Patrick Henry may well be proved a Prophet as well as a Statesman

Patrick_HenryPatrick Henry speech Thursday, June 5, 1788, on the dangerous ambiguities of the Constitution; it should be noted that Henry also demanded a Bill of Rights to be added to the Constitution which it later was. Yet when the Federal Government ignores, misrepresents, misconstrues, subverts and otherwise seeks to undermine the content of the very foundations of our Republic, laws, and Constitution, what are we the citizens, We The People to do as a matter of recourse? Are we left with a weak and ineffectual Congress of which, we see today, that seems to be utterly averse to even use their powers of subpoena to get answers from the White House administration about the tragedies, malfeasance, and abuse of power by people in the administration and those bureaucrats under them!?!

I say No!, It is time we and our representatives in Congress held this government and bureaucracy accountable, it is time they were held to the same standard and account they hold We The American People to, and if our representatives are unable to brave the storm, it is time to hold them accountable and replace them with those of a stronger disposition who will!

See also: The Greatest Speech in American History (Give me Liberty or Give me Death) by Patrick Henry

Henry was a great advocate of individual liberty and was concerned the concentration of power in the hands of a federal government would lead to the erosion of the liberties then enjoyed by the people of the individual states and to the erosion of the rights of those states as individual members of a confederation. See the Virginia Bill of Rights at the bottom of the page. At the Virginia ratification debates of 1788, Patrick Henry denied that the propaganda of the Federalists was based on anything but scare tactics, and defied the Federalists to provide convincing evidence that the Articles of Confederation had not provided what the colonists had fought for in the Revolution. Indeed, Henry contended, to adopt the new Constitution would be akin to a Revolution greater than the one just finished, except this revolution was of an older variety.

I am a determined foe to tyranny; I know that tyranny seldom attacks the poor; never in the first instance. They are not its proper prey. It falls on the wealthy and the great, whom by rendering objects of envy, and likewise obnoxious to the multitude, it may more easily destroy, and when they are destroyed, that multitude which was led to that ill work by the hands of bad men, is itself undone for ever…I hate tyranny. But I hate it worst of all where most are concerned in it. The tyranny of a multitude is a multiplied tyranny. ~ Edmund Burke

Mr. Chairman, I am much obliged to the very worthy gentleman for his encomium. I wish I was possessed with talents, or possessed of any thing that might enable me to elucidate this great subject. I am not free from suspicion: I am apt to entertain doubts. 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. I need not take much pains to show that the principles of this system are extremely pernicious, impolitic, and dangerous. Is this a monarchy, like England — a compact between prince and people, with checks on the former to secure the liberty of the latter? Is this a confederacy, like Holland — an association of a number of independent states, each of which retains its individual sovereignty? It is not a democracy, wherein the people retain all their rights securely. Had these principles been adhered to, we should not have been brought to this alarming transition, from a confederacy to a consolidated government. We have no detail of these great considerations, which, in my opinion, ought to have abounded before we should recur to a government of this kind. Here is a revolution as radical as that which separated us from Great Britain. It is radical in this transition; our rights and privileges are endangered, and the sovereignty of the states will be relinquished: and cannot we plainly see that this is actually the case? The rights of conscience, trial by jury, liberty of the press, all your immunities and franchises, all pretensions to human rights and privileges, are rendered insecure, if not lost, by this change, so loudly talked of by some, and inconsiderately by others. Is this tame relinquishment of rights worthy of freemen? Is it worthy of that manly fortitude that ought to characterize republicans? It is said eight states have adopted this plan. I declare that if twelve states and a half had adopted it, I would, with manly firmness, and in spite of an erring world, reject it. You are not to inquire how your trade may be increased, nor how you are to become a great and powerful people, but how your liberties can be secured; for liberty ought to be the direct end of your government.

Having premised these things, I shall, with the aid of my judgment and information, which, I confess, are not extensive, go into the discussion of this system more minutely. Is it necessary for your liberty that you should abandon those great rights by the adoption of this system? Is the relinquishment of the trial by jury and the liberty of the press necessary for your liberty? Will the abandonment of your most sacred rights tend to the security of your liberty? Liberty, the greatest of all earthly blessing — give us that precious jewel, and you may take every thing else! But I am fearful I have lived long enough to become an old-fashioned fellow. 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 pulse of my heart beat for American liberty, and which, I believe, had a counterpart in the breast of every true American; but suspicions have gone forth — suspicions of my integrity — publicly reported that my professions are not real. Twenty-three years ago was I supposed a traitor to my country? I was then said to be the bane of sedition, because I supported the rights of my country. I may be thought suspicious when I say our privileges and rights are in danger. But, sir, a number of the people of this country are weak enough to think these things are too true. I am happy to find that the gentleman on the other side declares they are groundless. But, sir, suspicion is a virtue as long as its object is the preservation of the public good, and as long as it stays within proper bounds: should it fall on me, I am contented: conscious rectitude is a powerful consolation. I trust there are many who think my professions for the public good to be real. Let your suspicion look to both sides. There are many on the other side, who possibly may have been persuaded to the necessity of these measures, which I conceive to be dangerous to your liberty. Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect every one who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are inevitably ruined. I am answered by gentlemen, that, though I might speak of terrors, yet the fact was, that we were surrounded by none of the dangers I apprehended. I conceive this new government to be one of those dangers: it has produced those horrors which distress many of our best citizens. We are come hither to preserve the poor commonwealth of Virginia, if it can be possibly done: something must be done to preserve your liberty and mine. The Confederation, this same despised government, merits, in my opinion, the highest encomium: it carried us through a long and dangerous war; it rendered us victorious in that bloody conflict with a powerful nation; it has secured us a territory greater than any European monarch possesses: and shall a government which has been thus strong and vigorous, be accused of imbecility, and abandoned for want of energy? Consider what you are about to do before you part with the government. Take longer time in reckoning things; revolutions like this have happened in almost every country in Europe; similar examples are to be found in ancient Greece and ancient Rome — instances of the people losing their liberty by their own carelessness and the ambition of a few. We are cautioned by the honorable gentleman, who presides, against faction and turbulence. I acknowledge that licentiousness is dangerous, and that it ought to be provided against: I acknowledge, also, the new form of government may effectually prevent it: yet there is another thing it will as effectually do — it will oppress and ruin the people.

There are sufficient guards placed against sedition and licentiousness; for, when power is given to this government to suppress these, or for any other purpose, the language it assumes is clear, express, and unequivocal; but when this Constitution speaks of privileges, there is an ambiguity, sir, a fatal ambiguity — an ambiguity which is very astonishing. In the clause under consideration, there is the strangest language that I can conceive. I mean, when it says that there shall not be more representatives than one for every thirty thousand. Now, sir, how easy is it to evade this privilege! “The number shall not exceed one for every thirty thousand.” This may be satisfied by one representative from each state. Let our numbers be ever so great, this immense continent may, by this artful expression, be reduced to have but thirteen representatives. I confess this construction is not natural; but the ambiguity of the expression lays a good ground for a quarrel. Why was it not clearly and unequivocally expressed, that they should be entitled to have one for every thirty thousand? This would have obviated all disputes; and was this difficult to be done? What is the inference? When population increases, and a state shall send representatives in this proportion, Congress may remand them, because the right of having one for every thirty thousand is not clearly expressed. This possibility of reducing the number to one for each state approximates to probability by that other expression — “but each state shall at least have one representative.” Now, is it not clear that, from the first expression, the number might be reduced so much that some states should have no representatives at all, were it not for the insertion of this last expression? And as this is the only restriction upon them, we may fairly conclude that they may restrain the number to one from each state. Perhaps the same horrors may hang over my mind again. I shall be told I am continually afraid: but, sir, I have strong cause of apprehension. In some parts of the plan before you, the great rights of freemen are endangered; in other parts, absolutely taken away. How does your trial by jury stand? In civil cases gone — not sufficiently secured in criminal — this best privilege is gone. But we are told that we need not fear; because those in power, being our representatives, will not abuse the powers 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. Happy will you be if you miss the fate of those nations, who, omitting to resist their oppressors, or negligently suffering their liberty to be wrested from them, have groaned under intolerable despotism! Most of the human race are now in this deplorable condition; and those nations who have gone in search of grandeur, power, and splendor, have also fallen a sacrifice, and been the victims of their own folly. While they acquired those visionary blessings, they lost their freedom. 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. It is urged by some gentlemen, that this new plan will bring us an acquisition of strength — an army, and the militia of the states. This is an idea extremely ridiculous: gentlemen cannot be earnest. This acquisition will trample on our fallen liberty. Let my beloved Americans guard against that fatal lethargy that has pervaded the universe. Have we the means of resisting disciplined armies, when our only defence, the militia, is put into the hands of Congress? The honorable gentleman said that great danger would ensue if the Convention rose without adopting this system. I ask, Where is that danger? I see none. Other gentlemen have told us, within these walls, that the union is gone, or that the union will be gone. Is not this trifling with the judgment of their fellow-citizens? Till they tell us the grounds of their fears, I will consider them as imaginary. I rose to make inquiry where those dangers were; they could make no answer: I believe I never shall have that answer. Is there a disposition in the people of this country to revolt against the dominion of laws? Has there been a single tumult in Virginia? Have not the people of Virginia, when laboring under the severest pressure of accumulated distresses, manifested the most cordial acquiescence in the execution of the laws? What could be more awful than their unanimous acquiescence under general distresses? Is there any revolution in Virginia? Whither is the spirit of America gone? Whither is the genius of America fled? It was but yesterday, when our enemies marched in triumph through our country. Yet the people of this country could not be appalled by their pompous armaments: they stopped their career, and victoriously captured them. Where is the peril, now, compared to that? Some minds are agitated by foreign alarms. Happily for us, there is no real danger from Europe; that country is engaged in more arduous business: from that quarter there is no cause of fear: you may sleep in safety forever for them.

