Thursday, June 29, 2006

From Mr. James Monroe.....

"The right of self-defence never ceases. It is among the must sacred, and alike necessary to nations and to individuals."
- Journal of the Senate of the United States of America, TUESDAY, November 17th, 1818

Thursday, June 22, 2006

You called THAT one right, Tom....

"In the impeachment of judge Pickering of New Hampshire, a habitual & maniac drunkard, no defence was made. Had there been, the party vote of more than one third of the Senate would have acquitted him.-- T. J.] impartial controul: and that this, to be imparted, must be compounded of a mixture of state and federal authorities. It is not enough that honest men are appointed judges. All know the influence of interest on the mind of man, and how unconsciously his judgment is warped by that influence. To this bias add that of the esprit de corps, of their peculiar maxim and creed that "it is the office of a good judge to enlarge his jurisdiction," and the absence of responsibility, and how can we expect impartial decision between the General government, of which they are themselves so eminent a part, and an individual state from which they have nothing to hope or fear. We have seen too that, contrary to all correct example, they are in the habit of going out of the question before them, to throw an anchor ahead and grapple further hold for future advances of power. They are then in fact the corps of sappers & miners, steadily working to undermine the independant rights of the States, & to consolidate all power in the hands of that government in which they have so important a freehold estate. But it is not by the consolidation, or concentration of powers, but by their distribution, that good government is effected. Were not this great country already divided into states, that division must be made, that each might do for itself what concerns itself directly, and what it can so much better do than a distant authority. Every state again is divided into counties, each to take care of what lies within it's local bounds; each county again into townships or wards, to manage minuter details; and every ward into farms, to be governed each by it's individual proprietor. Were we directed from Washington when to sow, & when to reap, we should soon want bread. It is by this partition of cares, descending in gradation from general to particular, that the mass of human affairs may be best managed for the good and prosperity of all. I repeat that I do not charge the judges with wilful and ill-intentioned error; but honest error must be arrested where it's toleration leads to public ruin. As, for the safety of society, we commit honest maniacs to Bedlam, so judges should be withdrawn from their bench, whose erroneous biases are leading us to dissolution. It may indeed injure them in fame or in fortune; but it saves the republic, which is the first and supreme law."
- Thomas Jefferson, July 27, 1821, (Autobiography Draft Fragment, January 6 through July 27).

Monday, June 19, 2006

"They are armed, and have been accustomed from their youth up to handle and use fire-arms...

"That war has demonstrated, that upon the breaking out of hostilities not anticipated, and for which no previous preparation had been made, a volunteer army of citizen soldiers equal to veteran troops, and in numbers equal to any emergency, can in a short period be brought into the field. Unlike what would have occurred in any other country, we were under no necessity of resorting to draughts or conscriptions. On the contrary, such was the number of volunteers who patriotically tendered their services, that the chief difficulty was in making selections and determining who should be disappointed and compelled to remain at home. Our citizen-soldiers are unlike those drawn from the population of any other country. They are composed indiscriminately of all professions and pursuits: of farmers, lawyers, physicians, merchants, manufacturers, mechanics, and laborers; and this, not only among the officers, but the private soldiers in the ranks. Our citizen-soldiers are unlike those of any other country in other respects. They are armed, and have been accustomed from their youth up to handle and use fire-arms; and a large proportion of them, especially in the western and more newly-settled States, are expert marksmen."
- President JAMES K. POLK, Washington, December 5, 1848, Journal of the Senate of the United States of America

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Delegated 'Authority'? I don't think so....

"Rights of the citizen declared to be --".

