Archive for the ‘Constitution’ Category

When Americans Understood the Declaration of Independence

by Thomas J. DiLorenzo

Source: LewRockwell.com

 

The Fourth of July was not always a national celebration of the militarization of American society and of the federal government’s never-ending quest for world domination (disguised as “defending our interests abroad”). Americans did not always attend church services on the Sunday before the Fourth of July to “honor” their “military heroes” and pray that they may kill many more human beings in other countries that have done them no harm. Americans once actually read and understood the Declaration of Independence for what it was: a declaration of secession from the British empire and a roadmap for opposing a highly centralized, militaristic empire of the sort the U.S. government has become.

The Declaration of Independence was the ultimate secessionist or states’ rights document. “Governments are instituted among men,” Thomas Jefferson wrote, for the sole purpose of securing God-given, “unalienable” rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Moreover, governments derive “their just powers from the consent of the governed” and nowhere else. And “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 . . .”

The way in which “the People” were to express their consent (or lack thereof) was through state and local political organizations. Hence, in the final paragraph of the Declaration of Independence Jefferson wrote that: “We . . . the Representatives of the united States of America . . . are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do.”

It is important to note that the word “united” is not capitalized but “States” is, and that the individual states are described as “Free and Independent.” Thus, the free, independent, and sovereign states were united in the cause of secession from the British empire. The phrase “united States” did not mean, and does not mean in any of the founding documents, the “United States government,” as is commonly believed today. It is always in the plural to signify that the free and independent states are united in their common cause of protecting life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. To Jefferson and the other signers of the Declaration of Independence, each American state was sovereign in the same sense that Great Britain, France, and Spain were sovereign states. It was through “representatives of the united States” that the consent of the people was to be expressed (or not).

It was Abraham Lincoln, who Murray Rothbard once described as a masterful “liar, conniver, and manipulator,” whose rhetoric began to fog the understanding of Americans of their Declaration of Independence. Lincoln’s twisted language in The Gettysburg Address that focused solely on the words “all men are created equal” in the Declaration, were designed to reinterpret the preeminent secessionist document as an anti-secessionist document. It was an attempt to fool Northern voters into believing in the absurd notion that he was a Jeffersonian.

Not that Lincoln ever believed that all men were – or should be considered to be – equal in any sense. As he stated in the September 18, 1858 debate with Stephen Douglas: “I will say than that I am not, nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races, that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that here is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race” (emphasis added).

In his first inaugural address Lincoln strongly supported the Fugitive Slave Act and the proposed “Corwin Amendment” to the Constitution, which had already passed the House and Senate, which would have prohibited the federal government from ever interfering with Southern slavery. Thus, it was his position that slavery should be explicitly enshrined in the Constitution, made “express and irrevocable” to use his exact words, which is hardly the position one who believes that “all men are created equal” would take. It was empty political rhetoric at its worst.

At the time, nearly everyone else in the Northern states understood the actual meaning of the Declaration of Independence, as opposed to Lincoln’s attempt at the rhetorical bastardization of the document. This point is documented in a two-volume work entitled Northern Editorials on Secession, edited by Howard Cecil Perkins. It is a collection of 495 Northern newspaper editorials from September 1860 through June 1861 on the issue of secession. The majority of Northern newspaper editorials, writes Perkins, favored peaceful secession because Northern editorialists generally believed in the Jeffersonian dictum that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. The Southern states no longer consented to being governed by Washington, D.C., they reasoned, therefore, they should be allowed to go in peace, however misguided their reasons for secession might have been. “During the weeks following the election [of Lincoln], Perkins writes, “[Northern] editors . . . assumed that secession as a constitutional right was not in question . . . . On the contrary, the southern claim to a right of peaceable withdrawal was countenanced out of reverence for the natural law principle of government by consent of the governed.”

