I do not know what people think transpired between September 1787, when the finalized constitution was voted upon by the convention, and March of 1789 when it went into effect. All I know is what I have read about that period in American History, and what I’ve read shows me that there were serious doubts by some fervent patriots about the wisdom of adopting the form of government outlined by the Constitution.
Back then it was a momentous decision; choosing whether to replace their confederation with a stronger, more centralized government. But to understand all that transpired during that period one must go back; way back in history to understand the history of man himself.
I know that some of those who read my articles do not believe in the Bible, and therefore any mention of what it contains will cause them to immediately reject anything I say. That is unfortunate; but I accept that and must continue as my heart dictates.
In the beginning, as the Bible states, there was no Earth and there were no men; these things were the creation of God. God created the Earth, and then created man and placed him upon the Earth. The first humans, Adam and Eve, had only God’s rules which governed their lives, and those laws were simple; Do not eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. It wasn’t until Moses brought down the Commandments from Sinai that any formalized laws were given to man.
The first four of these Commandments deal with man’s relationship with his God and are not relevant to the current discussion; but the remaining six are the foundation upon which Natural Law is based upon. They are: Honor they father and thy mother; Thou shalt not kill; Thou Shalt not commit adultery; Thou Shalt not steal; Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor; and Thou shalt not covet.
If you examine these Commandments closely you will notice they all deal with man’s interaction with each other. People should honor, or respect their parents; they should not kill each other; they should honor their marriage vows and not cheat on their spouse; they shall not take something that does not belong to them; they should not lie, and they should not desire something belonging to someone else. It wasn’t until the Book of Leviticus that more formalized rules regarding what constituted sin that more laws were given to the people in order that they may remain close to their God.
The very first form of governance, if it can be called that, is found in Exodus 18, wherein God told Moses, “Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens.”
The primary function of these rulers was in the settling of disputes between those they governed; not to pass laws which those they ruled over must obey, for they already had the Law as handed down by God.
It wasn’t until the Book of Samuel that the people actually had a ruler per se; after they had entreated Samuel to choose for them a King. This displeased Samuel, so he prayed to God as to what he should do, to which God responded, “And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.”
The Israelites rejected God as their King and instead wanted a man to be their King. There is but one problem with that; mankind are flawed beings; we are fickle, we anger easily, we are jealous and covet that which belongs not to us, and we are spiteful. God knew that if the Israelites chose a King for themselves they must suffer the evils wrought by him. He knew that for them to return to His principles, under his rule, they must first be made to suffer, to find humility and ask Him for His forgiveness.
How does all that tie in with what is going on in America today? Well, let me show you.
If you recall that the 10 Commandments deal with man’s interaction with each other, then you will note that it also is quite similar to the way Locke described man’s state of freedom under Natural Law, “TO understand political power right, and derive it from its original, we must consider, what state all men are naturally in, and that is, a state of perfect freedom to order their actions, and dispose of their possessions and persons, as they think fit, within the bounds of the law of nature, without asking leave, or depending upon the will of any other man.”
But Locke didn’t stop there, he goes on to say, “But though this be a state of liberty, yet it is not a state of licence: though man in that state have an uncontroulable liberty to dispose of his person or possessions, yet he has not liberty to destroy himself, or so much as any creature in his possession, but where some nobler use than its bare preservation calls for it. The state of nature has a law of nature to govern it, which obliges every one: and reason, which is that law, teaches all mankind, who will but consult it, that being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions: for men being all the workmanship of one omnipotent, and infinitely wise maker…”
When our Colonies were first established the people were not truly free. Sure, their government was 3,000 some odd miles away in Britain, but they were still subjects under a King; much like the Israelites, and therefore subject to his will.
But the writings of men like Locke had ignited a fire in the breasts of those early American’s; a fire that burned brightly for one thing, and one thing only: LIBERTY. They didn’t want some ruler, or group of rulers to make laws which they had no say in making. They wanted to be free to govern themselves and pass only those laws that they felt they needed; not those that benefitted a King, or kingdom 3,000 miles away. Most of all they wanted to secure for themselves their Natural Rights.
So they rose up and fought to free themselves from the tyranny of an arbitrary sovereign.
