“A nation of slaves is already prepared to applaud the clemency
of their master who, in the abuse of absolute power, does not
proceed to the last extremes of injustice and oppression.”
Of all the Founding Fathers there are 3 that stand out in my mind as leaders of the movement that saw America become a free and independent country. There was Thomas Jefferson, whose knowledge and prose gave us such documents as the Summary View of the Rights of British America and the Declaration of Independence. There was Samuel Adams, whose fiery passion led him to become an outspoken critic of the policies of King George and a leading member of the Son’s of Liberty; whose dumping of the tea into Boston Harbor remains one of the greatest acts of civil disobedience ever recorded in history.
Then there was Patrick Henry, the Voice of Thunder, who warned King George that he ought to take the lesson of history regarding Caesar and Brutus, and Charles the first and Cromwell, and was then accused of treason by someone in the crowd; to which Henry responded, “If this be treason…then make the most of it.” It was Henry, who before the crowd at St. John’s Church uttered the famous words, “Give me liberty or give me death.”
Henry did not have the pen that Jefferson did, but he spoke from his heart, from his knowledge, and he spoke with a passion and devotion to the principle of liberty that, to this date, is unmatched by any statesman or politician.
So why would someone so devoted to liberty stand up and rail against the proposed constitution which the people were promised was designed to secure that liberty for them? What is it about that document that caused Patrick Henry to devote so much energy to oppose it; and if Henry truly was fearful of what might occur should that document be ratified, should we not, at least, give some consideration to whether or not his fears were justified?
You may not be aware of this, but Patrick Henry used no notes when he spoke; he spoke from his heart and from memory. Imagine today a politician standing before an audience delivering a speech without notes or teleprompters and you’ll gain a glimpse into the genius of Patrick Henry.
Now take that fact into consideration when you realize that not once, but twice Patrick Henry rose up in the Virginia Ratifying Convention and delivered very lengthy speeches in opposition to the constitution.
Now some have called Henry’s speeches rambling, but as a writer I can understand why they might appear that way to some. I often begin an article with a single idea; hoping to fit it all on one or two pages. But as I write other ideas flood into my head, and the next thing you know I’ve written 7 or 8 pages. So I can understand how Henry, as a speaker, might find one thought leading to another, then that thought leading to another and another; making his speeches appear rambling and incoherent. I think Henry even recognized this in himself, for on June 5, 1788 he told the Virginia Assembly, “I fear I tire the patience of the Committee, but I beg to be indulged with a few more observations.”
I think that the people living today simply cannot perceive the way people felt back in 1788 as it pertains to liberty and to their devotion to their State. Today when you ask a person where they are from, they most often reply, America. Back then if you were to ask one where they came from they would most likely answer, Virginia, Massachusetts, or New York. To these men their States were their countries, and the Confederation did nothing to diminish the authority and sovereignty of each of them.
So, when I discuss the radical transformation that took place once the Constitution was adopted, people view it from a modern day perspective; not having known anything different. But for those who lived back in 1788 the transformation was as radical to them as if we were to convert to communism today.
If you had taken the time to read any of the writings of those called the Anti-Federalists you would have seen that common sentiment running throughout many of their articles. Most of them felt that the proposed constitution was going to eradicate State sovereignty to a certain extent, if not entirely. Most of them felt that the proposed Constitution would pose a danger to the liberty they had so recently won. Most felt that once established this new system of government would expand its powers way beyond those that they were being promised it would exercise.
Today the Federalist Papers are viewed as the supreme dissertation upon how our system of government is supposed to work. But when they were written they were an effort by Madison, Hamilton and Jay to sway the people of New York towards supporting ratification. They were written to calm the fears of the people of New York who had heard the rantings of the Anti-Federalists. In essence, the Federalist Papers were a clear ad campaign, or what you might call propaganda today.
I find it truly sad that so few have even read the Federalist Papers, let alone any of the articles written by those who opposed the, so-called, divinely inspired Constitution. People today just accept the government we have as if it was always this way; and if they do think about a time when we didn’t have this system of government they view the change from a Confederation to a Union as one for the better.
But that is what knowledge is for, to provide you with the facts to make an informed decision rather than one based upon an emotional response to the issues. Unfortunately I have found very few people who care about taking the time to educate themselves as to the truth regarding the flaws purposefully put into the Constitution. Fewer still have the courage to take those facts and change their opinions regarding this system of government they have come to put so much trust and faith in.
