

People were grateful for Kruse's and other historians' fact checking.

Meanwhile, Jordan's original question was turned on its head by his critics.

For the past eight days, the nation has seen over 100 thousand new positive tests a day.