Where is the danger? If, sir, there was any, I would recur to the American spirit to defend us; that spirit which has enabled us to surmount the greatest difficulties: to that illustrious spirit I address my most fervent prayer to prevent our adopting a system destructive to liberty. Let not gentlemen be told that it is not safe to reject this government. Wherefore is it not safe? We are told there are dangers, but those dangers are ideal; they cannot be demonstrated. To encourage us to adopt it, they tell us that there is a plain, easy way of getting amendments. When I come to contemplate this part, I suppose that I am mad, or that my countrymen are so. The way to amendment is, in my conception, shut. Let us consider this plain, easy way. “The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a Convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or by the Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress. Provided, that no amendment which may be made prior to the year 1808, shall in any manner affect the 1st and 4th clauses in the 9th section of the 1st article; and that no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.”

Hence it appears that three fourths of the states must ultimately agree to any amendments that may be necessary. Let us consider the consequence of this. However uncharitable it may appear, yet I must tell my opinion — that the most unworthy characters may get into power, and prevent the introduction of amendments. Let us suppose — for the case is supposable, possible, and probable — that you happen to deal those powers to unworthy hands; will they relinquish powers already in their possession, or agree to amendments? Two thirds of the Congress, or of the state legislatures, are necessary even to propose amendments. If one third of these be unworthy men, they may prevent the application for amendments; but what is destructive and mischievous, is, that three fourths of the state legislatures, or of the state conventions, must concur in the amendments when proposed! In such numerous bodies, there must necessarily be some designing, bad men. To suppose that so large a number as three fourths of the states will concur, is to suppose that they will possess genius, intelligence, and integrity, approaching to miraculous. It would indeed be miraculous that they should concur in the same amendments, or even in such as would bear some likeness to one another; for four of the smallest states, that do not collectively contain one tenth part of the population of the United States, may obstruct the most salutary and necessary amendments. Nay, in these four states, six tenths of the people may reject these amendments; and suppose that amendments shall be opposed to amendments, which is highly probable, — is it possible that three fourths can ever agree to the same amendments? A bare majority in these four small states may hinder the adoption of amendments; so that we may fairly and justly conclude that one twentieth part of the American people may prevent the removal of the most grievous inconveniences and oppression, by refusing to accede to amendments. A trifling minority may reject the most salutary amendments. Is this an easy mode of securing the public liberty It is, sir, a most fearful situation, when the most contemptible minority can prevent the alteration of the most oppressive government; for it may, in many respects, prove to be such. Is this the spirit of republicanism?

What, sir, is the genius of democracy? Let me read that clause of the bill of rights of Virginia which relates to this: 3d clause: — that government is, or ought to be, instituted for the common benefit, protection, and security of the people, nation, or community. Of all the various modes and forms of government, that is best, which is capable of producing the greatest degree of happiness and safety, and is most effectually secured against the danger of mal-administration; and that whenever any government shall be found inadequate, or contrary to those purposes, a majority of the community hath an indubitable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to reform, alter, or abolish it, in such manner as shall be judged most conducive to the public weal.

This, sir, is the language of democracy — that a majority of the community have a right to alter government when found to be oppressive. But how different is the genius of your new Constitution from this! How different from the sentiments of freemen, that a contemptible minority can prevent the good of the majority! If, then, gentlemen, standing on this ground, are come to that point, that they are willing to bind themselves and their posterity to be oppressed, I am amazed and inexpressibly astonished. If this be the opinion of the majority, I must submit; but to me, sir, it appears perilous and destructive. I cannot help thinking so. Perhaps it may be the result of my age. These may be feelings natural to a man of my years, when the American spirit has left him, and his mental powers, like the members of the body, are decayed. If, sir, amendments are left to the twentieth, or tenth part of the people of America, your liberty is gone forever. We have heard that there is a great deal of bribery practised in the House of Commons, in England, and that many of the members raise themselves to preferments by selling the rights of the whole of the people. But, sir, the tenth part of that body cannot continue oppression on the rest of the people. English liberty is, in this case, on a firmer foundation than American liberty. It will be easily contrived to procure the opposition of one tenth of the people to any alteration, however judicious. The honorable gentleman who presides told us that, to prevent abuses in our government, we will assemble in Convention, recall our delegated powers, and punish our servants for abusing the trust reposed in them. O 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 a 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? You read of a riot act in a country which is called one of the freest in the world, where a few neighbors cannot assemble without the risk of being shot by a hired soldiery, the engines of despotism. We may see such an act in America.

A standing army we shall have, also, to execute the execrable commands of tyranny; and how are you to punish them? Will you order them to be punished? Who shall obey these orders? Will your mace-bearer be a match for a disciplined regiment? In what situation are we to be? The clause before you gives a power of direct taxation, unbounded and unlimited, exclusive power of legislation, in all cases whatsoever, for ten miles square, and over all places purchased for the erection of forts, magazines, arsenals, dockyards, &c. What resistance could be made? The attempt would be madness. You will find all the strength of this country in the hands of your enemies; their garrisons will naturally be the strongest places in the country. Your militia is given up to Congress, also, in another part of this plan: they will therefore act as they think proper: all power will be in their own possession. You cannot force them to receive their punishment: of what service would militia be to you, when, most probably, you will not have a single musket in the state? for, as arms are to be provided by Congress, they may or may not furnish them.

Let me here call your attention to that part which gives the Congress power “to provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States — reserving to the states, respectively, the appointment of the officers, and the authority of training the militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress.” By this, sir, you see that their control over our last and best defence is unlimited. If they neglect or refuse to discipline or arm our militia, they will be useless: the states can do neither — this power being exclusively given to Congress. The power of appointing officers over men not disciplined or armed is ridiculous; so that this pretended little remains of power left to the states may, at the pleasure of Congress, be rendered nugatory. Our situation will be deplorable indeed: nor can we ever expect to get this government amended, since I have already shown that a very small minority may prevent it, and that small minority interested in the continuance of the oppression. Will the oppressor let go the oppressed? Was there ever an instance? Can the annals of mankind exhibit one single example where rulers overcharged with power willingly let go the oppressed, though solicited and requested most earnestly? The application for amendments will therefore be fruitless. Sometimes, the oppressed have got loose by one of those bloody struggles that desolate a country; but a willing relinquishment of power is one of those things which human nature never was, nor ever will be, capable of.

The honorable gentleman’s observations, respecting the people’s right of being the agents in the formation of this government, are not accurate, in my humble conception. The distinction between a national government and a confederacy is not sufficiently discerned. Had the delegates, who were sent to Philadelphia, a power to propose a consolidated government instead of a confederacy? Were they not deputed by states, and not by the people? The assent of the people, in their collective capacity, is not necessary to the formation of a federal government. The people have no right to enter into leagues, alliances, or confederations; they are not the proper agents for this purpose. States and foreign powers are the only proper agents for this kind of government. Show me an instance where the people have exercised this business. Has it not always gone through the legislatures? I refer you to the treaties with France, Holland, and other nations. How were they made? Were they not made by the states? Are the people, therefore, in their aggregate capacity, the proper persons to form a confederacy? This, therefore, ought to depend on the consent of the legislatures, the people having never sent delegates to make any proposition for changing the government. Yet I must say, at the same time, that it was made on grounds the most pure; and perhaps I might have been brought to consent to it so far as to the change of government. But there is one thing in it which I never would acquiesce in. I mean, the changing it into a consolidated government, which is so abhorrent to my mind. [The honorable gentleman then went on to the figure we make with foreign nations; the contemptible one we make in France and Holland; which, according to the substance of the notes, he attributes to the present feeble government.] An opinion has gone forth, we find, that we are contemptible people: the time has been when we were thought otherwise. Under the same despised government, we commanded the respect of all Europe: wherefore are we now reckoned otherwise? The American spirit has fled from hence: it has gone to regions where it has never been expected; it has gone to the people of France, in search of a splendid government — a strong, energetic government. Shall we imitate the example of those nations who have gone from a simple to a splendid government? Are those nations more worthy of our imitation? What can make an adequate satisfaction to them for the loss they have suffered in attaining such a government — for the loss of their liberty? If we admit this consolidated government, it will be because we like a great, splendid one. Some way or other we must be a great and mighty empire; we must have an army, and a navy, and a number of things. When the American spirit was in its youth, the language of America was different: liberty, sir, was then the primary object. We are descended from a people whose government was founded on liberty: our glorious forefathers of Great Britain made liberty the foundation of every thing. That country is become a great, mighty, and splendid nation; not because their government is strong and energetic, but, sir, because liberty is its direct end and foundation. We drew the spirit of liberty from our British ancestors: by that spirit we have triumphed over every difficulty. But now, sir, the American spirit, assisted by the ropes and chains of consolidation, is about to convert this country into a powerful and mighty empire. If you make the citizens of this country agree to become the subjects of one great consolidated empire of America, your government will not have sufficient energy to keep them together. Such a government is incompatible with the genius of republicanism. There will be no checks, no real balances, in this government. What can avail your specious, imaginary balances, your rope-dancing, chain-rattling, ridiculous ideal checks and contrivances? But, sir, we are not feared by foreigners; we do not make nations tremble. Would this constitute happiness, or secure liberty? I trust, sir, our political hemisphere will ever direct their operations to the security of those objects.

