The Rev. ARTHUR J. PENNELL, New Haven, Conn.

Seek ye first the kingdom of God.—Matt. 6: 33.

A QUESTION often arises in the minds of men whether this country is a Christian country! The status of a notion is determined by its ideals. Ideals are found in the highest aspirations and noblest ambitions of a nation’s leaders. The artist of whatever school is judged not by his first operation in the dusting of the canvas, nor by the mixing of the colors for the dubbing, nor by the first effort of his brush; a Raphael is supreme because of his Madonna. So the test of a people is to be found in their highest conception of conduct as portrayed through life and transmitted by printed page or word of mouth to posterity.

In the days preceding the printing press, man was educated in the deeds of heroism through the minstrel, thereafter by copied pages of historic accomplishments. Now through the utilization of the minerals of the earth and the harnessing of the vapors a power-driven writer presents for man’s perusal and careful study the achievements of men and nations. History is the record of the world’s noblest, and the meridian splendor of the achievement by man was when the sublime manifestation of character was exhibited to mankind through Jesus Christ.

We are brought, therefore, to the conclusion that we can estimate the ideals of a nation by its heroes—those supermen, who in the strain and stress of life’s performances stood unabashed and unafraid before every element which sought to destroy the God-germ within them. Every nation has its heroes: a Kossuth, a Garibaldi, a Napoleon, a Cromwell, a Washington or a Lincoln, a King Albert, or n Foch; but these are, so to speak, limited heroes. The world needs one who transcends limitations, whose country has no physical confines, whose nationality is lost in its broad universalism. Such is the Christ. The record of his life is the newer portion of the world’s greatest historical record now extant—the New Testament—indissolubly bound up with that other volume which in combination forms the Guide Book for human destiny. It if herein that men have ever found their ideals. It is interesting, herewith, to note, that this book, which is the basic foundation of all Christian institutions, the hope of all Christ believing souls, the inspiration of all Jesus inclined mortals, was chosen for use in the recent inauguration of a new President because in the days of yesterday’s great American utilized this time-honored volume by turning to its pages and with sincerity of heart and nobility of purpose pledged himself thereon to preserve the Constitution and to uphold the laws of this youthful republic. Surely, if apostolic succession was ever fulfilled, it was on March fourth last—when the mantle of the first American fell upon the new President, the spirit of our immortal Lincoln and the beauty of the martyred McKinley were recalled in the simple ceremony of the inauguration of the twenty-ninth President of the United States of America. Foundations, whether individual or national, to be lasting must go down deep into the past and be linked to the great minds of by-gone days. The Bible opened before that great gathering in Washington was the book which had been consecrated by the taking of the oath of office by the “Father of his country” and carried in procession at the unveiling of that monument which like a noble character towers to the skies. It was the heritage of that people of whom we are compelled to think when the word America is pronounced.

Read the Bible—read the Bible, let no religious book take its place. Through all my perplexities and distresses I never read any other book, and I never felt the want of any other. It has been my hourly study; and all my knowledge of the doctrines, and all my acquaintance with the experience and realities of religion, have been derived from the Bible only.” William Wilberforce Early American Statesman and Leader of the movement to abolish slavery

One cannot talk of “American Foundations” without recalling the struggles of the Puritan Fathers, who with their Pilgrim associates fought out the battles of religious freedom, shackled the usurping powers of overbearing government, and “with a heart for any fate” journeyed forth “seeking first the kingdom of God” to launch their project of government where, unmolested by governmental edicts and churchly intolerance, man might live and thrive.

In their native land laws were enacted, limitations were placed, punishments were meted out, restrictive measures were enforced, until the soul of God-fearing man was trammeled, religion became a mockery, and will was but a machine. Hope kept alive in these heroic souls the thought of a newer and a brighter day. Each morning’s sun dawned upon a day of more oppressive measures and firmer determination to wipe out those obnoxious people whose wills were their own. Fleeing their own country, they waited with patience in a land of friends, and for eleven years passed their time in strengthening their organization. Unlike the Huguenots who had fled to Germany, they never contemplated the losing of their individuality or of being absorbed by their surroundings. It was this desire to maintain their separate existence which impelled them to journey to lands practically unknown. At home there was no freedom, abroad there would be no separateness; migration was their only hope.

Westward this band of Pilgrims wended their way, oblivious of dangers, fearless of terrors, undaunted by hardship. These heroes of early American life were buoyed up in their distress with the thoughts of such as Andrew Melville who, on being called in question for a statement made in a public address in which he had alluded to King James VI as “God’s silly vassal,” replied, “I tell you, sir, there are two kingdoms and two kings in Scotland. There is Christ Jesus the King, and his kingdom in the Kirk,[Kirk refers to the Church] whose subject James VI is, and of whose kingdom he is not a king, nor a lord, nor a head, but a member.” And back of Melville was a people fully aroused to the conviction that there is an eternal law of God which kings no less than the meanest subject must obey. This kind grows only on the tree of Bible knowledge and religious freedom. Thus we see that the primal foundation of America is the Bible, for it was this book with these principles which the Pilgrims brought, which they utilized until they welded them into the very fiber of the nation’s life.

“The general diffusion of the Bible, is the most effectual way to civilize and humanize mankind; to purify and exalt the general system of public morals; to give efficacy to the just precepts of international and municipal law; to enforce the observance of prudence, temperance, justice, and fortitude, and to improve all the relations of social and domestic life.” Chancellor James Kent author of Commentaries on American Law

A second foundation of the American republic is education. Wherever the Bible is found as an open book there also will be found education for the people. Spiritual and intellectual death stalk in those lands where the Bible is closed. Those heroes of Americanism, realizing that freedom can not survive in ignorance, established America’s two greatest institutions at the same time and place. Wherever the meeting house was erected there also was the school house; and in the early days of this nation’s history most colleges and schools of learning could trace their beginnings to the inspiration of the Church. Wisely our early fathers emphasized the value and importance of mental development. The citizen of to-morrow is the student of to-day. Education enables us through reading and study to utilize the values of the past. Napoleon once said, “Show me a family of readers and I will show you the rulers of the world.” The effect of educational advance has not been confined to the little experiment in free government, but has extended its influence to the uttermost parts of the earth. Through the influence of those far-seeing heroes, penetrating into nations of different ideals, Western education has caused democracy to find lodgment even in lands hitherto uncongenial to it, and to-day the principles of our forefathers are seen in economic life and governmental reform throughout the world. So long as the institutions of learning maintain their proper position in the life of our country, the ideals of the fathers and the principles of our republic can never be lost to mankind.

A third foundation of this republic is equal opportunity. This question has ever been prominent in our history. This foundation was bought for American humanity as dearly as any privilege enjoyed by the human race. If 1776 saw the struggle for the conviction that “divine right” of government resides in the average citizen, we may as truly say that 1861-65 saw the struggle to make plain that in this republic the success of the individual does not depend upon the ability of the few to enslave the many, but that “the laborer is worthy of his hire,” and that no laborer is worthy to be hired unless he has ample opportunity to become all that is possible for him to be. As an institution, then, a false foundation was removed from under the structure of our heritage, and after reconstructing our building in harmony with those higher views, we set forth again upon the course of national life. Again in 1898 we declared to the world that the principles we held must be respected within the radius of our possibilities. The unlimited invitation which has been extended to the world’s oppressed has resulted in the gathering together within our borders of peoples whose ideals and principles are as distantly removed from ours as is the atmosphere of the frozen Arctic from the oppressive heat of the equatorial regions. This strange admixture of alien ideals with American foundations has resulted in much unrest and social disturbance. It has stirred up strife where only the peaceful waters of a summer sea had flowed. It has sometimes turned the honest workman into an avaricious traveler or into a guerrilla of social warfare and a destroyer of national industry.

“I deem myself fortunate,” said the venerable Ex-President of the United States, John Quincy Adams, “in having the opportunity—at a stage of a long life drawing rapidly to its close, to bear, at this place, the capital of the National Union, in the Hall of Representation of the North American people, in the chair of the presiding officer of an assembly representing the whole people, the personification of the great and mighty nation—to bear my solemn testimonial of reverence and gratitude to that Book of books, the Holy Bible. In the midst of the painful and perilous conflicts inseparable from public life, and at the eve of that moment when the grave shall close over them for ever, I may be permitted to indulge the pleasing reflection, that, having been taught in childhood the unparalleled blessings of the Christian gospel, in the maturity of manhood I associated with my brethren of that age, for spreading the light of that gospel over the face of the earth, by the simple and silent process of placing in the hands of every human being who needed, and could not otherwise procure it, the Book which contains the duties and admonitions, the promises and the rewards of the Christian gospel.”

At first glimpse one may possibly find in himself a feeling of pessimism; but think carefully! The foundations of this great nation are deeply rooted and well founded. When he who has been chosen by the multitude of bis fellows exercising their prerogative as citizens and voters in a land of democratic ideals steps forward to take his solemn obligation of service and to vow before God and men his determination to conserve the interests of the people; when with head bared and hand uplifted he stands before the open Bible, the basis of our Constitution, the inspiration of our fathers, the book of life’s principles; when with solemnity and with sincerity the chief executive—with no further ceremony, no pomp and splendor, no pretension or spirit of arrogance, but “with singlemindedness of purpose and humility of spirit—implores the favor and guidance of God, and can say with these, “I am unafraid and confidently face the future”—then Americans all, with one chief executive, one God, one confident hope, can rally, and imploring this same God of our American heritage, found in this open Bible of our inheritance, educated in and through our educational systems, strongly intrenched in the belief of opportunity for all, and, reiterating the injunctions of the past to the present and future, can pledge ourselves ever to uphold those ideals which were written into our life by Washington. We may resolve that the spirit of Lincoln shall ever live in us, and slavery of no race or color shall exist wherever the American flag shall fly; that ignorance shall never encircle the mind of our youth; that the Bible, which has been the spring of education, the spur to freedom of the individual, and has shown the highway to God in man’s search for the higher spirituality, shall ever be in this land an open book.

John Randolph of Roanoke, “I would not give up my slender portion of the price paid for our redemption—I would not exchange my little portion in the Son of David, for the power and glory of the Parthian or Roman empires, as described by Milton in the temptation of our Lord and Saviour—not for all with which the enemy tempted the Saviour of man….” Speaking of Randolph ex-Senator Thomas Benton in his Thirty Years’ View said; “The last time I saw him, which was in that last visit to Washington, after his return from the Russian mission, and when he was in the full view of death, I heard him read the chapter in the Revelation (of the opening of the seals), with such power and beauty of voice and delivery, and such depth of pathos, that I felt as if I had never heard the chapter read before. When he had got to the end of the opening of the sixth seal, he stopped the reading, laid the book (open at the place) on his breast, as he lay on his bed, and began a discourse upon the beauty and sublimity of the Scriptural writings, compared to which he considered all human compositions vain and empty. Going over the images presented by the opening of the seals, he averred that their divinity was in their sublimity—that no human power could take the same images, and inspire the same awe and terror, and sink ourselves into such nothingness in the presence of the ‘wrath of the Lamb’—that he wanted no proof of their Divine origin but the sublime feelings they inspired.”

Source: The Homiletic Review – Volume 82 published 1921

Appeal to the People Concerning the Heavy Hand of Government


The heavy hand of government has become completely unacceptable in the US, Barack Obama likes to lecture US about American Values. He and his Whitehouse’s administration of the Federal Government are the antithesis and in Direct Opposition to everything in our Constitution and the True American Values that Obama claims to be an authority on!

If he, big if, was not directly involved in and directing all of the targeting and other abuse / malfeasance by this government, then as I have said, the officials and workers in the bureaucracy of the federal government, have been waiting for just the right President to be elected, who doesn’t mind a little tyranny!

See also: THE LIBERTY OF THE INDIVIDUAL by John Stuart Mill
What Measures are actually taken by wicked and desperate Ministers to ruin and enslave their Country
Natural Rights Of The Colonists As Men by Founder Samuel Adams Nov 20, 1772
Founder Samuel Adams: The Duty of Citizens in Electing Their Representatives

ADDRESS TO THE PEOPLE OF GREAT BRITAIN. Congress, on the eleventh day of October, 1774, appointed Mr. Richard Henry Lee, Mr. William Livingston and Mr. John Jay a committee to prepare a memorial to the people of British America, and an address to the people of Great Britain. It was agreed in the committee that Mr. Lee should prepare the former, and that Mr. Jay should prepare the latter. On the eighteenth, Mr. Jay reported a draught of the address, which was discussed and amended on the day following, and on the twenty-first was approved by Congress.

Friends And Fellow-Subjects [Called Subjects because they were under a Monarchy]: When a nation led to greatness by the hand of liberty [the Magna Carta Libertatum, the Petition of Right, the Habeas Corpus,the Bill of Rights, and the Act of Settlement; these are the fundamental laws of England, and form the skeleton of the British Constitution] and possessed of all the glory that heroism, munificence [great generosity], and humanity can bestow, descends to the ungrateful task of forging chains for her friends and children, and instead of giving support to freedom, turns advocate for slavery and oppression, there is reason to suspect she has either ceased to be virtuous or been extremely negligent in the appointment of her rulers.

In almost every age, in repeated conflicts in long and bloody wars, as well civil as foreign, against many and powerful nations, against the open assaults of enemies, and the more dangerous treachery of friends, have the inhabitants of your island, your great and glorious ancestors, maintained their independence and transmitted the rights of men and the blessings of liberty to you, their posterity [descendants, i.e. children, grand-children].

Be not surprised, therefore, that we who are descended from the same common ancestors, that we whose forefathers participated in all the rights, the liberties, and the constitution you so justly boast of, and who have carefully conveyed the same fair inheritance to us, guaranteed by the plighted faith of government, and the most solemn compacts with British sovereigns, should refuse to surrender them to men who found their claims on no principles of reason, and who prosecute them with a design that, by having our lives and property in their power, they may, with the greatest facility, enslave you.

The cause of America is now the object of universal attention; it has at length become very serious. This unhappy country has not only been oppressed, but abused and misrepresented; and the duty we owe to ourselves and posterity, to your interest, and the general welfare of the British empire, leads us to address you on this very important subject.

Know, then, That we consider ourselves, and do insist, that we are, and ought to be as free as our fellow-subjects in Britain, and that no power on earth has a right to take our property from us without our consent.

That we claim all the benefits secured to the subject by the English constitution, and particularly that inestimable one of trial by jury. [habeas corpus]

That we hold it essential to English liberty that no man be condemned unheard, or punished for supposed offences, without having an opportunity of making his defense.

That we think the legislature of Great Britain is not authorized by the constitution to establish a religion fraught with sanguinary and impious tenets [filled with bloodshed and immoral beliefs]; or to erect an arbitrary form of government [subject to individual will or judgment without restriction; contingent solely upon one’s own discretion] in any quarter of the globe. These rights we, as well as you, deem sacred; and yet, sacred as they are, they have, with many others, been repeatedly and flagrantly violated. [Flagrant; so obviously inconsistent with what is right or proper as to appear to be a flouting of law or morality]

Are not the proprietors of the soil of Great Britain lords of their own property? Can it be taken from them without their consent? [i.e. Imminent Domain]  Will they yield it to the arbitrary disposal of any man or number of men whatever? You know they will not.

Why, then, are the proprietors of the soil of America less lords of their property than you are of yours? or why should they submit it to the disposal of your Parliament, or any other parliament or council in the world, not of their election? Can the intervention of the sea that divides us cause disparity [inequality] in rights, or can any reason be given why English subjects who live three thousand miles from the Royal Palace, should enjoy less liberty than those who are three hundred miles distant from it?

Reason looks with indignation on such distinctions, and freemen can never perceive their propriety [the state or quality of conforming to conventionally accepted standards of behavior or morals]. And yet, however chimerical [fantastic] and unjust such discriminations are, the Parliament assert that they have a right to bind us, in all cases, without exception, whether we consent or not; that they may take and use our property when and in what manner they please; that we are pensioners [dependents] on their bounty for all that we possess, and can hold it no longer than they vouchsafe [promise] to permit. Such declarations we consider as heresies [a belief or opinion that does not agree with the official belief] in English politics, and which can no more operate to deprive us of our property than the interdicts of the Pope can divest kings of scepters which the laws of the land and the voice of the people have placed in their hands.

At the conclusion of the late war—a war rendered glorious by the abilities and integrity of a minister to whose efforts the British empire owes its safety and its fame; at the conclusion of this war, which was succeeded by an inglorious peace, formed under the auspices [support, sponsorship] of a minister of principles, and of a family, unfriendly to the Protestant cause, and inimical [harmful] to liberty—we say at this period, and under the influence of that man, a plan for enslaving your fellow-subjects in America was concerted, and has ever since been pertinaciously [perversely persistent; stubborn or obstinate] carrying into execution.

Prior to this era yon were content with drawing from us the wealth produced by our commerce: you restrained your trade in every way that could conduce [lead] to your emolument [profit]. You exercised unbounded sovereignty over the sea. You named the ports and nations to which alone our merchandise should be carried, and with whom alone we should trade; and though some of these restrictions were grievous, we nevertheless did not complain. We looked up to you as to our parent state, to which we were bound by the strongest ties, and were happy in being instrumental to your prosperity and your grandeur.

We call upon you, yourselves, to witness our loyalty and attachment to the common interest of the whole empire. Did we not, in the last war [French and Indian War], add all the strength of this vast continent to the force which repelled our common enemy? Did we not leave our native shores and meet disease and death to promote the success of British arms in foreign climates? Did you not thank us for our zeal, and even reimburse us large sums of money, which you confessed we had advanced beyond our proportion, and far beyond our abilities? You did.

To what causes, then, are we to attribute the sudden change of treatment, and that system of slavery, which was prepared for us at the restoration of peace?

Before we had recovered from the distresses which ever attend war, an attempt was made to drain this country of all its money, by the oppressive stamp act. Paint, glass, and other commodities, which you would not permit us to purchase of other nations, were taxed; nay, although no wine is made in any country, subject to the British state, you prohibited our procuring it of foreigners without paying a tax, imposed by your Parliament, on all we imported. These, and many other impositions [unreasonable demands], were laid upon us, most unjustly and unconstitutionally, for the express purpose of raising a revenue. In order to silence complaint, it was indeed provided that this revenue should be expended [spent] in America for its protection and defense. These exactions [taxes, fees], however, can receive no justification from a pretended necessity of protecting and defending us. They are lavishly squandered on court favorites [cronies] and ministerial [government] dependants, generally avowed enemies to America, and employing themselves by partial representations to traduce [slander] and embroil [involve] the colonies. For the necessary support of government here, we ever were and ever shall be ready to provide. And whenever the exigencies [urgent needs] of the state may require it, we shall, as we have heretofore done, cheerfully contribute our full proportion of men and money. To enforce this unconstitutional and unjust scheme of taxation, every fence that the wisdom of our British ancestors had carefully erected against arbitrary power, has been violently thrown down in America, and the inestimable [priceless] right of trial by jury taken away, in cases that touch both life and property. It was ordained that whenever offences should be committed in the colonies against particular acts, imposing various duties and restrictions upon trade, the prosecutor might bring his action for the penalties in the Courts of Admiralty, by which means the subject lost the advantage of being tried by an honest, uninfluenced jury of the vicinage [vicinity, proximity, immediate area], and was subjected to the sad necessity of being judged by a single man, a creature of the crown, and according to the course of a law which exempts the prosecutor from the trouble of proving his accusation, and obliges the defendant either to evince [show clearly] his innocence or to suffer. To give this new judicatory [tribunal] the greater importance, and as if with design to protect false accusers, it is further provided, that the judge’s certificate of there having been probable causes of seizure and prosecution, shall protect the prosecutor [exempt] from actions at common law for recovery of damages.

By the course of our law, offences committed in such of the British dominions in which courts are established, and justice duly and regularly administered, shall be there tried by a jury of the vicinage. There the offenders and the witnesses are known, and the degree of credibility to be given to their testimony can be ascertained.

In all these colonies justice is regularly and impartially administered; and yet, by the construction of some, and the direction of other acts of Parliament, offenders are to be taken by force, together with all such persons as may be pointed out as witnesses, and carried to England, there to be tried in a distant land, by a jury of strangers, and subject to all the disadvantages that result from the want of friends, want of witnesses, and want of money.

When the design of raising a revenue from the duties imposed on the importation of tea into America, had in great measure been rendered abortive by our ceasing to import that commodity, a scheme was concerted [planned] by the ministry with the East India Company, and an act passed, enabling and encouraging them to transport and vend [sale] it in the colonies. Aware of the danger of giving success to this insidious [causing harm in a way that is gradual or not easily noticed] maneuver, and of permitting a precedent of taxation thus to be established among us, various methods were adopted to elude the stroke. The people of Boston, then ruled by a governor whom, as well as his predecessor, Sir Francis Bernard, all America considers as her enemy, were exceedingly embarrassed. The ships which had arrived with the tea were, by his management, prevented from returning. The duties would have been paid; the cargoes landed and exposed to sale; a governor’s influence would have procured [secured] and protected many purchasers. While the town was suspended by deliberations on this important subject the tea was destroyed. Even supposing a trespass was thereby committed and the proprietors of the tea entitled to damages, the courts of law were open, and judges, appointed by the crown, presided in them. The East India Company, however, did not think proper to commence any suits, nor did they even demand satisfaction, either from individuals or from the community in general. The ministry, it seems, officiously made the case their own, and the great council of the nation descended to intermeddle with a dispute about private property. Divers [numerous] papers, letters, and other unauthenticated ex parte evidence, were laid before them. Neither the persons who destroyed the tea, nor the people of Boston, were called upon to answer the complaint. The ministry, incensed by being disappointed in a favorite scheme, were determined to recur from the little arts of finesse to open force and unmanly violence. The port of Boston was blocked up by a fleet, and an army placed in the town. Their trade was to be suspended, and thousands reduced to the necessity of gaining subsistence from charity, till they should submit to pass under the yoke and consent to become slaves, by confessing the omnipotence of Parliament, and acquiescing [submit or comply silently or without protest] in whatever disposition [arrangement] they might think proper to make of their lives and property.

Let justice and humanity cease to be the boast of your nation! Consult your history; examine your records of former transactions; nay, turn to the annals [chronicles, accounts] of the many arbitrary states and kingdoms that surround you, and show us a single instance of men being condemned to suffer for imputed [blamed for; made-up] crimes, unheard, unquestioned, and without even the specious [falsely appearing to be fair, just, or right] formality of a trial; and that, too, by laws made expressly for the purpose, and which had no existence at the time of the fact committed. If it be difficult to reconcile these proceedings to the genius and temper of your laws and constitution, the task will become more arduous [difficult] when we call upon our ministerial enemies to justify, not only condemning men untried and by hearsay, but involving the innocent in one common punishment with the guilty, and for the act of thirty or forty to bring poverty, distress, and calamity on thirty thousand souls, and those not your enemies, but your friends, brethren, and fellow-subjects.

It would be some consolation to us if the catalog of American oppressions ended here. It gives us pain to be reduced to the necessity of reminding you, that under the confidence reposed [relied upon] in the faith of government, pledged in a royal charter from a British sovereign, the forefathers of the present inhabitants of the Massachusetts Bay left their former habitations, and established that great, flourishing, and loyal colony. Without incurring or being charged with a forfeiture of their rights, without being heard, without being tried, without law and without justice, by an act of Parliament their charter is destroyed, their liberties violated, their constitution and form of government changed; and all this upon no better pretense than because in one of their towns a trespass was committed on some merchandise, said to belong to one of the companies, and because the ministry were of opinion that such high political regulations were necessary to compel due subordination and obedience to their mandates.

Nor are these the only capital [most serious] grievances under which we labor. We might tell of dissolute [depraved, immoral], weak and wicked governors having been set over us; of legislatures being suspended for asserting the rights of British subjects; of needy and ignorant dependents on great men advanced to the seats of justice, and to other places of trust and importance; of hard restrictions on commerce, and a great variety of lesser evils, the recollection of which is almost lost under the weight and pressure of greater and more poignant calamities.

Now mark the progression of the ministerial plan for enslaving us.

Well aware that such hardy attempts to take our property from us; to deprive us of that valuable right of trial by jury; to seize our persons, and carry us for trial to Great Britain; to blockade our ports; to destroy our charters and change our forms of government; would occasion, and had already occasioned, great discontent in the colonies, which might produce opposition to these measures, an act was passed to protect, indemnify [protect], and screen from punishment, such as might be guilty even of murder, in endeavoring to carry their oppressive edicts [rules, proclamations] into execution; and by another act, the dominion of Canada is to be so extended, modeled and governed, as that, by being disunited from us, detached from our interests, by civil as well as religious prejudices; that by their numbers daily swelling with Catholic emigrants from Europe, and by their devotion to an administration so friendly to their religion, they might become formidable to us, and on occasion be fit instruments, in the hands of power, to reduce the ancient free Protestant colonies to the same state of slavery with themselves.

This was evidently the object of the act; and in this view, being extremely dangerous to our liberty and quiet, we cannot forbear complaining of it, as hostile to British America. Superadded [add to what has already been added] to these considerations, we cannot help deploring the unhappy condition to which it has reduced the many English settlers who, encouraged by the royal proclamation, promising the enjoyment of all their rights, have purchased estates in that country. They are now the subjects of an arbitrary government, deprived of trial by jury, and when imprisoned, cannot claim the benefit of the habeas corpus act—that great bulwark and palladium of English liberty. Nor can we suppress our astonishment, that a British Parliament should ever consent to establish in that country, a religion that has deluged your island in blood, and dispersed impiety, bigotry, persecution, murder and rebellion through every part of the world.

This being a true state of facts, let us beseech you to consider to what end they may lead.

Admit that the ministry, by the powers of Britain and the aid of our Roman Catholic neighbors, should be able to carry the point of taxation, and reduce us to a state of perfect humiliation and slavery: such an enterprise would doubtless make some addition to your national debt, which already presses down your liberties, and fills you with pensioners and placemen. We presume, also, that your commerce will somewhat be diminished. However, suppose you should prove victorious, in what condition will you then be? What advantages or laurels will you reap from such a conquest?

May not a ministry, with the same armies enslave you? It may be said, you will cease to pay them—but remember the taxes from America, the wealth, and we may add the men, and particularly the Roman Catholics of this vast continent, will then be in the power of your enemies; nor will you have any reason to expect that after making slaves of us, many among us should refuse to assist in reducing you to the same abject state.

Do not treat this as chimerical. Know that in less than half a century, the quit rents reserved to the Crown, from the numberless grants of this vast continent, will pour large streams of wealth into the royal coffers, and if to this be added the power of taxing America at pleasure, the Crown will be rendered independent of you for supplies, and will possess more treasure than may be necessary to purchase the remains of liberty in your island. In a word, take care that you do not fall into the pit that is preparing for us.

We believe there is yet much virtue, much justice, and much public spirit in the English nation. To that justice we now appeal. You have been told that we are seditious, impatient of government, and desirous of independency. Be assured that these are not facts, but calumnies [slander, character assignation]. Permit us to be as free as yourselves, and we shall ever esteem a union with you, to be our greatest glory, and our greatest happiness; we shall ever be ready to contribute all in our power to the welfare of the empire; we shall consider your enemies as our enemies, and your interest as our own.

But, if you are determined that your ministers shall wantonly sport with the rights of mankind—if neither the voice of justice, the dictates of the law, the principles of the Constitution, or the suggestions of humanity, can restrain your hands from shedding human blood, in such an impious cause, we must then tell you, that we will never submit to be hewers of wood or drawers of water, for any ministry, or nation in the world.

Place us in the same situation that we were in, at the close of the last war, and our former harmony will be restored.

But lest the same supineness [Marked by or showing lethargy, passivity, or blameworthy indifference], and the same inattention to our common interest, which you have for several years shown, should continue, we think it prudent to anticipate the consequences.

By the destruction of the trade of Boston, the ministry have endeavored to induce submission to their measures. The like fate may befall us all. We will endeavor, therefore, to live without trade, and recur for subsistence to the fertility and bounty of our native soil, which will afford us all the necessaries, and some of the conveniences of life. We have suspended our importation from Great Britain and Ireland; and, in less than a year’s time, unless our grievances should be redressed, shall discontinue our exports to those kingdoms, and the West Indies.

It is with the utmost regret, however, that we find ourselves compelled, by the overruling principles of self-preservation, to adopt measures detrimental in their consequences, to numbers of our fellow-subjects in Great Britain and Ireland. But, we hope, that the magnanimity and justice of the British nation will furnish a Parliament of such wisdom, independence, and public spirit, as may save the violated rights of the whole empire, from the devices of wicked ministers and evil counselors, whether in or out of office; and thereby restore that harmony, friendship, and fraternal affection between all the inhabitants of his Majesty’s kingdoms and territories, so ardently wished for by every true and honest American.

Extract from Hyperion by “The Patriotâ€? Josiah Quincy Jr., 1768


Josiah Quincy Jr. (1744 –1775) AKA “The Patriotâ€? was an American lawyer and patriot. He was a principal spokesman for the Sons of Liberty in Boston prior to the Revolution. He was an energetic advocate for the Whig party in the pre-Revolutionary political debates. With John Adams he defended Captain Preston after the so-called “Boston Massacre,” and in 1774, when scarcely thirty years of age, he was the confidential agent in London of the patriot party. Dying on shipboard, almost in sight of his native New England coast, Josiah Quincy, J r., left behind him an infant son, whose long and honorable life, beginning before the Revolution, outlasted the war of the Rebellion. But President Josiah Quincy, of Harvard College, though he lived all his life on the family-place at Quincy, always identified himself with the city of Boston.

The commonwealth itself has no other strength or hope than the intelligence and virtue of the individuals that compose it. For the intelligence and virtue of individuals there is no other human assurance than laws providing for the education of the whole people. These laws themselves have no strength, or efficient sanction, except in the moral and accountable nature of man disclosed in the records of the Christian’s faith; the right to read, to construe, and to judge concerning which belongs to no class or caste of men, but exclusively to the individual, who must stand or fall by his own acts and his own faith, and not by those of another.The great comprehensive truths, written in letters of living light on every page of our history, — the language addressed by every past age of New England to all future ages, is this: Human happiness has no perfect security but freedom; freedom, none but virtue; virtue, none but knowledge; and neither freedom, nor virtue, nor knowledge has any vigor, or immortal hope, except in the principles of the Christian faith, and in the sanctions of the Christian religion.” ~ Josiah Quincy, October 1831; Harvard University; Dedication of the Dane Law College

Extract from “Hyperion*” by The Patriot; Josiah Quincy Jr., 1768

* The first part of this extract was published in the Boston Gazette in September, 1767, on receiving information of threatening import from England; the remainder appeared in October, 1768, when British troops had landed in Boston, and taken possession of Faneuil Hall, under circumstances intended to inspire the people with alarm and terror.—Ed.

When I reflect on the exalted character of the ancient Britons, on the fortitude of our illustrious predecessors, on the noble struggles of the late memorable period, and from these reflections, when, by a natural transition, I contemplate the gloomy aspect of the present day, my heart is alternately torn with doubt and hope, despondency and terror. Can the true, generous magnanimity of British heroes be entirely lost in their degenerate progeny? Is the genius of liberty, which so late inflamed our bosoms, fled forever?

An attentive observer of the deportment of some particular persons in this metropolis would be apt to imagine, that the grand point was gained; that the spirit of the people was entirely broken to the yoke; that all America was subjugated to bondage. Already the minions of power, in fancy, fatten and grow wanton on the spoils of the land. They insolently toss the head, and put on the air of contemptuous disdain. In the imaginary possession of lordships and dominions, these potentates and powers dare tell us, that our only hope is to crouch, to cower under, and to kiss, the iron rod of oppression. Precious sample of the meek and lowly temper of those who are destined to be our lords and masters!

Be not deceived, my countrymen. Believe not these venal hirelings, when they would cajole you by their subtleties into submission, or frighten you by their vaporings into compliance. When they strive to flatter you by the terms “moderation and prudence,” tell them that calmness and deliberation are to guide the judgment; courage and intrepidity command the action. When they endeavour to make us “perceive our inability to oppose our mother country,” let us boldly answer;—In defence of our civil and religious rights, we dare oppose the world; with the God of armies on our side, even the God who fought our fathers’ battles, we fear not the hour of trial, though the hosts of our enemies should cover the field like locusts. If this be enthusiasm, we will live and die enthusiasts.

Blandishments will not fascinate us, nor will threats of a “halter” intimidate. For, under God, we are determined, that wheresoever, whensoever, or howsoever we shall be called to make our exit, we will die freemen. Well do we know that all the regalia of this world cannot dignify the death of a villain, nor diminish the ignominy, with which a slave shall quit existence. Neither can it taint the unblemished honor of a son of freedom, though he should make his departure on the already prepared gibbet, or be dragged to the newly erected scaffold for execution. With the plaudits of his conscience he will go off the stage. A crown of joy and immortality shall be his reward. The history of his life his children shall venerate. The virtues of their sire shall excite their emulation.