Perkins highlights what he calls “a classic statement” of this position, written by New York Tribune editor Horace Greeley on November 9, 1860: “We hope never to live in a republic whereof one section is pinned to the residue by bayonets.” At the time, the New York Tribune was the most influential newspaper in America. There are dozens of other statements to that effect from newspapers all over the Northern states. On December 17, 1860, the New York Tribune further editorialized that if “Mr. Jefferson’s statement in the Declaration of Independence that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed” is accepted, and “if it justified the secession from the British Empire of Three Millions of colonists in 1776, we do not see why it would not justify the secession of Five Millions of Southrons from the Federal Union in 1861.”

This view of the Declaration of Independence, the pro-Lincoln Indianapolis Daily Journal wrote on December 22, 1860, “shows us the course to be pursued towards South Carolina. It is to let her go freely and entirely . . . without resistance.” On January 11, 1861, the Kenosha, Wisconsin Democrat added that “the very freedom claimed by every individual citizen, precludes the idea of compulsory association, as individuals, as communities, or as States . . . . The right of secession adheres to the people of every sovereign state.” “The founders of our government,” moreover, “were constant secessionists . . . not only in theory, but in practice,” the Wisconsin paper reminded its readers.

“[I]f disunion must come, let it come without war,” wrote the Albany, New York Atlas and Argus on January 12, 1861. For war would mean “the ruin of business, the destruction of property, oppressive debt, grinding taxation and sacrifice of millions of lives . . .” On the same day the New York Journal of Commerce advocated the peaceful secession of the Southern states by asking, “Shall we, by such a policy [as war] change our government from a voluntary one, in which the people are sovereigns, to a despotism where one part of the people are slaves? Such is the logical deduction from the policy of the advocates of force.”

On February 19, 1861 the Detroit Free Press expressed the hope that “By recognizing the independence of the Southern Confederacy, we should, to a considerable degree, disarm its people of the hostility they naturally feel towards the people of the North.” If so, then the two sections could trade with one another, establishing ties that could eventually lead to a reuniting of the union.

On March 11, 1861 the Trenton, New Jersey Daily True American editorialized that failing to acquiesce in the peaceful secession of the Southern states would be to “embark in the mad and Quixotic attempt of conquering and holding the seceded States in subjugation.” Furthermore, the pro-war argument that “the laws must be enforced at all hazards” [i.e., Lincoln’s argument], “are not new arguments; they are such as prevailed with Lord North and the other minions of George III and their futile efforts to crush out American Independence.” A union maintained by force “would be worse than a mockery,” the New Jersey newspaper wrote.

On March 21, 1861 the New York Times pointed out that even “the Abolitionists everywhere have been in favor of a dissolution of the Union from the beginning” as a way of politically isolating the Southern states and pressuring them to end slavery. (It should be noted that New York did not emancipate its last slaves until 1853). “Let us separate in peace,” the Times editorialized, for “force, as a means of restoring the Union . . . is out of the question.” Even the Springfield Daily Illinois State Journal, from Lincoln’s home town, wrote on April 3, 1861 that “the sooner we cut loose from the disaffected States, the better it may be for all parties and for the nation.” “Public opinion in the North seems to be gradually settling down in favor of the recognition of the New Confederacy by the Federal Government,” the Hartford, Connecticut Daily Courant editorialized on April 12, 1861.

Once Lincoln manipulated South Carolinians into firing on Fort Sumter as a pretext for invading his own country (the very definition of treason according to Article 1, Section 3 of the Constitution), newspapers that were associated with and controlled by the Republican Party invented the fiction that there is a supposed difference between a right of secession based on Jefferson’s words in the Declaration and a “right of revolution.” The former was illegitimate, they said, whereas the latter was not. This was not something that Jefferson or any other founders believed. It was an invention of the Republican Party propaganda apparatus, and is repeated to this day by pseudo-historians such as Harry Jaffa and his fellow “Straussian” neocons.