Yet the facts are still there, waiting for people to seek them out; although it seems they are becoming increasingly harder to find. It seems that there is a concerted effort underway to hide the truth from the American people. That is why I have made it my goal to find as much of this knowledge as possible and store it before access to it vanishes completely.
Currently I have over 800 files saved on my computer and on removable storage devices. Yet that is a fraction of what some people I know have. I have a friend whose collection of information dwarfs mine, and to peruse through that data before I die is at the top of my bucket list.
Getting back to Patrick Henry, I find it absolutely mind boggling that people will trust these politicians who run for office today, yet ignore the words of one of the men who played a key role in establishing America as a free and independent country. Yet Patrick Henry lamented that fact himself, stating, “Perhaps an invincible attachment to the dearest rights of man, may, in these refined, enlightened days, be deemed old fashioned: If so, I am contented to be so: I say, the time has been when every pore of my heart beat for American liberty, and which, I believe, had a counterpart in the breast of every true American.”
One of Henry’s biggest fears was that the proposed constitution left no means for the people to punish those who might overstep their authority and make a tyrannical use of their power. From the same speech Henry said, “But we are told that we need not fear; because those in power, being our Representatives, will not abuse the power we put in their hands: I am not well versed in history, but I will submit to your recollection, whether liberty has been destroyed most often by the licentiousness of the people, or by the tyranny of rulers? I imagine, sir, you will find the balance on the side of tyranny…”
Then a few sentences later Henry says, “My great objection to this Government is, that it does not leave us the means of defending our rights, or of waging war against tyrants.” Now I have had a great many discussions, if you can call them that, with people over this. I have been told we do have that power; we can vote them out of office, or have them impeached and then later prosecuted under criminal law.
How many times have you seen that happen in your lifetime? Even Nixon, who was forced to resign due to the Watergate Scandal, was never prosecuted for his crimes. Nor was Reagan for Iran/Contra, or Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and George W. Bush for their crimes. Now you may ask, what crimes Neal; they didn’t break the law. Oh, yes they did, they broke the Supreme law of the land, but where within that law is there any punishment for those who break it?
If we break the laws they enact there are clearly defined penalties that can be imposed upon us; fines, jail time, and even death if the crime is worthy of it. Yet in the Constitution there are no such penalties attached should our elected officials overstep the limits that document imposes upon them.
Even if there were it is highly unlikely any of them would ever be found guilty of violating the Constitution. Why do I say that? Well it’s quite simple actually, and the answer is because any question of law under the constitution falls under the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court…which just so happens to be a part of the government itself.
The Supreme Court is supposed to be unbiased; basing their decisions solely upon the Constitution. If that is true, then why have they reversed their own opinions over 200 times? How can one set of Justices rule one way and another set rule another if the Constitution has not been amended to change what it says?
What that shows me is that the court is not ruling according to law, it is ruling according to how it interprets the law…and there is a big difference. In an 1820 letter to Thomas Ritchie, Thomas Jefferson wrote this scathing condemnation of the Supreme Court, “The judiciary of the United States is the subtle corps of sappers and miners constantly working under ground to undermine the foundations of our confederated fabric. They are construing our constitution from a co-ordination of a general and special government to a general and supreme one alone.”
John Marshall began that process in the ruling of Marbury v. Madison, and it set the precedent for the court to impose its interpretation of the Constitution; thereby establishing the belief that they can decide what powers to allow the government to exercise. As their decisions are supposedly final, and they are outside the elective process, we have no recourse other than revolution should we disagree with their decisions. That is a great deal of power for an unelected body of men and women; especially when we are told that we have a system based upon the consent of the people.
Yet how many people anxiously await the decisions of the Supreme Court; hoping that they will rule in their favor on an issue? What about ruling according to law – to the Constitution? Or does that no longer matter?
Although this began as an article speaking primarily on the wisdom and virtue of Patrick Henry, I feel I must include something written by another staunch defender of liberty, Robert Yates, who left the Constitutional Convention when he saw that it was overstepping its authority to amend the Articles of Confederation. Yates saw what the convention was doing and he left to mount an opposition to whatever document it might produce.