If there ever was a time, this is the hour, for Americans to rouse themselves, and exert every ability. Their all is at a hazard, and the die of fate spins doubtful. In vain do we talk of magnanimity and heroism, in vain do we trace a descent from the worthies of the earth, if we inherit not the spirit of our ancestors. Who is he that boasteth of his patriotism? Has he vanquished luxury, and subdued the worldly pride of his heart? Is he not still drinking the poisonous draught, and rolling the sweet morsel under his tongue? He who cannot conquer the little vanity of his heart, and deny the delicacy of a debauched palate, let him lay his hand upon his mouth, and his mouth in the dust.

Now is the time for this people to summon every aid, human and divine; to exhibit every moral virtue, and call forth every Christian grace. The wisdom of the serpent, the innocence of the dove, and the intrepidity of the lion, with the blessing of God, will yet save us from the jaws of destruction.

Where is the boasted liberty of Englishmen, if property may be disposed of, charters suspended, assemblies dissolved, and every valued right annihilated, at the uncontrollable will of an external power? Does not every man, who feels one ethereal spark yet glowing in his bosom, find his indignation kindle at the bare imagination of such wrongs? What would be our sentiments were this imagination realized.

Did the blood of the ancient Britons swell our veins, did the spirit of our forefathers inhabit our breasts, should we hesitate a moment in preferring death to a miserable existence in bondage? Did we reflect on their toils, their dangers, their fiery trials, the thought would inspire unconquerable courage.

Who has the front to ask, Wherefore do you complain? Who dares assert, that everything worth living for is not lost, when a nation is enslaved? Are not pensioners, stipendiaries and salary-men, unknown before, hourly multiplying upon us, to riot in the spoils of miserable America? Does not every eastern gale waft us some new insect, even of that devouring kind, which eat up every green thing? Is not the bread taken out of the children’s mouths and given unto the dogs? Are not our estates given to corrupt sycophants, without a design, or even a pretense, of soliciting our assent; and our lives put into the hands of those whose tender mercies are cruelties? Has not an authority in a distant land, in the most public manner, proclaimed a right of disposing of the all of Americans? In short, what have we to lose? What have we to fear? Are not our distresses more than we can bear? And, to finish all, are not our cities, in a time of profound peace, filled with standing armies, to preclude from us that last solace of the wretched—to open their mouths in complaint, and send forth their cries in bitterness of heart?

But is there no ray of hope? Is not Great Britain inhabited by the children of those renowned barons, who waded through seas of crimson gore to establish their liberty? and will they not allow us, their fellow-men, to enjoy that freedom which we claim from nature, which is confirmed by our constitution, and which they pretend so highly to value? Were a tyrant to conquer us, the chains of slavery, when opposition should become useless, might be supportable; but to be shackled by Englishmen,—by our equals,—is not to be borne. By the sweat of our brow we earn the little we possess; from nature we derive the common rights of man; and by charter we claim the liberties of Britons. Shall we, dare we, pusillanimously surrender our birthright? la the obligation to our fathers discharged? Is the debt we owe posterity paid? Answer me, thou coward, who hidest thyself in the hour of trial; •If there is no reward in this life, no prize of glory in the next, capable of animating thy dastard soul, think and tremble, thou miscreant! at the whips and stripes thy master shall lash thee with on earth,—and the flames and scorpions thy second master shall torment thee with hereafter!

Oh, my countrymen! what will our children say, when they read the history of these times, should they find that we tamely gave away, without one noble struggle, the most invaluable of earthly blessings! As they drag the galling chain, will they not execrate us? If we have any respect for things sacred, any regard to the dearest treasure on earth; if we have one tender sentiment for posterity; if we would not be despised by the whole world; — let us, in the most open, solemn manner, and with determined fortitude, swear—We will die, if we cannot live freemen!

Be not lulled, my countrymen, with vain imaginations or idle fancies. To hope for the protection of Heaven, without doing our duty, and exerting ourselves as becomes men, is to mock the Deity. Wherefore had man his reason, if it were not to direct him? wherefore his strength, if it be not his protection? To banish folly and luxury, correct vice and immorality, and stand immoveable in the freedom in which we are free indeed, is eminently the duty of each individual at this day. When this is done, we may rationally hope for an answer to our prayers—for the whole counsel of God, and the invincible armor of the Almighty.

However righteous our cause, we cannot, in this period of the world, expect a miraculous salvation. Heaven will undoubtedly assist us if we act like men; but to expect protection from above, while we are enervated by luxury, and slothful in the exertion of those abilities, with which we are endued, is an expectation vain and foolish. With the smiles of Heaven, virtue, unanimity and firmness will ensure success. While we have equity, justice and God on our side, Tyranny, spiritual or temporal, shall never ride triumphant in a land inhabited by Englishmen.

An attentive observer of the deportment of some particular persons in this metropolis would be apt to imagine, that the grand point was gained; that the spirit of the people was entirely broken to the yoke; that all America was subjugated to bondage. Already the minions of power in fancy fatten and grow wanton on the spoils of the land. They insolently toss the head, and put on the air of contemptuous disdain. In the imaginary possession of lordships and dominions, these potentates and powers dare tell us, that our only hope is to crouch, to cower under, and to kiss, the iron rod of oppression. Precious sample of the meek and lowly temper of those who are destined to be our lords and masters!

Conclusion of “Observations on the Boston Port Bill.”

Thus, my countrymen, from the days of Gardiner and Morton, Gorges and Mason, Randolph and Cranfield, down to the present day, the inhabitants of this northern region have constantly been in dangers and troubles, from foes open and secret, abroad and in their bosom. Our freedom has been the object of envy, and to make void the charter of our liberties the work and labour of an undiminished race of villains. One cabal having failed of success, new conspirators have risen, and what the first could not make “void,” the next “humbly desired to revoke.” To this purpose one falsehood after another hath been fabricated and spread abroad with equal turpitude and equal effrontery. That minute detail, which would present actors now on the stage, is the province of History. She, inexorably severe towards the eminently guilty, will delineate their characters with the point of a diamond; and, thus blazoned in the face of day, the abhorrence and execrations of mankind will consign them to an infamous immortality.

So great has been the credulity of the British court from the beginning, or such hath been the activity of false brethren, that no tale inimical to the Northern Colonies, however false or absurd, but what hath found credit with the administration, and operated to the prejudice of the country. Thus it was told and believed in England, that we were not in earnest in the expedition against Canada at the beginning of this century, and that the country did everything in its power to defeat the success of it, and that the misfortune of that attempt ought to be wholly attributed to the Northern Colonies: while nothing could be more obvious, than that New England had exhausted her youngest blood, and all her treasures, in the undertaking; and that every motive of self-preservation, happiness and safety must have operated to excite these provinces to the, most spirited and persevering measures against Canada.

The people, who are attacked by bad men, have a testimony of their merit, as the constitution, which is invaded by powerful men, hath an evidence of its value. The path of our duty needs no minute delineation; it lies level to the eye. Let us apply, then, like men sensible of its importance, and determined on its fulfillment. The inroads on our public liberty call for reparation; the wrongs we have sustained call for justice. That reparation and that justice may yet be obtained by union, spirit and firmness. But to divide and conquer was the maxim of the devil in, the garden of Eden; and to disunite and enslave hath been the principle of all his votaries from that period to the present. The crimes of the guilty are to them the cords of association, and dread of punishment the indissoluble bond of union. The combinations of public robbers ought, therefore, to cement patriots and heroes: and, as the former plot and conspire to undermine and destroy the commonwealth, the latter ought to form a compact for opposition,— a band of vengeance.

What insidious arts, and what detestable practices, have been used to deceive, disunite and enslave the good people of this continent! The mystic appellations of loyalty and allegiance, the venerable names of government and good order, and the sacred ones of piety and public virtue, have been alternately prostituted to that abominable purpose. All the windings and guises, subterfuges and doublings, of which the human soul is susceptible, have been displayed on the occasion. But secrets, which were thought impenetrable, are no longer hid; characters deeply disguised are openly revealed; and the discovery of gross impostors hath generally preceded but a short time their utter extirpation.

Be not again, my countrymen, “easily captivated with the appearances only of wisdom and piety,—professions of a regard to liberty, and of a strong attachment to the public interest.” Your fathers have been explicitly charged with this folly by one of their posterity. Avoid this and all similar errors. Be cautious against the deception of appearances. “By their fruits ye shall know them,” was the saying of one, who perfectly knew the Human heart. Judge of affairs which concern social happiness by facts: judge of man by his deeds. For it is very certain, that pious zeal for days and times, for mint and cumin, hath often been pretended by those who were infidels at bottom; and it is as certain, that attachment to the dignity of government and the king’s service, hath often flowed from the mouths of men, who harboured the darkest machinations against the true end of the former, and were destitute of every right principle of loyalty to the latter. Hence, then, care and circumspection are necessary branches of political duty. And, as “it is much easier to restrain liberty from running into licentiousness, than power from swelling into tyranny and oppression,” so much more caution and resistance are required against the overbearing of rulers, than the extravagance of the people.

To give no more authority to any order of state, and to place no greater public confidence in any man, than is necessary for the general welfare, may be considered by the people as an important point of policy. But though craft and hypocrisy are prevalent, yet piety and virtue have a real existence: duplicity and political imposture abound, yet benevolence and public spirit are not altogether banished the world. As wolves will appear in sheep’s clothing, so superlative knaves and parricides will assume the vesture of the man of virtue and patriotism.

These things are permitted by Providence, no doubt, for wise and good reasons. Man was created for a rational, and was designed for an active being. His faculties of intelligence and force were given him for use. When the wolf, therefore, is found devouring the flock, no hierarchy forbids a seizure of the victim for sacrifice; so, also, when dignified impostors are caught destroying those whom their arts deceive, though their stations destined them to protect,—the sabre of justice flashes righteousness at the stroke of execution.

Yet be not amused, my countrymen! The extirpation of bondage and the re-establishment of freedom are not of easy acquisition. The worst passions of the human heart and the most subtle projects of the human mind, are leagued against you; and principalities and powers have acceded to the combination. Trials and conflicts you must, therefore, endure; hazards and jeopardies of life and fortune will attend the struggle. Such is the fate of all noble exertions for public liberty and social happiness. Enter not the lists without thought and consideration, lest you arm with timidity, and combat with irresolution. Having engaged in the conflict, let nothing discourage your vigour, or repel your perseverance. Remember that submission to the yoke of bondage is the worst that can befall a people, after the most fierce and unsuccessful resistance. What can the misfortunes of vanquishment take away, which despotism and rapine would spare ?” It had been easy,” said the great lawgiver Solon to the Athenians, “to repress the advances of tyranny, and prevent its establishment; but, now it is established and grown to some height, it would be more glorious to demolish it.” But nothing glorious is accomplished, nothing great is attained, nothing valuable is secured, without magnanimity of mind, and devotion of heart to the service. Brutus-like, therefore, dedicate yourselves at this day to the service of your country; and henceforth live a life of liberty and glory. “On the ides of March,”—said the great and good man to his friend Cassius, just before the battle of Philippi,—”on the ides of March I devoted my life to my country, and since that time I have lived a life of liberty and glory.”

Inspired with public virtue, touched with the wrongs, and indignant at the insults, offered his country, the highspirited Cassius exhibits an heroic example;—” Resolved as we are,”—replied the hero to his friend,—”resolved as we are, let us march against the enemy; for, though we should not conquer, we have nothing to fear.”

Spirits and genii like these rose in Rome, and have since adorned Britain; such also will one day make glorious this more western world. America hath in store her Bruti and Cassii—her Hampdens and Sydneys—patriots and heroes, who will form a band of brothers;—men, who will have memories and feelings, courage and swords,—courage, that shall inflame their ardent bosoms till their hands cleave to their swords, and their swords to their enemies hearts.

The Moral and intellectual Efficacy of the Sacred Scriptures by Francis Wayland


Moral and intellectual Efficacy of the Sacred Scriptures:

As to the powerful, I had almost said miraculous, effect of the Sacred Scriptures, there can no longer be a doubt in the mind of any one on whom fact can make an impression. That the truths of the Bible have the power of awakening an intense moral feeling in man under every variety of character, learned or ignorant, civilized or savage; that they make bad men good, and send a pulse of healthful feeling through all the domestic, civil, and social relations; that they teach men to love right, to hate wrong, and to seek each other’s welfare, as the children of one common parent; that they control the baleful passions of the human heart, and thus make men proficient in the science of self-government; and, finally, that they teach him to aspire after a conformity to a Being of infinite holiness, and fill him with hopes infinitely more purifying, more exalting, more suited to his nature, than any other, which this world has ever known,—are facts incontrovertible as the laws of philosophy, or the demonstrations of mathematics. Evidence in support of all this can be brought from every age, in the history of man, since there has been a revelation from God on earth. We see the proof of it everywhere around ns. There is scarcely a neighbourhood in our country, where the Bible is circulated, in which we cannot point you to a very considerable portion of its population, whom its truth have reclaimed from the practice of vice, and taught the practice of whatsoever things are pure, and honest, and just, and of good report.

That this distinctive and peculiar effect is produced upon every man to whom the Gospel is announced, we pretend not to affirm. But we do affirm, that, besides producing this special renovation, to which we have alluded, upon a part, it, in a most remarkable degree, elevates the tone of moral feeling throughout the whole community. Wherever the Bible is freely circulated, and its doctrines carried home to the understandings of men, the aspect of society is altered; the frequency of crime is diminished; men begin to love justice, and to administer it by law ; and a virtuous public opinion, that strongest safeguard of right, spreads over a nation the shield of its invisible protection. Wherever it has faithfully been brought to bear upon the human heart, even under most unpromising circumstances, it has, within a single generation, revolutionized the whole structure of society; and thus, within a few years, done more for man than all other means have for ages accomplished without it. For proof of all this, I need only refer you to the effects of the Gospel in Greenland, or in South Africa, in the Society Islands, or even among the aborigines of our own country.

But, before we leave this part of the subject, it may be well to pause for a moment, and inquire whether, in addition to its moral efficacy, the Bible may not exert a powerful influence upon the intellectual character of man.

And here it is scarcely necessary that I should remark, that, of all the books with which, since the invention of writing, this world has been deluged, the number of those is very small which have produced any perceptible effect on the mass of human character. By far the greater part have been, even by their contemporaries, unnoticed and unknown. Not many a one has made its little mark upon the generation that produced it, though it sunk with that generation to utter forgetfulness. But, after the ceaseless toil of six thousand years, how few have been the works, the adamantine basis of whose reputation has stood unhurt amid the fluctuations of time, and whose impression can be traced through successive centuries, on the history of our species.

When, however, such a work appears, its effects are absolutely incalculable; and such a work, you are aware, is the Iliad Of Homer. Who can estimate the results produced by the incomparable efforts of a single mind; Who can tell what Greece owes to this first-born of song? Her breathing marbles, her solemn temples, her unrivalled eloquence, and her matchless verse, all point us to that transcendent genius, who, by the very splendour of his own effulgence, woke the human intellect from the slumber of ages. It was Homer who gave laws to the artist; it was Homer who inspired the poet; it was Homer who thundered in the senate; and, more than all, it was Homer who was sung by the people; and hence a nation was cast into the mould of one mighty mind, and the land of the Iliad became the region of taste, the birth-place of the arts.

Nor was this influence confined within the limits of Greece. Long after the sceptre of empire had passed westward, Genius still held her court on the banks of the Ilyssus, and from the country of Homer gave laws to the world. The light, which the blind old man of Scio had kindled in Greece, shed its radiance over Italy; and thus did he awaken a second nation into intellectual existence. And we may form some idea of the power which this one work has to the present day exerted over the mind of man, by remarking, mat ” nation after nation, and century after century, has been able to do little more than transpose his incidents, new-name his characters, and paraphrase his sentiments.”

But, considered simply as an intellectual production, who will compare the poems of Homer with the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament? Where in the Iliad shall we find simplicity and pathos which shall vie with the narrative of Moses, or maxims of conduct to equal in wisdom the Proverbs of Solomon, or sublimity which does not fade away before the conceptions of Job or David, of Isaiah or St. John? But I cannot pursue this comparison. I feel that it is doing wrong to the mind which dictated the Iliad, and to those other mighty intellects on whom the light of the holy oracles never shined. Who that has read his poem has not observed how he strove in vain to give dignity to the mythology of his time? Who has not seen how the religion of his country, unable to support the flight of his imagination, sunk powerless beneath him? It is the unseen world, where the master spirits of our race breathe freely, and are at home; and it is mournful to behold the intellect of Homer striving to free itself from the conceptions of materialism, and then sinking down in hopeless despair, to weave idle tales about Jupiter and Juno, Apollo and Diana. But the difficulties under which he laboured are abundantly illustrated by the fact, that the light, which he poured upon the human intellect, taught other ages how unworthy was the religion of his day of the man who was compelled to use it. “It seems to me,” says Longinus, ” that Homer, when he describes dissensions, jealousies, tears, imprisonments, and other afflictions to his deities, hath, as much as was in his power, made the men of the Iliad gods, and the gods men. To man, when afflicted, death is the termination of evils; but he hath made not only the nature, but the miseries, of the gods eternal,”

If, then, so great results have flowed from this one effort of a single mind, what may we not expect from the combined efforts of several, at least his equals in power over the human heart? If that one genius, though groping in the thick darkness of absurd idolatry, wrought so glorious a transformation in the character of his countrymen, what may we not look for from the universal dissemination of those writings, on whose authors was poured the full splendour of eternal truth? If unassisted human nature, spellbound by a childish mythology, have done so much, what may we not hope for from the supernatural efforts of preeminent genius, which spake as it was moved by the Holy Ghost.


The TEA Party Patriots: Are They The New Whig Party?

Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay (1800-1859)

Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay (1800-1859)

Whig Party: It seems to me that when I look back on our history I can discern a great party which has, through many generations, preserved its identity; a party often depressed, never extinguished; a party which, though often tainted with the faults of the age, has always been in advance of the age; a party which, though guilty of many errors and some crimes, has the glory of having established our civil and religious liberties on a firm foundation: and of that party I am proud to be a member. It was that party which on the great question of monopolies stood up against Elizabeth. It was that party which in the reign of James the First organized the earliest parliamentary opposition, which steadily asserted the privileges of the people, and wrested prerogative after prerogative from the Crown. It was that party which forced Charles the First to relinquish the ship-money. It was that party which destroyed the Star Chamber and the High Commission Court. It was that party which, under Charles the Second, carried the Habeas Corpus Act, which effected the Revolution, which passed the Toleration Act, which broke the yoke of a foreign Church in your country, and which saved Scotland from the fate of unhappy Ireland. It was that party which reared and maintained the constitutional throne of Hanover against the hostility of the Church and of the landed aristocracy of England. It was that party which opposed the war with America and the war with the French Republic ; which imparted the blessings of our free Constitution to the Dissenters; and which, at a later period, by unparalleled sacrifices and exertions, extended the same blessings to the Roman Catholics. To the Whigs of the seventeenth century we owe it that we have a House of Commons. To the Whigs of the nineteenth century we owe it that the House of Commons has been purified. The abolition of the slave-trade, the abolition of colonial slavery, the extension of popular education, the mitigation of the rigour of the penal code, all, all were effected by that party; and of that party, I repeat, I am a member. I look with pride on all that the Whigs have done for the cause of human freedom and of human happiness. I see them now hard pressed, struggling with difficulties, but still fighting the good fight. At their head I see men who have inherited the spirit and the virtues, as well as the blood, of old champions and martyrs of freedom. To those men I propose to attach myself. Delusion may triumph; but the triumphs of delusion are but for a day. We may be defeated; but our principles will gather fresh strength from defeats. Be that, however, as it may, my part is taken. While one shred of the old banner is flying, by that banner will I at least be found.

Lord Macaulay:
Speech at Edinburgh Election, 29 May, 1839.

It was also the Whigs in America that fought for our Freedoms and Liberty in the Revolutionary War.

What Measures are actually taken by wicked and desperate Ministers to ruin and enslave their Country

Thomas Paine quote Politicians

NOTE: My comments in brackets […] and italics.

Cato Letters No. 17: Saturday, February 18, 1721; What Measures are actually taken by wicked and desperate Ministers to ruin and enslave their Country. by John Trenchard


As under the best princes, and the best servants to princes alone, it is safe to speak what is true of the worst; so, according to my former promise to the public, I shall take the advantage of our excellent King’s most gentle government, and the virtuous administration of an uncorrupt ministry, to warn mankind against the mischiefs which may hereafter be dreaded from corrupt ones. It is too true, that every country in the world has sometimes groaned under that heavy misfortune, and our own as much as any; though I cannot allow it to be true, what Monsieur de Witt has long since observed, that the English court has always been the most thievish court in Europe.

Few men have been desperate enough to attack openly, and barefaced, the liberties of a free people. Such avowed conspirators can rarely succeed: The attempt would destroy itself. Even when the enterprise is begun and visible, the end must be hid, or denied. It is the business and policy of traitors, so to disguise their treason with plausible names, and so to recommend it with popular and bewitching colors, that they themselves shall be adored, while their work is detested, and yet carried on by those that detest it.

Thus one nation has been surrendered to another under the fair name of mutual alliance: The fortresses of a nation have been given up, or attempted to be given up, under the frugal notion of saving charges to a nation; and commonwealths have been trepanned into slavery, by troops raised or increased to defend them from slavery.

It may therefore be of service to the world, to shew what measures have been taken by corrupt ministers, in some of our neighboring countries, to ruin and enslave the people over whom they presided; to shew by what steps and gradations of mischief nations have been undone, and consequently what methods may be hereafter taken to undo others: And this subject I rather choose, because my countrymen may be the more sensible of, and know how to value the inestimable blessing of living under the best prince, and the best established government in the universe, where we have none of these things to fear.

Such traitors will probably endeavor first to get their prince [the majority of the people] into their possession, and, like Sejanus, shut him up in a little island, or perhaps make him a prisoner in his court; whilst, with full range, they devour his dominions, and plunder his subjects. When he is thus secluded from the access of his friends, and the knowledge of his affairs, he must be content with such misrepresentations as they shall find expedient to give him. False cases will be stated, to justify wicked counsel; wicked counsel will be given, to procure unjust orders. He [The people] will be made to mistake his foes for his friends, his friends for his foes; and to believe that his their affairs are in the highest prosperity, when they are in the greatest distress; and that public matters go on in the greatest harmony, when they are in the utmost confusion.

They will be ever contriving and forming wicked and dangerous projects, to make the people poor, and themselves rich; well knowing that dominion follows property; that where there are wealth and power, there will be always crowds of servile dependents; and that, on the contrary, poverty dejects the mind, fashions it to slavery, and renders it unequal to any generous undertaking, and incapable of opposing any bold usurpation. They will squander away the public money in wanton presents to minions, and their creatures of pleasure or of burden, or in pensions to mercenary and worthless men and women, for vile ends and traitorous purposes. [They are doing this today with the National Debt]

They will engage their country in ridiculous, expensive, fantastical wars, to keep the minds of men in continual hurry and agitation, and under constant fears and alarms; and, by such means, deprive them both of leisure and inclination to look into public miscarriages. Men, on the contrary, will, instead of such inspection, be disposed to fall into all measures offered, seemingly, for their defence, and will agree to every wild demand made by those who are betraying them. [They do not only do this with wars these days; they use all manner of manufactured crisis also]

When they have served their ends by such wars, or have other motives to make peace, they will have no view to the public interest; but will often, to procure such peace, deliver up the strong-holds of their country, or its colonies for trade, to open enemies, suspected friends, or dangerous neighbors, that they may not be interrupted in their domestic designs. [We see all this also happening today]

They will create parties in the commonwealth, or keep them up where they already are; and, by playing them by turns upon each other, will rule both. By making the Guelfs afraid of the Ghibelines, and these afraid of the Guelfs, they will make themselves the mediums and balance between the two factions; and both factions, in their turns, the props of their authority, and the instruments of their designs. [This is talking about class warfare, racial divisions, i.e. strife among the people against each other]

They will not suffer any men, who have once tasted of authority, though personally their enemies, and whose posts they enjoy, to be called to an account for past crimes, though ever so enormous. They will make no such precedents for their own punishment; nor censure treason, which they intend to commit. On the contrary, they will form new conspiracies, and invent new fences for their own impunity and protection; and endeavor to engage such numbers in their guilt, as to set themselves above all fear of punishment. [Benghazi, DOJ, NSA, IRS, AP, James Rosen; Eric Holder, Hillary Clinton, Barrack Obama, IRS Commissioners, Lois Lerner. This is all happening today]

They will prefer worthless and wicked men, and not suffer a man of knowledge or honesty to come near them, or enjoy a post under them. They will disgrace men of virtue, and ridicule virtue itself, and laugh at public spirit. They will put men into employments, without any regard to the qualifications for those employments, or indeed to any qualifications at all, but as they contribute to their designs, and shew a stupid alacrity to do what they are bid. They must be either fools or beggars; either void of capacity to discover their intrigues, or of credit and inclination to disappoint them. [We see this happening with the political leadership against the members of the Tea Party]

They will promote luxury, idleness, and expense, and a general deprivation of manners, by their own example, as well as by connivance [immoral or illegal act] and public encouragement. This will not only divert men’s thoughts from examining their behavior and politics, but likewise let them loose from all the restraints of private and public virtue. From immorality and excesses they will fall into necessity; and from thence into a servile dependence upon power.

In order to this, they will bring into fashion gaming, drunkenness, gluttony, and profuse and costly dress. They will debauch their country with foreign vices, and foreign instruments of vicious pleasures; and will contrive and encourage public revels, nightly disguises, and debauched mummeries [mummeries i.e. A pretentious or hypocritical show or ceremony.]

They will, by all practicable means of oppression, provoke the people to disaffection [hate, anger]; and then make that disaffection an argument for new oppression, for not trusting them any further, and for keeping up troops; and, in fine, for depriving them of liberties and privileges, to which they are entitled by their birth, and the laws of their country.

If such measures should ever be taken in any free country, where the people choose deputies to represent them, then they will endeavor to bribe the electors in the choice of their representatives, and so to get a council of their own creatures; and where they cannot succeed with the electors, they will endeavor to corrupt the deputies after they are chosen, with the money given for the public defence; and to draw into the perpetration of their crimes those very men, from whom the betrayed people expect the redress of their grievances, and the punishment of those crimes. And when they have thus made the representatives of the people afraid of the people, and the people afraid of their representatives; then they will endeavor to persuade those deputies to seize the government to themselves, and not to trust their principals any longer with the power of resenting their treachery and ill-usage, and of sending honester and wiser men in their room.

But if the constitution should be so stubbornly framed, that it will still preserve itself and the people’s liberties, in spite of all villainous contrivances [a thing that is created skillfully and inventively to serve a particular purpose] to destroy both; then must the constitution itself be attacked and broken, because it will not bend. There must be an endeavor, under some pretense of public good, to alter a balance of the government, and to get it into the sole power of their creatures, and of such who will have constantly an interest distinct from that of the body of the people. [We see Obama and the Democrat party doing this, in trying to get the majority back in the House of Representatives like they had in the first two years of his presidency, when they forced Obamacare on US]

But if all these schemes for the ruin of the public, and their own impunity, should fail them; and the worthy patriots of a free country should prove obstinate in defence of their country, and resolve to call its betrayers to a strict account; there is then but one thing left for such traitors to do; namely, to veer about, and, by joining with the [United Nations] enemy of their prince [the people] and country, complete their treason.

I have somewhere read of a favorite and first minister to a neighboring prince, long since dead, who played his part so well, that, though he had, by his evil counsels, raised a rebellion, and a contest for the crown; yet he preserved himself a resource, whoever got the better: If his old master succeeded, then this Achitophel, by the help of a baffled rebellion, ever favorable to princes, had the glory of fixing his master in absolute power: But, as his brave rival got the day, Achitophel had the merit of betraying his old master to plead; and was accordingly taken into favor.

Happy therefore, thrice happy, are we, who can be unconcerned spectators of the miseries which the greatest part of Europe is reduced to suffer, having lost their liberties by the intrigues and wickedness of those whom they trusted; whilst we continue in full enjoyment of ours, and can be in no danger of losing them, while we have so excellent a King, assisted and obeyed by so wise a Parliament.

T. I am, &c.

Freedom of Speech the Same is Inseparable From Public Liberty: Cato Letter No. 15


Cato Letter No. 15, Saturday, February 4, 1721: Freedom of Speech: That the same is inseparable from public Liberty; by Thomas Gordon


Without freedom of thought, there can be no such thing as wisdom; and no such thing as public liberty, without freedom of speech: Which is the right of every man, as far as by it he does not hurt and control the right of another; and this is the only check which it ought to suffer, the only bounds which it ought to know.

This sacred privilege is so essential to free government, that the security of property; and the freedom of speech, always go together; and in those wretched countries where a man cannot call his tongue his own, he can scarce call any thing else his own. Whoever would overthrow the liberty of the nation, must begin by subduing the freedom of speech; a thing terrible to public traitors.

This secret was so well known to the court of King Charles I that his wicked ministry procured a proclamation to forbid the people to talk of Parliaments, which those traitors had laid aside. To assert the undoubted right of the subject, and defend his Majesty’s legal prerogative, was called disaffection, and punished as sedition. Nay, people were forbid to talk of religion in their families: For the priests had combined with the ministers to cook up tyranny, and suppress truth and the law. While the late King James, when Duke of York, went avowedly to mass; men were fined, imprisoned, and undone, for saying that he was a papist: And, that King Charles II might live more securely a papist, there was an act of Parliament made, declaring it treason to say that he was one.

That men ought to speak well of their governors, is true, while their governors deserve to be well spoken of; but to do public mischief, without hearing of it, is only the prerogative and felicity of tyranny: A free people will be shewing that they are so, by their freedom of speech.

The administration of government is nothing else, but the attendance of the trustees of the people upon the interest and affairs of the people. And as it is the part and business of the people, for whose sake alone all public matters are, or ought to be, transacted, to see whether they be well or ill transacted; so it is the interest, and ought to be the ambition, of all honest magistrates, to have their deeds openly examined, and publicly scanned: Only the wicked governors of men dread what is said of them; Audivit Tiberius probra queis lacerabitur, atque perculsus est. [Tiberius heard the reproaches of those of you whom are to be rent in pieces, and is struck by them] The public censure was true, else he had not felt it bitter.

Freedom of speech is ever the symptom, as well as the effect, of good government. In old Rome, all was left to the judgment and pleasure of the people; who examined the public proceedings with such discretion, and censured those who administered them with such equity and mildness, that in the space of three hundred years, not five public ministers suffered unjustly. Indeed, whenever the commons proceeded to violence, the great ones had been the aggressors.

Guilt only dreads liberty of speech, which drags it out of its lurking holes, and exposes its deformity and horror to day-light. Horatius, Valerius, Cincinnatus, and other virtuous and undesigning magistrates of the Roman commonwealth, had nothing to fear from liberty of speech. Their virtuous administration, the more it was examined, the more it brightened and gained by enquiry. When Valerius, in particular, was accused, upon some slight grounds, of affecting the diadem; he, who was the first minister of Rome, did not accuse the people for examining his conduct, but approved his innocence in a speech to them; he gave such satisfaction to them, and gained such popularity to himself, that they gave him a new name; inde cognomen factum Publicolae est; to denote that he was their favorite and their friend. Latae deinde leges. Ante omnes de provocatione, adversus magistratus ad populum, Livii lib. ii. cap. 8.

The best princes have ever encouraged and promoted freedom of speech; they knew that upright measures would defend themselves, and that all upright men would defend them. Tacitus, speaking of the reigns of some of the princes above-mentioned, says with ecstasy, Rara temporum felicitate, ubi sentire quae velis, & quae sentias dicere liceat: A blessed time, when you might think what you would, and speak what you thought!

The same was the opinion and practice of the wise and virtuous Timoleon, the deliverer of the great city of Syracuse from slavery. He being accused by Demoenetus, a popular orator, in a full assembly of the people, of several misdemeanors committed by him while he was general, gave no other answer, than that he was highly obliged to the gods for granting him a request that he had often made to them; namely, that he might live to see the Syracusians enjoy that liberty of speech which they now seemed to be masters of.