Another Republican Party fiction is the bizarre claim that Lincoln was a Jeffersonian for having mouthed the words “all men are created equal” in the Gettysburg Address. This fiction is the cornerstone of the Jaffa/Straussian false “history” of the “Civil War.” (Jaffa has never written anything about the war per se, or even many of Lincoln’s actions and behavior. His books have to do mostly with the rhetoric of Lincoln’s speeches).

This second fiction has long been a cornerstone of the culture of lies and propaganda that supports American military imperialism. It is the language of permanent revolution, as the late Mel Bradford wrote in numerous articles and books, not too different from the ideology of the twentieth-century communist propagandist Leon Troksky who was also known for his theory of “permanent revolution.” (It should not be surprising that many of the founders of “neoconservatism” who were students of Leo Strauss or his students, proudly boasted that they were Troskyites in their youth. The late Irving Kristol would be the best example).

By the late nineteenth century Lincoln’s bastardization of Jefferson’s language in the Declaration of Independence was employed to “justify” aggressive military imperialism in the name of spreading “equality” around the globe. “All men” means all men, not just American men, the “progressives” argued. Therefore, in the name of the sainted “Father Abraham” [Lincoln], Americans were told that it was their “divine” duty to invade, conquer, and occupy such places as the Philippines in order to bring American-style freedom to those lands. Today the Philippines, tomorrow Europe. For example, one of the most vociferous proponents of the Spanish-American war was Indiana Senator Albert Jeremiah Beveridge, who advocated the war in a speech before the U.S. Senate in which he declared that: “It was America’s destiny to set the world its example of right and honor, for we cannot fly from our world duties. We cannot retreat from any soil where Providence has unfurled our banner. It is ours to save that soil, for liberty and civilization” (Quoted in Gregg Jones, Honor in the Dust: Theodore Roosevelt, War in the Philippines, and the Rise and Fall of America’s Imperial Dream, p. 95).

More than 200,000 Filipinos were murdered by American soldiers in order to “save” their “soil” for liberty. As for the real Jeffersonians who opposed the Spanish-American war, Beveridge mocked them by saying, “the opposition tells us we ought not to rule a people without their consent.” But Filipinos were not capable of self-government, he said. They needed their American occupiers to “rescue” them from “savage, bloody rule of pillage and extortion.” This “march of the flag” is “America’s divine destiny,” he bloviated. This last passage sounds more like the effects of the American invasion and occupation of the Philippines than the cause.

If Americans ever began celebrating the real meaning of the Declaration of Independence, then they would embrace the Jeffersonian rights of secession and nullification as a means of fighting back against governmental tyranny. They would also withdraw their support for the U.S. government’s aggressive wars of imperialism in the Middle East and elsewhere, along with its hundreds of military bases on every continent on the planet. They might even begin an opposition to being plundered by the incredibly corrupt military/industrial/congressional complex and its main funding sources, the Fed and the income tax.

July 4, 2012

Thomas J. DiLorenzo [send him mail] is professor of economics at Loyola College in Maryland and the author of The Real Lincoln; Lincoln Unmasked: What You’re Not Supposed To Know about Dishonest Abe and How Capitalism Saved America. His latest book is Hamilton’s Curse: How Jefferson’s Archenemy Betrayed the American Revolution – And What It Means for America Today. His next book is entitled Organized Crime: The Unvarnished Truth About Government.

Copyright © 2012 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.

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I discovered Mr. Skousen’s work last year by reading “Strategic Relocation: North American Guide to Safe Places – 3rd edition“. He and his son, Andrew Skousen, offer a comprehensive guide to the safest places to relocate to in rough times. I highly recommend his work. I rate it 5-SS on my Indispensable Information Overload List of Links (IIOLOL)!

Below you’ll find the last section of a booklet from his website for your reading pleasure. I posted section 4: Self Defense and Revolution below. For the full booklet, click here.

WHY DO PEOPLE FAIL TO PRESERVE LIBERTY?

WHY DO PEOPLE HAVE SUCH A DIFFICULT TIME RECOGNIZING ITS LOSS?