Thursday, June 15, 2006


"My dear sir Phil,
Sept. 25th 1774
I wrote you yesterday by the Post. A frequent Communication at this critical Conjuncture is necessary. As the all important American Cause so much depends upon each Colony acting agreably to the Sentiments of the whole it must be useful to you to know the Senti- ments which are entertaind here of the Temper and Conduct of our Province. Heretofore we have been accounted by many, intemperate and rash; but now we are universally applauded as cool and judicious as well as Spirited and brave. This is the Character we sustain in Congress. There is however a certain Degree of Jealousy in the Minds of some that we aim at total Independency not only of the Mother Country but of the Colonies too: and that as we are a hardy and brave People we shall in time over run them all. However groundless this Jealousy may be, it ought to be attended to, and is of Weight in your Deliberations on the Subject of your last Letter. I spent yesterday Afternoon and Evening with Mr. Dickinson. He is a true Bostonian. It is his opinion that if Boston can safely remain on the defensive the Liberties of America which that Town have so nobly contended for will be secured. The Congress have in their resolve of the 17 Instant given their Sanction to the Resolutions of the County of Suffolk (1).--One of which is to act merely upon the defensive so long as such Conduct may be justified by Reason & the principles of Self preservation, but no longer. They have great Dependence upon your tryed Patience and fortitude. They suppose you mean to defend your civil Constitution. They strongly recommend Perseverance in a firm & temperate Conduct and give you a full pledge of their united Efforts in your Behalf. They have not yet come to final resolutions. It becomes them to be deliberate, I have been assured in private Conversation with Individuals that if you should be driven to the Necessity of acting in Defence of your Lives or Liberty, you would be justified by their Constituents and openly supported by all Means in their power but whether they will ever be prevaild upon to think it necessary for you to set up another form of Government, I very much question for the Reason I have before suggested. It is of the greatest Importance that the American opposition should be united, and that it should be conducted so as to concur with the opposition of our friends in England. Adieu."
FC (NN). Unsigned draft in the hand of Samuel Adams; recipient designated in Adams, Writings (Cushing), 3:157.1 JCC, 1:39-40.
Samuel Adams to Thomas Young

My dear Sir
Philadelphia Octob [17?] 1774
I have receivd your (1) favors of 29th Sept and 11th Instant, the latter of which is just come to hand. The affidavit inclosed confirms the report in Boston about the begining of July, of a Mans being seizd by the Soldiery, put under Guard & finally sent to England. But what Remedy can the poor injurd Fellow obtain in his own Country where inter Arma silent Leges! I have written to our Friends to provide themselves without Delay with arms & Ammunition, get well instructed in the military Art, embody themselves & prepare a complete Set of Rules that they may be ready in Case they are called to defend themselves against the violent Attacks of Despotism. Surely the Laws of Self Preservation will warrant it in this Time of Danger & doubtful Expectation. One cannot be certain that a distracted Minister will yield to the Measures taken by the Congress, though they should operate the Ruin of the National Trade, until he shall have made further Efforts to lay America, as he impiously expressd it "prostrate at his Feet."I believe you will have seen before this reaches you, some further Resolves of the Congress relative to my native Town & Province together with a Letter to Gage.(2) They were sent to the Committee of Correspondence in Boston by Mr Revere who left us a Week ago, and I Suppose are or will be publishd in the papers. You will therein see the sense of the Gentlemen here of the Conduct of the General and the "dignified Scoundrels," and of the opposition made to the tyrannical Acts. I think our Countrymen discover the Spirit of Rome or Sparta. I admire in them that Patience which you have often heard me say is characteristick of the Patriot. I regretted your Removal from Boston when you first informd me of it, but I trust it will be for the publick Advantage. Wherever you may be I am very sure you will improve your ten Talents for the publick Good. I pray God to direct and reward you.I am with due regard to Mrs Young,
affectionately yours
Saml Adams
FC (NN). Day blank in the MS, but dated the 17th in Adams, Writings (Cushing), 3: 162-63. Paul Revere, who according to Adams "left us a Week ago," departed Philadelphia October 11.
Samuel Ward to Henry Ward

Dear Bror.