When they gained their independence all power reverted directly back to the people, as affirmed by the Supreme Court in 1793, “…at the Revolution, the sovereignty devolved on the people; and they are truly the sovereigns of the country, but they are sovereigns without subjects…with none to govern but themselves; the citizens of America are equal as fellow citizens, and as joint tenants in the sovereignty.”
Does that not sound strikingly similar to what Locke said about us living under Natural Law?
It is by the will of the people that governments in America are established, and it is by that same will that they can be torn down when they become destructive to the ends for which they are established. This is something far too many people have not been taught, and they fear those who speak thusly about the relationship between governments and man; calling those who speak like that radicals, extremists, even terrorists.
Yet that is EXACTLY what Jefferson said when he put the following into the Declaration of Independence, “That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
Governments are not meant to be eternal and unchangeable; at least not according to those who founded this nation. Governments in America derive their power and authority only by the consent of those they govern. If that consent is withdrawn then government has no power and authority over our lives. It is that simple. If we, however withdraw our consent, and government continues to try to impose its will upon the people, it only shows the people what government has truly become; TYRANNICAL.
Let me ask you to ponder something for a few moments before I continue. What are you doing when you go to the polls? I’ll tell you in a minute, but for just a few moments I’d like you to stop reading and ask yourself what it is you do when you go to the polls to vote?
What you are doing when you go to the polls is not choosing whom will govern you for the next 4 years, you are consenting to government in whatever shape it takes. If I could just get people to take a step or two back from their preferences as they pertain to political parties and the issues they feel are of importance, and view government as one giant entity, then if you are voting for someone to occupy a position within that entity you are giving that entity your vote of approval; your consent that it has power and authority over your life.
If you withdraw that consent and not vote, then government loses its control over you and your life. It’s that simple. I fully understand that I can never hope for all the people to just up and stop voting; that would be asking for too much from a people who, for the most part, don’t know the first thing about the purposes for which their government was established.
There’s something else very few people think about these days. When our Constitution was written each State was a nation unto itself; each with their own system of government established by the people who lived within them. The people of each State had granted the authority to these governments to act on their behalf. Therefore, for any system of national government to exist, the approval for it must come from the State governments themselves; otherwise they would lose their sovereignty as independent nations and America would become a consolidated Union with a centralized government.
On June 5, 1788, Mr. Patrick Henry rose and spoke the following words to the Virginia Ratification Assembly, “Mr. Chairman … I rose yesterday to ask a question which arose in my own mind. When I asked that question, I thought the meaning of my interrogation was obvious: The fate of this question and of America may depend on this: Have they said, we, the States? Have they made a proposal of a compact between states? If they had, this would be a confederation: It is otherwise most clearly a consolidated government. The question turns, Sir, on that poor little thing-the expression, We, the people, instead of the States, of America.”
Did our Founders create a consolidation of all the States into one, or did they leave them as sovereign entities with all the powers not given to the central government remaining in their hands? I’ll bet this question has never once crossed your minds. I’ll also bet that you do not realize that you have answered it probably hundreds of times when you recite the Pledge of Allegiance, “…one nation under God, indivisible…”
But that is NOT what those who accepted our Constitution wanted; they wanted the central government to only exercise its power and authority upon the items defined within Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution. All other power and authority was to be retained by the States, or the people.
There were those who felt the proposed Constitution did not go far enough to secure the rights of the people and protect them from infringement. Constitutional amendments were submitted and then ratified which further protected certain rights. Among them is one which states, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
What that basically says is, if the Constitution does not grant the federal government a specific power, that power is retained by the States, or the people. Yet how many laws does our federal government pass which overstep those specific powers found within Article 1, Section 8? And you go to the polls every 2-4 years and vote; giving your consent to a system that has become destructive of the ends for which it was established.
Let me ask you something. If you have a pot of stew that has been laced with arsenic or some other poison, do you think that by adding a drop or two of distilled water into it every couple of years it will soon become edible? Government is like that pot of stew; so poisoned, so corrupt that no matter how good the intentions of a few individuals you may vote for, it will keep on violating your rights and abusing its power.
Why does the thought of revoking government’s charter and dismantling it frighten so many people? Is it because they fear not having the protecting arm of government there to provide for them in their times of need? Is it the loss of benefits they fear? Or have they simply become too accustomed to having government that the thought of not having one scares the hell out of them?