In response to these difficult questions regarding the loss of liberty, I have felt compelled to author this booklet. All free men need to determine just what are the essential principles that are necessary to conserve and defend individual, family, and group liberty from the slow, cancerous destruction of socialist, collectivist, and totalitarian tendencies of man.

4:

SELF DEFENSE AND REVOLUTION

To DEFEND one’s person and property against any overt and imminent threat, and to use the minimum, appropriate force required, of the alternatives immediately available at hand, to eliminate such threat, when no immediate recourse is available to assistance or constitutional adjudication. This includes the right to defend oneself against the aggression of other persons acting unconstitutionally as a majority within a government with the intent to take assets without prior consent or otherwise deprive any person of these fundamental freedoms.

There are two inherent dangers involved in the fundamental right to self-defense. First, it must not be viewed as a total license to kill for small and petty reasons. But on the other hand, it must not be so restrictive that it forces a person to calculate a myriad of legal alternatives when he is under dangerous, threatening and uncertain circumstances.

As we discussed earlier, we join together to form governmental associations in order to enhance our capability to deter and prosecute crime, and to use large scale defensive military force when appropriate. We also place voluntary limits upon our own powers of self-defense, by deferring to the judicial process for prosecution rather than taking personal retribution and revenge. The only exception is when the threat is so imminent, dangerous, or uncertain that there is no safe opportunity to summon law enforcement officers. In such a case each person is free to rely on his fundamental right to defend himself.

Such self-defense should give every benefit of the doubt to the one who is being threatened–not the aggressor. This principle is specifically worded to not give the type of legalistic aid and comfort to criminals as is presently provided by the myriad of legal restrictions surrounding the use of “deadly force” by a citizen.

A homeowner who is threatened by physical force should be free to select the best weapon, of that which is immediately available, that HE or SHE determines is necessary to eliminate the threat. There are circumstances that may well even justify shooting a violent attacker as he is fleeing, under the very real presumption that he is likely to come back and try again. It also means that a person isn’t restricted from using fast and deadly force against an attacker simply because he cannot visibly see a weapon. In many circumstances, at dark and at night, the presence of an intruder who refuses to respond to your demands to identify himself or otherwise stop his approach warrants the use of deadly force, from as safe a distance as possible. The only weapon that is usually suitable under such criteria is a stand-off weapon, such as a handgun, which demonstrates one of the prime reasons why a citizen’s right to self-defense is severely handicapped if handguns are prohibited.

The last part of the statement expands the self-defense role from the individual threat to the more onerous threat of tyranny by improper government force, as is quite common even in our society. In essence, it defines the right of legitimate revolution against government tyranny.

Instead of reaching for a gun to go next door and rob people, when in need, people have been enticed to believe it is appropriate to “reach for their legislator” instead of the gun. The legislator, along with a majority of the other representatives, performs the violation or theft, but he does so in the name of the law and taxation. That is why social welfare laws are improper and a violation of the fundamental rights of ownership. Government asserts the power to do what the individual citizen does not have the right to do–take from the productive and give to those that claim a need. But government, like any other association of men, cannot possess greater rights than those forming the association. If individuals do not have the right to take money from another without a voluntary exchange, neither does government.

Government has the power to tax, but only under contractual circumstances where the citizens have agreed to pay for services they assign a government to perform. The power to tax should be nothing more than an extension of the individual power to contract. After receiving a contractual service, the individual can be forced to comply with the terms, meaning “pay up.” Unfortunately, we have many types of government taxes which are forced upon people who have never contracted for the service. This is improper. In fact the entire formation of a government without initial consent of all the governed is a violation of a major principle of liberty.

When sufficient violations of this nature occur, and when there is no further recourse to peaceful change, the people may well be justified in exercising their right to revolution. Usually this is only necessary when the majority of voters have begun to participate in the benefits of government theft, and refuse to repeal the improper laws, voluntarily. Only when an oppressed minority has lost, in whole or in part, its fundamental rights and there no longer remains any ability to gain redress for grievance by democratic means is it justified in disregarding the law (nullification), leaving the government (secession), resisting compliance by armed defense, and throwing the rascals out of power (by revolution).