And that great commander, M. Marcellus, who won more battles than any Roman captain of his age, being accused by the Syracusians, while he was now a fourth time consul, of having done them indignities and hostile wrongs, contrary to the League, rose from his seat in the Senate, as soon as the charge against him was opened, and passing (as a private man) into the place where the accused were wont to make their defence, gave free liberty to the Syracusians to impeach him: Which, when they had done, he and they went out of the court together to attend the issue of the cause: Nor did he express the least ill-will or resentment towards these his accusers; but being acquitted, received their city into his protection. Had he been guilty, he would neither have shewn such temper nor courage.

I doubt not but old Spencer and his son, all honest men in England. They dreaded to be called traitors, because they were traitors. And I dare say, Queen Elizabeth’s Walsingham, who deserved no reproaches, feared none. Misrepresentation of public measures is easily overthrown, by representing public measures truly: When they are honest, they ought to be publicly known, that they may be publicly commended; but if they be knavish or pernicious, they ought to be publicly exposed, in order to be publicly detested.

To assert, that King James was a papist and a tyrant, was only so far hurtful to him, as it was true of him; and if the Earl of Strafford had not deserved to be impeached, he need not have feared a bill of attainder. If our directors and their confederates be not such knaves as the world thinks them, let them prove to all the world, that the world thinks wrong, and that they are guilty of none of those villainies which all the world lays to their charge. Others too, who would be thought to have no part of their guilt, must, before they are thought innocent, shew that they did all that was in their power to prevent that guilt, and to check their proceedings.

Freedom of speech is the great bulwark of liberty; they prosper and die together: And it is the terror of traitors and oppressors, and a barrier against them. It produces excellent writers, and encourages men of fine genius. Tacitus tells us, that the Roman commonwealth bred great and numerous authors, who writ with equal boldness and eloquence: But when it was enslaved, those great wits were no more. Postquam bellatum apud Actium; atque omnem potestatem ad unum conferri pacis interfuit, magna illa ingenia cessere. Tyranny had usurped the place of equality, which is the soul of liberty, and destroyed public courage. The minds of men, terrified by unjust power, degenerated into all the vileness and methods of servitude: Abject sycophancy and blind submission grew the only means of preferment, and indeed of safety; men durst not open their mouths, but to flatter.

Pliny the Younger observes, that this dread of tyranny had such effect, that the Senate, the great Roman Senate, became at last stupid and dumb: Mutam ac sedentariam assentiendi necessitatem. Hence, says he, our spirit and genius are stupefied, broken, and sunk for ever. And in one of his epistles, speaking of the works of his uncle, he makes an apology for eight of them, as not written with the same vigor which was to be found in the rest; for that these eight were written in the reign of Nero, when the spirit of writing was cramped by fear; Dubii sermonis octo scripset sub Nerone—cum omne studiorum genus paulo liberius & erectius periculosum servitus fecisset.

All ministers, therefore, who were oppressors, or intended to be oppressors, have been loud in their complaints against freedom of speech, and the licence of the press; and always restrained, or endeavored to restrain, both. In consequence of this, they have brow-beaten writers, punished them violently, and against law, and burnt their works. By all which they shewed how much truth alarmed them, and how much they were at enmity with truth.

There is a famous instance of this in Tacitus: He tells us, that Cremutius Cordus, having in his Annals praised Brutus and Cassius, gave offence to Sejanus, first minister, and to some inferior sycophants in the court of Tiberius; who, conscious of their own characters, took the praise bestowed on every worthy Roman, to be so many reproaches pointed at themselves: They therefore complained of the book to the Senate; which, being now only the machine of tyranny, condemned it to be burnt. But this did not prevent its spreading. Libros cremandos censuere patres; sed manserunt occultati & editi: [The books were burned the senate decreed; but they remained hidden and published] Being censured, it was the more sought after. “From hence,� says Tacitus, “we may wonder at the stupidity of those statesmen, who hope to extinguish, by the terror of their power, the memory of their actions; for quite otherwise, the punishment of good writers gains credit to their writings:� Nam contra, punitis ingeniis, gliscit auctoritas. [For on the contrary, the persecution of genius, fosters its influence] Nor did ever any government, who practiced impolitic severity, get any thing by it, but infamy to themselves, and renown to those who suffered under it. This also is an observation of Tacitus: Neque aliud [externi] reges, [aut] qui ea[dem] saevitiae usi sunt, nisi dedecus sibi, atque gloriam illis peperere. [No other of the external kings, or as He who gave them made ​​use of the same brutality, unless he procured infamy for themselves and the glory they won.]

Freedom of speech, therefore, being of such infinite importance to the preservation of liberty, every one who loves liberty ought to encourage freedom of speech. Hence it is that I, living in a country of liberty, and under the best prince upon earth, shall take this very favorable opportunity of serving mankind, by warning them of the hideous mischiefs that they will suffer, if ever corrupt and wicked men shall hereafter get possession of any state, and the power of betraying their master: And, in order to do this, I will shew them by what steps they will probably proceed to accomplish their traitorous ends. This may be the subject of my next.

Valerius Maximus tells us, that Lentulus Marcellinus, the Roman consul, having complained, in a popular assembly, of the overgrown power of Pompey; the whole people answered him with a shout of approbation: Upon which the consul told them, “Shout on, gentlemen, shout on, and use those bold signs of liberty while you may; for I do not know how long they will be allowed you.�

God be thanked, we Englishmen have neither lost our liberties, nor are in danger of losing them. Let us always cherish this matchless blessing, almost peculiar to ourselves; that our posterity may, many ages hence, ascribe their freedom to our zeal. The defence of liberty is a noble, a heavenly office; which can only be performed where liberty is: For, as the same Valerius Maximus observes, Quid ergo libertas sine Catone? non magis quam Cato sine libertate. [So what is liberty without Cato? no more than Cato, without freedom.]

G. I am, &c.



CATO Letters Vol 1 No 12 Of Treason: All Treasons not to be found in Statutes

Sir John TrenchardNo. 12, Saturday, January 14, 1721: Of Treason: All Treasons not to be found in Statutes. The Right of the Legislature to declare Treasons. By John Trenchard


Treason, properly so called, in Latin, Crimen laesae majestatis [The crime of treason], is in all countries the same: It is an endeavour to subvert, or to do some notable mischief to the publick; of which every man is a part, and with which he has joined himself for mutual defence, under what form soever the administration is exercised. I own, that lesser crimes aresometimes called by the same name, and subjected to the same punishment.

An attempt to destroy the chief magistrate of a commonwealth, or the general of an army in the field, or the governor of a town during a siege, are certainly treasons everywhere; because in such attempts, when they succeed, are often involved the ruin of states. They also are doubtless guilty of high treason, who, being entrusted with the wealth, security, and happiness of kingdoms, do yet knowingly pervert that trust, to the undoing of that people whom they are obliged, by undeserved rewards, as well as by all the ties of religion, justice, honour, and gratitude, to defend and protect.

’Tis the same, if any number of men, though in a lesser trust, or in no trust at all, should deliberately and knowingly destroy thousands of their fellow-subjects, and overturn the trade and publick credit of the nation, to enrich themselves and their accomplices.

These, and crimes of the like nature, are treasons from the nature of things themselves, antecedent to all laws that call them so; and will be treasons, though laws gained by subordination should call them otherwise: And every state has a right to treat those who commit them, as traitors and parricides. In truth, there are as many of these kinds of treasons, as there are different methods of conspiring against kingdoms; and the criminals, though ever so great, deserve death and confiscation; that is, they ought to be destroyed by the people whom they would destroy.

The great principal of self-preservation, which is the first and fundamental law of nature, calls for this procedure; the security of commonwealths depends upon it; the very being of government makes it necessary; and whatever is necessary to the publick safety, is just.

The fate of millions, and the being of states, must not stand and fall by the distinctions of monks, coined in colleges, or by the chicane of petty-foggers; who would bring everything within the narrow verge of their own knowledge, under their own jurisdiction and cognizance; and would determine all things by the rules of inferior judicatures, the gibberish of private practisers, and the sayings of old women, or of those who are like old women; whose brains are addled by being long jumbled and always turned round within the scanty circle of private courts, not daring to venture at a bold and free thought out of them, however self-evident; like some carriers’ horses, that are used to a track, and know not how to travel in an open road.

But questions of this kind belong ad aliud examen [the other test], and ought to be brought before an higher tribunal: The legislature are the only proper and safe judges: What is done against all, should be judged by all. Nor are their resolutions to be confined by any other rule than Quid est utile, quid honestum [What is useful and what is morally right], general justice, and the general good. Religion, virtue, common sense, and the publick peace and felicity, are the only counsel to be admitted either for the publick or the prisoners.

The conspirators against mankind ought to know, that no subterfuges, or tergiversations; no knavish subtilties, or pedantic quirks of lawyers; no evasions, skulkings behind known statutes; no combinations, or pretended commissions, shall be able to screen or protect them from publick justice. They ought to know, that there is a power in being that can follow them through all the dark labyrinths and doubling meanders; a power that can crush them to pieces, though they change into all the shapes of Proteus, to avoid the fury of Hercules: a power, confined by no limitation, but that of publick justice and the publick good; a power, that does not follow precedents, but makes them; a power, which has this for its principle, that extraordinary crimes ought not to be tried by ordinary rules, and that unprecedented villanies ought to have unprecedented punishments.

But though in all governments, this great power must exist somewhere, yet it can rarely be delegated with prudence to inferior magistrates; who, out of ambition, revenge, or faction, or for bribes and preferments, or out of fear and flattery, or in concert with the ill measures or selfish intrigues of statesmen, may pervert so dangerous a trust to the destruction of those whom it was intended to preserve.

This particularly has been the case of England: We know by what means judges were often made, and from what conduct they expected farther preferment, and from whom they looked for protection: For this reason they were, and ought to be, confined in their jurisdiction relating to treason, and the manner of trying it.

Undoubtedly every intention manifested by act to destroy the constitution and government, was treason by the common law of England. But why do I say of England, since it is, and ever was, treason in every country throughout the world? This treason equally extends to those, who would subvert either house of Parliament, or the rights and privileges of the people, as to those who attempt to destroy the person of the King, or dethrone him. And indeed, what can be more absurd, than to suppose it to be the highest crime to attempt to destroy one man, for no other reason but that he is King; and yet not to suppose it the highest crime to destroy that people for whose benefit alone he was made King, and for whose sake indeed there ever was such a thing in the world?

But though this proposition was self-evident, and must ever be assented to as soon as mentioned, yet, by the flattery of priests and servile lawyers, the salus populi [public safety], or security of the state, soon came to signify only the unbounded power and sovereignty of the prince; and it became treason to hinder one, constituted, and grandly maintained out of the people’s labour and wealth, for the publick safety, from destroying the publick safety. Our ancestors found, by lamentable experience, that unworthy men, preferred by corrupt ministers for unworthy ends, made treasons free only of the court; that the least attempt to oppose unlimited and unlawful authority, was often called treason; and that the highest treasons of all, which were those against the commonwealth, might be committed with impunity, applause, and rewards.

It was therefore high time to apply an adequate remedy to an enormous mischief, which struck at the whole state, and at the fortunes and lives of every subject in England. The statute therefore of the 25th of Edward III was enacted, which enumerates the several species or kinds of treasons, which shall continue to be esteemed treasons, and be adjudged so by the King’s justices; and are chiefly those which relate to the King’s person, his family, and dignity: These the Parliament thought they might safely trust to the examination of the King’s judges, under such limitations and regulations as the act presents.

But it is plain, from the same act, that they did not intend to confine all treasons to those recited there, because it is declared in the following words, viz.

If any other case supposed treason, not before specified, shall happen before any justices, they shall stay judgment, till the cause be shewed before the Parliament, whether it ought to be judged treason or not.

So that here is a plain declaration of the legislature (if any man can possibly think such a declaration wanting) that other crimes were treason, and ought to be punished as treason (though not by the King’s judges), besides those recited in the act; which were, as has been said, designed only to extend to treasons which were committed against our Lord the King, and his Royal Majesty, as the act expressly says. And ’tis evident, from the whole tenor of it, that it was intended purely to restrain the unlimited and exorbitant jurisdiction assumed by the King’s courts, in declaring treasons, and sacrificing by that means, whom they pleased to unlawful power.

But as to the highest and most heinous treasons of all, such as were treasons against the legislature, and against the whole body of the people, for whose safety alone there were any treasons against the King at all, seeing that their safety was, in a great measure, included in his; the Parliament reserved the judgment of every such treason to themselves: They did not alter what was treason, but the judges of it. They knew that treasons against the constitution could seldom be committed but by ministers and favourites of princes, protected by power, and sheltered by authority; and that therefore it would be absurd to trust the punishment of such potent knaves, and criminal favourites, to judges made by themselves; judges, who would neither have inclination, figure, or character, to reach crimes countenanced, and perhaps authorized, by a Richard II or Edward II.

Such crimes, therefore, were the proper objects of the awful power of a legislature; who will always be supported by the people whom they represent, when they exert themselves for the interest of that people. A power, so supported, can make the loftiest traitor quake. It can fetch corrupt ministers out of their dark recesses, and make their heads a victim to publick vengeance. Every wise and good king will lend a willing ear to their dutiful remonstrances; he will hearken to the importunate cries of his people, and readily deliver up the authors of their misery.

One great part of their care, therefore, has ever been, to call those to an account, who have abused the favour of their royal master, and endeavoured to make him little and contemptible to his people; weakening, by such means, his authority, and hazarding his person. This the people, whom they represented, thought they had a right to expect and demand from them; and this justice they have often done to their King and country.

An excellent Discourse concerning Treasons and Bills of Attainder was published soon after his Majesty’s accession to the throne, and shewed unanswerably, that our Parliaments, in almost every reign since the Conquest, claimed and exercised this right, upon extraordinary occasions; and none ever, till lately, opposed it, but the criminals who were to suffer by it, and their party: Some gentlemen now living can give the best account, why that book, and the cries of every honest man, had not their desired effect. I hope that no man will be deluded again by any practising the same arts, and for the same reasons too.

The length of this letter will not allow me to draw from all these reasonings upon treason such applications as I promised in my last, and intended in this. I shall therefore defer these applications to another, and perhaps more proper, occasion. In the mean while, I observe with pleasure the noble spirit shewn by our legislature, to punish, with an exemplary severity, the murderers of our credit, and the publick enemies of our liberty and prosperity. This revives every drooping heart, and kindles joy in every face, in spite of all our miseries. And this brings terror, trembling, and paleness upon the guilty; to see death and destruction pursuing them close, and besetting them hard on every side. They are in the circumstances and the agonies of the guilty Cain, who justly feared that every man whom he met would kill him, though there was no law then in being against murder.

T. I am, &c.


The Powers of Congress; House of Representatives and the Senate: Constitution Article I


First let me also tell you the original duties of the House and Senate. The powers of Congress are spelt out in Article One of the Constitution, Notice they spelt out the powers of Congress before they spelt out the powers of the executive branch, i.e. the President.

There are two houses of Congress, (House of Representatives and Senate) the Founding Fathers spelt out the Powers of the Congress before they spelt out the powers of the executive because they knew Congress would be closer to the will of the American people and therefore would do more to protect the peoples interests, rights and freedoms than the executive would. The executive throughout history has always tended to gather power unto themselves and disregard the rights of the people.

Notice also they spelt out the powers of the House of Representatives before they did the powers of the Senate, this they did for the very same reason and why it is called “The Peoples House” the House is the most important arm of government to the peoples interests. Wake up America!

The House of Representatives is the “People’s House” i.e. the House of Congress that was meant to represent the peoples interests, this is the reason the number of representatives fluctuates, grows or decreases due to the number of people in the districts of the states they represent.

The Senate that was originally made up of State Senators chosen by the elected body of each of the respective states they represent. Originally the people elected the senators of their state but they did not choose the two who were sent to Washington DC to represent the state. The United States Senate is made of of two senators from each of the states, these senators are supposed to represent the interests of their respective state in federal matters.

Our Founding Fathers were greatly influenced by the symbology of things, this is due to their history and the day and age in which they lived. They were also greatly influenced by the Bible which is a story within itself, I’m simply pointing it out here because there is a lot of symbology in the Bible if you understand it which they did. This is why they laid out the Constitution in the order of importance to liberty.

See also: The Powers of the Executive Branch i.e. the President: Constitution Article II

Now onto the Constitution; Article One:

Article I

Section 1

All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.

Section 2

1:  The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States, and the Electors in each State shall have the Qualifications requisite for Electors of the most numerous Branch of the State Legislature.

2:  No Person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the Age of twenty five Years, and been seven Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen.

3:  Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.2   The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct.  The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand, but each State shall have at Least one Representative; and until such enumeration shall be made, the State of New Hampshire shall be entitled to chuse three, Massachusetts eight, Rhode-Island and Providence Plantations one, Connecticut five, New-York six, New Jersey four, Pennsylvania eight, Delaware one, Maryland six, Virginia ten, North Carolina five, South Carolina five, and Georgia three.

4:  When vacancies happen in the Representation from any State, the Executive Authority thereof shall issue Writs of Election to fill such Vacancies.

5:  The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.

Section 3

1:  The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof,3  for six Years; and each Senator shall have one Vote.

2:  Immediately after they shall be assembled in Consequence of the first Election, they shall be divided as equally as may be into three Classes.  The Seats of the Senators of the first Class shall be vacated at the Expiration of the second Year, of the second Class at the Expiration of the fourth Year, and of the third Class at the Expiration of the sixth Year, so that one third may be chosen every second Year; and if Vacancies happen by Resignation, or otherwise, during the Recess of the Legislature of any State, the Executive thereof may make temporary Appointments until the next Meeting of the Legislature, which shall then fill such Vacancies.4

3:  No Person shall be a Senator who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty Years, and been nine Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State for which he shall be chosen.

4:  The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided.

5:  The Senate shall chuse their other Officers, and also a President pro tempore, in the Absence of the Vice President, or when he shall exercise the Office of President of the United States.

6:  The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments.  When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation.  When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside:  And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.

7:  Judgment in Cases of impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States:  but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.

Section 4

1:  The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of chusing Senators.

2:  The Congress shall assemble at least once in every Year, and such Meeting shall be on the first Monday in December,5  unless they shall by Law appoint a different Day.

Section 5

1:  Each House shall be the Judge of the Elections, Returns and Qualifications of its own Members, and a Majority of each shall constitute a Quorum to do Business; but a smaller Number may adjourn from day to day, and may be authorized to compel the Attendance of absent Members, in such Manner, and under such Penalties as each House may provide.

2:  Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings, punish its Members for disorderly Behaviour, and, with the Concurrence of two thirds, expel a Member.

3:  Each House shall keep a Journal of its Proceedings, and from time to time publish the same, excepting such Parts as may in their Judgment require Secrecy; and the Yeas and Nays of the Members of either House on any question shall, at the Desire of one fifth of those Present, be entered on the Journal.

4:  Neither House, during the Session of Congress, shall, without the Consent of the other, adjourn for more than three days, nor to any other Place than that in which the two Houses shall be sitting.

Section 6

1:  The Senators and Representatives shall receive a Compensation for their Services, to be ascertained by Law, and paid out of the Treasury of the United States.6   They shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place.

2:  No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of the United States, which shall have been created, or the Emoluments whereof shall have been encreased during such time; and no Person holding any Office under the United States, shall be a Member of either House during his Continuance in Office.

Section 7

1:  All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.

2:  Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of the United States; If he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his Objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the Objections at large on their Journal, and proceed to reconsider it.  If after such Reconsideration two thirds of that House shall agree to pass the Bill, it shall be sent, together with the Objections, to the other House, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that House, it shall become a Law.  But in all such Cases the Votes of both Houses shall be determined by yeas and Nays, and the Names of the Persons voting for and against the Bill shall be entered on the Journal of each House respectively.  If any Bill shall not be returned by the President within ten Days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the Same shall be a Law, in like Manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress by their Adjournment prevent its Return, in which Case it shall not be a Law.

3:  Every Order, Resolution, or Vote to which the Concurrence of the Senate and House of Representatives may be necessary (except on a question of Adjournment) shall be presented to the President of the United States; and before the Same shall take Effect, shall be approved by him, or being disapproved by him, shall be repassed by two thirds of the Senate and House of Representatives, according to the Rules and Limitations prescribed in the Case of a Bill.

Section 8

1:  The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

2:  To borrow Money on the credit of the United States;

3:  To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

4:  To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;

5:  To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;

6:  To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States;

7:  To establish Post Offices and post Roads;

8:  To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;

9:  To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;

10:  To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offences against the Law of Nations;

11:  To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

12:  To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;

13:  To provide and maintain a Navy;

14:  To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;

15:  To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

16:  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;

17:  To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings;–And

18:  To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.

Section 9

1:  The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a Tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.

2:  The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.

3:  No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.

4:  No Capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid, unless in Proportion to the Census or Enumeration herein before directed to be taken.7

5:  No Tax or Duty shall be laid on Articles exported from any State.

6:  No Preference shall be given by any Regulation of Commerce or Revenue to the Ports of one State over those of another:  nor shall Vessels bound to, or from, one State, be obliged to enter, clear, or pay Duties in another.

7:  No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time.

8:  No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States:  And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.

Section 10

1:  No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts, or grant any Title of Nobility.

2:  No State shall, without the Consent of the Congress, lay any Imposts or Duties on Imports or Exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for executing it’s inspection Laws:  and the net Produce of all Duties and Imposts, laid by any State on Imports or Exports, shall be for the Use of the Treasury of the United States; and all such Laws shall be subject to the Revision and Controul of the Congress.

3:  No State shall, without the Consent of Congress, lay any Duty of Tonnage, keep Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace, enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State, or with a foreign Power, or engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay.



His Mother Advises Secret Prayer In November, 1753, then twenty-one years of age, Washington was commissioned by Governor Dinwiddie, of Virginia, to be the bearer of dispatches to the French commander St. Pierre. He called to see his mother and explained the nature of his mission. “With her farewell kiss she bade him ‘remember that God only is our sure trust. To Him I commend you.’â€?

As he left the paternal roof, his mother’s parting charge was, “My son, neglect not the duty of secret prayer.” Never did a mother give better advice to her son, and never did a son more conscientiously follow it.

“His uniform practice from youth to hoary age, furnished, it would seem, a consistent exemplification of this duty in its double aspect of public and private prayer.”

Fort_Necessity_BattlePrayers At Fort Necessity [Age 21; 1753] The first decisive indication of his principles on this subject, with which we are acquainted, appeared during the encampment at the Great Meadows, in the year 1754. While occupying Fort Necessity it was his practice to have the troops assembled for public worship. This we learn from the following note, by the publisher of his writings: “While Washington was encamped at the Great Meadows, Mr. Fairfax wrote to him: ‘I will not doubt your having public prayers in the camp, especially when the Indian families are your guests, that they, seeing your plain manner of worship, may have their curiosity excited to be informed why we do not use the ceremonies of the French, which being well explained to their understandings, will more and more dispose them to receive our baptism, and unite in strict bonds of cordial friendship.’ It may be added that it was Washington’s custom to have prayers in the camp while he was at Fort Necessity.”

Here we are informed not only of the pious custom of the youthful commander, at the time and place mentioned, but are enabled to gather from the communication of Mr. Fairfax much that was highly favorable to the character of his young friend. Mr. Fairfax says, “I will not doubt your having public prayers in the camp.” Intimate as this gentleman was with Washington, he would scarcely have so addressed him had he not felt encouraged to do so by his known sentiments of piety, if not his own habits. Mr. Fairfax was the father-in-law of Lawrence Washington, the brother of George, and had possessed every opportunity of learning the character and conduct of the latter. Assured of his pious and serious deportment, he did not feel any hesitation in suggesting to him the expediency of the duty in question.

“It certainly was not one of the least striking pictures presented in this wild campaign—the youthful commander, presiding with calm seriousness over a motley assemblage of half-equipped soldiery, leathern-clad hunters and woodsmen, and painted savages with their wives and children, and uniting them all in solemn devotion by his own example and demeanor.”



Acknowledges An Act Of Providence

In a letter to Governor Dinwiddie, dated Great Meadows, June 10, 1754, when twenty-two years of age, we have the following striking acknowledgment of a particular providential interposition in supplying with provisions the troops recently placed under his command:

We have been six days without flour, and there is none upon the road for our relief that we know of, though I have by repeated expresses given him timely notice. We have not provisions of any sort enough in camp to serve us two days. Once before we should have been four days without provisions, if Providence had not sent a trader from the Ohio to our relief, for whose flour I was obliged to give twenty-one shillings and eight-pence per pound.

George Washington arriving at Christ Church, Easter Sunday, 1795

George Washington arriving at Christ Church, Easter Sunday, 1795

His Custom To Attend Church

That it was customary with him to frequent the house of God when in his power, appears from the record made by him of an occurrence among his soldiers, while encamped in Alexandria, Virginia, in the summer of 1754, having himself returned but lately on a recruiting expedition from the Great Meadows: “Yesterday, while we were at church, twenty-five of them collected, and were going off in the face of their officers, but were stopped and imprisoned before the plot came to its height.”

His Trust In God

In April, 1755, the newly arrived General Braddock offered him an important command. His mother opposed his going to the war. In the final discussion, the son said to his mother: “The God to whom you commended me, madam, when I set out upon a more perilous errand, defended me from all harm, and I trust he will do so now. Do not you?”

Conducts Braddock’s Funeral

General Braddock being mortally wounded in the battle of the Monongahela, July 9, 1755, died on Sunday night, July 13. He was buried in his cloak the same night in the road, to elude the search of the Indians. The chaplain having been wounded, Washington, on the testimony of an old soldier, read the funeral service over his remains, by the light of a torch. Faithful to his commander while he lived, he would not suffer him to want the customary rites of religion when dead. Though the probable pursuit of “savages threatened, yet did his humanity and sense of decency prevail, to gain for the fallen soldier the honor of Christian burial.

Letter To His Brother

He wrote to his brother, John A. Washington, July 18, 1755, following Braddock’s defeat, in which he says:

As I have heard, since my arrival at this place [Fort Cumberland], a circumstantial account of my death and dying speech, I take this early opportunity of contradicting the first, and of assuring you, that I have not as yet composed the latter. But, by the all-powerful dispensations of Providence, I have been protected beyond all human probability or expectation; for I had four bullets through my coat, and two horses shot under me, yet escaped unhurt, although death was leveling my companions on every side of me!”

The Great Spirit Protects Him—Testimony Of An Indian Chief

Fifteen years after this battle Washington and Dr. Craik, his intimate friend from his boyhood to his death, were traveling on an expedition to the western country, for the purpose of exploring wild lands. While near the junction of the Great Kanawha and Ohio Rivers a company of Indians came to them with an interpreter, at the head of whom was an aged and venerable chief. The council fire was kindled, when the chief addressed Washington through an interpreter to the following effect:

“I am a chief, and ruler over my tribes. My influence extends to the waters of the great lakes, and to the far blue mountains. I have traveled a long and weary path, that I might see the young warrior of the great battle. It was on the day when the white man’s blood mixed with the streams of our forest, that I first beheld this chief. I called to my young men and said, mark yon tall and daring warrior? He is not of the red-coat tribe—he hath an Indian’s wisdom, and his warriors fight as we do—himself is alone exposed. Quick, let your aim be certain, and he dies. Our rifles were leveled, rifles which, but for him, knew not how to miss—’twas all in vain, a power mightier far than we, shielded him from harm. He cannot die in battle. I am old, and soon shall be gathered to the great council fire of my fathers in the land of shades, but ere I go, there is something bids me speak in the voice of prophecy. Listen! The Great Spirit protects that man, and guides his destinies—he will become the chief of nations, and a people yet unborn will hail him as the founder of a mighty empire.”

Discourages Gambling In The Army In a letter to Governor Dinwiddie, from Alexandria, Virginia, February 2, 1756, regarding operations in the army, he says, “I have always, so far as was in my power, endeavored to discourage gambling in camp, and always shall while I have the honor to preside there.”

Intemperance And Profanity Discountenanced

The following letter to Governor Dinwiddie, written from Winchester, Virginia, April 18, 1756, shows his attitude toward intemperance and profanity:

It gave me infinite concern to find in yours by Governor Innes that any representations should inflame the Assembly against the Virginia regiment, or give cause to suspect the morality and good behavior of the officers. How far any of the individuals may have deserved such reflections, I will not take upon me to determine, but this I am certain of, and can call my conscience, and what, I suppose, will be still more demonstrative proof in the eyes of the world, my orders, to witness how much I have, both by threats and persuasive means, endeavored to discountenance gambling, drinking, swearing, and irregularities of every other kind; while I have, on the other hand, practised every artifice to inspire a laudable emulation in the officers for the service of their country, and to encourage the soldiers in the unerring exercise of their duty. How far I have failed in this desirable end I cannot pretend to say. But it is nevertheless a point which does, in my opinion, merit some scrutiny, before it meets with a final condemnation. Yet I will not undertake to vouch for the conduct of many of the officers, as I know there are some who have the seeds of idleness very strongly implanted in their natures; and I also know that the unhappy difference about the command which has kept me from Fort Cumberland, has consequently prevented me from enforcing the orders which I never failed to send.

However, if I continue in the service, I shall take care to act with a little more rigor than has hitherto been practised, since I find it so necessary.

Intemperance Punished

His orders for preserving discipline must be allowed to have been sufficiently rigid. The following given in 1756 is a specimen: Any commissioned officer, who stands by and sees irregularities committed, and does not endeavor to quell them, shall be immediately put under arrest. Any non-commissioned officer present, who does not interpose, shall be immediately reduced, and receive corporal punishment.

Any soldier who shall presume to quarrel or fight shall receive five hundred lashes, without the benefit of a court-martial. The offender, upon complaint made, shall have strict justice done him. Any soldier found drunk shall receive one hundred lashes, without benefit of a court-martial.30

Profanity Forbidden

In June, 1756, while at Fort Cumberland, he issued the following order: Colonel Washington has observed that the men of his regiment are very profane and reprobate. He takes this opportunity to inform them of his great displeasure at such practices, and assures them, that, if they do not leave them off, they shall be severely punished. The officers are desired, if they hear any man swear, or make use of an oath or execration, to order the offender twenty-five lashes immediately, without a court-martial. For the second offense, he will be more severely punished.

Protection Of Providence

From Winchester, Virginia, where he was stationed as commander of the troops, he writes to Governor Dinwiddie, about a year after Braddock’s defeat: With this small company of irregulars, with whom order, regularity, circumspection, and vigilance were matters of derision and contempt, we set out, and by the protection of Providence, reached Augusta Court House in seven days, without meeting the enemy; otherwise we must have fallen a sacrifice through the indiscretion of these whooping, hallooing, gentlemen soldiers.

Chaplain For Army

While embarked in the French and Indian War, as commander of the Virginia forces, he earnestly sought of Governor Dinwiddie the supply of a chaplain to his regiment. He writes from Mount Vernon, Virginia, September 23, 1756, as follows: “The want of a chaplain, I humbly conceive, reflects dishonor on the regiment, as all other officers are allowed. The gentlemen of the corps are sensible of this, and proposed to support one at their private expense. But I think it would have a more graceful appearance were he appointed as others are.”

To this the Governor replied: “I have recommended to the commissary to get a chaplain, but he cannot prevail with any person to accept of it. I shall again press it to him.”

In answer to which Washington wrote, November 9,1756: “As to a chaplain, if the government will grant a subsistence, we can readily get a person of merit to accept the place, without giving the commissary any trouble on that point.””

With this letter, of which this was part, the Governor seemed not to have been well pleased. In his reply, among other things, indicating displeasure, he says, November 24, 1756: “In regard to a chaplain, you should know that his qualifications and the Bishop’s letter of license should be produced to the commissary and myself; but this person is also nameless.”

Washington answered, Nov. 24,1756: “When I spoke of a chaplain, it was in answer to yours. I had no person in view, though many have offered; and I only said if the country would provide subsistence, we could procure a chaplain, without thinking there was offense in expression.”

Notwithstanding the importunity of Washington, no chaplain was provided by the government. His solicitude on the subject continuing at the recall of Dinwiddie, he wrote to the president of the Council from Fort Loudoun, April 17, 1758, as follows: “The last Assembly, in their Supply Bill, provided for a chaplain to our regiment. On this subject I had often without any success applied to Governor Dinwiddie. I now flatter myself, that your honor will be pleased to appoint a sober, serious man for this duty. Common decency, Sir, in a camp calls for the services of a divine, which ought not to be dispensed with, although the world should be so uncharitable as to think us void of religion, and incapable of good instructions.”

Conducts Religious Service In The Army “I have often been informed,” says the Rev. Mason L. Weems, “by Colonel B. Temple, of King William County, Virginia, who was one of his aides in the French and Indian War, that he has ‘frequently known Washington, on the Sabbath, read the Scriptures and pray with his regiment, in the absence of the chaplain;’ and also that, on sudden and unexpected visits to his marque, he has, ‘more than once, found him on his knees at his devotions.’â€?