Consider our situation, sir: go to the poor man, and ask him what he does. He will inform you that he enjoys the fruits of his labor, under his own fig-tree, with his wife and children around him, in peace and security. Go to every other member of society, — you will find the same tranquil ease and content; you will find no alarms or disturbances. Why, then, tell us of danger, to terrify us into an adoption of this new form of government? And yet who knows the dangers that this new system may produce? They are out of the sight of the common people: they cannot foresee latent consequences. I dread the operation of it on the middling and lower classes of people: it is for them I fear the adoption of this system. I fear I tire the patience of the committee; but I beg to be indulged with a few more observations. When I thus profess myself an advocate for the liberty of the people, I shall be told I am a designing man, that I am to be a great man, that I am to be a demagogue; and many similar illiberal insinuations will be thrown out: but, sir, conscious rectitude outweighs those things with me. I see great jeopardy in this new government. I see none from our present one. I hope some gentleman or other will bring forth, in full array, those dangers, if there be any, that we may see and touch them. I have said that I thought this a consolidated government: I will now prove it. Will the great rights of the people be secured by this government? Suppose it should prove oppressive, how can it be altered? Our bill of rights declares, “that a majority of the community hath an indubitable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to reform, alter, or abolish it, in such manner as shall be judged most conducive to the public weal.”

I have just proved that one tenth, or less, of the people of America — a most despicable minority — may prevent this reform or alteration. Suppose the people of Virginia should wish to alter their government; can a majority of them do it? No; because they are connected with other men, or, in other words, consolidated with other states. When the people of Virginia, at a future day, shall wish to alter their government, though they should be unanimous in this desire, yet they may be prevented therefrom by a despicable minority at the extremity of the United States. The founders of your own Constitution made your government changeable: but the power of changing it is gone from you. Whither is it gone? It is placed in the same hands that hold the rights of twelve other states; and those who hold those rights have right and power to keep them. It is not the particular government of Virginia: one of the leading features of that government is, that a majority can alter it, when necessary for the public good. This government is not a Virginian, but an American government. Is it not, therefore, a consolidated government? The sixth clause of your bill of rights tells you, “that elections of members to serve as representatives of the people in Assembly ought to be free, and that all men having sufficient evidence of permanent common interest with, and attachment to, the community, have the right of suffrage, and cannot be taxed, or deprived of their property for public uses, without their own consent, or that of their representatives so elected, nor bound by any law to which they have not in like manner assented for the public good.” But what does this Constitution say? The clause under consideration gives an unlimited and unbounded power of taxation. Suppose every delegate from Virginia opposes a law laying a tax; what will it avail? They are opposed by a majority; eleven members can destroy their efforts: those feeble ten cannot prevent the passing the most oppressive tax law; so that, in direct opposition to the spirit and express language of your declaration of rights, you are taxed, not by your own consent, but by people who have no connection with you.

The next clause of the bill of rights tells you, “that all power of suspending law, or the execution of laws, by any authority, without the consent of the representatives of the people, is injurious to their rights, and ought not to be exercised.” This tells us that there can be no suspension of government or laws without our own consent; yet this Constitution can counteract and suspend any of our laws that contravene its oppressive operation; for they have the power of direct taxation, which suspends our bill of rights; and it is expressly provided that they can make all laws necessary for carrying their powers into execution; and it is declared paramount to the laws and constitutions of the states. Consider how the only remaining defence we have left is destroyed in this manner. Besides the expenses of maintaining the Senate and other house in as much splendor as they please, there is to be a great and mighty President, with very extensive powers — the powers of a king. He is to be supported in extravagant magnificence; so that the whole of our property may be taken by this American government, by laying what taxes they please, giving themselves what salaries they please, and suspending our laws at their pleasure. I might be thought too inquisitive, but I believe I should take up very little of your time in enumerating the little power that is left to the government of Virginia; for this power is reduced to little or nothing: their garrisons, magazines, arsenals, and forts, which will be situated in the strongest places within the states; their ten miles square, with all the fine ornaments of human life, added to their powers, and taken from the states, will reduce the power of the latter to nothing.

The voice of tradition, I trust, will inform posterity of our struggles for freedom. If our descendants be worthy the name of Americans, they will preserve, and hand down to their latest posterity, the transactions of the present times; and, though I confess my exclamations are not worthy the hearing, they will see that I have done my utmost to preserve their liberty; for I never will give up the power of direct taxation but for a scourge. I am willing to give it conditionally; that is, after non-compliance with requisitions. I will do more, sir, and what I hope will convince the most skeptical man that I am a lover of the American Union — that, in case Virginia shall not make punctual payment, the control of our custom-houses, and the whole regulation of trade, shall be given to Congress, and that Virginia shall depend on Congress even for passports, till Virginia shall have paid the last farthing, and furnished the last soldier. Nay, sir, there is another alternative to which I would consent; — even that they should strike us out of the Union, and take away from us all federal privileges, till we comply with federal requisitions: but let it depend upon our own pleasure to pay our money in the most easy manner for our people. Were all the states, more terrible than the mother country, to join against us, I hope Virginia could defend herself; but, sir, the dissolution of the Union is most abhorrent to my mind. The first thing I have at heart is American liberty: the second thing is American union; and I hope the people of Virginia will endeavor to preserve that union. The increasing population of the Southern States is far greater than that of New England; consequently, in a short time, they will be far more numerous than the people of that country. Consider this, and you will find this state more particularly interested to support American liberty, and not bind our posterity by an improvident relinquishment of our rights. I would give the best security for a punctual compliance with requisitions; but I beseech gentlemen, at all hazards, not to give up this unlimited power of taxation. The honorable gentleman has told us that these powers, given to Congress, are accompanied by a judiciary which will correct all. On examination, you will find this very judiciary oppressively constructed; your jury trial destroyed, and the judges dependent on Congress.

In this scheme of energetic government, the people will find two sets of tax-gatherers — the state and the federal sheriffs. This, it seems to me, will produce such dreadful oppression as the people cannot possibly bear. The federal sheriff may commit what oppression, make what distresses, he pleases, and ruin you with impunity; for how are you to tie his hands? Have you any sufficiently decided means of preventing him from sucking your blood by speculations, commissions, and fees? Thus thousands of your people will be most shamefully robbed: our state sheriffs, those unfeeling blood-suckers have, under the watchful eye of our legislature, committed the most horrid and barbarous ravages on our people. It has required the most constant vigilance of the legislature to keep them from totally ruining the people; a repeated succession of laws has been made to suppress their iniquitous speculations and cruel extortions; and as often has their nefarious ingenuity devised methods of evading the force of those laws: in the struggle they have generally triumphed over the legislature.

It is a fact that lands have been sold for five shillings, which were worth one hundred pounds: if sheriffs, thus immediately under the eye of our state legislature and judiciary, have dared to commit these outrages, what would they not have done if their masters had been at Philadelphia or New York? If they perpetrate the most unwarrantable outrage on your person or property, you cannot get redress on this side of Philadelphia or New York; and how can you get it there? If your domestic avocations could permit you to go thither, there you must appeal to judges sworn to support this Constitution, in opposition to that of any state, and who may also be inclined to favor their own officers. When these harpies [i.e. predatory people] are aided by excisemen [i.e. Tax Men or Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Employees], who may search, at any time, your houses, and most secret recesses, will the people bear it? If you think so, you differ from me. Where I thought there was a possibility of such mischiefs, I would grant power with a niggardly hand; and here there is a strong probability that these oppressions shall actually happen. I may be told that it is safe to err on that side, because such regulations may be made by Congress as shall restrain these officers, and because laws are made by our representatives, and judged by righteous judges: but, sir, as these regulations may be made, so they may not; and many reasons there are to induce a belief that they will not. I shall therefore be an infidel on that point till the day of my death.