Granted, this is a dangerous and unpleasant course, and as stated in the Declaration of Independence, should not be done for “light and transient causes.” Nevertheless, it must be universally taught and defended as the fundamental right that it is. (Such instruction of citizen’s rights should never be allowed to justify a mandatory government school system–only that it may be view as a mandatory prerequisite of understanding for each person applying for citizenship. Where and how he learns it is up to the individual, as is discussed in the area of contractual citizenship. The citizen contract is found at the end of the Constitution.

Re blogged from Durablefaith.com

Got nothing to hide? I’ve heard that from many on social sites and blogs. REALLY!? That’s the attitude many in Germany held until the jack-boots came for them. Privacy is a natural right not some privilege given by some ‘benevolent’ government.

If you haven’t read Enemies Foreign and Domestic by Matthew Bracken yet, the theme of the book is smartly similar to what BigSis wants for you in this country. Give up liberty for security. We’re only taking pictures to help ‘fight crime’ and find missing persons. If you believe that, you haven’t been paying attention. Photos now, bombs later?

What’s tub-thumping got to do with the Constitution?

A tub-thumper is one who argues for or promotes something vigorously with noisy, violent, or ranting public speaking.

Noisy and violent come to mind when the subject of the U.S. Constitution is breached. I watch my twitter feed some days and I’m drawn to get on the bandwagon to bash our “unconstitutional” government leaders. Obama happens to be the latest in a long line of targets for verbal bashing. Being a Constitutional law professor, you’d think he’d know better. Maybe he knows it better than we think (I’ll explain a little later).

Obama said, “that an unelected group of people (Supreme Court – the branch that’s suppose to monitor the feds – like letting kids grade their own papers) would somehow overturn a duly constituted and passed law (Congress).” He called it “unprecedented.” Read here. This is easy to swallow with a gulp of kool-aid. The courts do this all the time. It’s their job.

When the cat and mouse agree, the grocer is ruined. – Arab proverb

Why hasn’t the constitution stopped Obamacare? How has the Federal Government, past and present, overstepped our strict constitution? What about checks and balances?

I’ve always considered myself a tub-thumping constitutionalists. I always thought the Constitution was carefully constructed by our Founding Fathers (lawyers) to limit and restrain government’s lust for complete control and power. However, with each passing year,  the Leviathan strengthens its crushing grip on its prey (us). Once upon a time, not so long ago, I fought in the left-right war. I couldn’t put to rest that gnawing feeling that we (liberal, conservative, moderate, independent) are being played as fools. If the Constitution gives Congress only specific powers, how do the States and the people end up with the short straw in this experiment of republic government? Why are our freedoms eroding? Maybe we weren’t really meant to be free. Stay with me now. Don’t put the tar pot on the fire just yet.

Last year I read Hologram of Liberty Kenneth W. Royce (a.k.a. Boston T. Party). This single book, well researched and documented, should be read by all in the Libertarian/Liberty movement. Just as Government “education” was not established to educate, but to school the masses to be useful to the elites running the show, our Constitution has built-in loss of freedom clauses allowing expansion of Big Government.

In “No Treason”, Lysander Spooner states, “The Constitution has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it.”

Don’t take me to be anti-American. I love my country. I’m just exhausted by government.  After reading HoL, I gave up parchment worship. When addressing the Virginia ratifying assembly in 1788, Patrick Henry (one of my favorite liberty-lovers) said, “I look upon the constitution as the fatal plan that could be possibly be conceived to enslave a free people.” When you search and dig deep for answers to those gnawing questions about the “backsliding” Federal Government, you may come to Mr. Henry’s conclusion.

For further self-education, I highly recommend Hologram of Liberty! Take the time to read it before ranting about the next Big Government encroachment into your life. Then you’ll begin putting the puzzle pieces together.

If you read it, please let me know what you think.

Semper paratus!