Yates wrote a series of essays under the nom de plume Brutus in opposition to the proposed Constitution, and in his 11th essay he began a discussion of the powers given to the Supreme Court. From that essay I quote, “This part of the plan is so modelled, as to authorise the courts, not only to carry into execution the powers expressly given, but where these are wanting or ambiguously expressed, to supply what is wanting by their own decisions.”
What does that say to you? What it says to me is that if the Constitution does not expressly delegate certain powers to the government, the court may, and most likely will, grant those powers through their decisions on the cases they might choose to hear. So, without any consent of the people or constitutional amendment, the court can, AND HAS expanded the power of your government way beyond those few express powers found in Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution.
Much of this has been accomplished due to the Court’s interpretation of the Necessary and Proper Clause. Necessary, as far as my understanding of the word goes, is something that is absolutely required for something else to occur. For instance, if you don’t eat food, drink water, and breathe in oxygen, you will die. Therefore food, water and oxygen are necessary to your survival. You won’t die if you don’t have a house to live in, a car to drive, or clothes to wear. Those things ARE NOT necessary for you to survive.
That is the position Thomas Jefferson took on the Necessary and Proper Clause; that the federal government would be unable to perform its delegated tasks unless certain unspecified ‘necessary’ powers were also given it. However, there were men, like Alexander Hamilton, who espoused the philosophy that necessary meant powers that might be conceived to be conducive to the operation of the federal government; a very loose interpretation of the word necessary.
Unfortunately, the Supreme Court, more often than not, sided with the Hamiltonian view of the word necessary; and the powers of our system of government have grown beyond the wildest beliefs of men like Jefferson and Henry. Yet most Americans, not knowing any better, accept this as business as usual. As long as the things their government does somehow benefit them and their causes, they support it. The only opposition I see is opposition to the opposing party. I see very little opposition to a government run amok; drunk on its own power.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll keep saying it until it sinks in, I believe that it was always the intent of those who carefully drafted the Constitution to result in the government we have today. It was never their intention to produce a government that would remain limited and dedicated to preserving liberty in America; it was always their intent to produce exactly the government we have today.
You may vote for Republicans or Democrats, but regardless of which side you vote for, the government always wins; for it never goes out of business or restricts its violations of your liberty regardless of who gets elected; and I think those who drafted the Constitution knew that this would eventually happen.
That is why they sought to undermine the States and their sovereignty, making the federal government supreme, not co-equal. They knew that the States, if left co-equal sovereigns, could nullify federal laws which violated States rights or the liberty of the people; which is exactly what Jefferson was talking about when he wrote, “That the several States composing the United States of America, are not united on the principle of unlimited submission to their General Government . . . . and that whensoever the General Government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force. . . . that the government created by this compact [the Constitution for the United States] was not made the exclusive or final judge of the extent of the powers delegated to itself; since that would have made its discretion, and not the Constitution, the measure of its powers; . . . . that this would be to surrender the form of government we have chosen, and live under one deriving its powers from its own will, and not from our authority; . . . and that the co-States, recurring to their natural right in cases not made federal, will concur in declaring these acts void, and of no force, and will each take measures of its own for providing that neither these acts, nor any others of the General Government not plainly and intentionally authorised by the Constitution, shall be exercised within their respective territories.” (Source: Jefferson’s draft of the Kentucky Resolutions)
Today all I see, when I watch people argue politics, are people arguing over who will be their next slave master. If you were in prison and you were given the opportunity to vote for who would be the next warden of that prison, and one warden promised you round the clock cable TV in your jail cell, and the other promised you a five star menu to choose your meals from, that is how I view y’all when deciding which party gets to hold power in government. Each side makes certain promises to do things for you, but they all restrict your liberty; keep you imprisoned in a system which you willingly consent to.
The difference between most of you and those like me is that we recognize we are trapped in a system that enslaves us and you still believe that you have a system dedicated to protecting and defending your rights and your liberty. But, as von Goethe said, “None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.”
Instead of arguing whether Republicans or Democrats should be in control of government we should be arguing whether or not we even want to continue to allow this government to exist, to deprive us of the liberty that is the gift of our Creator. (See Declaration of Independence)
If this system of government cannot, or will not serve that purpose, then Lysander Spooner was right, “But whether the Constitution really be one thing, or another, this much is certain – that it has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it. In either case it is unfit to exist.”