Going back to the Declaration of Independence for a moment, Jefferson states, “Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government…”
I suppose the only question then is when are the people of this country going to decide that the evils are no longer sufferable?
You know, there was a time when that theory was tested; we just know it as the Civil War. For years, decades even, the Southern States had suffered under a government that taxed them and used the revenue to build up the infrastructure of the Northern States. The issue of slavery only came into play because the North attempted to halt the spread of slavery into newly admitted States to retain their control in the House of Representatives. It was not about abolishing slavery, it was about retaining Republican control in Congress.
As reprehensible as it was, slavery was legal under the Constitution. If the North, or Congress, truly wanted to abolish slavery, why did they vote in favor of a Constitutional amendment that would have made it a permanent institution in America; never again to be subject to amendment to repeal? This Corwin Amendment had passed both Houses of Congress and was to be submitted to the States for their approval. If slavery was the only issue, all the South would have to do is ratify that amendment to avoid war.
Yet secede they did; proving that there was more behind the Civil War than slavery. The question that people must consider is; Did the states have a right to secede from the Union, or was the Union indivisible? The Declaration of Independence seems to indicate that secession was an option; although it does not directly come out and say so.
Yet the author of that same declaration, Thomas Jefferson, made the following comments in his Inaugural Address when he became our nation’s 3rd President, “If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it.”
In 1839 former President John Quincy Adams delivered a lengthy address to the people of New York on the anniversary of the inauguration of George Washington. In that address Adams made the following comments, “With these qualifications, we may admit the same right as vested in the people of every state in the Union, with reference to the General Government, which was exercised by the people of the United Colonies, with reference to the Supreme head of the British empire, of which they formed a part – and under these limitations, have the people of each state in the Union a right to secede from the confederated Union itself.
Thus stands the RIGHT. But the indissoluble link of union between the people of the several states of this confederated nation, is after all, not in the right, but in the heart. If the day should ever come, (may Heaven avert it,) when the affections of the people of these states shall be alienated from each other; when the fraternal spirit shall give away to cold indifference, or collisions of interest shall fester into hatred, the bands of political association will not long hold together parties no longer attracted by the magnetism of conciliated interests and kindly sympathies; and far better will it be for the people of the disunited states, to part in friendship from each other, than to be held together by constraint.”
If there ever was proof that secession was believed to be a right of the States should the central government become unbearable, there it is!
Therefore, why did we have a Civil War?
The Civil war happened because those in the South sought to exercise their right to form a system of government that would ensure their happiness, and the government of the North, led by the tyrant Abraham Lincoln chose to use force to coerce them into adhering to the Union. Then after the Civil War ended, the government got it’s revenge for the South’s insolence in the form of Reconstruction and the forced acceptance of the 14th Amendment before they were allowed to regain their seats in Congress.
Our experiment in self-governance by the consent of the people ended at Appomattox Courthouse on April 9, 1865 when Lee surrendered to Grant. From that day forward we have had the type government Patrick Henry warned us of in 1788, a consolidation of the many into one, under the arbitrary will of those who occupy it.
And yet year after year the people flock to the polls and grant their consent to this government by voting for whom will occupy the various seats within it.
Well I no longer consent. I understand that this changes little; that I am still subject to punishment under the laws government enacts. But I damn sure do not have to give my consent to those who overstep their legal authority and make a tyrannical use of the power given them.
Maybe someday, when things become almost intolerable, others will withdraw their consent in sufficient numbers that we can affect the type change needed to restore America to the principles of freedom and liberty for all.
But until that time, all you’re doing by going to the polls is granting your consent to be a slave.
I just have to wonder, upon what date did John Adams fulfill his promise which states, “Posterity! You will never know, how much it cost the present Generation, to preserve your Freedom! I hope you will make a good Use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in Heaven, that I ever took half the Pains to preserve it.”
People call themselves Americans, tell the world they are patriotic, but they don’t understand the first thing about what it means to be a true patriot; to be willing to fight for the principles of freedom and liberty. Their version of patriotism is voting for whom will be the next slave master and meekly submitting to every infringement upon their rights.
Do I sound angry? You’re damned right I’m angry. If Samuel Adams were alive today he’d tell you the same thing he told those back in 1776, “If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you; May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.”
So, in that vein, as long you continue to vote, to believe that by choosing whom will sit in government, that you can truly bring about change, ye are no countryman of mine.