Philadela. 31st Decr. 1775

You Favor of l9th I could not acknowledge by the Return of the Post. I think with You that our Declaration of Retaliation was very proper but that we may go further & believe We shall. Genl. Washington has sent a very spirited Message to Genl. Howe relative to Colo. Allen taken at Montreal; as I recollect his Words are "Whatever may be his Treatment, whatever his Fate, such exactly shall be that of Brigadier General Preston whom We now have in our Power."
The Virginians have at length done bravely. They have defeated Lord Dunmore, killed & taken 62 Grenadiers, their Capn. one of them, and several other privates & forced him to fly on board his Ships. The Congress has taken proper measures for the Defence of the Colony which will soon be carried into Execution.
I am clear with you that our Salvation depends upon effectually supporting the Dignity, Importance & decisive Authority of Congress. How far increasing their Number would answer that Salutary Purpose I have not time to consider at present, our Number is now sixty five, seldom fifty are present, often less than forty. May not the additional Number you propose support by their Infiuence in their several Colonies the Autho[rit]y of Congress more effectually in Person upon the Spot than when abroad by Letters, surely they may as Difficulties & Disorders arise apply proper Remedies and crush those things perhaps in embrio which in time would become very troublesome and dangerous.
The Plan of Union I agree ought to be setled this Winter but the Terms you propose I dont like. You say Representation ought to be as equal as possible. Agreed, but what is to be represented-not the Individuals of a particular Community but several States, Colonies or Bodies corporate. All Writers agree that a Nation is to be considered as one Person, one moral accountable Person having a Will of its own &c. Your Proposition allows to the larger Colonies several Wills & to the smaller not one, that is not one entire or compleat Will, & thereby makes the smaller wholly dependent on the larger; but You say Justice requires that the larger Colonies having a great number of Inhabitants & a greater Share of Property should have a proportionably greater Share of Representation. Let us see how the Doctrine will apply to individuals. One Man hath a numerous Family & is possessed of a large Estate, another has only a small Family & a little Estate. Is not the Life, the Family, Liberty & Property of the poor man being his all of as much Importance to and as dear to him as the larger all of the rich Man. Most clearly they are, surely then he may be equally intrusted with the Care of that all, and Justice cannot require that he should be deprived of any Part of the Means of self Preservation that they may be transfered to another and yet if you allow to one of them a single Voice, to the other two or three Voices, You certainly (selfish as people in general are) deprive one of the Means of Self Preservation or defence and put him wholly in the Power of the other. Do not the numerous Family & Fortune of the one give him suflicient Weight 8c Influence, surely they do, he can have no Right to more, the Laws have therefore wisely given to the Man of a fixed moderate Estate an equal Voice with him who is worth a hundred Times as much. Again Towns & Counties are of different Dimensions, contain different Numbers of Inhabitants & various Degrees of Wealth & yet you allow them nearly an equal Degree of Representation. I observed this to the Virginians & asked why they would risque the Introduction of a System of Equality in the States of America which they found impracticable even in a single Colony. Besides the present Sentiments, Prejudices and Jealousies would make it very unsafe. The N. E. Colonies are happily united. Others see it and knowing them to be brave and enterprizing are very jealous especially of the two larger Colonies and it is the Policy of some as far [as] the Dread of British Tyranny will admit to lessen the Influence of those Colonies, hence whole Weeks which ought to have been spent in pushing a War vigorously have been employed in ascertaining the Object and Extent of the War, hence the newmodelling the Army the Source of all its Dangers & Difficulties. If the N. E. Colonies had been applied to for their respective Quotas of Men, had appointed their Officers & been permitted to have given a Bounty as usual We might have had a fine Army long since. The ostensible Reasons for the contrary Conduct are Oeconomy & continental Views but the real one is this unhappy & ill grounded Jealousy. Again the Colonies of Pennsylvania N. York, Maryland & N. Carolina would acquire much Weight by the new Mode of Representation and besides the Jerseys, the Lower Counties & Georgia, Rhode Island & New Hampshire would proportionably loose. Can it be for the Interest of America to reduce the Power of those who have risqued all in her Cause & augment that of others who have not & never can or will proportionably serve her. It is impossible; if what I have now said is not satisfactory I will make another Attempt.
Mr. Hewes was surprized at the Hint I gave him but very politely thanked me for it and determined to be upon his Guard for the future. The Army I wish may be formed soon, but the draughting of Men is vastly disagreable to Me; it distresses Families greatly, & the Men must be paid so that nothing will be saved. On the other hand I cant bear that Quota should be wanting; I had much rather have given a Bounty than be perplex'd in this Manner. I hope the Assembly may be directed to such Measures as may promote the true Interest Honor & Happiness of the Colo [n] y. The French Gentn. arrived on Friday Evening;(2)Congress has referred them to the Secret Comee. We had a Conference with them last Evening; this Afternoon they paid Mr. Dean & me a Visit and were going to wait on the other Members. I am grieved for the poor People of Newport; when will there be an End of their Misfortunes. I wish they would nobly resolve to quit it unless it can be fortifyed. I am told Genl Lee was coming up with such a View. We have very interesting Intelligence in a Number of intercepted Letters from the southward, some Acct. of which I may perhaps be at Liberty to communicate in my next.