This Constitution is said to have beautiful features; but when I come to examine these features, sir, they appear to me horribly frightful. Among other deformities, it has an awful squinting; it squints towards monarchy; and does not this raise indignation in the breast of every true American?

Your President may easily become king. Your Senate is so imperfectly constructed that your dearest rights may be sacrificed by what may be a small minority; and a very small minority may continue forever unchangeably this government, although horridly defective. Where are your checks in this government? Your strongholds will be in the hands of your enemies. It is on a supposition that your American governors shall be honest, that all the good qualities of this government are founded; but its defective and imperfect construction puts it in their power to perpetrate the worst of mischiefs, should they be bad men; and, sir, would not all the world, from the eastern to the western hemisphere, blame our distracted folly in resting our rights upon the contingency of our rulers being good or bad? Show me that age and country where the rights and liberties of the people were placed on the sole chance of their rulers being good men, without a consequent loss of liberty! I say that the loss of that dearest privilege has ever followed, with absolute certainty, every such mad attempt.

If your American chief be a man of ambition and abilities, how easy is it for him to render himself absolute! The army is in his hands, and if he be a man of address, it will be attached to him, and it will be the subject of long meditation with him to seize the first auspicious moment to accomplish his design; and, sir, will the American spirit solely relieve you when this happens? I would rather infinitely — and I am sure most of this Convention are of the same opinion — have a king, lords, and commons, than a government so replete with such insupportable evils. If we make a king, we may prescribe the rules by which he shall rule his people, and interpose such checks as shall prevent him from infringing them; but the President, in the field, at the head of his army, can prescribe the terms on which he shall reign master, so far that it will puzzle any American ever to get his neck from under the galling yoke. I cannot with patience think of this idea. If ever he violates the laws, one of two things will happen: he will come at the head of his army, to carry every thing before him; or he will give bail, or do what Mr. Chief Justice will order him. If he be guilty, will not the recollection of his crimes teach him to make one bold push for the American throne? Will not the immense difference between being master of every thing, and being ignominiously tried and punished, powerfully excite him to make this bold push? But, sir, where is the existing force to punish him? Can he not, at the head of his army, beat down every opposition? Away with your President! we shall have a king: the army will salute him monarch: your militia will leave you, and assist in making him king, and fight against you: and what have you to oppose this force? What will then become of you and your rights? Will not absolute despotism ensue?

[Here Mr. HENRY strongly and pathetically expatiated on the probability of the President’s enslaving America, and the horrid consequences that must result.]

What can be more defective than the clause concerning the elections? The control given to Congress over the time, place, and manner of holding elections, will totally destroy the end of suffrage. The elections may be held at one place, and the most inconvenient in the state; or they may be at remote distances from those who have a right of suffrage: hence nine out of ten must either not vote at all, or vote for strangers; for the most influential characters will be applied to, to know who are the most proper to be chosen. I repeat, that the control of Congress over the manner, &c., of electing, well warrants this idea. The natural consequence will be, that this democratic branch will possess none of the public confidence; the people will be prejudiced against representatives chosen in such an injudicious manner. The proceedings in the northern conclave will be hidden from the yeomanry of this country. We are told that the yeas and nays shall be taken, and entered on the journals. This, sir, will avail nothing: it may be locked up in their chests, and concealed forever from the people; for they are not to publish what parts they think require secrecy: they may think, and will think, the whole requires it. Another beautiful feature of this Constitution is, the publication from time to time of the receipts and expenditures of the public money.

This expression, from time to time, is very indefinite and indeterminate: it may extend to a century. Grant that any of them are wicked; they may squander the public money so as to ruin you, and yet this expression will give you no redress. I say they may ruin you; for where, sir, is the responsibility? The yeas and nays will show you nothing, unless they be fools as well as knaves; for, after having wickedly trampled on the rights of the people, they would act like fools indeed, were they to public[ize] and divulge their iniquity, when they have it equally in their power to suppress and conceal it. Where is the responsibility — that leading principle in the British government? In that government, a punishment certain and inevitable is provided; but in this, there is no real, actual punishment for the grossest mal-administration. They may go without punishment, though they commit the most outrageous violation on our immunities. That paper may tell me they will be punished. I ask, By what law? They must make the law, for there is no existing law to do it. What! will they make a law to punish themselves?

This, sir, is my great objection to the Constitution, that there is no true responsibility — and that the preservation of our liberty depends on the single chance of men being virtuous enough to make laws to punish themselves.

In the country from which we are descended, they have real and not imaginary responsibility; for their mal-administration has cost their heads to some of the most saucy geniuses that ever were. The Senate, by making treaties, may destroy your liberty and laws for want of responsibility. Two thirds of those that shall happen to be present, can, with the President, make treaties that shall be the supreme law of the land; they may make the most ruinous treaties; and yet there is no punishment for them. Whoever shows me a punishment provided for them will oblige me. So, sir, notwithstanding there are eight pillars, they want another. Where will they make another? I trust, sir, the exclusion of the evils wherewith this system is replete in its present form, will be made a condition precedent to its adoption by this or any other state. The transition, from a general unqualified admission to offices, to a consolidation of government, seems easy; for, though the American states are dissimilar in their structure, this will assimilate them. This, sir, is itself a strong consolidating feature, and is not one of the least dangerous in that system. Nine states are sufficient to establish this government over those nine. Imagine that nine have come into it. Virginia has certain scruples. Suppose she will, consequently, refuse to join with those states; may not she still continue in friendship and union with them? If she sends her annual requisitions in dollars, do you think their stomachs will be so squeamish as to refuse her dollars? Will they not accept her regiments? They would intimidate you into an inconsiderate adoption, and frighten you with ideal evils, and that the Union shall be dissolved. ‘Tis a bugbear, sir: the fact is, sir, that the eight adopting states can hardly stand on their own legs. Public fame tells us that the adopting states have already heart-burnings and animosity, and repent their precipitate hurry: this, sir, may occasion exceeding great mischief. When I reflect on these and many other circumstances, I must think those states will be found to be in confederacy with us. If we pay our quota of money annually, and furnish our ratable number of men, when necessary, I can see no danger from a rejection.

The history of Switzerland clearly proves that we might be in amicable alliance with those states without adopting this Constitution. Switzerland is a confederacy, consisting of dissimilar governments. This is an example which proves that governments of dissimilar structures may be confederated. That confederate republic has stood upwards of four hundred years; and, although several of the individual republics are democratic, and the rest aristocratic, no evil has resulted from this dissimilarity; for they have braved all the power of France and Germany during that long period. The Swiss spirit, sir, has kept them together; they have encountered and overcome immense difficulties with patience and fortitude. In the vicinity of powerful and ambitious monarchs, they have retained their independence, republican simplicity, and valor. [Here he makes a comparison of the people of that country and those of France, and makes a quotation from Addison illustrating the subject.] Look at the peasants of that country and of France; and mark the difference. You will find the condition of the former far more desirable and comfortable. No matter whether the people be great, splendid, and powerful, if they enjoy freedom. The Turkish Grand Signior, alongside of our President, would put us to disgrace; but we should be as abundantly consoled for this disgrace, when our citizens have been put in contrast with the Turkish slave. The most valuable end of government is the liberty of the inhabitants. No possible advantages can compensate for the loss of this privilege. Show me the reason why the American Union is to be dissolved. Who are those eight adopting states? Are they averse to give us a little time to consider, before we conclude? Would such a disposition render a junction with them eligible; or is it the genius of that kind of government to precipitate people hastily into measures of the utmost importance, and grant no indulgence? If it be, sir, is it for us to accede to such a government? We have a right to have time to consider; we shall therefore insist upon it. Unless the government be amended, we can never accept it. The adopting states will doubtless accept our money and our regiments; and what is to be the consequence, if we are disunited? I believe it is yet doubtful, whether it is not proper to stand by a while, and see the effect of its adoption in other states. In forming a government, the utmost care should be taken to prevent its becoming oppressive; and this government is of such an intricate and complicated nature, that no man on this earth can know its real operation. The other states have no reason to think, from the antecedent conduct of Virginia, that she has any intention of seceding from the Union, or of being less active to support the general welfare. Would they not, therefore, acquiesce in our taking time to deliberate — deliberate whether the measure be not perilous, not only for us, but the adopting states?