Letter To His Fiancée In the only known letter to Mrs. Martha Custis, to whom he was engaged, written from Fort Cumberland, July 20, 1758, he recognizes an all powerful Providence:

We have begun our march for the Ohio. A courier is starting for Williamsburg, and I embrace the opportunity to send a few lines to one whose life is now inseparable from mine. Since that happy hour when we made our pledges to each other, my thoughts have been continually going to you as to another Self. That an All-powerful Providence may keep us both in safety is the prayer of your ever faithful and ever affectionate Friend.

The Christian Patriot; 2013
Source: George Washington the Christian By William Jackson Johnstone (1919)




On April 21, 22, 23, 1891, there was sold at auction in Philadelphia a remarkable collection of Washington relics owned by Lawrence Washington, Bushrod C. Washington, Thomas B. Washington, and J. R. C. Lewis. Among them was found a little manuscript book entitled Daily Sacrifice.

“This gem is all in the handwriting of George Washington, when about twenty years old, [1752] and is, without exception, the most hallowed of all his writings. It is neatly written on twentyfour pages of a little book about the size of the ordinary pocket memorandum.”

“The occasional interlineations and emendations indicate that it was prepared for his own use.”

Whether Washington composed the prayers himself or copied them from some source as yet unknown has not been determined; but they are a revelation of that striking character which has been the wonder of the world. Professor S. F. Upham, professor of practical theology in Drew Theological Seminary, wrote: “The ‘Daily Prayers’ of George Washington abound in earnest thought, expressed in simple, beautiful, fervent and evangelical language. They reveal to us the real life of the great patriot, and attest his piety. None can read those petitions, which bore his desires to God, and often brought answers of peace, without having a grander conception of Washington’s character.”

“The prayers are characterized by a deep consciousness of sin and by a need of forgiveness, and by a recognition of dependence upon the merits and mercies of our Lord. They contain fervent applications for family, friends, and rulers in church and state.” The prayers are as follows (by special permission of Rev. Dr. W. Herbert Burk):

(1) Sunday Morning

Almighty God, and most merciful father, who didst command the children of Israel to offer a daily sacrifice to thee, that thereby they might glorify and praise thee for thy protection both night and day; receive, O Lord, my morning sacrifice which I now offer up to thee; I yield thee humble and hearty thanks that thou has preserved me from the dangers of the night past, and brought me to the light of this day, and the comforts thereof, a day which is consecrated to thine own service and for thine own honor. Let my heart, therefore, Gracious God, be so affected with the glory and majesty of it, that I may not do mine own works, but wait on thee, and discharge those weighty duties thou requirest of me; and since thou art a God of pure eyes, and wilt be sanctified in all who draw near unto thee, who doest not regard the sacrifice of fools, nor hear sinners who tread in thy courts, pardon, I beseech thee, my sins, remove them from thy presence, as far as the east is from the west, and accept of me for the merits of thy son Jesus Christ, that when I come into thy temple, and compass thine altar, my prayers may come before thee as incense; and as thou wouldst hear me calling upon thee in my prayers, so give me grace to hear thee calling on me in thy word, that it may be wisdom, righteousness, reconciliation and peace to the saving of my soul in the day of the Lord Jesus. Grant that I may hear it with reverence, receive it with meekness, mingle it with faith, and that it may accomplish in me, Gracious God, the good work for which thou has sent it. Bless my family, kindred, friends and country, be our God & guide this day and for ever for his sake, who lay down in the Grave and arose again for us, Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

(2) Sunday Evening

O most Glorious God, in Jesus Christ my merciful and loving father, I acknowledge and confess my guilt, in the weak and imperfect performance of the duties of this day. I have called on thee for pardon and forgiveness of sins, but so coldly and carelessly, that my prayers are become my sin and stand in need of pardon. I have heard thy holy word, but with such deadness of spirit that I have been an unprofitable and forgetful hearer, so that, O Lord, tho’ I have done thy work, yet it hath been so negligently that I may rather expect a curse than a blessing from thee. But, O God, who art rich in mercy and plenteous in redemption, mark not, I beseech thee, what I have done amiss; remember that I am but dust, and remit my transgressions, negligences & ignorances, and cover them all with the absolute obedience of thy dear Son, that those sacrifices which I have offered may be accepted by thee, in and for the sacrifice of Jesus Christ offered upon the cross for me; for his sake, ease me of the burden of my sins, and give me grace that by the call of the Gospel I may rise from the slumber of sin into the newness of life. Let me live according to those holy rules which thou hast this day prescribed in thy holy word; make me to know what is acceptable in thy sight, and therein to delight, open the eyes of my understanding, and help me thoroughly to examine myself concerning my knowledge, faith and repentance, increase my faith, and direct me to the true object Jesus Christ the way, the truth and the life, bless, O Lord, all the people of this land, from the highest to the lowest, particularly those whom thou hast appointed to rule over us in church & state, continue thy goodness to me this night. These weak petitions I humbly implore thee to hear accept and ans. for the sake of thy Dear Son Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

(3) Monday Morning

O eternal and everlasting God, I presume to present myself this morning before thy Divine majesty, beseeching thee to accept of my humble and hearty thanks, that it hath pleased thy great goodness to keep and preserve me the night past from all the dangers poor mortals are subject to, and has given me sweet and pleasant sleep, whereby I find my body refreshed and comforted for performing the duties of this day, in which I beseech thee to defend me from all perils of body and soul. Direct my thoughts, words and work, wash away my sins in the immaculate blood of the lamb, and purge my heart by thy holy spirit, from the dross of my natural corruption, that I may with more freedom of mind and liberty of will serve thee, the ever lasting God, in righteousness and holiness this day, and all the days of my life. Increase my faith in the sweet promises of the gospel; give me repentance from dead works; pardon my wanderings, & direct my thoughts unto thyself, the God of my salvation; teach me how to live in thy fear, labor in thy service, and ever to run in the ways of thy commandments; make me always watchful over my heart, that neither the terrors of conscience, the loathing of holy duties, the love of sin, nor an unwillingness to depart this life, may cast me into a spiritual slumber, but daily frame me more & more into the likeness of thy son Jesus Christ, that living in thy fear, and dying in thy favor, I may in thy appointed time attain the resurrection of the just unto eternal life bless my family, friends & kindred unite us all in praising & glorifying thee in all our works begun, continued, and ended, when we shall come to make our last account before thee blessed saviour, who hath taught us thus to pray, our Father, &c.

(4) Monday Evening

Most Gracious Lord God, from whom proceedeth every good and perfect gift, I offer to thy divine majesty my unfeigned praise & thanksgiving for all thy mercies towards me. Thou mad’st me at first and hast ever since sustained the work of thy own hand; thou gav’st thy Son to die for me; and hast given me assurance of salvation, upon my repentance and sincerely endeavoring to conform my life to his holy precepts and example. Thou art pleased to lengthen out to me the time of repentance and to move me to it by thy spirit and by thy word, by thy mercies, and by thy judgments; out of a deepness of thy mercies, and my own unworthiness, I do appear before thee at this time; I have sinned and done very wickedly, be merciful to me, O God, and pardon me for Jesus Christ sake; instruct me in the particulars of my duty, and suffer me not to be tempted above what thou givest me strength to bear. Take care, I pray thee of my affairs and more and more direct me in thy truth, defend me from my enemies, especially my spiritual ones. Suffer me not to be drawn from thee, by the blandishments of the world, carnal desires, the cunning of the devil, or deceitfulness of sin. work in me thy good will and pleasure, and discharge my mind from all things that are displeasing to thee, of all ill will and discontent, wrath and bitterness, pride & vain conceit of myself, and render me charitable, pure, holy, patient and heavenly minded, be with me at the hour of death; dispose me for it, and deliver me from the slavish fear of it, and make me willing and fit to die whenever thou shalt call me hence. Bless our rulers in church and state, bless O Lord the whole race of mankind, and let the world be filled with the knowledge of Thee and thy son Jesus Christ. Pity the sick, the poor, the weak, the needy, the widows and fatherless, and all that morn or are broken in heart, and be merciful to them according to their several necessities, bless my friends and grant me grace to forgive my enemies as heartily as I desire forgiveness of Thee my heavenly Father. I beseech thee to defend me this night from all evil, and do more for me than I can think or ask, for Jesus Christ sake, in whose most holy name & words, I continue to pray, Our Father, &c.

(5) Tuesday Morning

O Lord our God, most mighty and merciful father, I thine unworthy creature and servant, do once more approach thy presence. Though not worthy to appear before thee, because of my natural corruptions, and the many sins and transgressions which I have committed against thy divine majesty; yet I beseech thee, for the sake of him in whom thou art well pleased, the Lord Jesus Christ, to admit me to render thee deserved thanks and praises for thy manifold mercies extended toward me, for the quiet rest & repose of the past night, for food, raiment, health, peace, liberty, and the hopes of a better life through the merits of thy dear son’s bitter passion, and O kind father continue thy mercy and favor to me this day, and ever hereafter; prosper all my lawful undertakings; let me have all my directions from thy holy spirit, and success from thy bountiful hand. Let the bright beams of thy light so shine into my heart, and enlighten my mind in understanding thy blessed word, that I may be enabled to perform thy will in all things, and effectually resist all temptations of the world, the flesh and the devil, preserve and defend our rulers in church & state, bless the people of this land, be a father to the fatherless, a comforter to the comfortless, a deliverer to the captives, and a physician to the sick, let thy blessings be upon our friends, kindred and families. Be our guide this day and forever through J. C. in whose blessed form of prayer I conclude my weak petitions —Our Father, &c.

(6) Tuesday Evening

Most gracious God and heavenly father, we cannot cease, but must cry unto thee for mercy, because my sins cry against me for justice. How shall I address myself unto thee, I must with the publican stand and admire at thy great goodness, tender mercy, and long suffering towards me, in that thou hast kept me the past day from being consumed and brought to nought. O Lord, what is man, or the son of man, that thou regardest him; the more days pass over my head, the more sins and iniquities I heap up against thee. If I should cast up the account of my good deeds done this day, how few and small would they be; but if I should reckon my miscarriages, surely they would be many and great. O, blessed Father, let thy son’s blood wash me from all impurities, and cleanse me from the stains of sin that are upon me. Give me grace to lay hold upon his merits; that they may be my reconciliation and atonement unto thee,—That I may know my sins are forgiven by his death & passion, embrace me in the arms of thy mercy; vouchsafe to receive me unto the bosom of thy love, shadow me with thy wings, that I may safely rest under thy protection this night; and so into thy hands I commend myself, both soul and body, in the name of thy son, J. C, beseeching Thee, when this life shall end, I may take my everlasting rest with thee in thy heavenly kingdom, bless all in authority over us, be merciful to all those afflicted with thy cross or calamity, bless all my friends, forgive my enemies and accept my thanksgiving this evening for all the mercies and favors afforded me; hear and graciously answer these my requests, and whatever else thou see’st needful grant us, for the sake of Jesus Christ in whose blessed name and words I continue to pray, Our Father, &c.

(7) A Prayer For Wednesday Morning

Almighty and eternal Lord God, the great creator of heaven & earth, and the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; look down from heaven, in pity and compassion upon me thy servant, who humbly prostrate myself before thee, sensible of thy mercy and my own misery; there is an infinite distance between thy glorious majesty and me, thy poor creature, the work of thy hand, between thy infinite power, and my weakness, thy wisdom, and my folly, thy eternal Being, and my mortal frame, but, O Lord, I have set myself at a greater distance from thee by my sin and wickedness, and humbly acknowledge the corruption of my nature and the many rebellions of my life. I have sinned against heaven and before thee, in thought, word & deed; I have contemned thy majesty and holy laws. I have likewise sinned by omitting what I ought to have done, and committing what I ought not. I have rebelled against light, despised thy mercies and judgments, and broken my vows and promises; I have neglected the means of Grace, and opportunities of becoming better; my iniquities are multiplied, and my sins are very great. I confess them, O Lord, with shame and sorrow, detestation and loathing, and desire to be vile in my own eyes, as I have rendered myself vile in thine. I humbly beseech thee to be merciful to me in the free pardon of my sins, for the sake of thy dear Son, my only saviour, J. C, who came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance; be pleased to renew my nature and write thy laws upon my heart, and help me to live, righteously, soberly and godly in this evil world; make me humble, meek, patient and contented, and work in me the grace of thy holy spirit, prepare me for death and judgment, and let the thoughts thereof awaken me to a greater care and study to approve myself unto thee in well doing, bless our rulers in church & state. Help all in affliction or adversity—give them patience and a sanctified use of their affliction, and in thy good time deliverance from them; forgive my enemies, take me unto thy protection this day, keep me in perfect peace, which I ask in the name & for the sake of Jesus. Amen.

(8) Wednesday Evening

Holy and eternal Lord God who art the King of heaven, and the watchman of Israel, that never slumberest or sleepest, what shall we render unto thee for all thy benefits; because thou hast inclined thine ears unto me, therefore will I call on thee as long as I live, from the rising of the sun to the going down of the same let thy name be praised, among the infinite riches of thy mercy towards me, I desire to render thanks & praise for thy merciful preservation of me this day, as well as all the days of my life; and for the many other blessings & mercies spiritual & temporal which thou hast bestowed on me, contrary to my deserving. All these thy mercies call on me to be thankful and my infirmities & wants call for a continuance of thy tender mercies; cleanse my soul, O Lord, I beseech thee, from whatever is offensive to thee, and hurtful to me, and give me what is convenient for me. watch over me this night, and give me comfortable and sweet sleep to fit me for the service of the day following. Let my soul watch for the coming of the Lord Jesus; let my bed put me in mind of my grave, and my rising from there of my last resurrection; O heavenly Father, so frame this heart of mine, that I may ever delight to live according to thy will and command, in holiness and righteousness before thee all the days of my life. Let me remember, O Lord, the time will come when the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall arise and stand before the judgment seat, and give an account of whatever they have done in the body, and let me so prepare my soul, that I may do it with joy and not with grief, bless the rulers and people of this and forget not those who are under any affliction or oppression. Let thy favor be extended to all my relations friends and all others who I ought to remember in my prayer and hear me I beseech thee for the sake of my dear redeemer in whose most holy words, I farther pray, Our Father, &c.

(9) Thursday Morning

Most gracious Lord God, whose dwelling is in the highest heavens, and yet beholdest the lowly and humble upon earth, I blush and am ashamed to lift up my eyes to thy dwelling place, because I have sinned against thee; look down, I beseech thee upon me thy unworthy servant who prostrate myself at the footstool of thy mercy, confessing my own guiltiness, and begging pardon for my sins; what couldst thou have done Lord more for me, or what could I have done more against thee? Thou didst send me thy Son to take our nature upon

“Note: The manuscript ended at this place, the close of a page. Whether the other pages were lost or the prayers were never completed, has not been determined.”

The Christian Patriot; 2013
Source: George Washington the Christian By William Jackson Johnstone (1919)

RELIGIOUS FOUNDATION: Christian Ancestry of George Washington

The ChristianPatriot2Christian Ancestry of George Washington

George Washington descended from a long line of excellent churchmen. His great-great-grandfather was the Rev. Lawrence Washington, a clergyman in the Church of England. His great-grandfather, John Washington, “a man of military talent and high in the government,” came to America in 1657, settling in Virginia. He founded a parish which was named for him— “The parish of Washington.” “He was also a sincerely pious man.” In his will, he left a gift to the church, of “a tablet with the Ten Commandments,” and recorded his faith in this manner: “being heartily sorry from the bottome of my hart for my sins past, most humbly desireing forgiveness of the same from the Almighty god (my saviour) and redeimer, in whom and by the meritts of Jesus Christ, I trust and believe assuredly to be saved, and to have full remission and forgiveness of all my sins.”

His grandfather, also named Lawrence Washington, similarly expresses his faith in his will. His father, Augustine Washington, was active in parish affairs, and became a vestryman in Truro Parish, Virginia, November 18, 1735, when his son George was three years old.

On the mother’s side the line of churchmen is equally strong. Grandfather Ball was a vestryman, and Great-Grandfather Warner left his slender but excellent record by presenting to the parish church a set of silver for the holy communion. “The family of Balls was very active in promoting good things.” Washington’s uncle Joseph, in 1729, took the lead in a movement to educate young men for the ministry of the church. Mary Ball Washington (George’s mother), says Henry Cabot Lodge, “was an imperious woman, of strong will, ruling her kingdom alone. Above all she was very dignified, very silent, and very sober-minded. That she was affectionate and loving cannot be doubted, for she retained to the last a profound hold upon the reverential devotion of her son.”

If Washington’s military character was developed out of materials which came to him by inheritance from both sides of his family, so too was his religious character. That love of the church which we have seen as a distinguishing mark in his family became a strong inheritance which his own will and intelligence did not set aside.

Church Membership The parents of Washington were members of the Church of England, which was almost the only denomination of Christians then known in Virginia.

His Baptism The birth record of Washington is found in an old family Bible of quarto form, dilapidated by use and age, and covered with Virginia striped cloth, which record is in the handwriting of the patriot’s father, in these words:

George William, son to Augustine Washington, and Mary, his wife, was born the eleventh day of February, 1731-2, about ten in the morning, and was baptized the 3rd April following, Mr. Bromley Whiting, and Captain Christopher Brooks godfathers, and Mrs. Mildred Gregory godmother.

According to the present style of reckoning, the birthday was February 22, and the baptismal day April 14.

His Father

There are many stories of Washington’s boyhood which show that his father took great pains to teach George to be unselfish, inspire him with a love of truth, and teach him to know and worship God.

When George was eleven years old, his father died. Some months later he was sent to Westmoreland to live with his half-brother, Augustine, who occupied the family seat in that county. What the religious advantages were, which awaited him in his new situation, we have not the means to ascertain. There is no doubt that he enjoyed the privilege of public worship at the parish church, known then and now as Pope’s Creek Church. Here his attendance was probably habitual, as it was an age in which everybody in that region frequented the house of God whenever service was performed.

GWPrayerReligious Teaching By His Mother

In addition to instruction in the Bible and Prayer Book, which were her daily companions, it was Mrs. Washington’s custom to read some helpful books to her children at home, and in this way they received much valuable instruction. Among the volumes which she used for this purpose was one entitled Contemplations: Moral and Divine, by Sir Matthew Hale—an old, well-worn copy, which still bears on its title-page the name of its owner, “Mary Washington.” Those who are familiar with the character of Washington will be struck, on reading these “Contemplations,” with the remarkable fact that the instructions contained in them are most admirably calculated to implant and foster such principles as he is known to have possessed.

The volume was found in the library at Mount Vernon, after Washington’s death, and it appears to have been used by him through life. There are many pencil marks in it noting choice, passages.

“From that volume the mother of Washington undoubtedly drew, as from a living well of sweet water, many of the maxims which she instilled into the mind of her first-born.”

“Let those who wish to know the moral foundation of his character consult its pages.”

Washington’s Rules

In 1745, thirteen years old, Washington copied many things in a little book of thirty folio pages. One part was headed, “Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation.” There were one hundred and ten of these maxims. “Scarcely one rule is there that does not involve self-restraint, modesty, habitual consideration of others, and, to a large extent, living for others.” The last three rules are as follows:

108th. When you speak of God or his Attributes, let it be Seriously & [with words of] Reverence, Honor & Obey your Natural Parents altho they be poor 109th. Let your Recreations be Manful not Sinful 110th. Labor to keep alive in your Breast that little Spark of Celestial fire called Conscience.

Poem On “christmas Day” When Washington was thirteen years of age he copied some verses on “Christmas Day,” beginning,

“Assist me, Muse divine, to sing the Morn,
On Which the Saviour of Mankind was born.”

Some think that he composed poems himself, but it is more likely that he copied them from an unknown source. It shows what manner of Christian training he had received at home. He had absorbed “the spirit of the Day and the facts of the faith, as well as the rule and model of Christian life.”

Godfather In 1747, at the age of fifteen years, young Washington was godfather to a child in baptism. In 1748, at sixteen, he was godfather to his niece, Frances Lewis. In 1751, at nineteen, to his nephew, Fielding Lewis, his sister’s first child, and his mother was godmother. In 1760, at twenty-eight, he again became sponsor for another nephew, Charles Lewis.

Goes To Mount Vernon In the summer of 1746, (Age 14) he finds his way to the home of his brother Lawrence, at Mount Vernon. From then until March, 1748, “George, it is believed, resided at Mount Vernon, and with his mother at her abode opposite to Fredericksburg. In that town he went to school, and as Mrs. Washington was connected with the church there, her son no doubt shared, under her own eye, the benefits of divine worship, and such religious instruction as mothers in that day were eminently accustomed to give their children. It was the habit to teach the young the first principles of religion according to the formularies of the church, to inculcate the fear of God, and strict observance of the moral virtues, such as truth, justice, charity, humility, modesty, temperance, chastity, and industry.”

Trip To The West Indies

In 1751 (Age 19) Lawrence Washington, on the advice of his physicians, decided to pass a winter in the West Indies, taking with him his favorite brother George as a companion. George kept a journal of this trip. They arrived on Saturday, November 3. The second Sunday we find this entry in his diary, which shows his habit of church attendance:

“Sunday, 11th—Dressed in order for Church but got to town too late. Dined at Major Clarke’s with ye SeG. Went to Evening Service and return’d to our lodgings.”

Before the next Sunday he was stricken with smallpox. A few days after his recovery he sailed for home.

The Christian Patriot; 2013
Source: George Washington the Christian By William Jackson Johnstone (1919)




(1) Reverend Mason L. Weems Account In the winter of 1777-78, while Washington, with the American army, was encamped at Valley Forge, amidst all the perplexities and troubles and sufferings, the Commander-in-chief sought for direction and comfort from God. He was frequently observed to visit a secluded grove. One day a Tory Quaker by the name of Isaac Potts “had occasion to pass through the woods near headquarters. Treading in his way along the venerable grove, suddenly he heard the sound of a human voice, which, as he advanced, increased in his ear; and at length became like the voice of one speaking much in earnest. As he approached the spot with a cautious step, whom should he behold, in a dark natural bower of ancient oaks, but the Commander-in-chief of the American armies on his knees at prayer! Motionless with surprise, Friend Potts continued on the place till the general, having ended his devotions, arose, and, with a countenance of angelic serenity, retired to headquarters.

Friend Potts then went home, and on entering his parlor called out to his wife, “Sarah! my dear Sarah! All’s well! all’s well! George Washington will yet prevail!â€?

“What’s the matter, Isaac?’^ replied she; “thee seems moved.”

“Well, if I seem moved, ’tis no more than what I really am. I have this day seen what I never expected. Thee knows that I always thought that the sword and the gospel were utterly inconsistent; and that no man could be a soldier and a Christian at the same time. But George Washington has this day convinced me of my mistake.”

He then related what he had seen, and concluded with this prophetical remark! “If George Washington be not a man of God, I am greatly deceived — and still more shall I be deceived, if God do not, through him, work out a great salvation for America.”

(2) Benson J. Lossing’s Account: Isaac Potts, at whose house Washington was quartered, relates that one day, while the Americans were encamped at Valley Forge, he strolled up the creek, when, not far from his den, he heard a solemn voice. He walked quietly in the direction of it, and saw Washington’s horse tied to a sapling. In a thicket near by was the beloved chief upon his knees in prayer, his cheeks suffused with tears. Like Moses at the bush, Isaac felt the he was upon holy ground, and withdrew unobserved. He was much agitated, and, on entering the room where his wife was, he burst into tears. On her inquiring the cause, he informed her of what he had seen, and added, “If there is anyone on this earth whom the Lord will listen to, it is George Washington; and I feel a presentiment that under such a commander there can be no doubt of our eventually establishing our independence, and that God in his providence has willed it so.â€?

(3) Testimony of Devault Beaver: Extract of a letter from a Baptist minister to the editor of the (Boston) Christian Watchman, dated Baltimore, January I3, 1832:

“The meetinghouse (which is built of stone) belonging to the church just alluded to is in sight of the spot on which the American army, under the command of General Washington, was encamped during a most severe winter. This, you know, was then called ‘Valley Forge’ It is affecting to hear the old people narrate the sufferings of the army, when the soldiers were frequently tracked by the blood from the sore and bare feet, lacerated by the rough and frozen roads over which they were obliged to pass.

“You will recollect that a most interesting incident, in relation to the life of the great American commander-in-chief, has been related as follows: That while stationed here with the army he was frequently observed to visit a secluded grove. This excited the curiosity of a Mr. Potts, of the denomination of ‘Friends’ who watched his movements at one of these seasons of retirement, till he perceived that he was on his knees and engaged in prayer. Mr. Potts then returned, and said to his family, ‘Our cause is lost’ (he was with the Tories), assigning his reasons for this opinion. There is a man by the name of Devault Beaver, now living on this spot (and is eighty years of age), who says he has this statement from Mr. Potts and his family.

“I had before heard this interesting anecdote in the life of our venerated Washington, but had some misgivings about it, all of which are now fully removed.�

(4) Testimony of Doctor Snowden: The following note was written to the Rev. T. W. J. Wylie, D.D., pastor of the First Reformed Presbyterian Church, of Philadelphia, February 28, 1862:

My Dear Sir — Referring to your request, I have to say that I cannot lay my hands at present upon my father’s papers. I recollect that among his manuscript “Reminiscences,” was a statement of his interview with Mr. Potts, a Friend, near Valley Forge, who pointed out to him the spot where he saw General Washington at prayer in the winter of 1777. This event induced Friend Potts to become a Whig; and he told his wife Betty, that the cause of America was a good cause, and would prevail, and that they must now support it. Mr. Weems, in his “Life of Washington,” mentions this incident a little differently; but my father had it from Mr. Potts personally, and the statement herein made may therefore be relied on as accurate. I am, with great regard,

Yours truly,
James Ross Snowden.

Dr. Wylie says, “We have heard the incident just related from the lips of the late Dr. N. R. Snowden, who was informed of it by the person himself.”

    (5) General Knox A Witness It may be added that besides the individual named above as having witnessed the private devotions of General Washington at Valley Forge, it is known that General Knox also was an accidental witness of the same, and was fully apprised that prayer was the object of the Commander’s frequent visits to the grove. This officer was especially devoted to the person of the Commander-in-chief, and had very free and familiar access to him, which may in some measure account for his particular knowledge of his habits.

That an adjacent wood should have been selected as his private oratory, while regularly encamped for the winter, may excite the inquiry of some. The cause may possibly be found in the fact that, in common with the officers and soldiers of the army, he lodged during that winter in a log hut, which, from the presence of Mrs. Washington, and perhaps other inmates, and the fewness of the apartments, did not admit of that privacy proper for such a duty.

    (6) Independence Born Of Prayer “Few scenes have had so much moral grandeur in them as this. Repeated disaster and defeat had disappointed the army and the nation. Suffering, to an extreme degree, was in the camp, and thousands of brave men were without the necessities of life. The independence of the nation was in jeopardy. Attempts were made to stab the reputation of the commander, and to degrade him from office. Provision for the army was to be made, murmurs and discontents suppressed, calumny to be met, plans formed for a future campaign, the nation to be inspirited and aroused; an active enemy was in the neighborhood, flushed with recent victory, and preparing to achieve new triumphs; and in these circumstances the Father of his Country went alone and sought strength and guidance from the God of armies and light. The ear of Heaven was propitious to his prayer; and who can tell how much of the subsequent brilliant success of the American armies was in answer to the prayers of the American general at Valley Forge? To latest times it will and should be a subject of the deepest interest that the independence of our country was laid, not only in valor and patriotism and wisdom, but in prayer. The example of Washington will rebuke the warrior or the statesman who never supplicates the blessing of God on his country. It will be encouragement for him who prays for its welfare and its deliverance from danger.”

    “Example Of Christian Charity” While encamped at Valley Forge one day a Tory who was well known in the neighborhood was captured and brought into camp. His name was Michael Wittman, and he was accused of having carried aid and information to the British in Philadelphia. He was taken to West Chester and there tried by court-martial. It was proved that he was a very dangerous man and that he had more than once attempted to do great harm to the American army. He was pronounced guilty of being a spy and sentenced to be hanged.

On the evening of the day before that set for the execution, a strange old man appeared at Valley Forge. He was a small man with long, snow-white hair falling over his shoulders. His face, although full of kindliness, was sad-looking and thoughtful; his eyes, which were bright and sharp, were upon the ground and lifted only when he was speaking. . . .

His name was announced. “Peter Miller?” said Washington. “Certainly, Show him in at once.”

“General Washington, I have come to ask a great favor of you,” he said, in his usual kindly tones.

“I shall be glad to grant you almost anything,” said Washington, “for we surely are indebted to you for many favors. Tell me what it is.”

“I hear,” said Peter, “that Michael Wittman has been found guilty of treason and that he is to be hanged at Turk’s Head to-morrow. I have come to ask you to pardon him.”

Washington started back, and a cloud came over his face. “That is impossible,” he said. “Wittman is a bad man. He has done all in his power to betray us. He has even offered to join the British and aid in destroying us. In these times we dare not be lenient with traitors; and for that reason I cannot pardon your friend.”

“Friend!” cried Peter. “Why, he is no friend of mine. He is my bitterest enemy. He has persecuted me for years. He has even beaten me and spit in my face, knowing full well that I would not strike back. Michael Wittman is no friend of mine.”

Washington was puzzled. “And still you wish me to pardon him?” he asked.

“I do,” answered Peter. “I ask it of you as a great personal favor.”

“Tell me,” said Washington, with hesitating voice, “why is it that you thus ask the pardon of your worst enemy?”

“I ask it because Jesus did as much for me,” was the old man’s brief answer.

Washington turned away and went into another room. Soon he returned with a paper on which was written the pardon of Michael Wittman.

“My dear friend,” he said, as he placed it in the old man’s hands, “I thank you for this example of Christian charity.”

    Acknowledges Receipt Of Sermon: On March 13, 1778, he writes from Valley Forge to the Reverend Israel Evans, acknowledging the receipt of his sermon, as follows:

Your favor of the 17th ultimo, enclosing the Discourse which you delivered on the 18th of December, the day set apart for a general thanksgiving, never came to my hands till yesterday. I have read this performance with equal attention and pleasure; and at the same time that I admire and feel the force of your reasoning which you have displayed through the whole, it is more especially incumbent upon me to thank you for the honorable but partial mention you have made of my character, and to assure you that it will ever be the first wish of my heart to aid your pious endeavors to inculcate a due sense of the dependence we ought to place in the all-wise and powerful Being, on whom alone our success depends.

    Fasting: An order issued at Headquarters, Valley Forge, April 12, 1778, includes the following directions for a day of fasting and prayer:

The Honorable the Congress having thought proper to recommend to the United States of America to set apart Wednesday, the 22nd inst., to be observed as a day of Pasting, Humiliation and Prayer, that at one time, and with one voice, the righteous dispensations of Providence may be acknowledged, and His goodness and mercy towards our arms supplicated and implored:

The General directs that the day shall be most religiously observed in the Army; that no work shall be done thereon, and that the several chaplains do prepare discourses suitable to the occasion.

The ChristianPatriot2

Christian Above Patriot:The following order was issued at Headquarters, Valley Forge, May 2, 1778:

The Commander-in-chief directs that Divine service be performed every Sunday at 11 o’clock, in each Brigade which has a Chaplain. Those Brigades which have none will attend the places of worship nearest to them.—It is expected that officers of all ranks will, by their attendance, set an example for their men. While we are duly performing the duty of good soldiers we certainly ought not to be inattentive to the higher duties of religion. To the distinguished character of a Patriot it should be our highest glory to add the more distinguished character of a Christian.

The signal instances of Providential goodness which we have experienced, and which have almost crowned our arms with complete success, demand from us, in a peculiar manner, the warmest returns of gratitude and piety to the Supreme Author of all Good!”

Thanksgiving Ordered: An order issued at Valley Forge, May 5,1778, begins as follows:

It having pleased the Almighty Ruler of the Universe propitiously to defend the cause of the United American States, and finally by raising us up a powerful friend among the Princes of the earth, to establish our Liberty and Independence upon a lasting foundation; it becomes us to set apart a day for gratefully acknowledging the Divine Goodness, and celebrating the event, which we owe to His benign interposition. The several brigades are to be assembled at nine o’clock to-morrow morning, when their Chaplains will communicate the intelligence contained in the Postscript of the Gazette of 2nd inst., and offer up a thanksgiving, and deliver a discourse suitable to the occasion.

“Washington, with his lady, and suite, Lord Stirling and his lady, with other general officers and ladies, attended the religious services of the Jersey brigade, when the Rev. Mr. Hunter delivered a discourse.”