I will send you the Pamphlets you write for when I have Opportunity. At present every thing is shut up, our Fleet is just ready to sail but cannot stir without warmer Weather opens the River. My best Regards to all Friends. I am Your very affece Brother
Sam Ward
EXCERPT from letter by Oliver Wolcott, Delegate to Congress, to Laura Wolcott dated MARCH 22, 1777:
"The Law of Self Preservation certainly will justify Violating a Law not founded on Moral Principles but of supposed Conveniency only, but no Laws ought to Exist which are merely political when it is clearly known that they will not be observed as Laws of that Nature are supposed to be the Symtoms of the Want either of Power or Wisdom or perhaps both. I was fully Satisfied in my own mind that the same would be the Effect of limiting the Prices of the Articles of Living. In my Judgment the most despotic Government that ever existed since the Days of Nimrod could never carry such a Law into Execution, but I have done nothing to Prejudice the Scheme this Way as it was adopted by our State. Tho' I tho't it was founded upon every Principle of Impolicy. But why am I eternally dabbling in Politicks. Would to God that the Knaves and Oppressors of this World would cease their Villany, so that each one might Return to domestick Injoyment, and possess unenvied that Peace, which cannot be had in any Other Circumstances of Life. I want much to See my Family. There are some Circumstance of a publick Nature which render my Return less desirable just Now than I wish it was-besides a certain Management or (I do not know what to call it) which I have Experienced and which I well know that I am to expect, there is a certain Volatility or publick Inflamation arising from Various Causes which I believe will not be in my Power either to Moderate or give a benificial Direction to."
George Washington to George William Fairfax:
Philadelphia May 31st. 1775. Discusses matters pertaining to Fairfax's business affairs. Mentions Lexington and Concord and encloses affidavits taken after the engagement.(1) "General Gage acknowledges that the detachment under Lieutenant Colonel Smith was sent out to destroy private property; or, in other Words, to destroy a Magazine which self preservation obliged the Inhabitants to establish. And he also confesses, in effect at least, that his Men made a very precipitate retreat from Concord, notwithstanding the reinforcement under Lord Piercy; the last of which may serve to convince Lord Sandwich (and others of the same sentiment) that the Americans will fight for their Liberties and property however pusilanimous, in his Lordship's Eye, they may appear in other respects."From the best Accounts I have been able to collect of that affair; indeed from every one, I believe the fact, stripped of all colouring, to be plainly this, that if the retreat had not been as precipitate as it was (and God knows it could not well have been more so) the Ministerial Troops must have surrendered, or been totally cut off, For they had not arrived in Charlestown (under cover of their Ships) half an hour, before a powerful body of Men from Marblehead and Salem were at their heels, and must, if they had happened to have been up one hour sooner, inevitably intercepted their retreat to Charlestown. Unhappy it is though to reflect, that a Brother's Sword has been sheathed in a Brother's breast, and that, the once happy and peaceful plains of America are either to be drenched with Blood, or Inhabited by Slaves. Sad alternative! But can a virtuous Man hesitate in his choice?"
Tr (DLC) . Washington, Writings (Fitzpatrick), 3:290 92.1 Affidavits concerning the engagement at Lexington and Concord are printed in JCC, 2:28 44
John Hancock to Certain Colonies
Philadelphia April 12th. 1776
While the British Ministry are taking every Step, that Cruelty and Revenge can dictate, for the Destruction of American Liberty, it is incumbent on these United Colonies, to exert their utmost Efforts to defeat them. Happily for our Country, their military operations have not been attended with that Success which they so sanguinely expected. This Circumstance however, far from abating their Rage against us, has had the Effect, constantly produced by disappointed Passions. It has roused them to make new Exertions of Power against Us; and we now behold American Property, by a late Act of Parliament, made legal Plunder.(1) Such a Strain of Rapine and Violence can be equalled only by the Spirit, with which it is likely to be executed. Having authorized the Seizure of Vessels belonging to these Colonies, where-ever found upon the High Seas, there is too much Reason to apprehend, the Execution of the Edict (which we may expect in its greatest Extent) will, for a Time, prove a severe Clog to the Trade of America. Under these Circumstances The Congress, in Hopes of checking, in some Degree, an Evil, which they cannot at present remove, and acting on the same Principles of Self Preservation, and Retaliation which they have hitherto adopted, have been induced to come into sundry Resolutions relative to the fitting out Letters of Marque & Reprizal. The Trade of America is an object of so much Consequence, and the Protection of it so necessary, that I make no Doubt of your giving all the Encouragement in your Power to any Measures that may be deemed expedient for its Security & Existence. I herewith transmit Bonds, Commissions, and Instructions, which the Congress has thought proper to request the several Assemblies, Conventions, & Committees of Safety, to make Use. of on the Occasion.(2) I have the Honour to be, Gent., Your most obedt. & very hbl ser.
J. H. Presidt. LB (DNA: PCC, item 12A). Addressed: "To Hon. Assembly of New Hamsphire. To the Honble the Assembly of Massachusetts Bay. Assembly of Rhode Island. Assembly of Connecticut. Convention of Virginia."