Permit me, sir, to say, that a great majority of the people, even in the adopting states, are averse to this government. I believe I would be right to say, that they have been egregiously misled. Pennsylvania has, perhaps, been tricked into it. If the other states who have adopted it have not been tricked, still they were too much hurried into its adoption. There were very respectable minorities in several of them; and if reports be true, a clear majority of the people are averse to it. If we also accede, and it should prove grievous, the peace and prosperity of our country, which we all love, will be destroyed. This government has not the affection of the people at present. Should it be oppressive, their affections will be totally estranged from it; and, sir, you know that a government, without their affections, can neither be durable nor happy. I speak as one poor individual; but when I speak, I speak the language of thousands. But, sir, I mean not to breathe the spirit, nor utter the language, of secession.

I have trespassed so long on your patience, I am really concerned that I have something yet to say. The honorable member has said, we shall be properly represented. Remember, sir, that the number of our representatives is but ten, whereof six is a majority. Will those men be possessed of sufficient information? A particular knowledge of particular districts will not suffice. They must be well acquainted with agriculture, commerce, and a great variety of other matters throughout the continent; they must know not only the actual state of nations in Europe and America, the situations of their farmers, cottagers, and mechanics, but also the relative situations and intercourse of those nations. Virginia is as large as England. Our proportion of representatives is but ten men. In England they have five hundred and fifty-eight. The House of Commons, in England, numerous as they are, we are told, are bribed, and have bartered away the rights of their constituents: what, then, shall become of us? Will these few protect our rights? Will they be incorruptible? You say they will be better men than the English commoners. I say they will be infinitely worse men, because they are to be chosen blindfolded: their election (the term, as applied to their appointment, is inaccurate) will be an involuntary nomination, and not a choice.

I have, I fear, fatigued the committee; yet I have not said the one hundred thousandth part of what I have on my mind, and wish to impart. On this occasion, I conceived myself bound to attend strictly to the interest of the state, and I thought her dearest rights at stake. Having lived so long — been so much honored — my efforts, though small, are due to my country. I have found my mind hurried on, from subject to subject, on this very great occasion. We have been all out of order, from the gentleman who opened to-day to myself. I did not come prepared to speak, on so multifarious a subject, in so general a manner. I trust you will indulge me another time. Before you abandon the present system, I hope you will consider not only its defects, most maturely, but likewise those of that which you are to substitute for it. May you be fully apprized of the dangers of the latter, not by fatal experience, but by some abler advocate than I!

Virginia Bill of Rights June 12, 1776

A DECLARATION OF RIGHTS made by the representatives of the good people of Virginia, assembled in full and free Convention; which rights do pertain to them, and their posterity, as the basis and foundation of government.

1. That all men are by nature equally free and independent, and have certain inherent rights, of which, when they enter into a state of society, they cannot, by any compact, deprive or divest their posterity; namely, the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.

2. That all power is vested in, and consequently derived from, the people; that magistrates are their trustees and servants, and at all times amenable to them.

3. That government is, or ought to be, instituted for the common benefit, protection, and security, of the people, nation, or community; of all the various modes and forms of government that is best, which is capable of producing the greatest degree of happiness and safety, and is most effectually secured against the danger of maladministration; and that whenever any government shall be found inadequate or contrary to these purposes, a majority of the community hath an indubitable, unalienable, and indefeasible right, to reform, alter, or abolish it, in such manner as shall be judged most conducive to the publick weal.

4. That no man, or set of men, are entitled to exclusive or separate emoluments or privileges from the community, but in consideration of publick services; which, not being descendible, neither ought the offices of magistrate, legislator, or judge, to be hereditary.

5. That the legislative and executive powers of the state should be separate and distinct from the judicative; and that the members of the two first may be restrained from oppression, by feeling and participating the burthens of the people, they should, at fixed periods, be reduced to a private station, return into that body from which they were originally taken, and the vacancies be supplied by frequent, certain, and regular elections, in which all, or any part of the former members, to be again eligible, or ineligible, as the laws shall direct.

6. That elections of members to serve as representatives of the people, in assembly, ought to be free; and that all men, having sufficient evidence of permanent common interest with, and attachment to, the community, have the right of suffrage, and cannot be taxed or deprived of their property for publick uses without their own consent, or that of their representatives so elected, nor bound by any law to which they have not, in like manner, assented, for the publick good.

7. That all power of suspending laws, or the execution of laws, by any authority without consent of the representatives of the people, is injurious to their rights, and ought not to be exercised.

8. That in all capital or criminal prosecutions a man hath a right to demand the cause and nature of his accusation, to be confronted with the accusers and witnesses, to call for evidence in his favour, and to a speedy trial by an impartial jury of his vicinage, without whose unanimous consent he cannot be found guilty, nor can he be compelled to give evidence against himself; that no man be deprived of his liberty except by the law of the land, or the judgment of his peers.

9. That excessive bail ought not to be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

10. That general warrants, whereby any officer or messenger may be commanded to search suspected places without evidence of a fact committed, or to seize any person or persons not named, or whose offence is not particularly described and supported by evidence, are grievous and oppressive, and ought not to be granted.

11. That in controversies respecting property, and in suits between man and man, the ancient trial by jury is preferable to any other, and ought to be held sacred.

12. That the freedom of the press is one of the great bulwarks of liberty, and can never be restrained but by despotick governments.

13. That a well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defence of a free state; that standing armies, in time of peace, should be avoided, as dangerous to liberty; and that, in all cases, the military should be under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power.

14. That the people have a right to uniform government; and therefore, that no government separate from, or independent of, the government of Virginia, ought to be erected or established within the limits thereof.

15. That no free government, or the blessing of liberty, can be preserved to any people but by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue, and by frequent recurrence to fundamental principles.

16. That religion, or the duty which we owe to our CREATOR, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and therefore all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity, towards each other.

See also The Importance of Free Speech and The Free Press in America and the series on the Rights of American Citizens starting with RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: General Rights; Division One

BENEFITS OF THE REPUBLICAN EXPERIMENT IN AMERICA by Thomas G. Alvord 1810- 1897

bald_eagle_head_and_american_flag1The ideas of the American Republicanism of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America in the History of the World is essentially brand new. Never before in the history of mankind, nor in any other place on the globe has a government been founded on the principles of a government of the people, by the people been attempted. We are unique among nations and among civilizations in the history of mankind. When you hear politicians talk about the “failed policies of the past” they cannot be talking about the policies and principles on which these United States of America were founded. Since they cannot be talking about the policies and principles of our Founders then they must be talking about those that have so apparently failed in our present history.

See more about the failed policies of the past:
The Failure of Marxism and Socialism
Obama’s Nazi Youth Campaign Slogan “Forward”
The Doctrine of Fascism, Fascism Defined by Benito Mussolini

Thomas_Gold_Alvord_IThe United States of America Jubilee An Oration By Hon. Thomas G. Alvord. Delivered At The Centennial Celebration, Syracuse, New York, July 4th 1876.

People Of The City Of Syracuse And County Of Onondaga.— We in common with every portion of our wide extended Union, have come together to recognize with suitable observance and commemoration the solemn act which one hundred years ago, gave form, shape and solidity to our government by declaring us a nation independent, self-reliant and free.

In the performance of this duty we might relate the political history of the unwise legislation, the oppressive execution of tyrannical laws, the coercive power of irresponsible government which compelled our fathers first to passive, next to armed resistance, and finally culminated in a severance of our political dependence on the mother country, and gave to us that Declaration of Independence whose one hundreth anniversary we have met to honor. We might rehearse the names and virtues of the patriots of the revolution in the forum and in the field, the courage, endurance and trials of those who participated in that protracted and bloody controversy which ended in making our Declaration of Independence a perfect deed, indefeasible, guaranteeing forever to those worthy to enjoy it, the rich inheritance of a free government. We might portray the battle fields of the past, brightening the dark gloom of defeat with the view of unflinching courage, indomitable endurance and an undying determination to struggle ever for success, and we might paint victory as it perched on the banner of our fathers with that halo of glory which time has not dimmed, neither will history forget the undying results of which, which in the final triumph (as we use them) may and we trust will endure for the benefit of all mankind, until the last trump shall summons the inhabitants of earth to another world, and this habitation of ours shall pass away forever. We might content ourselves with a plain and simple historical relation of all the events which clustered around, mingled with and made up the panorama of our revolutionary struggle, the intelligence of our people alive to all the minutiae of event, individuality and result of that memorable period, would lend a glow, kindle an ardor and inspire a joy palpable and demonstrative, making bare recital radiant, with all the fire of enthusiasm celebrating with mental and physical rejoicings, the dry record alone.

One of the marked features of this year is to be a full historical record of each town, city and county of the Union, embracing the geographical, municipal and personal history of each; of course more prominently relating of its earlier history, its marked and distinguished men and women—its pre-eminence or prominence in any direction of art, science, intellectual advantages or natural specialty; all these locally preserved in appropriate depositories, are to be duplicated and gathered in one mass at the seat of the general government to be an illuminated column upon which will be inscribed, “the one hundredth mile of our nation’s progress in the race of peoples toward the ultimate goal of humanity.”

The duty of performing our portion of that work has also been imposed upon me, but with the consent and approbation of your Committee, I have deemed best to postpone to another period the historical recital contemplated, and you must be content with my wearying you with an oration rather than history on the present occasion.

