April of 1775 is the day historians say that the American Revolution began, when the militiamen of Boston squared off against the Redcoats at Lexington and Concord when they attempted to confiscate their privately owned firearms. The leader of those militiamen, Captain John Parker, is quoted as saying, “Stand your ground. Don’t fire unless fired upon, but if they mean to have a war, let it begin here.”
Although that may have been the first actual combat engagement between the two opposing sides, I’m inclined to agree with John Adams, who said, “As to the history of the revolution, my ideas may be peculiar, perhaps singular. What do we mean by the Revolution? The war? That was no part of the revolution; it was only an effect and consequence of it. The revolution was in the minds of the people, and this was effected … before a drop of blood was shed.” (Source: letter to Thomas Jefferson, Aug. 24, 1815)
The revolution, as Adams says, was in the minds of the people; in the fact that they chose not to submit meekly to tyranny; that they were willing to do whatever was required to protect and defend their God-given rights as freemen. When the word went out that the King’s men were on their way to confiscate their arms they did not hesitate to grab their own guns and show up, in masse, to prevent the King’s law enforcers from confiscating them.
We, well at least most Americans, view them as patriots and heroes. Now let’s say SWAT, or maybe the DEA or ATF were to send in swarms of their so-called law enforcers into a section of some city or town to arrest someone and confiscate their privately owned firearms only to be met by a large group of armed citizens, how would people today react to those who stood up to these law enforcement officers; especially if they opened fire upon them and killed a half a dozen of them?
I’ll tell you how people would react, they would be shocked and outraged at these lawbreakers, and they would be condemned by the public and the media for their actions. Yet aren’t the two scenarios EXACTLY the same, private citizens standing up against what they considered to by tyranny? Did the Colonists wait for the legal system to hear their case against the Redcoats; did they wait until the process had been completed, and then accept whatever decision was rendered by the judge? No, they saw that their rights were being violated and they picked up their guns to defend those rights.
In literary terms I am now at a fork in the road. I can choose to go one way and make this article entirely about the 2nd Amendment, or I can go the other way and speak about the spirit of resistance to tyranny that is vital if people wish to remain free. I think I’ll choose the latter, but with the caveat that this is why we have a 2nd Amendment; so that the people can be ready, at all times, to rise up and fight tyranny wherever it may raise its ugly head.
It is why Patrick Henry admonished his fellow Virginians when he said, “Oh, Sir, we should have fine times indeed, if to punish tyrants, it were only sufficient to assemble the people. Your arms wherewith you could defend yourselves, are gone; and you have no longer an aristocratical; no longer democratical spirit. Did you ever read of any revolution in a nation, brought about by the punishment of those in power, inflicted by those who had no power at all?”
It is why Joseph Story said, “The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered, as the palladium of the liberties of a republic; since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers; and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them.”
But it is that spirit of resistance to tyranny that I wish to speak on today. In a letter to Abigail Adams, Thomas Jefferson writes, “The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions, that I wish it to be always kept alive. It will often be exercised when wrong, but better so than not to be exercised at all. I like a little rebellion now and then. It is like a storm in the atmosphere.”
The thing about tyranny is that if people do not know the legitimate powers of their government, how are they to recognize it when our government becomes tyrannical? If people don’t know what their rights are, how are they to recognize when those rights are being taken away from them? And possibly even more important, how are people to remain free when they care more about partisan loyalty than they do limiting their government to its specifically listed powers and defending their rights?
We have been conditioned to be so passive and unresponsive when our government exceeds its authority or when our rights are being violated. Is it because those in power often claim that to preserve the public safety our rights must be curtailed to a certain extent; that it is all in the public good? I believe it was Daniel Webster who said, “Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions.”
In 1785 James Madison would write, “It is proper to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties–we hold this prudent jealousy to be the first duty of citizens, and one of the noblest characteristics of the late Revolution. The freemen of America did not wait till usurped power had strengthened itself by exercise, and entangled the question in precedents. They saw all the consequences in the principle, and they avoided the consequences by denying the principle.”
There is a lot of meaning in that paragraph, and I don’t think people recognize the implications of what he said. First of all he said it is proper to take alarm at the FIRST experiment upon our liberties. Today people consider it improper if anyone resists the laws passed by government; they have been conditioned to accept that government is omnipotent and that if it passes a law, it is the duty of every law abiding citizen to obey it.
He then goes on to say that it is not the right, it is the DUTY of every citizen to resist laws that violate their liberty. How many people have you heard about who have actually resisted the laws being passed which violate their rights; and if you do hear about them, how are they portrayed?