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

What have we here?

"Taking the opinions to be the same on this point, and he was sure if there was any room for change, it could not be on the side of the majority, the question will be shall less than 1/4 of the U. States withdraw themselves from the Union; or shall more than 3/4 . renounce the inherent, indisputable, and unalienable rights of men, in favor of the artificial systems of States......Can we forget for whom we are forming a Government? Is it for men, or for the imaginary beings called States? Will our honest Constituents be satisfied with metaphysical distinctions?"
- James Wilson, Signed the Declaration of Independence, Congressman, Delegate to the Constitutional Convention and Supreme Court Judge, (The Debates in the Federal Convention, Sat. June 30, 1787, as reported by James Madison).
“The law of nature is immutable; not by the effect of an arbitrary disposition, but because it has its foundation in the nature, constitution, and mutual relations of men and things. While these continue to be the same, it must continue to be the same also. This immutability of nature's laws has nothing in it repugnant to the supreme power of an all-perfect Being. Since he himself is the author of our constitution; he cannot but command or forbid such things as are necessarily agreeable or disagreeable to this very constitution. He is under the glorious necessity of not contradicting himself. This necessity, far from limiting or diminishing his perfections, adds to their external character, and points out their excellency.
“The law of nature is universal. For it is true, not only that all men are equally subject to the command of their Maker; but it is true also, that the law of nature, having its foundation in the constitution and state of man, has an essential fitness for all mankind, and binds them without distinction.
“This law, or right reason, as Cicero calls it, is thus beautifully described by that eloquent philosopher. "It is, indeed," says he, "a true law, conformable to nature, diffused among all men, unchangeable, eternal. By its commands, it calls men to their duty: by its prohibitions, it deters them from vice. To diminish, to alter, much more to abolish this law, is a vain attempt. Neither by the senate, nor by the people, can its powerful obligation be dissolved. It requires no interpreter or commentator. It is not one law at Rome, another at Athens; one law now, another hereafter: it is the same eternal and immutable law, given at all times and to all nations: for God, who is its author and promulgator, is always the sole master and sovereign of mankind."
- James Wilson, [The Works of the Honourable James Wilson, L.L.D.; Chap. III Of the Law of Nature].
"I go farther; and now proceed to show, that in peculiar instances, in which those rights can receive neither protection nor reparation from civil government, they are, notwithstanding its institution, entitled still to that defence, and to those methods of recovery, which are justified and demanded in a state of nature."
"The defence of one's self, justly called the primary law of nature, is not, nor can it be abrogated by any regulation of municipal law. This principle of defence is not confined merely to the person; it extends to the liberty and the property of a man: it is not confined merely to his own person; it extends to the persons of all those, to whom he bears a peculiar relation -- of his wife, of his parent, of his child, of his master, of his servant: nay, it extends to the person of every one, who is in danger; perhaps, to the liberty of every one, whose liberty is unjustly and forcibly attacked. It becomes humanity as well as justice."
- James Wilson, from a series of lectures given between 1790 and 1792, 'Wilson, Of the Natural Rights of Individuals', in 2 The Works of James Wilson 335 (J.D. Andrews ed. 1896).
Isn't that just special?