I am impressed with the belief that it would be better to treat the subject before us very briefly, but also in a manner different from the common acceptation of the necessities of a Fourth day of July celebration. I would not have us to lack in all or any of the essential demonstrations of a joyful acknowledgment of its great significance, and a ringing acceptation of its glorious results, but let us endeavor by a calm and conscientious consideration of our government and ourselves to learn more and better what there is for us to do, to preserve and keep alive all the benefits and advantages we have derived from the past, transmitting those great blessing undiminished to our immediate successors, aye, not alone to them but also how best we may by precept and example, pave the way to an indefinite prolongation and increased enjoyment, to the latest time of the legitimate results of the solved problem of our national declaration.

We are one hundred years old to-day; true that the mental strife of contention against and antagonism to aggression commenced earlier, true that organized and bloody opposition, antedated this day—April 19, 1775, and Lexington physically declared as July 4th, 1776, politically decreed the independence and freedom of America.

I repeat, we as a distinct people and nation are one hundred years old to-day, we have only to recollect for a moment to find however that while we are jubilant and rejoicing, that our eyes behold this day, yet in the light of the history of the nations of the world, our nation is an infant brought up in a school of our own, and setting forth to find our way among the nations of the earth in a new and untried pathway ; the peculiar and particular form of government which we enjoy, is in every essential particular now on trial for the first time; it is true, that theoretical republicanism, attempts at freedom have existed, but never in all human history has there been any other government so completely the government of the whole people such as ours.

Kingdoms, principalities and powers enduring for centuries have risen, flourished and fallen into decay ; governments to-day powerful and great in territorial extent, in wealth and physical power, have their record of birth in the “Dark Ages”—but we with a breadth of country surpassed by none—with a population in numbers exceeded by few, with an intellectual wealth as diffused and distributed among the masses enjoyed by no other people—with a physical power fearing no foe—we are but of yesterday.

The vivid memories of many still active and alive to the work of the day, reach back almost to the very beginning of our Republic, and here and there on our soil, men and women yet linger whose infant eyes opened to life ere the dawn of our nation’s morning; we depend not as others on tradition, on the lays of minstrels or the sayings of the wise men, to rescue from the shadowy and dim past, our country’s history—it is but of a day, and the scenes in cabinet, council and camp, are as familiar to all as household words.

Should we not then pause here and ask ourselves the significant question, why our fathers were successful in the establishment, and we so far fortunate in the present stability of the government of the people by the people, while a long list of futile attempts and terrible failures mark every spot wherever else the experiment has been tried; we have to-day among the kingdoms of the earth so-called republics, but we know they are so only in name—they lack the essential engredient of equality to all men before the law—their masses want an intelligent appreciation of their rights and duties—subject to popular frenzy or ambitious personal design, the republics of the past and (I am afraid) most of the present have no elements of either right, justice, or endurance.

No ignorant, no indolent, no irreligious people can ever be permanently a free people, and I hold that the foundations of our nation were laid wide and deep, by intelligence, industry and religion, and upon the adherence to and practice of those great cardinal virtues by our people depend wholly the stability and perpetuity of our government.

I do not wish to be understood when speaking of the intelligence, as meaning the mere learning of the school, nor that so far as such education is concerned, all should have the highest attainable—what I mean is, a practical and thorough knowledge of all necessary to make man and women useful—not useless—good citizens, understanding and practicing all the duties incumbent upon them for their own good and as parts of families, communities and States—above all else I would have every American citizen well grounded in a comprehensive knowledge of the theory, principles and by an honest, virtuous and continuous exercise of his knowledge and his duty as one of the government as well as one of the governed, so help to form, mould and cast public opinion—for upon public opinion alone the stability and efficacy of our people, stolidity, strength and endurance to our nation may be enjoyed and perpetuated.

Indolence engenders vice, disease, poverty, death—labor promotes virtue, health, wealth and long life—what is true of the individual holds good applied to the nation—show me a lazy, indolent, shiftless race, and I will show a nation of slaves; if not so practically, yet mentally slaves to vice and strangers to virtue.

Our fathers by hardy toil, by unwearied thought, calculation and invention, wrung from the wilderness the bright land you gaze on to-day—its great, almost miraculous advancement has boen owing to the combined action of intelligence and physical labor, but that labor, whether of the body or the mind has been persistent and unceasing.

The extent of our territory is greater by far than the whole continent of Europe, but our widely scattered population scarcely measures a tithe of its teeming multitudes; natnre while piling up our chains of mountains towards the sky, scooping out the habitations of our inland oceans, and scouring wide and deep throughout our land, our magnificent net-work of water highways, has planted everywhere for the use and enjoyment of educated as well as directed industry in no scanty store, the natural mineral riches of every clime and people, every known vegetable production is either indegenous, or owing to the variety of climate and soil under our control, can be transplanted and made to grow in sufficient abundance to feed the necessities and supply the luxuries of the world.

In this land of ours, with such a present inheritance and future prospect we are not only blessed above all other people, but we have evidently been chosen by an overruling Providence to do the great and final work for man’s elevation to and permanent enjoyment of the highest civilization to which human nature can attain, and it behooves us to shape our action and direct our energies towards the earliest realization and not the retardation of the completion of this evident design.

Independent of and radically separated from all other nations in our governmental policy, seeking no entangling alliance with powers, but opening wide our gates to all people who desire assimilation with us and enjoyment of our privileges,— I bold that we should be, as far as possible,—physically as well as politically,—independent of and separate from all other people, until at least the common right of a common humanity to equality of privilege and position, is universally acknowledged and accorded.

Would we keep our inheritance untarnished? Would we add to its worth the wealth of experience and invention? In this land of ours, where labor ennobles, docs not degrade, where the changes of worldly position depend upon individual action and are as variable as the waves of the restless sea—where the legitimate tendency of labor is to elevate and enlighten, and not to depress and keep down, let us and our children continue to labor to the end, that the blessings following its wise application will endure to the good of ourselves and our country.

Glance for a moment at one of the results of our comparative poverty coupled with our intelligence and willingness to labor —in all countries but ours labor ignorant is impoverished and helpless with us labor educated is well paid and commanding. Other countries through the ignorance of labor are comparatively non-inventive—we by the intelligence and independence of labor are incited to invention, and our record in the field of useful inventions is a prouder one than the annals of all other nations combined can show—it is the outgrowth of our independence of both political and physical need—cherish and foster labor, for it is a precious jewel in the diadem of our people’s sovereignty.

The body perishes—the soul is immortal. In discussing my third proposition—the need of religion in a community for the maintenance of perpetuation of republican institutions, I must be understood as firmly and conscientiously believing that a morality founded upon the belief in a future and higher life of the soul, to be more or less moulded by and dependent upon virtuous action in the body, is a necessary ingredient in the fitness for and possibility of man’s enjoyment of a free government.

I can not conceive what motive, beyond the sensuous enjoyment of the passing hour, with no thought for that higher and better life on earth, ennobling the individual and benefiting his kind, can ever inspire to virtuous deeds or heroic action the man or woman who believes death is an eternal sleep—the beauty and simplicity of our Constitution, which with proper regulations as to the rights of all, leaves to the conscience and judgment of each the matter of religious belief and observance, is one of the grandest and most noble precepts of its text and character—but with no proscription in its requirements, with no sectarian bias in its action, public opinion has so far demanded and had in our legislative halls, in our State and National gatherings upon all great public occasions, the recognition of the need of the countenance and support of an overruling Providence—sad for us, for our children, for our beloved country, will that day be when that “altar to an unknown God,” erected in pagan Athens, shall be overthrown in Christian America.

More than two hundred years ago on the banks of our beautiful lake Onondaga, the first banner of civilization was unfurled to the breeze—it was the banner of the Cross, and I pray that so long as the stars and stripes of our country shall wave over us as a nation, the hearts of our people may ding to the emblems of an immortal life.

I would not mar the pleasure or dampen the joy of this happy hour by any unkind allusion to the more immediate past, but it would seem proper while we are celebrating the birth, we should rejoice also over the preservation of our Union. Our recent internecine strife was a legitimate result of a want of the practical application of the written theory of our Declaration of Independence—in that instrument human rights were made as broad as humanity itself, and no clime, race, color or condition of men were excluded from the broad and sweeping declaration ” All men are created equal.” It was the practical departure from the annunciation of a political axiom which required our return to the allegiance due our creed, through the carnage and waste of civil war—that strife is over—the victory of principle over selfishness, though bloody, is won, and the nation rejoices through its wide extent at the solution is favor of freedom and right, but, like all wars, it has left wounds open, dangerous, unhealed— not, I trust the wounds of embittered and lasting hate between the contending masses, for God in his infinite mercy grant that this anniversary may bind Maine to Georgia.link Virginia with California, not alone with bands of iron, but with bonds of brotherly love and loyal submission to the rights of humanity individualized as well as compacted,and that long before another hundred or even any years shall have passed in oblivion, shall be buried all recolleotion of the struggle to maintain and preserve our Union, save the sweet and undying memory of brave deeds and heroic endurance, and the proud recollection, dear alike to sunny South and the warm-hearted North—our country is undivided and indivisible.