    Recognizes Protection Of Providence: In a letter to Landon Carter, written from Valley Forge, May 30, 1778 he says:

“My friends, therefore, may believe me sincere in my professions of attachment to them, whilst Providence has a just claim to my humble and grateful thanks for its protection and direction of me through the many difficult and intricate scenes which this contest has produced; and for its constant interposition in our behalf, when the clouds were heaviest and seemed ready to burst upon us.

To paint the distresses and perilous situation of this army in the course of last winter, for want of clothes, provisions, and almost every other necessary essential to the well-being, I may say existence, of an army, would require more time and an abler pen than mine; nor, since our prospects have so miraculously brightened, shall I attempt it, or even bear it in remembrance, further than as a memento of what is due to the great Author of all the care and good that have been extended in relieving us in difficulties and distresses.�

Source: George Washington the Christian By William Jackson Johnstone (1919)

A WARNING TO AMERICANS by John Dickinson 1732-1808

[The Political Writings of John Dickinson, Esq. 1804.]
Born In Maryland, 1732. Died at Wilmington, Del., 1808.

THOUGH I always reflect with a high pleasure on the integrity and understanding of my countrymen, which, joined with a pure and humble devotion to the great and gracious Author of every blessing they enjoy, will, I hope, insure to them and their posterity all temporal and eternal happiness; yet when I consider that in every age and country there have been bad men, my heart at this threatening period is so full of apprehension as not to permit me to believe, but that there may be some on this continent against whom you ought to be upon your guard . Men, who either hold, or expect to hold certain advantages by setting examples of servility to their countrymen. Men, who trained to the employment, or self-taught by a natural versatility of genius serve as decoys for drawing the innocent and unwary into snares. It is not to be doubted but that such men will diligently bestir themselves on this and every like occasion to spread the infection of their meanness as far as they can. On the plans they have adopted, this is their course. This is the method to recommend themselves to their patrons. They act consistently in a bad cause. They run well in a mean race.

The freedom of a people consists in being governed by laws, 
in which no alteration can be made, without their Consent 
~ John Dickinson

From them we shall learn how pleasant and profitable a thing it is to be for our submissive behavior well spoken of at St James’s or St Stephen’s; at Guildhall or the Royal Exchange. Specious fallacies will be dressed up with all the arts of delusion to persuade one colony to distinguish herself from another by unbecoming condescensions, which will serve the ambitious purposes of great men at home, and therefore will be thought by them to entitle their assistants in obtaining them to considerable rewards.

Our fears will be excited . Our hopes will be awakened. It will be insinuated to us, with a plausible affectation of wisdom and concern, how prudent it is to please the powerful—how dangerous to provoke them—and then comes in the perpetual incantation that freezes up every generous purpose of the soul in cold, inactive expectation—”that if there is any request to be made, compliance will obtain a favorable attention.”

Our vigilance and our union are success and safety. Our negligence and our division are distress and death They are worse—they are shame and slavery. Let us equally shun the benumbing stillness of overweening sloth, and the feverish activity of that ill-informed zeal which busies itself in maintaining little, mean and narrow opinions. Let us, with a truly wise generosity and charity, banish and discourage all illiberal distinctions which may arise from differences in situation, forms of government, or modes of religion. Let us consider ourselves as men —freemen—Christian freemen—separated from the rest of the world and firmly bound together by the same rights, interests and dangers. Let these keep our attention inflexibly fixed on the great objects which we must continually regard in order to preserve those rights, to promote those interests, and to avert those dangers.

Let these truths be indelibly impressed on our minds—that we cannot be happy without being free—that we cannot be free without being secure in our property—that we cannot be secure in our property, if, without our consent others may, as by right, take it away—that taxes imposed on us by parliament do thus take it away—that duties laid for the sole purpose of raising money are taxes—that attempts to lay such duties should be instantly and firmly opposed—that this opposition can never be effectual unless it is the united effort of these provinces—that therefore benevolence of temper towards each other and unanimity of counsels are essential to the welfare of the whole—and lastly, that for this reason every man amongst us who in any manner would encourage either dissension, diffidence, or indifference between these colonies, is an enemy to himself, and to his country.




See also: John Quincy Adams Speech on the Intent of the Declaration of Independence

Note: Politicians, Monarchs, Power Brokers, Despots and Tyrants; Small men with even smaller minds, suffering from overly inflated egos have never liked long, living without utter control over the people, we see this throughout history and we see this happening in America today. These same political power brokers and ruling class elites have worked for 200+ years trying to break that which became America. They have, up until recent generations been held at bay in America by the natural and religious goodness of her people and most of those in power. Who have had an ever watchful eye on those who would encroach upon our freedoms, liberties, free consciences and individual happiness, however over the last few decades the people have been lulled into a false sense of security by those in the ruling class elite. With all the distractions of the modern age, have come the ever over reaching hand of government, or the ruling class and now America unless her people awaken and rebel against the over reaching hand of the oppressors, we will once again be without a place in the world where people are or once were, truly free.

We must pray now, and pray always that God in his mercy will look down upon us and the world and preserve the freedoms he so graciously gave us at the beginning of time, not only for our benefit, but for the benefit of all mankind. May his hand, be the hand that guides us, protects us, strengthens us, and keeps us through the coming storms.

THE MEANING OF THE REVOLUTION. “On the Controversy about Independence.” by John Witherspoon between 1765-1787

EVERY one knows that when the claims of the British Parliament were openly made, and violently enforced, the most precise and determined resolutions were entered into, and published by every colony, every county, and almost every township or smaller district, that they would not submit to them. This was clearly expressed in the greatest part of them, and ought to be understood as the implied sense of them all, not only that they would not soon or easily, but that they would never on any event, submit to them . For my own part, I confess, I would never have signed these resolves at first, nor taken up arms in consequence of them afterward, if I had not been fully convinced, as I am still, that acquiescence in this usurped power would be followed by the total and absolute ruin of the colonies. They would have been no better than tributary states to a kingdom at a great distance from them. They would have been therefore, as has been the case with all states in a similar situation from the beginning of the world, the servants of servants from generation to generation. For this reason I declare it to have been my meaning, and I know it was the meaning of thousands more, that though we earnestly wished for reconciliation with safety to our liberties, yet we did deliberately prefer, not only the horrors of a civil war, not only the danger of anarchy, and the uncertainty of a new settlement, but even extermination itself, to slavery riveted on us and our posterity.

The most peaceable means were first used; but no relaxation could be obtained: one arbitrary and oppressive act followed after another; they destroyed the property of a whole capital—subverted to its very foundation the constitution and government of a whole colony, and granted the soldiers a liberty of murdering in all the colonies. I express it thus, because they were not to be called to account for it where it was committed, which everybody must allow was a temporary, and undoubtedly in ninety-nine cases of an hundred must have issued in a total impunity. There is one circumstance, however, in my opinion, much more curious than all the rest The reader will say, What can this be? It is the following, which I beg may be particularly attended to:—While all this was a doing, the King in his speeches, the Parliament in their acts, and the people of Great Britain in their addresses, never failed to extol their own lenity [kindness, gentleness]. I do not infer from this, that the King, Parliament and people of Great Britain are all barbarians and savages—the inference is unnecessary and unjust; but I infer the misery of the people of America, if they must submit in all cases whatsoever, to the decisions of a body of the sons of Adam, so distant from them, and who have an interest in oppressing them. It has been my opinion from the beginning, that we did not carry our reasoning fully home, when we complained of an arbitrary prince, or of the insolence, cruelty and obstinacy of Lord North, Lord Bute, or Lord Mansfield. What we have to fear, and what we have now to grapple with, is the ignorance, prejudice, partiality and injustice of human nature. Neither King nor ministry, could have done, nor durst have attempted what we have seen, if they had not had the nation on their side. The friends of America in England are few in number, and contemptible in influence; nor must I omit, that even of these few, not one, till very lately, ever reasoned the American cause upon its proper principles, or viewed it in its proper light

Petitions on petitions have been presented to King and Parliament, and an address sent to the people of Great Britain, which have been not merely fruitless, but treated with the highest degree of disdain. The conduct of the British ministry during the whole of this contest, as has been often observed, has been such, as to irritate the whole people of this continent to the highest degree, and unite them together by the firm bond of necessity and common interest In this respect they have served us in the most essential manner. I am firmly persuaded, that had the wisest heads in America met together to contrive what measures the ministry should follow to strengthen the American opposition and defeat their own designs, they could not have fallen upon a plan so effectual, as that which has been steadily pursued. One instance I cannot help mentioning, because it was both of more importance, and less to be expected than any other. When a majority of the New York Assembly, to their eternal infamy, attempted to break the union of the colonies, by refusing to approve the proceedings of the Congress, and applying to Parliament by separate petition—because they presumed to make mention of the principal grievance of taxation, it was treated with ineffable contempt I desire it may be observed, that all those who are called the friends of America in Parliament, pleaded strongly for receiving the New York petition; which plainly showed, that neither the one nor the other understood the state of affairs in America. Had the ministry been prudent, or the opposition successful, we had been ruined; but with what transport did every friend to American liberty hear, that these traitors to the common cause had met with the reception which they deserved.


know-your-legal-rightsThe Rights of an American Citizen: With a Commentary on State Rights, and on the Constitution and Policy of the United States by Benjamin Lynde Oliver published 1832


CHAPTER V: Of the Rights of Juries.

Wherever the trial by jury has been introduced, it has usually furnished a theme for unqualified admiration, on account of its wisdom, impartiality, and justice, and because it is thought to furnish the best security for the citizens, or subjects of the government, against public and private wrongs.

Its wisdom is apparent in this, that it is admirably contrived to render the people satisfied with the administration of justice. For, where a case goes to the jury by the common law, as it almost always may at the discretion of the defendant, no judgment can be given against any person either in a civil or in a criminal trial, unless after a verdict has been rendered against him, by them. Now, since all men of decent characters are qualified to serve on a jury, a few only being exempted or excluded from motives of public convenience or policy, or on account of the nature of their usual occupations, whether public or private; and as the jurors are commonly drawn by lot in each county, at regular periods, for the decision of causes arising within it, every qualified citizen has a chance of being called upon to serve in this office, and, consequently, to decide upon the law disputes of his neighbors, as well as upon all criminal charges prosecuted by the public. The people are aware of this, and are better satisfied to have their causes, or the question of their guilt or innocence of any such criminal charges, decided by men of the same rank, condition, and means of information as themselves, than they would be with the decisions of any judges, however learned and wise, the justice of which decisions they would seldom be able to perceive, because they would not readily understand or feel the weight of the reasons, which those judges would assign for their decrees.

Its impartiality is secured by the manner, in which the jurors, who are to constitute the jury for the decision of each cause, are designated. For, the jurors names being usually drawn by lot, it is impossible to ascertain any considerable time before the trial, what persons will be returned to serve on the jury during the session of the court, or, out of that number, what individuals will be impaneled to serve in any particular trial. Consequently, it would seem impracticable for a party in a cause, or a prisoner on a criminal trial, to procure any particular individual to be returned as a juror, or to be impaneled on the jury. But, as it sometimes happens, that a person returned to serve on the jury, when the court directs a jury to be impaneled for the trial of a particular cause, is supposed by one of the parties not to be impartial, the law permits either party in a civil cause, to challenge any of the jurors, and have them removed from the jury box and others returned in their room, if he can assign any reasonable cause, why the jurors challenged, may be thought to be more likely to favor the party, who does not challenge them. Further, as no one who considers himself as having justice on his side, would be willing to have his case tried by persons, who were not men of fair character, every litigant has a right to challenge a juror, if he has been guilty of any infamous crime. This however he should be very cautious in doing; for, a challenge of this kind is not to be made lightly. As a matter of prudence, the suitor making it, ought to have the record of conviction in his pocket at the time; for, he has no right to put the question to the juror, or to examine him in relation to any matter, which may either charge him with a crime, or with misbehavior, or expose him to shame or disgrace, in order to challenge him as a juror. See 1 Sal. 153.

In capital trials, by the common law, the prisoner has a right to challenge thirty-five jurors in succession, peremptorily, and without assigning any reason whatever for it. This indulgence is shown, that the prisoner may not be tried for his life, by any person whose appearance or character he may dislike, though such dislike may be the effect of mere prejudice, whim or caprice ; and besides these thirty-five he may challenge as many more, as he can assign sufficient reasons for challenging.

The trial by jury is therefore well calculated to do justice between the parties, in criminal trials as well as civil causes. But, besides, the jurors being taken from the great body of respectable citizens, and consisting of so large a number as twelve, one or more of them will be likely to be acquainted with all the general modes of business, the habits and practices and customs of society, as well as with the views and feelings of persons in the same class or business, with the parties in the case before them; they will therefore be well able to determine equitably and justly between them, as to the subject in dispute, the value of properly, the extent of injuries, &c.

In protecting the citizens from private wrongs, the lawful power of the jury, in assessing damages for injuries committed, is particularly observable. For, here they have a right to take into view, not only the amount of damage which the injured party has sustained, which is the least sum for which a jury can ever justifiably find a verdict; but, if the injury is of such a nature, that public policy particularly requires that it should be prevented from taking place again, the jury will be well warranted in giving what are called exemplary damages, as a warning to the defendant as well as to all ill-disposed persons in general.

The operation of this mode of trial in protecting the citizens from any species of public wrong or oppression, may be illustrated by numberless imaginary though not impossible, cases; e. g. suppose an unconstitutional and oppressive law to be enacted either by congress, or by the state authority, which however the courts, for whatever reason, see fit to sustain, if the jury were satisfied that such laws were unconstitutional and oppressive, they would have the power and the right, and, not only so, but it would be their solemn duty to acquit any prisoner, who might be charged with an offence against such law.

But in order to form a just estimate of the value of the trial by jury, it will be necessary to descend to further particulars. It is intended, therefore, in the course of this chapter, to consider the right and power of the jury in relation to their verdict: 1, in actions for breach of contract; 2, in actions for wrongs done maliciously, fraudulently or forcibly; 3, in criminal prosecutions. Before proceeding to these particulars, however, it may be proper to remind the reader, that it is a general rule applying to all cases which are the subject of a jury trial, that it is the province of the jury to ascertain all facts upon which the decision of the case before them depends, while the law of each case is to be determined by the court. It is therefore considered the duty of the jury, to make up their verdict from the evidence exhibited to them at the trial, under the direction of the court as to the law applicable to the case. The law on this subject is thus laid down in Plow. Commentaries, 114. ‘It is the business of the jury to inquire of matters of fact, and not to adjudge what the law is; for that is the office of the court. ‘And, if the jury should find all the facts, and should further find that the law is so, when it is not so, the judges shall decide according to the matter of fact, and not according to the finding of the jury. For, the verdict will be good as to the fact found, but void as to their conclusion.’

But, as it sometimes happens, from the fallibility of human reason, from which experience has shown, that the most able judges are not always exempt, that the law is incorrectly charged to the jury; and as it is obvious, if the error is in a material point, and the jury are governed by the charge, they will give their verdict for the wrong party, and, in this manner, injustice will be done to him, this general proposition must be subject to some restrictions. For, there appears to be an analogy between the right of the jury to decide as to the facts from the testimony of the witnesses, and their right to form their opinion, as to so much of the law as is necessarily involved in a general verdict, from the charge of the judges. For, the duty of the jury requires them to bring in a verdict according to the law and the evidence in each case. In making up their verdict, therefore, so far as the facts are concerned, they are morally bound to believe the testimony of those witnesses whom the Court admit as competent, subject to these conditions : 1, that the facts sworn to, are not improbable; 2, that the testimony of the witness is consistent with itself; 3, that it is not contradicted by any other witness; 4, that it is not contrary to what the jury themselves know to be the fact; for, it is settled that the jury may give a verdict on their own knowledge, though regularly every juror, having a knowledge of any facts, ought to communicate it to the Court and be sworn. 5. That there is nothing in the appearance or manner of the witness in giving his testimony, to lead the jury to distrust his truth or sincerity.

7th-amendmentAs the jury therefore may find the truth of facts on their own knowledge, and ought by no means to find a verdict contrary to what they know to be the case; so, as to the law, though they are bound to receive what the judges charge them, as the law by which they are to be governed in making up their verdict, so far as it is applicable to the case before them, yet this must be subject to the restriction, that they the jurors, do not know the law to be otherwise. In most cases, it is true, the jury are wholly incompetent to determine, without the assistance of the Court, what the law is in relation to the case before them. They have a right to presume therefore from the circumstance of a judge’s appointment to office, and his learning and experience, that his charge is correct, unless they know or conscientiously believe to the contrary; and, if he should be incorrect, and the jury, confiding in the correctness of his charge, should bring in an erroneous verdict, no blame can ever rest upon the jury; since they have merely placed a proper confidence in the knowledge of a person, whom society or the constituted authorities of it, have appointed to be an official expounder of its various laws and ordinances. But this will not hold good, where the jury know the judge to be in an error, or what comes nearly to the same thing, where they are thoroughly convinced and conscientiously believe, that he has charged the law incorrectly. And, even in the cases, where the party injuriously affected by the verdict, may have a right to appeal; still, this circumstance will not discharge them from the strictest responsibility for the correctness of their own verdict; because the law confides, that in every stage of a cause, each individual, officially concerned in the administration of justice, will do his duty scrupulously and punctiliously, without relying upon higher tribunals to correct his mistakes. Besides, those who have a legal right to appeal, do not always find themselves in convenient circumstances to exercise it.

1. Of the power and right of the jury, in making up their verdicts in civil actions for breach of contract.

In actions brought for a breach of contract, where the performance consists in the payment of a precise sum of money, if the jury are satisfied that there has been a legal contract, which has not been performed, and no satisfactory excuse for non-performance is proved, they are bound to find a verdict for the precise sum due on the contract. Here they have no discretion whatever, and, if they should find a verdict for either more or less, the Court would set aside the verdict, and grant one or more new trials until this precise justice was done, unless it was adjusted by the consent of the parties.

Where the breach of contract consists in a failure to deliver certain goods or merchandize, the jury would have rather more latitude for the exercise of their discretion. For, though they would be bound to assess the damages at the true value of the goods, this of course must be understood as binding the jury according to the conscientious opinion of the jurors. But, as there would not be the same precise standard of value, in this case, as in the preceding one, and, as they might form their valuation upon the testimony of different witnesses, who did not agree precisely, the jury would have a legal right to adopt any valuation for the goods, between the highest and the lowest value, sworn to by the witnesses. But, if they should go beyond those limits on either side, and it could be made to appear to the court, the verdict would be set aside here also, and a new trial granted.

2. Of the right and power of the jury in civil actions for wrongs done maliciously, fraudulently, forcibly, or carelessly.

In these cases, the jury have a still greater latitude in assessing damages. But, where property is maliciously or wantonly destroyed, their verdict cannot, consistently with either law or conscience, be for a less amount than its value; though, if there are any circumstances of peculiar aggravation, the jury will be warranted in law to assess a far greater sum. For, the rule in all cases of personal wrongs is, that the jury may decide at discretion upon the amount of damages, with no other restriction, than that they must not be absurdly small nor enormously large. For, in either case, it is not to be doubted that the courts will grant a new trial for the purposes of justice. This power in the courts however will very rarely be exercised, because the design of it is not, to interfere with the power, which the law bestows on juries, of assessing damages for injuries at their discretion; but it is intended to secure to the suitors the honest and conscientious exercise of the discretion of the jurors, and to protect the parties from the effects of partiality, prejudice, passion, weakness of understanding, corruption or mistake in the jury, to one or the other of which, an absurd and unreasonable verdict, if to a very great excess, must necessarily be ascribed, and for which, it would be a disgrace to the law to suppose it had furnished no remedy.

While on this subject it may not be amiss to remark, that the reason of the law in some cases of actions for wrongs, seems to be misapprehended, as it is sometimes applied. For, in such cases, and even where an injury has been done maliciously, testimony is sometimes admitted to show that the wrong-doer has but little property, as if this circumstance afforded an extenuation.

But, it must be apparent, in such cases, that the jury cannot consistently with their oaths, ever give a verdict for less than they conscientiously believe to be the amount of the damage, which the plaintiff sustains by the malice, or even carelessness of the defendant, whether the defendant has sufficient estate to respond damages or not. And why should the defendant be in a better situation than he would be, if he had given a promissory note, and through misfortune, had become unable to pay it? In that case, the jury would not reduce the amount of the damages, merely because the defendant had not property enough to pay the whole. But, in the case of any wrong, there is still less reason for any such reduction. In cases of contract, a man must always take the chance of the insolvency of the person with whom he deals; and, though he should never be paid, still he parts with his property voluntarily and takes that chance. But, when one man destroys the property of another, it cannot be pretended that the owner voluntarily gave it up, or consented to run any risk whatever. Being under the protection of the laws of society, he has a right to insist upon having damages for the full amount which the jury shall conscientiously believe to be its value; for, though the wrongdoer may not, at that time, have sufficient property to satisfy the whole judgment, it is very possible that he may have enough at some future time. But, the true reason, it is believed, why such testimony may sometimes be received, is because, if the defendant were very rich, and had committed the injury from jhe insolent recklessness of consequences, which is sometimes seen to accompany the consciousness of being able to respond large damages without difficulty, the court would direct the jury to assess such exemplary damages, as the wrongdoer would feel, and as would serve as a warning to others. The defendant, therefore, upon any surmise that he had acted from any such motive, would be permitted to prove that he did not possess much property, in order to show, that he was not a fit subject from whom to require exemplary damages; but never for the purpose of reducing the damages below the amount of the injury really sustained.

In cases of slander, libel, seduction, assault and battery without any mitigating circumstances as to provocation, oppression of any kind accompanied with an abuse of an authority given by the law, or any contumelious wrong whatever, the jury would do well to make the case of the injured party their own, and not by a mistaken sympathy for a disturber of the public tranquility, add wrong to wrong, by giving a verdict for insufficient damages. For, the ill consequences of such a verdict, are very great; because it does not furnish the redress to which the plaintiff is entitled, but on the contrary injures his character, and lowers him in the esteem of others. It tends also to bring the administration of justice into contempt. Lastly, it leads to violence and injustice two ways; because, others seeing the impunity of the defendant, will not be deterred, but on the contrary will be encouraged in committing similar wrongs and outrages; while the sufferers, seeing that they can expect no adequate redress from the tribunals of the law, will resort to direct violence to revenge them.

3. The right and power of the jury as to their verdicts in criminal prosecutions, &c.

In criminal cases, the trial by jury is intended to afford to the person accused, not only a fair trial, whether innocent or guilty; but it is intended also to furnish, in an especial manner, every reasonable protection against the possibility of being convicted unjustly. Where therefore the jury consists of individuals possessing only a moderate share of abilities and knowledge of mankind, and such a share of integrity as is sufficient to resist the temptations, which may possibly be offered to induce them to pervert justice, if they will pay a proper attention to the proceedings before them, there can be but little probability, that innocence will ever suffer the penalty of criminality, or that legal guilt will ever escape with impunity.

To illustrate the justness of this remark, it will hardly be necessary to do more than allude to the certainty, which is required in the indictment, in describing the criminal charge, without which the prisoner cannot be convicted, even if the jury should give a verdict against him; (See the case of Mr. Rosewell, Infra😉 the challenge of the jury with cause; or, the peremptory challenge, without cause, before mentioned; the inadmissibility of all proof of confessions drawn from the prisoner by promises of favor, or by threats of any kind; the presumption of innocence, with which the law protects the prisoner, and renders it unnecessary for him either to justify, excuse or in any way exculpate himself, until a strong presumption of his guilt, is raised against him by the testimony of witnesses under oath; and lastly, the humane principle, that even if such strong presumption should be raised in the first instance, if the prisoner can, either by other testimony, or by inferences drawn from circumstances satisfactorily proved, or by comparison of facts and conclusions, raise only a reasonable doubt, whether after all, he may not be innocent, the jury, according to the legal understanding of their oaths, will be bound to acquit him. By the English law, which is generally adopted in this country, a general verdict in criminal cases, must be either guilty or not guilty. By the law of Scotland there are three verdicts, viz., guilty, not guilty, and not proven. The last is given in, when there is not sufficient evidence to warrant the conviction of the accused, but the jury entertain doubts of his innocence. In such case, by the common law the jury are bound to acquit. If juries could always be depended on to make a proper distinction in their verdicts, perhaps this must be considered as an improvement on the common law.

It was on a humane principle, though sometimes barbarously abused by arbitrary judges in unsettled times, that the ancient common law did not allow prisoners counsel in capital cases, unless some matter of law, not already settled, should arise upon the facts found. It was supposed they could not need it for the facts; for, it was held, that if the evidence against them was not so clear, as not to be rebutted by any argument, they ought to be acquitted. Where the law applicable to the case, admitted of no doubt, it was the duty of the judges to be of counsel for the prisoner, i. e. to take care to give him notice of every fair advantage he might take, in challenging the jury, &c., and in general to take care that he should not be improperly convicted.

But, on account of the apparent hardship, and the occasional abuses which sometimes took place, the law has been altered. At this day, prisoners both in England and in this country, are permitted to retain what counsel they please, and in capital cases, poor prisoners have counsel assigned to them, on request, by the court.

To return; it is not enough, that the jury, after hearing all the testimony of the witnesses, the arguments of the public prosecutor, the defence of the prisoner both by himself and his counsel, and lastly the charge of the court,—are fully persuaded in their own minds that the prisoner is guilty; it is not enough that the jury, by their own natural sagacity, or, by the ingenious comparison of circumstances by the public prosecutor, are come to this conclusion. For, an opinion that the prisoner is guilty, thus formed, will hardly authorize the jury to find a verdict against him.

It is true, that it is the height of practical sagacity and wisdom, to be able to draw correct inferences from minute circumstances, which escape the observation of dulness,—from a partial view of facts, where it is impracticable to ascertain the whole truth; from premises wholly inadequate to the purposes of demonstration; this however, is only to be considered as a matter of prudence and caution for our own security; but, it would be the greatest injustice to apply such wisdom and sagacity, to the purpose of convicting a prisoner on merely probable surmise, when, according to the true intention of the law, guilt must either be proved to a moral certainty, or, otherwise, must be allowed to escape with impunity. For,

Why is guilt punished at all? Is it not, for the sake of the security of the just? But, unless guilt is demonstrated, then it is possible, that innocent men may unfortunately fall into the same circumstances with the individual convicted, whether he be guilty or innocent in fact, and may have the same arguments from circumstances urged against them, and consequently, in the same way, may be convicted and punished. It is plain, therefore, that where even a guilty person is convicted and punished, without conclusive proof of his guilt, innocence itself is endangered, and the security of good men is not obtained.

In civil actions, if the jury should give a verdict, contrary to the evidence, that is to say, without any apparent evidence at all to support it, (for, it is not enough that it is found against the weight of evidence,) the court will set aside the verdict and grant a new trial. But the jury may give a verdict contrary to evidence if they see fit. See Plowd. 8. Holt, 404. Vaugh. 147.

So, in a civil action, if the jury should give a verdict, contrary to the direction of the court in matters of law, the court will set aside the verdict, and grant a new trial. But, as there are no new trials in criminal cases, if the jury should give a verdict, either against law or evidence, and notwithstanding the instructions of the judge, before it was recorded, to reconsider it, should persist in it, the verdict must stand, and there is no power to call the jury to account for it.

Since therefore this power is confided to the jury, it may not be amiss to consider what is their right and duty in this class of cases. This subject will be most conveniently illustrated by selecting a particular one. Suppose A to be indicted for a crime, and pleads not guilty, and after the witnesses for the prosecution are examined, he or his counsel argues to the court, at the same time requesting the attention of the jury, (as Home Tooke was permitted to do, on his trial for a libel before Ld. Mansfield,) that the facts testified to, do not amount to the crime charged. Suppose that the court charge the law to the jury contrary to the prisoner’s argument; here the jury, if they are satisfied of the truth of the facts, and take the law to be as charged by the court, will be bound to find the prisoner, guilty. If they doubt, or cannot agree with each other, whether the law is correctly charged by the court; or, if they have any mistrust of themselves, that they shall not be able to apply the law correctly to the facts, they may find a special verdict, and thus submit the question of the prisoner’s guilt, to the decision of the court. But if, after hearing the prisoner’s argument, and the charge of the court, the jury should be clearly of opinion, that the law is according to the argument, and the judge’s charge is wrong, it will be jheir duty to acquit the prisoner. If, in such case, they should find a special verdict, they would hardly do right, since they must be pretty sure the prisoner will be convicted, and yet, according to their own opinion, or rather according to the convictions of their own understandings, he is not guilty. If they should ask the court for further instructions in such case, before they made up their verdict, as they ought to do, because perhaps a few words of explanation from the judge will remove the difficulty in their minds, and they should still feel convinced, that the judge did not charge the law correctly, but, from a deference to his opinion, should find the prisoner guilty, they would violate their oaths.

If a barbarous or arbitrary law should be enacted, as for instance, if it should make mere words sufficient to constitute an act of treason, and any person should be indicted on such act, it would be the duty of the jury to acquit the prisoner, if, as in the case supposed, the law were unconstitutional; or, what is the same thing in effect, if the jury conscientiously believed the law to be unconstitutional, however it might be charged by the court. It is in this sense, probably, that the remark of Fortescue is to be understood; ‘that the jury are not bound by the determination of the House of Commons, nor by any law in the world but their own consciences.’ Fort, de. Laud. 117.

A distinction however may be taken here. 1. If the law were made to punish a man for doing anything, which it is his duty to do; or, which it is morally wrong to prevent him from doing; or, for not doing anything, which he ought not to do, the law would be wicked and tyrannical, and such as no government has a right to make; and therefore the jury would do well in refusing to assist in enforcing any such law. 2. If the law should prohibit any thing, which a man would have a right either to do, or to omit, if not prohibited; or, command any thing to be done, which, if not commanded, any individual would, in like manner, have a right, either to do or to omit, and such law is not contrary to the constitution, though the penalty is excessively severe and out of proportion to the offence, still, the jury, in case of an indictment for a violation of it, will be bound by their oaths to convict a person who is guilty of such violation. They have nothing to do with the punishment.

With greater reason they will be bound to convict a person, who has committed an act wrong in itself, in violation of a law which prohibits such act, however severe the penalty may be.

The right of a jury to give a verdict, contrary to the opinion of the court on a point of law, can exist only, where they are fully satisfied that the court is in an error. For, if not thus satisfied, they ought to receive the judge’s charge as correct. But, each juror ought in all cases, especially in capital ones, to act according to the dictates of his own conscience, and on his own moral responsibility in making up his verdict. The prisoner in a criminal case, and the parties in a civil action, are entitled to ‘the exercise of his judgment, unbiased by any consideration, that is not grounded either on the evidence in the case, or the law applicable to it. The jury in no case have a right to decide their verdict by drawing lots; it is always a misdemeanor, (see 1 T. Rep. 113) to do it in a criminal trial would be inexcusable; and in a capital trial would in fact be murderous ; because in this way an individual might be put to death, without any real consideration of his guilt or innocence. It is held, that if they cannot agree upon their verdict, they may agree to find their verdict according to the vote of the major number. See Says. R. 100. 1 Stra. 642. This however must be restrained to verdicts in civil actions, and can hardly be justified in law even there. For, the law requires unanimity in a jury, as a test of the truth and justice of their verdict. It means therefore unanimity brought about by discussion, and the exercise of the understanding. But, the unanimity brought about by putting the subject to vote, is an evasion of the law ; for, this is not brought about by the exercise of the understanding, and it renders the verdict of the majority effectual, which at law would be wholly unavailing.

It has been held, that a jury may give in a verdict contrary to evidence. See Plow. 8. But, this is because it might be supposed, that they formed their verdict on their own private knowledge of facts. But a juror, who should thus bring in a verdict in either a civil action or in a criminal prosecution, would act improperly at least, and perhaps might occasion great injustice. In a civil action, if the jury should bring in a verdict grounded solely on their own private knowledge, ft might appear to be given contrary to, or, without any evidence, and, if the court were of that opinion, it would be set aside and a new trial granted. If there was evidence given on both sides, the verdict would appear to be given contrary to the weight of evidence, and, in this way, though a new trial would not be granted, yet it would tend to bring the administration of justice into disrepute. The same consequence would attend the conviction of a person indicted for a crime, on the private knowledge of the jury. A greater injury however is done here; because the prisoner is convicted on evidence which does not appear on the trial—evidence, of which he has no notice, and consequently has no opportunity to answer. The duty of a juror, who has a knowledge of any material facts, would therefore seem to be, to give notice of it, especially in a trial for a capital offence, so that he may be sworn, and the prisoner may have an opportunity of explaining away his testimony, and perhaps convincing that very juror that he is in an error. It would seem, also, very proper in the jury, in general, if one of their number should attempt to influence the rest by appealing to his own private knowledge of facts, to give notice to the court of the circumstance; for, otherwise, the accused party does not seem to have a fair trial. But, it is held that where a person is about to be sworn on a jury, who has material evidence to give in the case, he ought to inform the court of it, before taking the oath. Sal. 405.