Friday, June 09, 2006

Messages from Hamilton.....

“This simple train of inquiry furnishes us at once with a test by which to judge of the true nature of the clause complained of. It conducts us to this palpable truth, that a power to lay and collect taxes must be a power to pass all laws necessary and proper for the execution of that power; and what does the unfortunate and culumniated provision in question do more than declare the same truth, to wit, that the national legislature, to whom the power of laying and collecting taxes had been previously given, might, in the execution of that power, pass all laws necessary and proper to carry it into effect? I have applied these observations thus particularly to the power of taxation, because it is the immediate subject under consideration, and because it is the most important of the authorities proposed to be conferred upon the Union.

But the same process will lead to the same result, in relation to all other powers declared in the Constitution.

And it is expressly to execute these powers that the sweeping clause, as it has been affectedly called, authorizes the national legislature to pass all necessary and proper laws. If there is any thing exceptionable, it must be sought for in the specific powers upon which this general declaration is predicated. The declaration itself, though it may be chargeable with tautology or redundancy, is at least perfectly harmless.

But SUSPICION may ask, Why then was it introduced?

The answer is, that it could only have been done for greater caution, and to guard against all cavilling refinements in those who might hereafter feel a disposition to curtail and evade the legitimate authorities of the Union.

The Convention probably foresaw, what it has been a principal aim of these papers to inculcate, that the danger which most threatens our political welfare is that the State governments will finally sap the foundations of the Union; and might therefore think it necessary, in so cardinal a point, to leave nothing to construction.

Whatever may have been the inducement to it, the wisdom of the precaution is evident from the cry which has been raised against it; as that very cry betrays a disposition to question the great and essential truth which it is manifestly the object of that provision to declare.
But it may be again asked, Who is to judge of the necessity and propriety of the laws to be passed for executing the powers of the Union? I answer,

first, that this question arises as well and as fully upon the simple grant of those powers as upon the declaratory clause; and I answer, in the second place, that the national government, like every other, must judge, in the first instance, of the proper exercise of its powers, and its constituents in the last. If the federal government should overpass the just bounds of its authority and make a tyrannical use of its powers,

the people, whose creature it is,

must appeal to the standard they have formed, and take such measures to redress the injury done to the Constitution as the exigency may suggest and prudence justify.
The propriety of a law, in a constitutional light, must always be determined by the nature of the powers upon which it is founded.

Suppose, by some forced constructions of its authority (which, indeed, cannot easily be imagined), the Federal legislature should attempt to vary the law of descent in any State, would it not be evident that, in making such an attempt, it had exceeded its jurisdiction, and infringed upon that of the State?

Suppose, again, that upon the pretense of an interference with its revenues, it should undertake to abrogate a landtax imposed by the authority of a State; would it not be equally evident that this was an invasion of that concurrent jurisdiction in respect to this species of tax, which its Constitution plainly supposes to exist in the State governments? If there ever should be a doubt on this head, the credit of it will be entirely due to those reasoners who, in the imprudent zeal of their animosity to the plan of the convention, have labored to envelop it in a cloud calculated to obscure the plainest and simplest truths.”

- Alexander Hamilton, Federalist #33

Interesting concept, especially in light of the view that neither the Federal or state was given power over the Right of a free United States citizen to Keep and Bear Arms.


“Let us recollect that peace or war will not always be left to our option; that however moderate or unambitious we may be, we cannot count upon the moderation, or hope to extinguish the ambition of others. Who could have imagined at the conclusion of the last war that France and Britain, wearied and exhausted as they both were, would so soon have looked with so hostile an aspect upon each other? To judge from the history of mankind, we shall be compelled to conclude that the fiery and destructive passions of war reign in the human breast with much more powerful sway than the mild and beneficent sentiments of peace; and that to model our political systems upon speculations of lasting tranquillity, is to calculate on the weaker springs of the human character.”

- Alexander Hamilton, Federalist #34

Interesting isn't it? Can somebody please explain how we have arrived at the point we are now? And why We the People are allowing this plain disregard of OUR Constitution?