But we are suffering the wounds always inflicted by ruthless war—a lower scale of both public and private morality—an irksome feeling at lawful constraint—a distaste for honest labor —a reckless extravagance in living—a want of recognition of moral responsibility, not alone in the administration of public affairs, but in the transactions of ordinary business life, and in social relations of neighbors and families.

I warn you, my countrymen, that we must return to the primitive virtues of our fathers—education, labor, religion, must again take the places of greed, speculation, corruption, indolence and vice? We may talk of the corruption of our chosen rulers—we may stand at th6 street corners, and publicly proclaim the venality and crime in high places; this availeth not, what we must first do is—” Physician heal thyself,” “Remove the beam from thine own eye ere you cast out the mote from your brother.” “Purify the fountain that the stream may be pure.” Under the theory and practice our system of government, when administered with the spirit and intent of its founders, our rulers are the people’s servants, and if the people are indifferent and corrupt, so likewise will be their rulers—if the constituency is active and honest, the government will reflect it .

A desire by the voter to profit pecuniarly and socially by the prostitution of political principles to personal ends; the indiscriminate trade by all classes in the enactments of municipality, State and nation, engendered by base cupidity either pecuniary or personal—above and beyond all the utter neglect by the enlightened, educated and wealthy of their sacred miner as well as higher political duties—all combine not only to make our politics disreputable—but to demoralize and will finally destroy our government unless we speedily return more nearly to the dimple habits, rigid morality, and conscientious respect to all political duty which characterized our fathers.

I have thus very briefly discussed our position and our duty on this our hundredth anniversary—I have not considered it wise or profitable to rehearse the familiar story of our struggle for and success in the achievement of a national existence. I have not in studied words painted the rapid strides in our progress as a people. You know it all, and memory would not be quickened nor patriotism intensified by any recital of mine.

But I deem it appropriate, before I shall have concluded the discharge of the duty imposed upon me, to address more particularly the people of my city and my native county.

On the 4th of July, 1776, our county was the abode of the hostile savages, an unbroken wilderness, within whose borders no white man had found a home—it remained so until four years after our revolutionary struggle, when the first white settler, Ephraim Webster, sojourned with the Indian, and following in his path others slowly settled within our present borders—while true that no hostile army has ever invaded our soil—no hearths desolated—no roof-tree obliterated—no historic battle-field marked or distinguished our territorial limits, yet still it is sacred ground.

As early as 1792, a grateful State, reserving a small portion of the land adjoining and surrounding our celebrated salt springs, dedicated and allotted the remainder to the surviving soldiers of its contingent in the armies of the Revolution; many of those war-worn veterans with their surviving households found in long, wearisome and dangerous journey their way highther and entered upon the lands alike the recognition of and reward for their services, and the records of not a few of the towns of our county, show to-day among their worthiest citizens, the honored names of their descendants.

“Beating their swords into plough shares—their spears into pruning hooks,” they attacked with the same unyielding courage, determination and endurance of labor, toil and privation, which had marked their struggle for liberty, the native ruggedness of our unbroken soil—the lonely cabin of logs their dwelling—the biased but tangled wood path their highway, they battled with forest-crowned hill and wooden glen, until peaceful pasture and yielding grain-field displaced the lair of the wild beast and the hunting grounds of the wilder savage.

We cannot now linger to detail the progress of each passing year, to name the conspicuous actor in each scene, but we can for a moment contrast the extremes of 1776 and 1876, look at the pictures before us—1776 the wigwam of the savage and his trackless path in the unbroken forest—1876, six score thousand human souls basking in the sunshine of a free civilization enjoying all the social, intellectual and political advantages ever yet allotted to humanity.

Compared with the huts of our fathers—our habitations are palaces—they dot every hill top, they nestle in every valley— they stand in the seried ranks in our beautiful and growing city, and cluster together around the school and the church, in all our smiling and thriving villages—our thrifty husbandmen look upon countless herds of lowing cattle—on seas of waving grain —on graneries bursting with the rich and bounteous yield of their fertile acres; our merchants in their stately marts of commerce gather from the ends of the earth, the produce of every soil—the handiwork of savage and civilized—all creations of nature and art to satisfy the wants or gratify the tastes of our people—the unceasing hum of the manufacturers’ wheel, the continuous blow of the sturdy artisan and stalwart laborer chase solitude from all our borders—our water highways link us with the ocean lakes of our own West, and give us peaceful entrance to that great sea which rolls between us and the land of our father’s fathers—highways of iron rib our country North, West, South, and East—broad avenues run by the door of the humblest, and commerce with its white wings of peace, has blotted out forever the warpath of the savage and the tree-marked way of the hardy pioneer. Religion dwells in more than an hundred temples of beauty dedicated to the service of the living God. Education from the lordly towers of the princely university to the more humble school-house at the cross roads, boasts its many habitations. We are the central county of the Empire State, which ranks first in wealth, first in population, first in representation among her sister States of our Union. Of sixty, our county is seventh in population and wealth, and in the fifth rank in State representation.

The pioneers of our country and their sons have been distinguished on every stage of life in all the years of our history —side by side with them, many who have here sought a new home, a new country, have over and again reflected honor and glory on the home of their adoption. Distinction in the pulpit at the bar, in the forum, on battle field, in the broad field of human endeavor—wherever honor, distinction, wealth and place were to be gained—high rank, deserved places of merit and worth have been won by many whose earliest training for usefulness and busy life, was by the fireside of their homes among the beautiful hills and smiling valleys of our beloved Onondaga.

I cannot speak to-day of battle scenes or individuals, but we know that on many a well stricken field, in many a still and silent city of the dead, lie to-day the mortal remains of hundreds of Onondaga’s bravest sons, who battling for the right, from Bull Run to Appomattox, left their record of bravery and patriotism in all the conflicts of the late struggle for national existence. We rejoice in the life and presence to-day of the brave survivors of that terrible conflict. From the Generals with title won on the field, to the private soldier whose unflinching valor and great endurance fought and won the contest for our second independence—all have reflected honor upon and won undying glory for the country of their nativity and adoption.

Children of the soil—adopted sons and daughters of old Onondaga—is this noble heritage of our fathers, this free and equal government given us to enjoy by the brave, good and wise men of an hundred years ago worth preserving another hundred years? No human being I now address will witness the scene at that celebration; the voice of him who now addresses you will be silent in the grave, the beating hearts and active limbs of this vast multitude will have gone to their last quiet mortal sleep forever. The men of the revolution gave us and our children this day at the cost of suffering and tears, wounds and death. Where are they? The lasb surviving warrior and statesman who stood on the battlements of freedom’s citadel and conquered for us the banded hordes of tyranny and oppression, has gone to join the hosts of heaven’s freemen in another and a better world. Can we not take their finished work—keep and preserve it untarnished, unbroken, beautiful enlarged, and more glorious and endearing, for our children’s children? Though dead in the body yet living in the spirit, we may then hear, mingling with the rejoicings of 1976, and blessings and praise to our names as well as to the deeds of our fathers, in that we have made of the talent committed to our charge other talents of honor, glory and prosperity for our country.

Let us to this end from this day practice economy, industry —cultivate intelligence, make virtue the rule and guide of our private and public life.

Triumphant armies inscribe their banners with the names of their victorious fields of battle. May we give as our legacy to the next great anniversary of our country’s birth, the stars of our nation’s banner undimmed—its stripes untarnished, rightfully inscribing thereon as our faith kept pure and unsullied— our motto, won by our acts—Religion, Education, Free Labor, the only sure foundation on which to build, for perpetuity, Republican Institutions.

See also: THE GENIUS OF AMERICA by Hon. Dr. Felix R. Brunot July 4, 1876
AMERICAN FREE INSTITUTIONS; THE JOY AND GLORY OF MANKIND by Dr. J. Sellman 1876
THE POWER OF HISTORY by Horatio Seymour (1810–1886)
AMERICAN CITIZENSHIP! by Colonel Henry A. Gildersleve July 4th 1876 NYC
THE HAND OF GOD IN AMERICAN HISTORY by Rev Morgan Dix July 4th 1876 NYC
OUR NOBLE HERITAGE by Hon. George W. Curtis (1824 –1892)
Political Evils and the Remedy for them by Noah Webster 1834
Wide Spread And Growing Corruption In The Public Service Of The States And Nation
THE COST OF POPULAR LIBERTY by Brooks Adams July 4th 1876
The Practical Advance Of Human Freedom Under The Trumpet Call Made In 1776 by Charles F Adams
THE SOURCE AND SECURITY OF AMERICAN FREEDOM AND PROGRESS by Courtlandt Parker 1876
True American Patriotism Defined by Hon. Curtis Guild and H. F. Kinnerney 1876
The Consequence of Bad Legal Precedent in American Legislation

The Consequence of Bad Legal Precedent in American Legislation

PrecedentKeep in mind every law the Congress and the President of the United States pass, sets what is called “Precedent“. Which in common law legal systems, a precedent or authority is a principle or rule i.e. Law established in a previous legal case that is either binding on or persuasive for a court or other tribunal when deciding subsequent cases with similar issues or facts.