No juror ought ever to agree to bring in a verdict of guilty, against a prisoner, unless he is completely satisfied of his criminality. Though the other eleven are agreed, if their reasonings do not convince him, and he should out of deference to their judgment, though sanctioned also with the opinion of the court, consent to such verdict, the prisoner’s blood, if innocent, will rest upon that juror’s head, and upon his alone; for, the rest conscientiously believe the prisoner guilty, according to the best exercise of their judgment; but he convicts, while he doubts the prisoner’s guilt, and therefore violates his oath, neglects his duty and betrays his trust. Neither ought a juror ever to consent to find a verdict against a prisoner from the expectation, that he will not be capitally punished. For, the substance of the verdict of the jury, when they find the prisoner ‘ guilty,’ is, that he is Proved to be guilty; but, where they find him, ‘not guilty,’ the only rational meaning of the verdict, is ‘that he is not proved to be guilty? though the law permits it to be considered as a proof of innocence, so far that he shall never be tried again on the same charge, though conclusive -evidence of his guilt should afterwards be discovered. If the jury cannot agree, they will be discharged after the court have kept them together long enough to ascertain, that there is no probability that they will agree.

On the other hand, if the juror is completely satisfied of the prisoner’s guilt, and can trace that conviction to the effect of the testimony which has been given on the trial, he ought to find him guilty; without regarding those vain scruples, which sometimes afflict men of great sensibility, when discharging the plainest duty, that though they are fully satisfied, after the most careful scrutiny, yet perhaps they may be in an error. In such case, they should remember, if they are in an error, it is because they are fallible creatures, and not because they have not taken proper pains; but no man can be accountable for any thing more, than the honest exercise of such an understanding as nature has given him.

In all cases, both civil and criminal, if all the jury are satisfied and agreed, as to the facts of a case, but cannot agree as to the law, so that they are unable to make up their verdict, they have a right to call on the court to give them further instructions and explanations as to the law, to enable them to do so; or, they may bring in a written statement of all the facts in the case, which will be reduced into proper form for them by the counsel in the case, under the direction of the court, and conclude with submitting to the decision of the court what their verdict ought to be. By this special verdict finding all the facts, the final decision is submitted entirely to the court; so that if, after finding all the facts, they should conclude by giving a general verdict in favor of one of the parties, or of the prisoner as the case might be, the court would reject the conclusion as void, and would determine for themselves on the facts found in the verdict.

After the jury are agreed, and the foreman has delivered in the verdict, and the jury are asked the final question ‘so you say all, gentlemen,’ any juror may then dissent, if he has any scruple arise in his mind, and the court will then send the jury out again, to see if they can agree. And whatever their first verdict may have been, they are entirely at liberty to alter it as they see fit. This power they retain until their verdict is recorded. And therefore, where two were on trial for a conspiracy, and the jury came in with a verdict of guilty, against one, and were sent out again, because one alone cannot be guilty of a conspiracy, and on their return again, found both guilty, the verdict was held good. See Plowd. 212.

But, after the trial is over, and the verdict is once recorded, there seems to be no remedy, even though they have made a mistake in their finding, and make an affidavit to that effect. For, all mistakes ought to be corrected at the time of trial, and before the verdict is recorded. See 2 T. R. 282. If any alteration should be allowable after the jury had once been dismissed, it would furnish too many opportunities to attempt to tamper with them. It is for this reason, that all representations of jurors, contrary to their verdict, have been censured. See 3 Bur. 1696. This however does not apply to recommendations for mercy, made by the jury after conviction.

Jurors should be careful to attach no weight whatever to suggestions, made as to the probability or improbability that a prisoner, if convicted, will be punished. Their concern is with his guilt or innocence alone, and that question it is their sworn duty to decide, without any reference to the question, whether he will be punished or not, or, what his punishment may be. In a capital case, within the recollection of the present writer, the public prosecutor expressed an opinion in the course of his argument, that the prisoner, if convicted, would not be punished capitally; and the jury found him guilty; but afterwards, eleven of them sent a representation to the Governor, stating that they should not have found him guilty, if they had expected he would be punished capitally, &c.; but their petition was not granted, and the prisoner was executed.

The grossness of such conduct in the jury, is manifest from the consideration, that, unless it can be supposed, that they knowingly brought in a false verdict against him, for whatever reason, they would have found him not guilty, when in their consciences they believed him guilty, merely because they were unwilling, that he should suffer the punishment prescribed by law for the crime proved against him.

With regard to the efficacy of the trial by jury in protecting the citizens from public wrongs, whether consisting in the operation of laws grounded solely in usurpation, or, upon an abuse , of a legal authority; or, consisting in acts of arbitrary power committed by persons in authority, but without any legal warrant, it may be further remarked, that, if acts of oppression should be practiced upon an individual under pretense of a lawful authority, and an action should be brought for the injury, if the oppressor were a person of great political power or influence, it might happen that any one or two individuals, if they had the judicial power of deciding between the parties without the intervention of a jury, might be too much overawed and intimidated by the wrong doer, to do strict justice between them. But an independent jury in any such case, would make the plaintiff’s case their own ; and keeping in mind the principle, that, where one citizen is oppressed, all are threatened, would take care to give a verdict against the defendant, for such exemplary damages, as would teach him, however high his rank might be, that the law is above him.

If the sovereign political power should fall into bad hands, and an attempt should be made to crush all those who were obnoxious to them, by the enactment of highly penal and unconstitutional laws, against acts wholly free from moral turpitude, and only prohibited, because all freedom is dangerous to usurped power, it would be the duty of the jury, by their verdict of acquittal, to rescue the persons accused, and show their detestation of tyranny and oppression.

If the time should ever arrive, when the members of the judiciary shall be dependent for their offices upon the other departments of government, and those other departments shall abuse their authority to violate the constitution, and crush such of the citizens as shall oppose their schemes; and, to carry their designs into effect, shall appoint to judicial offices such of their own adherents as will co-operate with them, by harsh and arbitrary misconstructions of penal laws, it is then that the excellence of this mode of trial, ought to be seen and felt as a guardian and protector of civil and political rights. How far is this supposition justified by the history of the past?

jury_1In the first year of Charles II. while public affairs were controlled by Cromwell, Lieut. Col. John Lilburne was indicted for high treason for publishing certain books and pamphlets, reflecting in the strongest manner upon that usurper. On his trial he made a very bold and eloquent defence, and though the court were unanimous against him, and seemed very desirous that the jury should convict him, yet he was unexpectedly acquitted, to the great joy of the people, who, it is said, shouted for half an hour without intermission, to the great terror of the judges. Within three years afterwards he was banished by a resolve of the Parliament, under pain of death. He was at the Parliament door the day after this resolve was passed, and was ushered into the bar, by the Sergeant at arms. The speaker of the house twice commanded him to kneel to receive his sentence, but he replied that though he submitted to their sentence, he neither could nor would kneel. Being then sent out, he told the Sergeant to inform the speaker, that when he should be brought up to receive his sentence, he should not kneel, if they should order the sergeant to beat his brains out with the mace; because such a gesture seemed to imply a consciousness of guilt. He returned from banishment, and was indicted for it capitally, on the resolve or act of Parliament, and was very unfairly used on his trial, but making an able and eloquent defence, he was again acquitted by the jury. The Parliament seem to have been greatly incensed at this, and passed an order to examine the jurors, and make them give an account of their verdict. They were accordingly examined separately, and their answers were generally such as became men of integrity. The foreman’s answer in substance was, ‘that, in what he did, he discharged his conscience, and that he would give no further answer as to the grounds of the verdict, for reasons best known to himself.’ Four of them answered, ‘ that they did it to satisfy their consciences,’ &tc. One answered, ‘that he was not bound to give an account of what he did in that business, but to God himself.’ Two of them said, ‘that notwithstanding the court told them they were judges of the fact only, they considered themselves judges of the law also.’ One doubted, whether John Lilburne, named in the act of Parliament, was the same John Lilburne, who was indicted, having never seen him before, &c.

It was soon found, therefore, that jury trials were not so much under the control of the powers of the government, that favorable results could always be depended on with confidence, even when the influence of the government was seconded in the strongest manner, by that of arbitrary and prejudiced judges. Yet, it is not to be wondered at, if in times preceding the revolution in England, when James II. abdicated or was dethroned, and William and Mary succeeded, the trial by jury was found a very inadequate protection for innocent persons, who had fallen under the displeasure of the court. For, in those times, the fairness of the trial depended almost entirely on the presiding judges, because they exercised a power over the jury, that has long since been done away. The jury therefore, being overawed by the judges, who sometimes did not hesitate to threaten those of the jury, who would not agree to such verdicts as they required, were often induced to convict persons of crimes, which were not sufficiently proved. For, how could a jury, who were not well acquainted with the law, who were exposed to the highly penal and infamous punishment of an attaint, for a false verdict, or, as it has sometimes been held, for a verdict contrary to the opinion of the court; and, beside that, who were liable to be kept without food and refreshment at the discretion of the court, if they did not agree, as also to be carried round the circuits in a wagon to attend the court until they did agree, exhibit the same independence as in later times, when all these absurdities are done away? Yet, though they took the further illegal advantage of controlling the sheriff in the return of the jurors, as sometimes was done by Cromwell, it so happened, by means of the prisoner’s challenges, and because the character and opinion of every individual juror could not be certainly known to the sheriff, that, even in the worst times, there would occasionally be found one or more jurors, too honest and independent, to be either corrupted or intimidated, into a false and iniquitous verdict.

It was in consequence of such disappointments, as it is presumed, that very soon after Lilburne’s first acquittal in 1650, it was thought a politic expedient to create new courts with the style of high courts of justice, which had authority and was made use of, to determine cases of treason, &c. without the intervention of a jury. Under this tribunal, though the number of commissioners amounted to forty, there seems to have been no difficulty in convicting any person on almost any kind of evidence, as a quorum consisted of seventeen, and the opinion of the majority was decisive. The proceedings were arbitrary and cruel, to a high degree. The first high court of justice, however, was erected for the trial of Charles I. and gave rise to the rest.

Among those who suffered capital punishment under this tribunal, and whose guilt is not satisfactorily made to appear, because they had not a fair trial, were Col. Andrews, Ch. Love, J. Gibbons, Dr. Hewit, Sir Henry Slingsby, and many others. John Mordant was acquitted, there not being a majority of the judges against him, and some being bribed. After the restoration of Charles II. the trial by jury was again permitted in such cases. But here the trial by jury was again found insufficient to protect the innocent, on account of the unfairness with which it was usually conducted in the time of Ch. Jus. Jeffries. Certainly it was a rare instance, indeed, when one indicted before the court of King’s Bench, escaped, while this judge presided. He seems almost invariably to have had a strong bias against the prisoner, from the beginning of the trial; and being a man of great abilities, and assuming the part of king’s counsel and uniting it with the authority of chief justice, he generally refuted or silenced the arguments of the prisoner, and overawed or convinced the jury with equal ease, whether there was or was not sufficient legal evidence of guilt. In illustration of these remarks, one or two instances may be given. In 1681 Stephen College was indicted for high treason, and, if allowance were not made for the age, the perusal of his trial, would be sufficient to give any one a distaste for the trial by jury. Because it seems impossible not to come to the conclusion, that he was the innocent victim of perjury in the witnesses, cruel and barbarous oppression in the court, and gross servility or excessive stupidity in the jury.

In the trial of Count Coningsmark and three others in the same year, for murder, in which there seems to have been no doubt that Coningsmark was the instigator, and that the act was perpetrated by one of three others in the presence of the rest, by his procurement, the Ch. Jus. Jeffries, for whatever reason, was resolved to save Coningsmark from conviction. For this purpose, evidence was withheld from the jury which would have tended to clear some of the prisoners, but would have endangered the Count. But no one can read the trial and doubt his guilt. In order to favor him the more, after the testimony was closed two of the prisoners who were foreigners and did not speak English, were not asked what they had to say in their defence, from an apprehension that it might lead to the Court’s conviction. The jury therefore found him not guilty; but the three others were convicted and executed, one of whom, it is not unlikely, was innocent, or at least wholly ignorant of the intention of committing the crime of murder.

Joseph Hayes was also indicted for high treason, before that court; there was hardly any thing, which would be called legal evidence, offered against him. He conducted his trial with great boldness and spirit, and, notwithstanding a violent charge against him by Ch. Jus. Jeffries, was unexpectedly acquitted by the jury.

The trial of Thomas Rosewell, a dissenting Clergyman, for high treason, the overt acts of which consisted in delivering two discourses in the presence of a few persons at a private dwelling-house, and which discourses were said to contain the crime of imagining the king’s death, deserves a more particular notice. The indictment against Mr. Rosewell was drawn up in Latin, agreeably to the law at that time. The treasonable words, charged to have been uttered by Mr. Rosewell, without the innuendos to point the application of them, were as follows:

‘That the people made a flocking to the king, upon pretense of healing the king’s evil, which he could not do; but we are they to whom they ought to flock, because we are priests and prophets, who can heal their griefs. We have now had two wicked kings together, who have permitted popery to enter under their noses, whom we can resemble to no other person but to the most wicked Jeroboam; and, if you will stand to your principles, I do not fear but we shall be able to overcome our enemies, as in former times, with rams’ horns, broken platters, and a stone in a sling.’

The witnesses for the crown were three women, whom, Mr. Rosewell, being conscious of his innocence of having ever uttered the expressions charged against him in the indictment, and apprehending that they would swear to the same story if questioned in each other’s presence, requested to have examined apart. This was accordingly done, but they agreed in their testimony in a surprising manner, though Mr. Rosewell cross-examined them with no small ingenuity. There can be no doubt therefore, that Mr. Rosewell did deliver two discourses at the times and places testified to by the women; indeed, Mr. Rosewell never denied so much, and that the words charged in the indictment, were what they supposed Mr. Rosewell to mean.

After the evidence of the crown was closed, Mr. Rosewell, who was a good scholar, requested that the same passage in the indictment, just now quoted in English, should be read to him in the original latin, which was done as follows:

—* Quod populus coadunationem fecere (anglice, ‘made a flocking’) dicto domino regi nunc, sub pretextu sanandi morbuin regni (anglice, ‘ the king’s evil’) quod ipse facere non potest; sed nos sumus illi ad quos illi debent accedere, (anglice ‘ flock to,’) quia nos sumus sacerdotes et prophets, qui precibus dolores ipsorum sanaremus. Nos habuimus nunc duos iniquos reges insimul, qui permiserunt Romanam superstitionem (anglice, ‘popery’) ingredi in eorum conspectu (anglice, ‘under their noses ‘) qui assimilari possunt ad nullam personam, nisi ad nequissimum Jeroboam.—Et si ipsi ad fundamentalia ipsorum permanerent (anglice, ‘would stand to their principles’) ipse non timebat, quin ipsi inimicos suos vincerent, sicut in pristino tempore cum cornubus arietum, patinis fractis (anglice, ‘broken platters’), et lapide in funda; (anglice, ‘sling ‘) &tc.

Mr. Rosewell before beginning his defence, made some exceptions to the indictment; and the following dialogue ensued between him and Ch. Jus. Jeffries.

Rosewell. If it please you, my lord, that which I object against, and desire to be satisfied in by your lordship, is this; I am charged with speaking words about flocking to the king to cure the king’s evil; and it is in the indictment called, ‘morbus regni anglici,’ that is, the disease of the English kingdom.

Lid. Ch. Jus. Jeff. No, no; it is morbus regni, anglice, ‘the king’s evil.’

Ros. I do not understand how ‘morbus regni’ can be ‘the king’s evil.’

Ld. Ch. Jus. Therefore, because there is no apt word in the law for that distemper, they help it up by the word ‘anglice,’ to show what they meant.

Ros. But, my lord, I understand there are proper words for the disease; as struma and scrofula; those are proper words for it; not ‘morbus regni.’

Ld. Ch. Jus. Not at all in law; those may be the words used among physicians; but in legal proceedings, we are to keep up exactly to the legal names and phrases; and where we have not an usual word, then we help it up by anglices, and so we here express that very distemper, which is called by the name of the king’s evil, by a word framed as near to a law phrase as we can; and to show our meaning in it we add anglice, the king’s evil.

Ros. My lord, is that the phrase that is proper for it in law?

Ld. Ch. Jus. Yes, yes; it is very well expressed to show what is meant.

Ros. But, my lord, ‘morbus regni’ is in English, properly, the disease of the kingdom.

Lid. Ch. Jus. It is so; the disease of the kingdom; if they had gone no further, but left it there, it might have had such an interpretation put upon it. But because the words are so ambiguous in Latin, they are reduced to a certainty, by putting an anglice to them.

Ros. I thought it had been ‘anglici.’ My lord, there is another phrase that I object against; k says ‘ nos habuimus nunc duos iniquos reges insimul;’ My lord, this cannot be understood of two kings, one after another; but ‘ insimul’ makes it to be both at once.

Lid. Ch. Jus. No; we have had now together two wicked kings.

Ros. That we do not use to express so in Latin.

Ld. Ch. Jus. The words do thus sound in English.

Ros. There are two words, insimul and nunc, that do signify the’ present time. My lord, I am now only speaking all this while upon the hypothesis, that these words were spoken by me; for I still do, and always must deny the thesis.

Ld. Ch. Jus. We take it so.

Ros. It should have been successive.

Ld. Ch. Jus. Then it had not agreed with your words. For the witnesses swear that you said we have now had two wicked kings together, and not successively.

Ros. If that be an anglicism, this cannot be true Latin.

Ld. Ch. Jus. Nay; if it be a blunder in the Latin, it was a blunder of your making; for you spoke it so in English, and the indictment in Latin must exactly pursue the English.

Ros. Then, my lord, here is another expression, that they suffered ‘ Romanam superstitionem,’ ‘ Popery’ to come in.

Ld. Ch. Jus. Aye; is not that well expressed?

Ros. My lord, there may be superstition in the worship of the Church of Rome, and yet not be the thing we call Popery.

Ld. Ch. Jus. There may so, you say right; but then this comes under the same reason, as the former phrase you objected against,’ morbus regni.’ Because ‘ Romana superstitio,’ is such a general word, and because there are several superstitions in the Romish Church, abundance of them; and this may make it uncertain; and because we have no other word to express what we call Popery by, therefore there is an Anglice put in, to show what is meant.

Ros. Then, my lord, it is said, ‘ in eorum conspectu,’ is that right, my lord?

Ld. Ch. Jus. Yes, Anglice under their noses.

Ros. That is in their sight.

Ld. Ch. Jus. Pray, how would you put that in Latin, under their noses.

Ros. My lord; if I should speak according to the other parts of the Latin of this indictment, which your lordship says must exactly pursue the English, I would render it, ‘ sub naribus illorum.’

Ld. Ch. Jus. Such people suffer conventicles under their noses, ‘in eorum conspectu.’

Jus. Holloway. It is not your nose, that sees.

Ld. Ch. Jus. Suffer rebellion under your noses; are these things, ‘sub naribus,’ or ‘ in conspectu?’

Ros. My lord, this could not possibly be spoken of the late king and this king; when the precedent king died a professed zealous protestant, and his present majesty has so often, and earnestly declared against it.

Ld. Ch. Jus. We know that very well; but yet withal we know, it was the pretence of Popery and arbitrary power, and those things, that brought that blessed martyr to the scaffold; and the great cry now at this day, by all factious and seditious busy fellows, is against Popery; as if it were just breaking in upon us, and the government abetted it; when it is all false, nothing more untrue; the indictment calls it so, says these words are spoken ‘/also et malitiose;’ and all treasons are so.

Ros. Then, my lord, there is another thing, ‘ si ipsi starent ad fundamentalia eorum,’ Anglice, ‘ would stand to their principles or principals;’ for, I know not how it is in the indictment. Pray, my lord, how comes ‘ fundamentalia,’ to signify, ‘principles.’

Ld. Ch. Jus. Their principlesj that is, their foundations or fundamentals. ‘If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?’ says the Psalmist. The Latin bible expresses it by ‘fundamentalia.’

Ros. Then it is, ‘ si ipsi’ in the third person ; now my lord, in common sense, that must needs refer to the two wicked kings that were spoken of just before, or to the king and his subjects spoken of afterwards; and then sure it cannot be treason.

Ld. Ch. Jus. No; ‘they,’ that is, I and you that are here. It was spoken to your congregation. If they would stand to their principles; then come ‘the broken platters,’ &tc.

Ros. If it were spoken to them and of them, it must have been ‘ you ‘ or ‘ we.’ Then, it is added in the end, my lord, ‘fractis patinis,’ ‘ broken platters,’ your lordship lias remembered me of that word. My lord, I did hear, that Mrs. Smith, did swear at Kingston assizes, it was ‘pewter platters.’

Ld. Ch. Jus. I do not know what she swore there; now I am sure she swears as it is in the indictment, &tc. &c.

After some further criticisms, Mr. Rosewell commenced his defence, and, that the ridiculous expressions charged against him and absurdly made the foundation of an indictment for high treason, were never used by Mr. Rosewell, was conclusively proved by the testimony of a great number of witnesses, who agreed in their account of the discourses, denied that he uttered the words charged, stated the language which he did use, and made it quite clear, that it was entirely owing to a misapprehension of his meaning, that the women testified as they did. For, according to these witnesses of Mr. Rosewell’s, some of whom, being in the practice of taking notes, had committed to writing some parts of his discourses, what he really did say, was in substance as follows, and was delivered by him while expounding the 20th chapter of Genesis. After reading some of the first verses of that chapter, he took occasion to observe, from the conduct of Abraham there mentioned, that a good man might fall into the same sin, again and again. One instance, which he mentioned was that of Jehoshaphat, who sinfully joined with two wicked kings, first with Ahab, and afterwards with Ahaziah. On the seventh verse, he observed that the prayers of the prophets have been very prevalent for the healing of others. He instanced the prophet who rebuked king Jeroboam, and when the king’s hand became withered, because he threatened the prophet with it, and the king intreated the prophet that it might be restored, it was healed at his intercession. Mr. Rosewell in his discourse then quoted from an annotator on the bible, ‘that a godly man’s prayer is a sovereign cure of the king’s evil,’ not meaning the scrofula; but any disease which a king might happen to have, &c. There was nothing said about ‘ flocking to the king ‘ at all.

In his second discourse, he expounded Heb. 11. v. 12 which alludes to Abraham’s having a son in his extreme old age, from whom a great multitude of descendants sprung. He took occasion to observe, that God could effect great matters by very small and improbable means. He instanced the throwing down of Jericho by the sound of rams’ horns, the destruction of the Midianites by Gideon, with a few broken pitchers, and the killing of Goliath by David with a sling.

It seems probable, these women, immediately after they heard these discourses of Mr. Rosewell, had conversed together in relation to them, and had agreed in putting their own erroneous interpretation upon them, and through the effect of imagination, had come to the belief that he had actually made use of the expressions charged, because they expressed the meaning, which, on a conference with each other, they concluded was intended by Mr. Rosewell. Mr. Rosewell’s loyalty and innocence of any treasonable intention was established in evidence by a great number of witnesses, who testified particularly to his uniform practice of praying publicly for the king. On one occasion he was overheard praying for him in secret prayer, by one of his servants. He was however found guilty of high treason, and would have been executed, if there had not been a want of technical certainty in the indictment, in describing the charge. As soon as Mr. Rosewell made the exception, it was readily entertained by Ch. Jus. Jeffries, who stood firmly by the law, and seemed disposed to sustain the exception. But, in all probability, it was thought to be bad policy to let a prisoner off, by a motion made in arrest of judgment for a defect in the indictment, which, it does not appear, could have been avoided, and Mr. Rosewell was therefore pardoned.

After the exception to the indictment for want of certainty, was made by Mr. Rosewell, the Chief Justice assigned Mr. Pollexfeu to be his counsel to argue the motion in arrest of judgment; Mr. Pollexfen then moved for a copy of the indictment, because it might be necessary to know its precise tenor. The Ch. Jus. would not grant it, but expressed his opinion of the unreasonableness of withholding it, in the following terms.

‘Why look ye, Mr. Pollexfen,—If you speak to me privately as to my own particular opinion, it is hard for me to say, that there is any express resolution of the law in the matter; but the practice has always been to deny a copy of the indictment. And, therefore, if you ask me as a judge, to have a copy of the indictment delivered to you in a case of high treason, I must answer you, show me any precedents where it was done. For, there are abundance of cases in the law, which seem hard in themselves; but the law is so, because the practice has been so, and we cannot alter the practice of the law without an act of parliament. I think it is a hard case, that a man should have counsel to defend himself for a two-penny trespass, and his witnesses examined upon oath; but, if he steal, commit murder or felony, nay, high treason, where life, estate, honour, and all are concerned, he shall neither have counsel, nor his witnesses examined upon oath; but yet you know as well as I, that the practice of the law is so; and the practice is the law.’

It is very plain from many’other cases, besides those which have been named, that it is too much to expect of the trial by jury, that it should always guaranty a fair trial to the prisoner, even if the jury are free from all responsibility for the correctness of their verdict, unless the prisoner has secured to him, the right to a copy of the indictment, that of being heard by his counsel without any restrictions whatever as to questions of law; the right to compel the attendance of his witnesses, and that of having them put on oath, all which were formerly withheld.

But so long as juries shall be protected in the free exercise of their understandings, as they now are in this country, it will be impossible for any government to practise any very gross oppression upon the citizens in general, under the forms of legal trials.

It is on this account, that the people should carefully guard this mode of trial from change or alteration. For, as it is one of the strongest safeguards of the civil rights of the people; it will be one of the first upon which lawless power will desire to lay its hands, under the pretext of improvement. But, here at least, it is hoped, the hand of innovation will be prevented from any modifications which will affect its sense of common interest, its impartiality and independence.

It is true, juries are very properly under the control of the court in many respects; and may be punished for a contempt, if they neglect or refuse to perform their duty; if they refuse to submit to the lawful direction of the court as to their behaviour during a trial; as, for example, if they should refuse to como in or to go out at the request of the court, or should persist in disturbing the course of a trial by grossly disorderly conduct, persisting in asking illegal questions after notice from the court, or any other similar absurdities or improprieties. And therefore it has been held, that, if the jury separate improperly, they may be punished at the discretion of the court, as for a contempt. 2 B. & Al. 462. So, if they should eat or drink without the direction of the court, before finding their verdict, even if it be at their own expense; but, for a stronger reason, if at the expense of one of the parties. See Vaugli. 153. In Plowd. 518, a case is mentioned of a juror, who was fined twenty shillings for having sugar candy, he. found upon him. So, they are fineable, if they are unlawfully dealt with. See 1 Dyer, 55. pl. 8. And a juror who has been challenged and taken from the pannel, is punishable for speaking with the rest after departure from the bar. 2 Ro. 85.

But; juries are left entirely free from any other motives to agree upon their verdicts, than those of reason and conscience, and a regard for truth and justice. Where there is no probability that they will agree, it would be an act of oppression to keep them together an unreasonable time. And there is no reason to do it in modern times; since it seems to be quite settled, that even in a capital case, if the jury cannot agree, they may be discharged, and the proceedings may be repeated before another jury, toties quoties, until a jury can be found who will agree in their verdict.

It ought not to be dissembled, however, that doubts have been entertained, whether in general the merit of this popular mode of trial is not greatly overrated. On this account it was intended to notice some of the exceptions, to which it seems most exposed. But, as this chapter has already overrun its assigned limits, it must suffice merely to allude to some of the more prominent ones, and to submit them without comment to the intelligence of the reader.

1. It has been thought incongruous, that though juries have no adequate knowledge of the law independent of the charge of the court, yet they may, if they please, decide directly contrary to it; and thus, while they have not discernment enough to do right, they are entrusted with a power to do wrong.

2. Where damages are certain, all juries must decide alike; when they are uncertain, no two juries would give the same verdict.

3. In cases, where questions of party politics have been brought up, it has frequently been found, that the jury has divided in opinion according to the politics of the jurors.

4. In cases where local interests, or popular prejudices or feelings, are concerned, a stranger, or one who is not of the tribe or clan, must rest satisfied with very meagre justice.

5. Juries are affected by circumstances of pomp, display, plausibility, vain glory; and are influenced by eloquence, authority and reputation, as much as by considerations of truth, and justice. It is easier to persuade them, by an appeal to their sympathy, than to convince them by argument.

6. They are usually more merciful than judges, though not always; but not so just. Yet the jury decides whether a crime has been committed or not, which would seem to require the most exact justice; while the judge frequently determines the amount of punishment, which would seem to afford an opportunity for the exercise of mercy.

Whatever may be thought of these exceptions, it is clear that the value of the trial by jury, must always depend upon the degree of virtue and intelligence prevalent among those citizens, from whom juries are selected.

Continued in CHAPTER VI: Of the Rights of Witnesses.

See the other parts of this series:
RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: General Rights; Division One
RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: General Rights; Division Two
RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: General Rights; The Social Compact
RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: The Powers delegated to the General Government in the Federal Constitution
RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: Powers delegated to the State Governments
RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: The Independence of the States
RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: The rights reserved to the people of the United States
RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: Of the right of suffrage and of elections
RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: The Liberty of Speech and of the Press
RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: The Power of Courts to punish for Contempts
RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: The Law of Libel in relation to Public Officers
RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: The mode of obtaining redress for infringement of civil or political rights

RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: The Liberty of Speech and of the Press

LibertySpeechThe Rights of an American Citizen: With a Commentary on State Rights, and on the Constitution and Policy of the United States by Benjamin Lynde Oliver published 1832


CHAPTER II; Of the Liberty of Speech and of the Press.

“We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.� ~ John Adams

1st-amendIt is a prevailing error among persons, who have not ‘been properly educated, that the less restraint there is in the laws and constitution of a state, the greater is the share of civil liberty which the citizens enjoy. The reverse is much nearer the truth. The restraint of the violent, licentious and unjust, constitutes the only safe foundation for the liberty of the just, peaceable and well disposed. It is the sole object of civil government to protect the latter against the injustice and violence of the former. When an outcry is made for a greater degree of liberty, than is already enjoyed, an inquiry should always be made, what sort of persons they are who make the outcry, and what is the nature of the liberty for which they ask? Is it a freedom to practice wrong upon others with impunity, which they claim, or is it security from having it practiced upon themselves? The former is as shameless and reprehensible, as the latter is reasonable and proper.

There is no government so bad among civilized nations, as to acknowledge as a principle, the right to compel the performance of wicked actions, or to hinder the performance of any actions, which are indispensable to the discharge of any duties of perfect or even of imperfect obligation. There is but little ground to apprehend an infringement of liberty in either of these respects. But, it is in relation to those actions, which, in a moral point of view, are indifferent, that a nation should be considered as enjoying a greater or less degree of civil liberty. Under tyrannical governments, indeed, it is common to say that one is more free than another, because of the greater or less liability to the violation of personal rights in one than in another; but, in fact, where either life or property may be taken from a citizen without law or trial, there is no liberty at all. A law, made to prevent the citizens from doing things, which if there were no such law, they might do without impropriety, is a restraint upon those only who would do them, if there were no such law. If therefore the tendency of any such act, is found to be injurious to the welfare of the community, it may be prohibited out of regard to the public good, and this ought not to be considered as any infringement of the liberty of the citizens. For, as soon as the law is passed, the citizens have notice, that such acts are inconsistent with the public welfare. This notice alone would be sufficient to prevent a good citizen from doing them, if there were no law against it. The law therefore is passed for those citizens, who can be restrained in no other way, and though it is a restraint upon the bad, constitutes the only security of the good.

Where actions, which in a moral point of view are indifferent, and do not at all interfere with or interrupt the welfare or prosperity of society, are prohibited, it constitutes an infringement of liberty; and, if such prohibitions result from the caprice of the rulers, or, are imposed by them to subserve some selfish interests, it constitutes a direct invasion of civil liberty, and a nation is deprived of its freedom in proportion to the number of such unnecessary restraints. But prohibitions and restraints, however numerous, so long as they contribute to -the happiness and prosperity of society, are no infringement of civil liberty. How excessive therefore is the simplicity of those peaceable and well disposed citizens, who join in the clamor, which factious and unprincipled men make for the repeal of laws, which impose salutary restraints! For, what is the true motive of the outcry, which such turbulent individuals raise on such occasions? Is it patriotism, and a regard for the liberties of the citizens, as they pretend? Or, is it because they are not unwilling to sacrifice the welfare of society to advance their own private interests, and wish to annul all laws, which prevent them? But, is it wisdom in the sheep, to desire the wolves to be let loose among them?