Well, Edward Snowden is living in exile because he stood up for what was right and told you the extent to which your government routinely spies upon you. Among a freedom loving people that alone should have been sufficient to cause an uprising, but it didn’t.
Then there was the mass murder by our government of men, women and children at a small compound in Texas commonly referred to as Waco. All these people wanted was to be left alone to live their lives as they saw fit, but the government wouldn’t let them. They resisted, and they were killed, and the people watched their Nightly News and called them a cult and said they got what they deserved.
But Madison continues by saying that the freemen did not wait until usurped power had ‘…strengthened itself by exercise, and entangled the question in precedents.’ He then says that they saw the consequences of that principle and denied the very principle itself; that government can usurp, (or assume for those of you unfamiliar with the word usurp) powers that are not legitimately granted government.
I’m willing to bet that over 99% of the people who turn out to vote in elections believe that government can, and should exercise power that goes beyond those specifically listed in Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution. I’d also be willing to bet that the only time people complain about the unconstitutional exercise of power is when the ‘other’ party is exercising it.
How many of you Trump supporters complained about Obama when he was attempting to push his Affordable Care Act through Congress, yet applauded your man when he sought, not to repeal it, but to rewrite it in a manner which reflected a more conservative position? Does it not matter that government becoming involved in the management of health care is NOT among its enumerated powers? Of course it doesn’t, your party allegiance is ALL that matters.
How many of you reading this are ready to put your lives on the line defending the principle that “…whensoever the General Government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force.”
All one has to do is to look at how people react when a homeowner exercises their right to shoot and kill an intruder in their home to see the extent to which people are willing to submit to the authority of their government. If you feel that a private citizen has no right to shoot an intruder, that they should instead dial 911 and await the police, then you have been conditioned into surrendering your fundamental right to defend your life, your property, and your very liberty against any and all who threaten these things.
If you feel that a private citizen cannot, and should not use force to defend their home and possessions, then you are highly unlikely to believe that people have the right to use that same force against their government when it abuses its authority.
Yet that is EXACTLY what the American Revolution was; a people who used force against those who sought to establish an absolute tyranny over them. We call those men patriots and Founding Fathers, yet we call people today who exercise those same principles as rebels, criminals and domestic terrorists.
The fact that you submit willingly to so many laws that violate your most basic rights, the fact that you participate in choosing who will rule over you only goes to show the extent to which you have been conditioned to submit to a system that enslaves you.
To once again quote Daniel Webster, “There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters.” A free people do not have masters, they have representatives who are elected to act on their behalf and constrained by a written law which limits what can be done on behalf of those they represent.
In 1775 Patrick Henry said, “Give me liberty or give me death.” Today people may as well say, “Give me football, Facebook and beer and you can have my liberty.”
People say I’m subversive, that I’m trying to incite a revolution or overthrow the government. Well, I am trying to incite a revolution, but not in the manner that you are thinking. I am not trying to cause people to pick up their guns and begin shooting at people, (although it may end up coming to that); what I am doing is simply trying to get people to see how far their government has strayed beyond its legitimate authority, and how it is restricting the very liberty it was established to protect. I am trying to incite a revolution in your thinking; that’s all. As Morpheus repeatedly told Neo, “I’m trying to free your mind.”
Unfortunately, as long as people believe that candidates from their party are better than the candidates from the other party, as long as people support government no matter how far outside its legitimate authority it goes, there can be no hope that America can return to a truly constitutional government. If we continue believing as we do then the only path is the path forward to the eventual loss of all your rights.
In case you weren’t aware, John Adams once had a message for y’all, ” 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.”
While Adams may have sought to admonish those of the future to fight to keep the liberty they were fighting to secure for them, his cousin Sam had words for the people of his time that ring as true today as they did when he spoke them in Philadelphia in1776, “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.”
Our country was established by those who were willing to resist the laws being passed by their government, it is now occupied by people who refuse to even recognize that their government has become far more tyrannical than the one our Founders fought to free themselves from.
The last time a truly freedom loving people sought to free themselves from the grip of tyrants was in 1860 when the Southern States seceded and formed the Confederacy; and look how people today view them. What that shows me is that people today have little to no understanding of what real freedom is, and that they are content to be slaves.
The truth is out there for all those who are inclined to seek it out. But, as Samuel Johnson once said:
And until that changes Americans will continue the slow slide into tyranny and oppression…