“The better the constitution of a State is, the more do public affairs encroach on private in the minds of the citizens. Private affairs are even of much less importance, because the aggregate of the common happiness furnishes a greater proportion of that of each individual, so that there is less for him to seek in particular cares. In a well-ordered city every man flies to the assemblies: under a bad government no one cares to stir a step to get to them, because no one is interested in what happens there, because it is foreseen that the general will will not prevail, and lastly because domestic cares are all-absorbing. Good laws lead to the making of better ones; bad ones bring about worse. As soon as any man says of the affairs of the State What does it matter to me? the State may be given up for lost.

The lukewarmness of patriotism, the activity of private interest, the vastness of States, conquest and the abuse of government suggested the method of having deputies or representatives of the people in the national assemblies. These are what, in some countries, men have presumed to call the Third Estate. Thus the individual interest of two orders is put first and second; the public interest occupies only the third place.” by Jean-Jacques Rousseau “The Social Contract” 1762

Stare Decisis: [Latin, Let the decision stand.] The policy of courts to abide by or adhere to principles established by decisions in earlier cases.

In the United States and England, the Common Law has traditionally adhered to the precedents of earlier cases as sources of law. This principle, known as stare decisis, distinguishes the common law from civil-law systems, which give great weight to codes of laws and the opinions of scholars explaining them. Under stare decisis, once a court has answered a question, the same question in other cases must elicit the same response from the same court or lower courts in that jurisdiction.

For stare decisis to be effective, each jurisdiction must have one highest court to declare what the law is in a precedent-setting case. The U.S. Supreme Court and the state supreme courts serve as precedential bodies, resolving conflicting interpretations of law or dealing with issues of first impression. Whatever these courts decide becomes judicial precedent.

Black’s Law Dictionary defines “precedent” as a “rule of law established for the first time by a court for a particular type of case and thereafter referred to in deciding similar cases.

When you let the government pass laws that allow them to confiscate peoples private property without the benefit of a trial, simply by being charged with a crime.

Or, When you let the government pass laws that allow them to confiscate peoples private property without their consent, as in Eminent Domain abuse.

When you let government confiscate all the gold bullion and pass legislation to outlaw the possession of it in private hands, or sign executive orders to accomplish the same, as liberal hero Franklin D. Roosevelt did in 1933.

When you let the government inter thousands of Americans simply because of the race of their ancestors as FDR did in WWII.

When you let the government pass laws to require you to wear seat belts in your personal vehicles.

When you let government pass laws that force American’s to buy auto insurance, you open the door to them forcing you to buy health insurance, i.e., Obamacare.

When you let government pass laws to ban smoking in various areas.

These ALL set “Precedent” to further “Infringe” on your rights, liberties and freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution!

Example: The confiscation of gold set the precedent for the government to confiscate your IRA’s and/or 401(k) as the democrats have suggested doing.

Example: The internment of American’s of Japanese ancestry set the precedent for the government internment of others without benefit of legal charges, or trial. The FEMA camps come to mind that we have all heard about.

Example: The Supreme Court had the Legal Precedent to Strike Down the Onerous Obama Health Care Bill. It chose not to, thereby setting another precedent for the government to have even more control over our lives, liberties, freedoms and happiness.

Just as the IRS has shown, the potential for abuse should be taken into consideration and shown high regard when Congress is contemplating what legislation they vote for. The NSA data mining and Obamacare are ripe for abuse. As a matter of record the Tea Party Patriots were against the Patriot Act and the immigration debate, Obamacare, the Patriot Act, and countless other un-constitutional laws passed by our government, especially when the majority of the American people are saying “NO”, the disregard and lack of deference to the people by our government shows the imperative need for We The People to hold our government accountable.

I never could think that a bad Precedent was a good Argument for a bad Proceeding: No Precedent ought to be blindly followed; it ought to be examined by the Rules of Law and of Reason, and if it be found to be against either, a contrary Precedent cannot be made too soon.

“Bad laws are the worst sort of tyranny. In such a country as this, they are of all bad things the worst, worse by far than any where else; and they derive a particular malignity even from the wisdom and soundness of the rest of our institutions. For very obvious reasons you cannot trust the Crown with a dispensing power over any of your laws” – Edmund Burke Speech previous to the Election at Bristol.

Of all Tyranny, that Tyranny is the worst, which has the Formalities of Law for its Support. Every other Tyranny is the Effect of misguided and ungoverned Passions: this is the Result of Deliberation, and even Reason is prostituted to its Purposes. The former may find Motives for its Excuse: the latter is out of the Reach of Absolution. Lawless Tyranny is confessedly lawless. Legal Tyranny adds Treachery to Tyranny: for it acts in Disguise, and deceives with the Appearance of Truth. But this Argument applies to the superior Baseness of this Tyranny only. The Absurdity of it is almost too preposterous to mention. Tyranny clothed in the Forms of the Constitution! How irreconcilable the Terms with the Ideas! And how little able to stand the Test of Examination! -Edmund Burke excerpt from letter to the sheriffs of Bristol

It is the nature of tyranny and rapacity never to learn moderation from the ill success of first oppressions; on the contrary, all oppressors, all men thinking highly of the methods dictated by their nature, attribute the frustration of their desires to the want of sufficient rigour. Then they redouble the efforts of their impotent cruelty; which producing, as they must ever produce, new disappointments, they grow irritated against the objects of their rapacity; and then rage, fury, and malice (implacable because unprovoked) recruiting and reinforcing their avarice, their vices are no longer human. From cruel men they are transformed into savage beasts, with no other vestiges of reason left but what serves to furnish the inventions and refinements of ferocious subtlety for purposes, of which beasts are incapable, and at which fiends would blush. – Edmund Burke Speech in the Impeachment of Warren Hastings, Esq.

The public good is in nothing more essentially interested, than in the protection of every individual’s private rights. So great moreover is the regard of the law for private property, that it will not authorize the least violation of it; no, not even for the general good of the whole community.” – William Blackstone

“Self-defense is justly called the primary law of nature, so it is not, neither can it be in fact, taken away by the laws of society. And, lastly, to vindicate these rights, when actually violated and attacked, the subjects of England are entitled, in the first place, to the regular administration and free course of justice in the courts of law; next to the right of petitioning the king and parliament for redress of grievances; and, lastly, to the right of having and using arms for self preservation and defense. Free men have arms; slaves do not.” – William Blackstone

If Congress and the President do what they do without precedent, if it appear their duty, it argues the more wisdom, virtue, and magnanimity, that they know themselves able to be a precedent to others. Who perhaps in future ages, if they prove not too degenerate, will look up with honor, and aspire toward these exemplary and matchless deeds of their Ancestors, as to the highest top of their civil glory and emulation. Which heretofore, in the pursuance of fame and foreign dominion, spent itself vain-gloriously abroad; but henceforth may learn a better fortitude, to dare execute highest Justice on them that shall by force of Arms endeavor the oppressing and bereaving of Religion and their liberty at home: that no unbridled Potentate or Tyrant, but to his sorrow for the future, may presume such high and irresponsible license over mankind, to havoc and turn upside-down whole Kingdoms of men, as though they were no more in respect of his perverse will.  Excerpt from The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates: John Milton 1690

Men who look upon themselves born to reign, and others to obey, soon grow insolent; selected from the rest of mankind their minds are early poisoned by importance; and the world they act in differs so materially from the world at large, that they have but little opportunity of knowing its true interests, and when they succeed to the government are frequently the most ignorant and unfit of any throughout the dominions.”- Thomas Paine

“If ever time should come, when vain and aspiring men shall possess the highest seats in Government, our country will stand in need of its experienced patriots to prevent its ruin.” – Samuel Adams

See also:
Joseph Baldwin: Address 1892, to National Teachers Association in New York
PATRIOT SONS OF PATRIOT SIRES by Rev. Samuel Francis Smith 1808-1895
THE SOURCE AND SECURITY OF AMERICAN FREEDOM AND PROGRESS by Courtlandt Parker 1876
THE GENIUS OF AMERICA by Hon. Dr. Felix R. Brunot July 4, 1876
A PRAYER FOR THE NATION by Rev. William Bacon Stevens July 4, 1876
The Wisdom of Founder John Adams Part 1: Novanglus Papers
True American Patriotism Defined by Hon. Curtis Guild and H. F. Kinnerney 1876