In applying these remarks to the subject of the present chapter, it may be observed, that every man has a natural right to express his honest sentiments on every subject that arises. But, he has no right to misrepresent facts; neither has he a right to tell even the truth with any malicious or ill intention. The limits of this right in a state of nature, are therefore very apparent, and consist in benevolence as to intention, truth as to statements, and sincerity as to sentiments and professions. In civilized society, the right of freedom of speech, is further restrained by such regulations, as political expediency may have imposed with a view to the public welfare. But, as the laws of society impose restraints upon the natural right of freedom of speech, in certain cases from motives of policy, so, on the other hand, in certain cases, it suffers simple falsehood however naturally wrong, to escape with impunity. The first is punished, because a violation of express law; the latter is passed over unnoticed by the law, in cases, where it is presumed, no ill consequences ensue.

To be more particular; no language however false or malicious is considered in law, as a sufficient justification for personal aggression. So, also, no redress, can be had by applying to any tribunal of justice, for any language of mere insult or contumely, however false and malicious, unless it charges a man with having committed some crime; or, impeaches his character, skill, capacity or integrity in his trade, profession or occupation ; unless some instances of particular damage sustained in consequence, can be established by evidence; or, unless it charges him with some disgusting distemper, that renders him unacceptable among decent people.

But, by the law of nature, where a man has suffered injuries of the kind just referred to, whether they are such as he might obtain redress for, by the laws of civilized society or not, it would be difficult to show that he had not a right to use the same means to obtain reparation, which he has in case of other injuries offered to his person. Those injuries, for which no action can be maintained before the tribunals of justice established in an organized community, are supposed by the law to be too inconsiderable to be a subject of legal animadversion; and as the exercise of the right of obtaining reparation personally, would lead to continual breaches of the peace, the policy of society forbids recourse to any such measures. In this way it happens, that no redress whatever can be had for words of mere contumely or insult. Yet, unfortunately, it seems that those very injuries, which consist in opprobrious language, considered by the law of too little consequence to maintain an action, are among the most frequent causes of bloodshed by duels. For, men, who are not under the influence of Christianity, if they find that they cannot obtain protection or reparation under the laws of society, which it was organized to furnish, are very apt to consider the law of nature as still so far subsisting; and therefore adopt the same measures to obtain redress for such wrongs, as if no society had ever been organized. This view of the subject points out at once, both the cause and the remedy of dueling. For, legislation against dueling will always remain unavailing, until either some adequate means of obtaining redress, for such injuries as commonly lead to duels, are provided by law; or, such heavy penalties are imposed, as will prevent such injuries from being offered. Such measures, it is true, would considerably abridge the freedom of speech among a certain class in society, but, it cannot be doubted, that an advantage would arise to the public in general, from such a restraint upon the licentious and ill bred.

Free_PressIn the first amendment to the constitution, congress is prohibited to pass any law, to abridge the freedom of speech or of the press. It has never been pretended, that congress has any power to enlarge the natural right, which men have of communicating their sentiments to each other, and consequently this amendment was made merely in order to prevent this natural right from being abridged. When, therefore, the limits of this natural right are once clearly ascertained, no law, though made by congress for the express purpose of punishing those, who overstep the limits of this natural right, will be unconstitutional on the mere ground that it abridges the freedom of speech. For, as it is the natural right which congress is forbidden to abridge, if congress merely punishes those acts which have no authority at all in natural right, the constitution will not be violated. This view of the subject is sufficient to show, that congress is not prohibited by this amendment to the constitution, to enact any laws which they may think proper, to punish libels upon those who are engaged in the administration of the general government. For, no man has any natural right to slander another, by inventing, circulating and publishing malicious falsehoods in relation to his character. Consequently, no natural right is infringed by a law enacted to punish such injuries.

In republican governments, however, as the election of the rulers is made by the people, it is necessary, in order to put it in their power to make a judicious selection, that they should have great freedom, both in discussing the tendency of all public measures of the administration, as well as the conduct of all public officers. They ought also to be permitted to express their conjectures or suspicions as to the motives by which those officers are actuated. They ought also to be allowed to communicate to each other, with the utmost freedom, what they know or have heard, as to the principles, religious, moral or political, of any candidate for any public office, who consents to stand, as likewise, as to his general private character or conduct. This freedom seems necessary to enable the people to give their votes with proper intelligence and discrimination. Because, a bad moral character is decisive proof, that a man is not properly actuated by religious principles, however he may profess them, and no man whose conduct is not thus actuated, is a safe depositary of any office of trust, public or private.

But, no man has a right, either legal or moral, to traduce the character of any candidate for public office, upon mere surmise. If therefore he undertakes to state any facts or circumstances, which are injurious to the character of a candidate for office, it ought not to be considered any abridgment of the freedom of speech, or of the press, that he should be held answerable for damages in a civil action, unless he can prove the truth of his statements; and, if such false statements are circulated through the medium of the press, there is no hardship upon the wrongdoer, in holding him answerable criminally, on an indictment for a libel.

With regard to the constitution of the United States, as well as the constitutions of the respective states, as also, the general and state administrations, it is essential to the liberty and welfare of the citizens, that great freedom of observation and discussion should be permitted. Because, if there is any thing defective in the Federal Constitution, or, in any of the state constitutions, the people ought to have an opportunity of having it pointed out, in order to avail themselves of the power of amendment, which is reserved to them. So, if any measures of the general administration, should be thought to be inexpedient, unjust or dishonorable, the citizens ought to have a right to express their opinions to each other, in order that those rulers or other officers, who may have forfeited the confidence of the people and betrayed their own trust, may be removed from office. The same reasons apply to the state administrations. Great latitude of remark should be permitted here, because freedom of remark and discussion on these topics, tend to enlighten the people and enable them to remedy any particular evils which may be found either in the frame of government, or in the laws, or in the administration of public affairs in general.

But it would be a gross abuse of this right, which it would be no violation of the constitution to restrain by law, to make a pretext of it, in order to bring the whole frame of government into contempt with the people, with the detestable object of inducing them to throw off all government, and thus introduce a state of anarchy and confusion.

Most of the preceding remarks are applicable to the freedom of the press, as well as to the freedom of speech; and the salutary and reasonable restraint of both, by enacting laws for the punishment of slander, or libels, whether against individuals, or against decency and good manners, furnishes no juster cause of complaint, than all offenders have ; who may complain with the same propriety against laws made to punish theft, robbery and murder, as being made in restraint of freedom of action.

But, in relation to the freedom of the press, it may be observed, that the press is said to be free, when it is not required by any law that writings, intended for publication, should be subjected to the inspection of commissioners, appointed for the purpose of examining literary works, and determining whether the publication of them will or will not have a bad effect upon the cause of religion or morality, and licensing or forbidding their publication accordingly. By our law no man can be restrained from publishing whatever he pleases, because he is not under any obligation to submit his works to the examination of any person or persons, previous to publication, and, until publication, no one can know what the work contains. But, the author and publisher are both held answerable, civilly, for damages done to individuals, and criminally for the public offence if any is committed by such publication, in whatever it may consist, whether in its tendency to lead to a breach of the public peace, or to corrupt the public morals. The constitution also forbids congress to lay any such restraint on the press, as should require authors to submit their writings to the inspection of any one before publication; so that, whatever expediency may dictate in relation to the subject, congress cannot impose any such restraint upon the freedom of the press without violating the constitution. Whatever the truth may be as to the soundness of this policy, it is the more popular doctrine, that it is a less evil to give every individual an opportunity of publishing his lucubrations, however offensive they possibly may be to decency and good morals, and even though they should be filled with blasphemy and licentiousness, than to require him, before publication, to submit them to the inspection of any individuals, though selected by the people for their wisdom, knowledge and virtues. But, it must be acknowledged, that some compositions have a most detestable tendency, and, that when once published, it is absolutely impossible to suppress them. In ordinary cases, it is most surely gross folly to lose an opportunity of preventing an evil, which, as soon as it exists, becomes incurable and remediless. But it will be objected, that in this case it cannot be done without infringing the liberty of the citizens. This is one of the pretenses, which are always made use of, to keep good men in bondage or else in continual strife with the perverseness of the dissolute, as if there were any hardship in restraining bad men from doing what good men esteem it a crime to commit. It is not to be doubted, that much of the difficulty of obtaining the consent of the people to subject the press to salutary regulations, arises from the repugnance of authors to submit their works to an examination to decide upon their merits; because such an inspection of their works seems to imply some superiority in the inspectors. But, if the examination is confined to the simple inquiries, whether the composition has any article in it, tending to sap the foundation of religion or morality, or to disturb the general tranquility and welfare of society, no one will have any reason to complain but the advocates of Atheism, Anarchy, and universal licentiousness. It may readily be shown, however, that any such restraint, after the character of a work is once ascertained, would not be contrary to the true spirit of the constitution; because the constitution intended only to prevent congress from restraining the natural right of the citizens, to impart their sentiments freely to each other. But this right does not extend so far as to protect attempts to corrupt society and overthrow its institutions, by setting open a gate, through which blasphemy, impiety, indecency, irreligion, and bad principles may enter, and, having once taken possession, introduce their followers and attendants, vice, immorality and every species of corrupt practice. It is true, the admirers of such writers as Paine, Byron and Moore, if the most exceptionable writings, or passages in the works of each, had been suppressed or expunged, would have had reason to complain, that the principal beauties of those authors, according to their opinions, were strangled in their birth, yet, it is believed, that most persons of consideration and reflection are of opinion, that the preservation of the principles and morals of the young and inexperienced, is a more than sufficient counterbalance for the loss of all the brilliant or spicy passages in the writings of either of those authors, even though accompanied with the total suppression of the rest. But, as long as those who profess to aim only at the public good, are unwilling to submit to any such tribunal, though their works would not be affected by its decrees, it will be vain to expect such as have no way of effecting their base or selfish purposes, but by the perversion of the liberty of the press, to agree to such a restraint of this liberty, as would put an end to their schemes and defeat their intentions.

But, in a political point of view, in which it is probable the subject was principally considered by those, who framed the first amendment to the constitution, nothing could be more odious to a free people, than to have the press subjected to the control of the government, or to the administration for the time being. For, in this way, the liberty of the people would cease to be any thing more than a theme for public declamation, without any existence in reality. Because, the censors, being under bondage to those who appointed them, would permit nothing to be published, however true, that might reflect disgrace upon the administration; and, consequently the most odious and impolitic measures, the most tyrannical acts, and the most gross public injuries would alike escape without redress or even animadversion. Party bias and corruption, it is true, are found to take the place of restraint, in some measure, in producing similar effects, since if credit is to be given to what the editors of public journals say of each other, there is no public measure, however just and expedient, of any administration, which will not be decried and imputed to degrading motives by its opponents; while on the other hand, there is no act, however immoral, however degrading to the national character, however unjust in itself, which will not be either applauded, justified or extenuated, by the editors of administration papers for the time being, according to the supposed various degrees of credulity in political partisans; and generally there seems to be hardly any absurdity, however incredible and monstrous, which some editors will not be shameless enough to force into the mental repositories of their readers, and which, however difficult of deglutition, certain readers will not be willing to receive, as the richest intellectual food. It may be urged, indeed, that if delusion and error arise from these sources, it can happen to such only as prefer darkness and prejudice, to light and just perception; because, on the supposition, that all party papers contain more or less sophistry and misrepresentation of facts, as well as carefully suppress the mention of all circumstances favorable to the views of their opponents, a person who makes it a rule to disbelieve totally whatever one party asserts to the disadvantage of the other, or in praise of its own leaders, unless established by proof, will not be liable to fall into any dangerous error or mistake. This however will be an insufficient protection for those simple persons, who, from whatever motive, confine their reading to the publications of the party whose livery they wear, and consequently are entirely in the power of the editors who furnish them with their daily portion of news and intelligence, and instruct them what ground they are to take in relation to all unexpected occurrences in the political world. For, such simple persons, having neither knowledge nor principles, by which to regulate their own conduct, if any circumstance should be alleged to the disadvantage of their party leaders, would act imprudently, if they ventured to express any public opinion in relation to it, before they had received their direction from the view taken of it in the newspapers of their own party. But, as soon as this view is published, there will no longer be any danger of committing themselves; but, they will know at once whether to deny the fact charged, or, to justify or palliate it, or, to make use of recrimination.

If the freedom of the press consists in the right of publishing to the world our sentiments, on whatever subjects we please, this freedom will be found to be restrained by a variety of circumstances, altogether independent of any provisions of the law.

It has been suggested already, that if a person publishes any thing offensive to good manners, he may be indicted and punished for it as a crime, whether the fact alleged be true or not.

So, a person may be indicted for a libel on the character of an individual, and punished for it as an offence against the public peace. In such cases, the punishments imposed by law, operate as restraints upon the freedom of the press, by making publishers answerable for the consequences, and sometimes even for the tendencies of what they publish. But the restraints alluded to, are of a different nature from these, and operate a priori, to prevent publication directly, and not, to produce that effect merely by punishing such as ought not to be made. These restraints however are confined to newspapers and periodical journals: For instance; suppose an individual is desirous of publishing his sentiments on some subject, whether connected with religion, morals, political economy, or a mere party question; here it is obvious, with whatever justice, truth or ability those sentiments may be expressed and enforced, unless he is willing to go to the expense of publishing a book or pamphlet, it is quite uncertain whether he will be able to lay them before the public. For, if the editors of the journals or newspapers, to whom his composition is offered, should entertain a different view of the subject, and should be apprehensive that the communication would alter the opinions of the subscribers to their journals or newspapers, there can be but little doubt that they would refuse to publish it, though perfectly free from the least tinge of irreligion or immorality. This would be most strikingly true, if the composition offered were of a political nature, but did not coincide with the opinions or prejudices of the editor, or those of his subscribers, or his party in general. And the more eloquent the composition might be, and the more convincing and persuasive his reasonings, if they tended to remove any of the foundations upon which the party was erected, the less probability there would be that the editor would consent to the publication. Because, however great a friend the editor of a party newspaper may be to truth and the interest of his country, or in other words, the general welfare of the whole, it cannot be doubted that he will prefer the interest of what he considers the better part, to wit, his own party.

These reflections are sufficient to make it apparent, that the public journals as at present conducted, are by no means so favorable to the propagation of truth and the diffusion ‘of correct information, where political questions are concerned, as they are sometimes supposed to be. For, though a popular error or prejudice is already tottering on its foundation, as soon as the people are willing to hear it spoken against; yet, if the means of communication are kept from them, each individual must of course correct his own errors and mistakes for himself, and will derive no assistance from the superior ability or illumination of any of his neighbors. It follows, that so far as newspapers are concerned, the press is not free, but each writer or paragraphist must submit his piece for examination and license, not to a learned chancellor, not to a body of men selected for that purpose on account of their wisdom, virtue and integrity, but to the learning, political integrity, and impartiality of the editor of a party newspaper. Such freedom of the press is hardly worth the trouble of protection.

In order that the press should be free from any restraints but those of religion, decency and good manners, by which, it is hoped it will always be controlled, the management of a newspaper should be considered as a public employment, and the editor should consequently hold himself out to his fellow citizens, as pledged to no party or faction whatever, but, like a common carrier, ready to receive all comers, who were willing to pay a stated reasonable compensation for the insertion of their communications, provided they were free from libelous matter of any kind. If the people at large were to make it an inflexible rule, to patronize by their subscriptions those newspapers only which should be conducted on this principle, it is believed it would be attended with the happiest political effects. For,

1. It would be impossible to corrupt any editors of newspapers with the prospect of deriving any advantage from it, without its being exposed at once; since each individual would have an opportunity of inserting his communication, in its turn, in anjr of the daily newspapers, provided it had not already been published, and, if its publication were refused without the allegation of a sufficient satisfactory reason, the public would immediately perceive the true motive.

2. The demoralizing spectacle of the array of many of the newspapers in the country against each other, in the most indecent and ungentlemanly opposition, accusing each other of falsehood, bribery, corruption, &c. &c. would wholly cease. Each editor would consider himself officially neutral, like a judicial officer, and would hold himself in no manner accountable for the communications of his correspondents, any further than to see that they did not violate the dictates of good manners, and the laws of the land.

3. The editors of newspapers would then enjoy the highest degree of true independence and respectability. For, by the impartial discharge of their duty, it would be as much impossible that they should give offence to any reasonable man, by the insertion of communications which did not agree with his particular opinions, as it would for the owner of a public vehicle to give offence to some of his customers, by carrying others of different political sentiments.

4. They could never be accused of being the mere tools of a faction, when their papers were equally accessible to the communications of all persons, of all parties, or of no party.

5. The leaders of any party or faction would have no motive to attempt to hire or corrupt any press, because it could not remain concealed from the public, but would immediately be detected and hooted at by the abused people; the nature of the communications published, and those which would be rejected, furnishing conclusive internal evidence.

6. No editor of a paper would then ever feel compelled by interested considerations, to wear the livery of any party or faction whatever, and would be under no temptation to act from any other motives than a regard for truth, justice and the welfare of his country.

For further remarks on the Liberty of the Press, and some adjudged cases as to the legal liability of Editors, see Chap. IV. of this part.

Continued inPART II; CHAPTER III: Of the Power of Courts to punish for Contempts.

See the other parts of this series:
RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: General Rights; Division One
RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: General Rights; Division Two
RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: General Rights; The Social Compact
RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: The Powers delegated to the General Government in the Federal Constitution
RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: Powers delegated to the State Governments
RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: The Independence of the States
RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: The rights reserved to the people of the United States
RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: Of the right of suffrage and of elections
RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: The Liberty of Speech and of the Press
RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: The Power of Courts to punish for Contempts
RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: The Law of Libel in relation to Public Officers
RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: The mode of obtaining redress for infringement of civil or political rights
The Importance of Free Speech and The Free Press in America

RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: Of the right of suffrage and of elections

ElectionIntegrity1The Rights of an American Citizen: With a Commentary on State Rights, and on the Constitution and Policy of the United States by Benjamin Lynde Oliver published 1832


CHAPTER I: Of the right of suffrage and of elections.

In governments, where the power is retained in the hands of the people, and is exercised in their name by such delegates as they see fit to appoint from time to time for that purpose, the right to take a part in such appointment or delegation, belongs to every constituent member of the social compact, upon which the government is grounded. This right, in whatever manner it may be exercised, is the right of suffrage. It also comprehends within it, the right which each member has of voting upon all subjects, in relation to which the people see fit to exercise their political power personally, and not through the medium of representatives or delegates.

ElectionIntegrity3The simplest form of a popular government, is that of a pure democracy, where the people meet together in primary assemblies and make such laws and regulations for the conduct of the members of the society, as they see fit. In the formation of any such government, a difficulty would meet them at the outset. For, as soon as any measure was proposed, it would immediately be found that some would be in favor of it, while others would be equally opposed to it. In this case, one party or the other must recede, or the society would be dissolved. Because each individual would think himself justified in saying that he did not intend, by joining the society, to have his feelings or interests made a sacrifice to those of others; that therefore nothing should be done without his concurrence, or he would secede. This, it is obvious, he would have a perfect right to do, until some regulation on this subject had been unanimously agreed upon by all the members. It would soon appear, therefore, since perfect unanimity could seldom be found among them, that the society would gradually melt away by the withdrawing of discontented individuals, unless some substitute for it were agreed upon by the society. They would therefore very naturally adopt the principle of mutual concession, and agree that the will of the greater number should bind the whole society, in the same manner as if they had all been unanimous. Not that this is always to be considered as conclusive proof, that the measure approved of by the majority, is really the most wise and expedient; for, perfect unanimity itself would afford no such proof. But as, according to the democratic theory, all the associates or members of society are equal in wisdom and virtue, as well as in their rights, the probability that a measure is wise and expedient, is in direct proportion to the numbers who vote in favor of it, and vice versa. It is true, only a few out of the whole number, really possess wisdom, but those few are perhaps more likely to be found in the majority of the whole, than in the minority. But, however this may be, experience teaches us, that every man supposes himself to have his share, and whether he have or have not, at all events he has a will, and this he will never yield to the control of another spontaneously, unless he finds it for his interest to do so.

It is very clear, therefore, that though it may be perfectly natural, in the familiar use of the term, that the members of a society should agree, at the first formation of it, that the express will or vote of the greater number, should always have the effect of perpetual unanimity, yet this effect has no other foundation whatever, in natural right. For, it is believed, a case can neither be put nor imagined, where, independently of a previous agreement, that the vote of the majority shall prevail, the greater number have any such right to control the whole society, that the smaller number, or minority, are under a moral obligation to submit to their decision. On the contrary, the right of self preservation, as well in the smaller number as in the larger, must always be paramount, in the absence of express agreement, to any such pretended right in others, whether more or less numerous. Each individual has a right to place his own safety on the exercise of his own judgment alone. , The man at the helm has as much right to steer a ship on Scylla, if he thinks self-preservation demands it, as all the rest of the crew have to compel him, if they can, to turn towards Charybdis. If therefore necessity itself acknowledges no such paramount right in the majority, it is clear that it can have no other just foundation, than that of convention or agreement. selves as well as their country, and so favorable a conjuncture will enable them to command the highest price.

The prevalence of the democratic notion, that the majority have a natural right to decide and govern the whole, has probably prevented an examination of the question, whether a better rule might not be adopted in public assemblies than the usual one, that the vote of a mere majority shall decide in all cases. That there are many inconveniences resulting from the adoption of it, is very clear; and that these inconveniences may not be obviated by a modification or qualification of this rule, is not easily demonstrable.

The inconveniences which result from the adoption of the rule, that a majority, however small, and though consisting of a single individual, more than the number of the minority, shall be sufficient to determine the rejection or adoption of all public measures, however important, are the following, viz.

1. The casual absence of one or two members, may enable the minority to pass laws or adopt other public measures, entirely contrary to the will of the majority.

2. If there is merely the difference of one between the majority and the minority, any single individual has it in his power to control the whole legislative body of which he is a member, and may turn the scale in all cases when the whole number is thus divided, at his caprice or discretion. Here the individual, having the least reputation to preserve, the least regard for principle; and who is most susceptible of corrupt influences, will be most apt to gain the ascendancy. For, men of character and principle will stand firm, out of a regard to duty and consistency. But unprincipled men will sell them

3. But, upon the improbable supposition, that there is not a single unprincipled individual in the legislative assembly, it follows, that the person possessing the most feeble intellect, and who consequently is the most wavering and unsettled, will immediately become of the greatest influence and importance. All the rest may be firm from a settled conviction of the justness of their views of the subject. But, this individual having less knowledge and discernment, will act from motives of ostentation and vain glory.

4. But, if they are all men of sense and integrity, still it is found by experience, that a public measure of any considerable importance, which is adopted by the vote of a small majority, is of doubtful expediency, and seldom attended with a good result. The reason is, not only because the minority is so numerous, that it may be considered an equal question, whether in reality the adoption of the measure is wise or not; but, because the people immediately become divided into factions in relation to the subject. The question, though settled for that time, will be brought up again and again. The public mind is kept in a state of excitement and exasperation in respect to it. Intrigue and corruption are resorted to. The public policy in relation to the great interests of the country, continue uncertain and wavering, because laws are first enacted, then modified, then repealed, then re-enacted with qualifications, &c. &c. The parties prevail alternately, but never without great heat, strife and animosity, and if the question is ever finally settled, it is through the influence of any considerations, rather than those of justice, wisdom or public expediency.

Many of these inconveniences would be avoided by requiring the sanction of a larger proportion, than a mere majority of a quorum. Let a decisive majority consisting of two thirds of a quorum, always be necessary to authorize a change in the existing state of public affairs, by the adoption of new measures, and there would be an end to most of the evils just referred to. For, unless the expediency of a law or other public measure, were very apparent, there would be no probability, that two thirds of the legislature would be in favor of its enactment or adoption; and, if so, the opposition would have but little prospect of success in any attempts, which they might make to procure its repeal. Thus public policy would be less subject to change. For, as it would require the concurrence of two thirds to enact a law, it would also require the concurrence of two thirds to repeal it. This would produce a proper caution in the enactment of laws; for, though a fraction over one third of the quorum, would be sufficient to prevent the enactment of a law, a majority of twice that number would be necessary to procure any modification of it. This rule is wisely adopted in relation to amendments of the constitution, where frequent changes would be absolutely intolerable; and it is believed, great advantages would immediately be perceived, if it were extended to the acts of the federal and state legislatures.

In the election of rulers and other public officers, different considerations will necessarily vary the conclusion. Here, a mere majority of voices ought to be allowed to prevail; because if two thirds were required, it would always be in the power of a numerou s minority to prevent the choice of any other candidate than their own. A plurality of votes, where there are more candidates than two, ought not to be sufficient to constitute a choice; because, in this way, there is a possibility that the individual most odious to a majority of the voters, may prevail in the election.

C-Voter-ID(1)In a republic, or any form of government more complicated than a simple democracy, of which a town meeting for the making of by-laws may be considered a fair example, all the voice or influence, which the people have in the regulation of public affairs, is exercised through the medium of senators, delegates, or representatives, whom they choose to act for them in the various capacities established by their constitution, or frame of government. If they would make the most advantage of their right in this respect, it is obvious that they should take care to select men of integrity, and well qualified to discharge the duties of the offices which they are expected to fill. For, since the people have a right to vote for any candidates whatever, who have the necessary legal qualifications, the advantage of the right of suffrage, depends upon the opportunities, which it affords the citizens, of excluding all who are incapable or unworthy, from stations of responsibility, and placing in them those only whom they esteem most deserving of their respect and confidence. Yet, in practice, it is found, that these two great objects of a democratic form of government, are but partially obtained, owing to the manner in which the people usually exercise their rights in this respect. The reason, why the people so frequently fail of obtaining full success in relation to these objects, will be best exhibited in answers to the two questions, Why are not the best men always chosen? and, Why are not unsuitable men always excluded?

In answer to these questions, it might be thought captious, to remark, that the people are not qualified to determine who are the most suitable candidates for public offices; for, though popular applause, or censure, is no decisive proof either of merit or of the want of it, yet there is usually some foundation for popular opinions. But, supposing the people to possess an unerring judgment of the merits of candidates, they must necessarily be deprived of the benefit of their superior discernment, by a certain course of measures, which frequently is adopted by influential persons, previous to the elections, and by which they attempt to secure the choice of the candidates whom they support.

ElectionIntegrity2Under a government of laws, it is true, that it is a matter of no great consequence, by whom the laws are executed, the sole object of government being to provide that they shall be properly enforced. Among these laws, however, must of course, be included every rule or regulation, adopted for the general defence and protection. Now to the great body of the people, being neither office seekers, nor office holders, and consequently having no other personal interest in the government, than what concerns their own safety, and the regular administration of the laws, it is a matter of no real consequence, whether the government is administered by A. or B., provided only that the public peace, as well as private tranquility, is preserved, and the laws are enacted with wisdom, and executed with prudence. But, in choosing persons for public offices, the people, according to the true theory of a republican form of government, should be guided by the characters of the respective candidates; and should elect those whom they consider to possess the best abilities, and the most industry, fidelity, and integrity. For, in the beau ideal of a republic, there are no parties or factions. Each individual aims at the general good, though not to the total exclusion or neglect of his own private interests. And therefore, though he will not be disinterested enough to sacrifice his private property to the public good; yet, if he is an office seeker or office holder, he will be so true a patriot, as immediately to relinquish his office in favor of some more able aspirant. Patriotism of a higher order than this, will be looked for in vain, in the present generation, any where but in eulogiums, theatrical exhibitions, obituary notices, or anniversary orations; and such as is here described, it is to be feared, will seldom be found, except in Utopia, or the Island of Formosa.

Experience shows, that there are always two or more parties or factions in a community, the well disposed part of each of which, equally seek the best interests of the whole. But, in all such parties or factions, those who make a pretense of the public good to bring about their own private views and selfish purposes, are far more zealous and forward, than those who aim only at the general good. By a show of greater zeal, they expect to be regarded as having a more ardent patriotism ; and among superficial observers, the single-hearted, and the inexperienced, they commonly obtain their aim. And though true patriotism, such as existed among noble and disinterested men of former days, who desired no other reward than an approving conscience, and the applause of such as are able to distinguish and justly value true merit, is a stronger motive than the sordid considerations of profit, office, or station; yet this quality is so infrequent, and office seekers so often assume the mask of it, while playing their parts before the public, that some hypochondriacs and misanthropes deny that there is any such thing as political integrity in any of those, who hold themselves up as candidates for public office. Yet it cannot be doubted, that there really exists such a virtue as disinterested patriotism, and that it may be distinguished from hypocrisy and imposture, by men of information and discernment.

Imagine a young man of good education, availing himself of every opportunity to bring himself before the public, by making speeches at conventions or assemblies of the people, and taking a conspicuous stand in relation to any of those subjects which are made use of by turbulent and ambitious men to. keep the public mind in a state of ferment; that, under a pretext of some crying grievance, whether real or imaginary, he proposes to insult or disturb congress, or the state legislature, by insolent and violent resolutions; that, though he may have outgrown the puerile desire of displaying a talent for declamation, which perhaps has gained him an academical prize, yet has not acquired sense enough to be ashamed to take up two or three hours of the time of a public assembly, in rehearsing those superficial views, those crude speculations, which usually occur to young men at a certain age; but which, for the most part, they have too much diffidence to express in public, until the same advance in years which gives them confidence, brings also juster views, and a more correct estimate of their own abilities; suppose him to have acquired sufficient knowledge of mankind to perceive, that in popular assemblies, the good opinion of the wise, being few in number, is of but little consequence, provided only, that the more numerous body, however giddy, rash, and inconsiderate, is prepossessed in his favor; since the vote of any of the latter has the same weight as that of any of the former; suppose him to be in the constant practice of the arts, by which an ill-disposed multitude are usually governed; that he leads them to such measures as suits his purpose, by exciting their animosity against their political opponents, and inspiring in them a confidence of their impunity, whatever they may do; that he boldly affirms among them that every one, who dissents from him is an aristocrat, and an enemy to the peopled rights; that among the ignorant and profligate, he calls the restraints of justice, religion and good order, priestcraft, superstition, and fanaticism; that he holds out to the selfish, necessitous, and sordid, that they will probably gain an office by joining in his measures; and lastly sets at defiance those persons of integrity, who, he is conscious, discern his true character, and asperses their reputations beforehand, both to disable them from exposing his artifices, and to deter others from opposing his schemes, &tc. &.c. &c. Can any one in his senses ascribe these arts to patriotism? Is there any one, however unprincipled, who will be so mere a simpleton as to support his measures without an expectation of the share of the public spoil; or to lend his influence in raising him to public office, without a hope, perhaps an express promise, of some inferior office in return?

But, how may that true patriotism, which is ready to sacrifice interests merely selfish, for the public good, be distinguished from the counterfeit, which, under pretense of seeking the public good, regards its own exclusively, and to them, however inconsiderably concerned, will sacrifice all other considerations,—the tranquility, the honor, and the safety of the country.

True patriotism comes forward when real dangers threaten the country, takes the lead in personal sacrifices, and risks not only ease, but health and safety, to protect it and insure its welfare. The test of it is self denial, or a disregard of personal interests where the general welfare is concerned.

False patriotism is most conspicuous where there is no real danger. The false patriot magnifies every public grievance, in order that his assistance may be called for to furnish a remedy. In this way he expects to gain power and distinction by instilling a belief that a crisis is at hand, where his superior abilities may be required. Some of the characteristic traits of false patriotism are, speeches and harangues, never ending but to begin again; inflammatory resolutions proposed to the people for adoption; abuse of the privilege of speech and of the freedom of the press, and of the right which the people have to assemble, by convoking them without any necessity or useful occasion. Further; the false patriot makes magnificent pretenses of doing, what the true patriot does without any pretense at all; and it is not unusual to find that the false pretenses of the former, obtain a credit with the multitude which the actual performances of the latter do not always receive. The principal aims of the false patriot are office and emolument; when these are obtained it languishes until there is a danger of a change in the administration, when it revives and proclaims the danger to which the country is exposed.

There is a third class of persons, who make no pretensions to patriotism true or false, but who think it a comfortable way of living to secure a public office, the duties of which are easy, and will afford them greater profit than the same quantity of labor in an independent calling, and at the same lime exempt them from that anxiety, which usually harasses all whose living depends on their own exertions. It is a characteristic of many of this class, that they may easily be brought over to join any party, which, there is a probability, will gain the ascendancy in political affairs, by any reasonable prospect of personal benefit. Such persons seem to be formed by nature, like parasitical plants, to depend and hang upon others, whom they flatter, and by whose course their own conduct is wholly guided. They are the flatterers of men of influence so long as they retain it; but when that influence appears to be on the decline, it is their apparently sincere change of opinion, which frequently gives the greater weight to the opposite scale of the political balance. It is one of the miseries attending popular governments where the people are divided into two parties or factions, that the preponderance of one or the other, should so often depend upon this third class.

That government alone can with propriety be styled free, where the political powers bestowed by it on their rulers, are limited to the necessary emergencies of society; i. e. to its safety and good order; and where the people have a right to select whom they please for their rulers, at periods recurring with sufficient frequency to enable them to remove all those public officers, whose duties are not performed in a satisfactory manner, and to elect others in their room. But though the powers of the rulers, as well as their term of office, are limited, and though the laws of the country may be the most mild and indulgent, still, if the people have not the uncontrolled exercise of their power and right of electing their own rulers, they can hardly be considered as living under a free government; since in that case they do not govern themselves, but are governed by that power, which virtually appoints their rulers by controlling their elections. For, if they cannot remove their rulers from office and elect others in their room, then the rulers will not be accountable to them. Thus, if the members of a state legislature were appointed by a foreign power, however just and equal the laws might be, the people would not live under a free government; because the rulers would be responsible, not to the people who had no hand in their appointment, but to the foreign power which placed them in office. Neither in strictness could the people be considered as free, if a foreign power had the right of nominating the rulers, and the people had merely the right to adopt or reject such nomination; since they must be very much at the mercy of the nominating power. Nor does it make any material difference, whether the nomination is made by a superior foreign power, or, by a domestic superior power; or, is exercised by a species of political legerdemain, by persons in whom no such superiority is acknowledged, in a manner so subtle as to escape observation, though practiced in the presence and before the eyes of the people. For, if the people are deprived of the free exercise of their right of suffrage, the effect is still the same, whether it is done by force or by fraud, by superior power, or by mere juggle. Because, at best, they merely elect those who are nominated for them by others; in which case they are no more free than those, who live under rulers whom others appoint without the ceremony of an election, which in any such case is as humiliating and mortifying, as it is unnecessary and tantalizing. An imaginary case may serve for illustration. Let it be supposed, that in a district where the people are divided into two parties, it has become necessary to elect a public officer ; that a preliminary meeting is thought necessary by the major party in order to select a candidate ; that in this party there is an individual of great political influence, who has usually acted as a leader, who is desirous that some friend or kinsman should be elected to the office; that this individual is a man of fair character, and has an average stock of abilities and acquirements. Under such circumstances, if this influential person has intimated his wishes on the subject, it is next to impossible that they should not be gratified; though there may be twenty individuals in his own party, who are better qualified for the office in every respect. For, this influential person will be consulted on all subjects of importance previous to the election; and, by means of his satellites and dependents, will know precisely at what time, and on what occasion, to bring forward the favored candidate to rehearse a speech before the public. A meeting being then called, agreeably to previous arrangement, and such persons being put upon the nominating committee, as are previously ascertained to be favorable to the candidate’s pretensions, he will of course be nominated by them unanimously, and it is probable the nomination will be received with the apparent approbation of all present. No further step will then be necessary than to insert the doings of the meeting in the next newspaper, with a notice of the nomination, and an account of the promising talents of the candidate, which, however, experiment has shewn, the people think ought not be written by any friend nearer than a brother. His election to office will then follow of course, though each voter of the party to which he belongs, is perfectly satisfied in his own mind, that there are many individuals in every respect Ijetter qualified for the office. They will not oppose the election of this candidate, however, because in every stage of the process, from the first preliminary meeting to the day of election, they feel that they shall be in a minority, if they make nny such attempt; besides, if they vote for any other candidate than the one, nominated for them by the leaders of the parlies to which they belong, they will break up the party, and then their opponents will gain the election; or, at any rate, their votes for persons whom they believe to be better qualified, will be merely thrown away.

To persons, therefore, who belong to parties, there is no other freedom of election, than, either to vote for a candidate nominated for them by the influential men of the party, or, to vote for a candidate nominated by the opposite party, or, to cast their vote for third persons, or, not to vote at all.

To vote for persons nominated by the influential men of a party, in most cases, differs but little from giving those influential persons the power of appointment. The other alternatives need no comment. What then is to be done? The embarrassment lies here, that the people suffer certain influential persons to nominate candidates for them, without being perhaps conscious of it at the time, and suppose that those candidates are the choice of a majority of the party, when it may be, that, with the exception of the leaden of the party, and a few retainers, every individual in the party may prefer other candidates. How does this happen? It happens because the people are deprived ol their power of nomination, and suffer the nomination of the influential men, made through the medium of a nominating committee, to go forth to the public as the voice of the majority of the party, his undoubtedly to considerations of this kind, in part, that the right of suffrage, as at present exercised, has become of little value or estimation among discerning men, who have no desire to lead others, and disdain to be led by them. This is apparent from the little interest, which seems to be taken in elections, demonstrated by the small number of votes given in, when compared with the whole number of qualified voters.

The single remedy for this evil, and which would immediately restore the right of suffrage to its proper value and estimation, is for every voter to throw off the badges of party, which are nothing more than the livery, by which the leaders of parties distinguish their followers from all others. They should also have the virtue and independence, to vote according to the dictates of their consciences, and with a view to the general interest, which is invariably sacrificed by a party to its. own interest, whenever they come into competition. For,- there is no one so simple as to imagine, that a party will not prefer the election of an individual pledged to support them, however incapable and however worthless, to the ablest and most honest man that can be found, who will give no such pledge. What is this but a sacrifice of the general good of the whole in order to further the interests of a part, or rather the private views of the leaders of a faction?

Let the people then throw off the trammels of party, and take care to secure to themselves the exercise of the right of nominating the candidates for public offices. To intrust it to a nominating committee, though apparently chosen by the people is in fact to throw it away ; for, if the committee are to nominate the candidates to be voted for by the people, why not permit them to appoint the rulers at once, and thus save the formality and trouble of an election, when they amount to the same thing in substance?

This evil might be obviated in practice, if the people at a preliminary meeting, held at a convenient time before the days of election, would adopt some such course as the following :— 1. Let them choose a moderator. 2. Let them choose a committee to assort and count votes for that meeting. 3. Let them bring in their votes in writing for candidates for nomination, which being sorted and counted, the most popular candidates would presently appear. 4. If any candidate had more than one half of all the votes, it would be unnecessary to proceed further. But, if there were many candidates, and neither of them had a majority of the whole, let a second ballot take place, to decide between the two candidates having the highest number at the preceding ballot, and casting out all votes given in for any others. The candidate having the highest number at the second balloting, would thus be the candidate nominated by the people or by the party, according to circumstances, and each individual would act without being controlled by the indirect dictation of others. After the vote was declared, those speakers who thought themselves qualified to instruct the people, might profitably employ the rest of the time in useful discourses; but it would be a very useful regulation to consider all rhetorical declamation as out of order, until the regular business of the evening had been transacted; so that no one might feel obliged to remain to hear it.

This course of proceeding would generally be distasteful to the leaders of the party, because their control over the proceedings of the people would be very much lessened, and their influence would be reduced to just what it ought to be, that is, the influence of superior talents, information and integrity, so far as they possessed these qualities. But the influence of intrigue and secret corruption would be almost wholly abolished.

In answer to the second question, why are not unsuitable persons always excluded from office? It may be answered, in relation to those offices, which are filled by popular elections, that the people seldom, if ever, elect a man to an office for which they know him to be unfit: if therefore such an individual is chosen by the people, it must be the result of mistake or misinformation. Party prejudice, it is true, often turns the scale against superior merit, but the people will not, with their eyes open, disgrace themselves by choosing persons known to be dishonest or incapable. The bad policy of such a choice is apparent; because it would take away from the citizens one of the inducements to correct conduct, t. e. the prospect of rising in the public estimation by a uniform course of good behavior, by showing, that the people attach no importance to the good or bad character of the candidates. But in fact, it is for the interest of the people, that all public officers should not only be capable of properly discharging their duties; but should be men of such integrity, that no inducements which can be offered, will be able to induce them, to betray the public confidence. For this purpose, it is absolutely necessary, that the officer’s integrity should be grounded on religious principle, not religious profession merely, for this is a mere counterfeit; nor upon honor, or pride, or reputation, or sense of character; for, all of these last have been found to fail, when exposed to the ordeal of supposed secrecy, impunity, the hope of office, &c. &.c., or, to personal danger or loss of office, &c. &c.

On the other hand, when unsuitable persons are appointed to offices by men in power, it may arise from a great variety of causes. It may be the result of erroneous impressions, made by recommendations given without proper caution or inquiry. It may also be, by way of grateful acknowledgment to the person so appointed, for services, of whatever nature, previously rendered by him to the person appointing. Where the tenure of the office depends upon the pleasure of the person making the appointment, and a man of unsuitable character is appointed, with a knowledge of his character, it may also be, because a person without reputation or principle, is much more obsequious to the commands of his superior, who can remove him at pleasure, and thus deprive him of his temporary standing with the people, and perhaps of his means of support, than a man of religious principles and respectable character, of whom any dishonorable compliance would be vainly required; because, if he were removed, he would be sustained by conscious rectitude, as well as the certainty that his character would support him, whether in or out of office.

This last suggestion, it is believed, furnishes the true reason, why men, well known to be incapable of a proper discharge of duty, are sometimes appointed to office. It is because services are expected of them, of a very different nature from their regular official duties, which they can, and perhaps they alone are known to be willing to perform. . The insufficient discharge of their official duties is therefore winked at.

Notwithstanding the popular theory of a democracy or a republican form of government, therefore, it is quite apparent, that, under the right of electing whom they please for their public rulers, according to the common practice, there is -no insurmountable obstacle to prevent men of bad principles and had character, and very limited talents and acquirements from attaining to the highest public stations. It is equally clear, that the people are deprived of the services of every man of experience and integrity, whose principles will not permit him to unite with any of the parties or factions which, under pretense of zeal for the public good, are constantly disturbing the peace of society, by their contests for power, office and emolument. For, the objects of a party or faction, from its nature must be merely selfish. The first class of leaders seek the highest offices for themselves. The second class, or parasites, endeavor to procure the election of the first, in order that they, the parasites, may be appointed by them, to such offices as the laws place under their control. The rest of the party are merely retainers or followers. The public then lose the services of all honest men, who refuse to join any party. Because no party or faction, will ever elect to office any individual, whose refusal to act under them, is an indirect reflection upon their political conduct.

If, however, the people have the independence and good sense, to secure to themselves the exercise of the right of nominating candidates, in the manner already suggested, no persons, whatever their wealth, standing or office, will be able to exert any improper influence over the voters; the office of parasite will cease, becoming equally ineffectual and contemptible, and the people will become, in fact, what perhaps they now suppose themselves to be, the real constituents of public officers.

But unfortunately for the good of society, it too often happens, that, while the ignorant, incapable, selfish and dishonest unite in the support of a candidate possessing a similar character, from the influence of sympathy, as well as from the envy which they feel towards men of principle and integrity—the honest and well meaning voters, from a belief, that superior merit will undoubtedly receive the preference at popular elections, do not feel the necessity of exerting themselves at all on such occasions. The consequence is, that the less deserving candidate frequently prevails; because in proportion to his want of merit, the more gross, shameless and unprincipled are the measures, which are resorted to, to secure his election.

In connexion with the present subject, it may not be amiss to make a few remarks in relation to the right, which is frequently claimed by the voters of districts, to give particular instructions to their representatives in the legislature.

It can hardly escape the observation of any reflecting person, that there are certain hackneyed propositions, which are continually made use of by public speakers and writers, by whom they are assumed as incontrovertible principles or axioms, behind which it is unnecessary to look, and yet which, on examination, are found to be wholly groundless and futile. These erroneous opinions are continued by the obsequious court which persons, who know better, frequently pay to popular prejudices, for the sake of ingratiating themselves with the people, or, from an apprehension of being denounced by demagogues, if they should attempt to set up any doctrine at variance with such opinions.

One of these is the pretended natural right, which, it is said, the majority in any society have to control the minority, which, when analyzed, is found to be grounded on consent, agreement or arrangement, or otherwise has no better foundation, than the mere brutal right of the strongest. Another of these pretended rights, is that, which the voters in particular districts claim, of giving instructions to their respective representatives in the legislature, which has no rational foundation at all. This is easily demonstrable from the following considerations.

A representative, from whatever part of a state he may be chosen, is the representative of the state, and not the agent of the town or district from which he comes, though as a convenient mode of designating him, he is frequently called the representative from such or such a town or district. It follows, of course, that such town or district has no greater right to instruct him, than any other part of the state. For, the mode of election by districts, is merely a mode of apportioning the representation.

It is not made the duty of a representative to obey any such instructions. It is true, he has a right to consult whom he pleases, and, for the same reason, any one may advise him, who thinks fit. But, as he is chosen on account of his own personal qualities, his talents and experience, it would be absurd to suppose, that he is not at liberty to follow the dictates of his own judgment. On the contrary, the whole community have a right to the exercise of his own understanding, unbiased by the limited and perhaps selfish views of the comparatively small number of his immediate constituents. Further, the exercise of such rights by a majority of such constituents, seems wholly inconsistent with the rights of the minority; because it appears to be the meaning of the social compact, by which the citizens agree to be bound to obey such rulers, as the majority shall choose, that those rulers shall be left to the exercise of their own judgment. For the minority are bound by the compact to obey the rulers, and not to obey the majority; but, if the representatives are bound to obey the instructions of the majority, then the minority become servants to the caprice of the majority.

It is one of the advantages of a legislative assembly, that the members confer together, and, by a comparison of their respective sentiments, and, by an interchange of such intelligence as each possesses, they become better informed, and consequently better able to legislate on all subjects brought before them. But, if a representative is bound to follow the instructions of his immediate constituents, who are but a small body of men in comparison with the whole state, and who have not had the advantage of hearing the subject debated, the public will lose the benefit arising from the discussions of the legislature; indeed, all discussion becomes superfluous, if the representative is bound to act agreeably to the instructions of his constituents.

But, if the representative is bound to follow such instructions, there is an end of all responsibility on his part. He becomes a mere tool or instrument, in whom the possession of knowledge or abilities, is merely a superfluous ornament. All that can be expected of him is, to have sense enough to understand what is required of him, and capacity enough to do it, and the responsibility must rest on those who made him their agent. All this is a violation of common sense.

But, on the supposition, that the representative is bound to obey such instructions of the majority of his constituents, how is this majority to be ascertained? There is no provision in any law, to hold meetings for any such purpose. What sanction or evidence, then, can any self-constituted assembly offer, to induce the representative to receive their resolutions, as the instructions of his constituents? Certainly none, that he is obliged to regard. Such irregular and informal assemblies generally afford conclusive evidence of the intrigue and management of a few influential individuals, and perhaps may be submitted to by an obsequious representative, who may be willing to compromise his personal dignity, rather than incur the risk of losing his office, through the influence which such leaders have over the rest of the constituents, who have less means of information. Such instructions however are always degrading to the representative personally, and consequently must tend to deprive the office both of respect and responsibility. A sure mode of preserving the independence of the representative, would be to lengthen his term of office, and render him ineligible a second time. The fear of losing his office, in that case, would never induce him to submit the exercise of his own judgment to the opinions of the leaders of the party which elected him; and, having no selfish interest to serve, he would be left wholly free from the influence of any other motive, than the conscientious discharge of his official duties according to the best of his ability.

Continued inPART II; CHAPTER II. Of the Liberty of Speech and of the Press.

See the other parts of this series:
RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: General Rights; Division One
RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: General Rights; Division Two
RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: General Rights; The Social Compact
RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: The Powers delegated to the General Government in the Federal Constitution
RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: Powers delegated to the State Governments
RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: The Independence of the States
RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: The rights reserved to the people of the United States
RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: Of the right of suffrage and of elections
RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: The Liberty of Speech and of the Press
RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: The Power of Courts to punish for Contempts
RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: The Law of Libel in relation to Public Officers

RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: The mode of obtaining redress for infringement of civil or political rights

RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: The Independence of the States

StateFlags2The Rights of an American Citizen: With a Commentary on State Rights, and on the Constitution and Policy of the United States by Benjamin Lynde Oliver published 1832


Of the Independence of the States and the Sovereignty of the Union considered together, and how far the latter is consistent with the former.


To form just and adequate ideas on the subject of the present chapter, it may not be amiss to consider shortly, what would be the condition of the several states, if the Union among them were peaceably dissolved, and, with that single exception, every thing else were left in the same situation that it now is. The people of each state, it is apparent, would then find themselves in possession of a distinct territory, with a separate regularly organized government, fully authorized by the people for the regulation of its concerns; and though perhaps not invested with any power to wage a foreign or offensive war; yet having full authority to resist invasions from without, and to suppress tumults and insurrections within; and generally to provide for the public peace and the domestic tranquility of its citizens, and the support and maintenance of the government. Under such circumstances as these, and acknowledging no earthly superior in any other government or tribunal whatever, it is impossible not to perceive, that each state would be completely sovereign and independent. It was in this condition, that those states of the American Union claimed to be, which agreed to the articles of confederation; and, with the exception of that compact, this was the situation those states were in, which first agreed to adopt the federal constitution.

It is thus apparent, that the constitution of the United States is the only restraint, which the several states have imposed upon their own independence. It is also the only bond that unites them under one government. A proper regard for their own interests, it is true, would tend to keep them at peace with each other, and might also induce them to form alliances for mutual protection against external aggression. But such consequences would greatly fall short of the advantages, to be derived from a union, under a constitution like that of the United States. For, the general government, being invested by it with all the powers of peace and war, and with the control also of the whole resources of all the states, without being under any necessity of consulting the local authorities, in these respects has all the consistency and strength of a great empire, with no other restraint upon the exercise of the vast powers thus bestowed in the constitution, than requiring, that they shall be employed for the general good of all the states, and not to advance any partial, local, or sectional interests.

The independence of the several states, is therefore confined to the relation existing among them, as individual states. But, no state is independent of the union, that is, of the states, taken collectively as forming one nation under the federal constitution. Their absolute independence is limited, just so far as they have seen fit to limit it themselves, in that national compact; but no further.

What then is the construction, that ought to be given to this compact, in this respect? Two principles of construction are laid down in express terms, in the amendments to the constitution, and which consequently have become part of the constitution on itself.

1. ‘That the enumeration in the constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.’

2. ‘The powers, not delegated to the’ United States, by the constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.’

It is believed, that the former of these principles is not wholly free from obscurity. The intent of it, however, probably was, that the enumeration of certain rights expressly retained by the people, shall not be construed in denial of others belonging to them, not elsewhere given up in the constitution, and not contained in such enumeration.

Among the powers most characteristic of sovereignty, given to congress in the constitution, are,-

1. The power of laying taxes, duties, imposts and excises, for the purpose of paying the national debts, and providing for the common defence and general welfare, he.

2. The power to regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, &c.

3. The power to establish a rule of naturalization. By the present rule established by the exercise of this power, an alien may become a citizen of the United States, without being a citizen of any of the states. For, though by naturalization he becomes entitled to the privileges of a citizen of the United States, and consequently to the privileges of a citizen of that state to which he belongs, or wherein he may see fit to reside; yet, if the union should be dissolved, he would become again a mere alien, unless the state, in which he abode, saw fit to adopt him.

4. The powers to coin money; to establish post roads; to raise and support armies; to provide a navy, &c.

The restrictions upon the authority of congress, are merely such restraints and limitations, as the people of the United States have seen fit to impose on their government, and are not the exceptions merely of powers, reserved to the state governments.

The restriction upon the authority of the states, relate to the exercise of such sovereign powers, as the citizens of the states, if they had thought expedient, might have entrusted to their respective state governments; but, having confided some of these powers to congress, and having expressly restricted congress from the exercise of the rest, there would be an apparent inconsistency and impropriety, in permitting the states to exercise them.

No state, therefore, can enter into any treaty, alliance or confederation, whatever. This applies as well to treaties, alliances and confederacies, &c. between two or more states, as to treaties, alliances, &c. between one or more of the states, and a foreign nation. But, though certain powers are denied or forbidden to the state governments, in the federal constitution, which the people of the respective states might otherwise have delegated to their respective state governments; it by no means follows, that other powers not mentioned among those which are thus forbidden or denied, may, of course, be lawfully exercised by the states. For, this must depend upon the language of the state constitutions themselves, respectively.

The general superintending power, intended to be bestowed on congress, by the federal constitution, is also apparent from the provision, that the United States shall guarantee to

every state in the union, a republican form of government. This expression admits of considerable latitude of interpretation. It is probable, however, that any form of government, where the rulers were not hereditary, and depended for their appointment upon the choice of the people, would be considered a republic, within the true intent of the constitution. If the people of any state, therefore, saw fit to adopt a state constitution, in which the governor and senate were chosen for life, or during good behavior, and to vest in them the discretionary exercise of all the powers, which the state governments may now properly exercise, under the federal constitution, the government would still be a republic, within the meaning of the constitution; and, if those state rulers did not abuse their powers, in an attempt to overstep the limits prescribed by it, the general government would have no right to interfere.

The supreme political power of the government of the United States, is further apparent, from the clause in the constitution, in which the people of each of the states agree, ‘that the constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof, and all treaties made, or which shall be made under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, any thing in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.’ Perhaps there is not a clause in the whole federal constitution, the strict observance or enforcement of which, is more essential to the dignity of the general government, than the one now under consideration. For, if the judges of the state court were not bound to conform to the constitution of the United States, in their decisions, nor to obey the laws of the union, then one of the principal objects in view in the formation of the union, would not be obtained; and in fact there would be no union. But, as laws, which’ are enacted by congress under pretense of a power, which in fact is not granted by the federal constitution, are not binding, it may be asked, how shall it be determined, whether such power is granted or not, when a case, involving the rights of individuals under a law of the United States, comes before one of the state courts, and an objection is made to the constitutionality of the law? The answer which naturally suggests itself, is, that congress should generally be presumed to have acted within their constitutional authority, unless the contrary is clearly demonstrated. The state judge ought therefore to decide accordingly. But if he is convinced, that the law is enacted without such constitutional authority, he ought to decide so. If any authority is given at all to a state judge to decide in any such case, he must have authority to decide correctly, that is, according to the impartial dictates of his own judgment. A judge has no right in conscience, to decide contrary to what he believes to be the justice of the case, on the supposition, that the case will be carried to the constitutional tribunal in the last resort; for this may not take place. Any party, however, aggrieved at the decision of a state court in any such case, may always have a hearing before the supreme court of the United States; and when the question has been once settled there, the decision will furnish a rule for the state courts in all such cases from that time, by which they will be bound to govern themselves, whatever their own private opinions may be.

In order to strengthen the arm of the general government, the federal constitution has wisely given authority to congress to pass all laws, which may be necessary for the exercise of the powers, granted in the constitution. This clause is one of the greatest importance, because, though this auxiliary power might have been considered, as necessarily implied from the grant of the principal powers themselves; yet the omission would probably have given rise to innumerable objections and cavils. Under this clause, congress has a sufficient authority to apply an adequate remedy for every difficulty, that may arise in the execution of the powers granted in the federal constitution, and consequently, in putting in force all laws made by virtue of those powers. In pursuance of this general authority, given in the sweeping clause of the federal constitution, congress has taken care, by the creation of proper officers, with prescribed duties and ample powers, wholly distinct from the officers of the several states, to render the execution of the laws of the United States entirely independent of any act of any particular states, or of any of their officers, and without the necessity of requesting the consent or co-operation of the executive, legislative or judicial departments of the states, where such laws of congress are to be put in force. But, if it had been necessary, in any such case, to have the previous consent of the states, the execution of the law might have been greatly delayed, perhaps wholly frustrated; or, if the officers of the states were employed in the execution of the laws of the United States, as there would be no obligation upon them to perform such services, unless perhaps the several states enacted laws for the purpose of rendering it so, it would remain optional with such officers, whether to execute them or not. For, it has been found by experience, that the idol popularity, has sometimes induced even an officer of the United States, to resign his office, rather than offend the citizens of the state where he resided, by discharging his official duties. But, in general, the officers of the United States, not depending upon the states either for their appointments or for their continuance in office, supposing them to have a proper regard for their official oaths, can have nothing to hinder or delay them in the discharge of their duties. For, on the extreme supposition, that a law of the United States is unconstitutional, as well as impolitic and injurious to the interests of a particular state; still, unless it is decided to be unconstitutional by the supreme court of the United States, the officers of the general government are bound to enforce it. Nor is it clear, upon what ground, except a regard for the dictates of prudence, forbearance and temporary expediency, they would be bound to regard a decision of the state courts to the contrary, if they should assume to themselves a power to determine upon the subject. Where the courts of a state express their opinion of the construction, which ought to be given to a law of the United States, and ground their decision in the cause before them, upon the unconstitutionality of the law, the person aggrieved by the decision, if a private individual, may have his remedy at the regular constitutional tribunal, but will have no pretext whatever to resist the decision of the state court. But, on the extreme supposition, that a law of the United States requires one of the officers of the national government to perform a certain duty, and one of the state courts decides the law to be unconstitutional, is or is not the officer of the United Slates, however high and responsible his situation, bound at his peril to await the decision of the supreme court of the United States on the subject, before he undertakes to enforce the law contrary to the decision of the state court? Whatever the prevailing opinion may be on this subject, as to the legal duties, there can be none as to the moral obligation. Certainly, the utmost delicacy, moderation and forbearance ought to be used in all cases, where by possibility there may be a clashing of jurisdictions. The aim of each party should be, not so much to assert his strict right in the first instance, as, by mild and prudent measures, to put his adversary in the wrong, in the hope that the supreme court of the United States, whenever the case is regularly brought before them, will award ample redress to the party injured. And here, it is worthy of remark, that the principal cases, where there is reason to apprehend that public disturbances may arise between the general government and the states respectively, must result from a disagreement in opinion between the courts of the United States and those of the states. This is a singular proof of the prudence and foresight of the framers of the constitution. For, in general, such is the love of regularity and order, and the prudence and moderation of those persons who preside over the tribunals of justice, a fact -which has been verified by experience both with regard to those of the United States and those of the several states in the union, that the framers of the federal constitution were well warranted in supposing, that they had avoided, as far as possible, every occasion, which might give rise to internal disorders and civil commotions, on account of the undefined and undefinable powers and rights of the general and state governments respectively, when they had taken care, that no such unfortunate circumstances could ever happen, where one party or the other would not be manifestly and grossly in the wrong; the case of conflicting jurisdictions between the courts of the United States, and those of the state courts, being a solitary exception. And, it is believed, until some late unfortunate occurrences, to which it seems unnecessary to make further allusion, most reflecting persons would have come to the conclusion, that if there were no other sources of public troubles and dissensions between the United States and the several states, than such as arise from the collisions of their respective judiciaries, and the execution of their conflicting sentences and decrees, the country might enjoy a state of uninterrupted tranquility and repose forever.

But, if the legislature or the executive of a state, having come to the conclusion that a law of the United States was unconstitutional, notwithstanding a decision of the supreme court to the contrary, should array an armed force to resist the execution of the law, such conduct would undoubtedly be treasonable. See 2 Dall. 346. 4 Cranch, 75. 1 Paine, 265.

So, if they should attempt by the use of similar violent means, to enforce a law of the state, which had been decided to be unconstitutional, by the same court:

And, for the same reason, if they should resist in the same manner, the execution of a decree of the supreme court of the United States.

Neither would it be a crime of small magnitude with regard to the state itself, if the governor or legislature of a state, should venture to adopt any such rash measures in opposition to the general government. The state constitutions confer on the state governments no power of opposing the measures of the general government, under any circumstances. If any such power is ever exercised by the state authorities, it will be an act of dangerous usurpation, for which they will be answerable to their constituents, perhaps on an impeachment, perhaps on an indictment for a treasonable conspiracy. For, whence can the governor or legislature of a state derive authority or jurisdiction, to decide whether a law of congress, or a decision of the supreme court of the United States, is unconstitutional? If the citizens of the states had ever intended to bestow such power on the state rulers, the adoption of the constitution of the United States by those citizens, would have abolished such intention. For, a clause in it declares that it shall be the supreme law of the land; but, this is altogether inconsistent with a power in the governor or the legislature of any state, to oppose any measures, adopted by the general government by virtue of powers delegated in it. The same constitution has also provided a supreme tribunal for the decision of constitutional questions; consequently, the state authorities have no jurisdiction of any such question. On the extreme supposition, that the supreme court should usurp jurisdiction of questions not submitted to them by the constitution, the right to remonstrate belongs to the states, that is, to the citizens of the respective states; and not to the state rulers; for the plain reason already suggested, that the citizens have not delegated this power to the state rulers, either expressly or by necessary implication, in their state constitutions.

The constitution of the United States is the solemn compact of all the states, adopted from motives of the greatest expediency, or rather necessity. But, of what utility can it be, if the execution of laws or decisions made under its authority, may be resisted, whenever the governor or legislature of a particular state, under whatever pretense, believe or affect to believe such laws or decisions to be unconstitutional? Such an act of opposition may at first sight, appear to be aimed at the administration of the general government for the time being; for the government being of the nature of a company or association, is a mere abstraction, and consequently impassible; but the wrong is evidently offered to the other states, that compose the federal union. For, it is they, with whom the compact was formed; and, it is they, who are injured as well as contemned, when the compact is violated.

It might be supposed, at first view, that in ordinary cases, there would be but little reason to apprehend, that the rulers or government of any state, would ever array themselves in opposition to any measures of the general government. Because, if a state legislature should enact a law for any such purpose, it would be merely void, and the citizens of the state itself would not be bound by it, and would be protected by the constitutional tribunals of the union, in their disregard or disobedience of such law. Besides, if they obeyed such law, any further than they were actually compelled to do so by the state rulers, it would not be sufficient before the national tribunals, to excuse an inconsiderable assault and battery, and far less to afford a justification for murder, treason, insurrection or rebellion. The same rule would apply to the courts of the state. For, if they had not adopted the same views or opinions as the governor and legislature of the state, they also, would decide that such opposition to the general government was illegal, and that all laws of the state, he. enacted by the legislature for such purpose, were void ; and, in any such decision, they would be sustained by the supreme court of the United States, and ought lo be protected by the power of the union.

But, if the highest courts of a state should undertake to decide, that a decree of the supreme court of the United States was unconstitutional, and refuse to obey it, or suffer it to be obeyed, or to be enforced by the civil officers of the United States; and the governor and legislature of the state should raise an armed force to resist the power of the national government, and should make an actual opposition to it; this, it cannot be doubted, would be treason in all persons in the state, whether rulers or citizens, who voluntarily took an active part in it. But, it would not necessarily amount to a dissolution of the union, unless the citizens of the state sanctioned the violence of their rulers, with their express approbation, given in their primary assemblies called together for that purpose. It would amount to nothing more than a rebellion, and should be treated as such. The quiet and sober-minded citizens of such state should be protected against the violence of the insurgents, and the latter should be reduced, as soon as possible, to a state of civil subordination to the federal government.

But, according to the theory of the whole system of state governments, taken in connexion with the federal government, if the people of such state should sanction such measures of the state government in their primary assemblies, such state, in effect, would already have separated itself, violently and irregularly, from the federal union. The relations afterwards subsisting between that state and the other states in the union, which would not necessarily be dissolved by the secession of one or more particular states, would depend upon the moderation and forbearance of the administration for the time being. For, the federal government, without perhaps having a strict right to compel any state to continue its adherence, contrary to the express unanimous wish of all the citizens or legal voters of such state, would unquestionably have a right to claim of it a full satisfaction of all just demands, as well as an indemnity for all injury arising to the union, or to any other of the states, or to any citizen of the United States, though a citizen also of such seceding state, if he did not consent to such secession. The federal government, also, notwithstanding a state should see fit to withdraw itself in this irregular manner from the union, would have a perfect right to compel it to observe and comply with the terms and conditions of all treaties, regularly made by virtue of powers delegated to the federal government in the constitution of the United States. For, why take the pains to frame and adopt a constitution, if the parties did not expect to be bound by it? And how can the parties be bound by it, if each has a right to refuse compliance with it, at discretion? But, however this may be, if at the time of calling a state convention, for the purpose of ascertaining the wishes of the people of the state, on the subject of a secession from the union, there were a considerable number of voters, though a minority of the whole, given in favor of adhering to it it, would be a mere question of policy, for the other states to decide, whether such state should be permitted to withdraw from the union or not. For, the obligations of a national compact of general union, purporting to be formed as well for posterity, as for the generation of men then in existence, and which, therefore, it was intended, should last as long as the whole people of all the states should have an independent existence, are not to be assumed and cast off again, according to the caprice of an ignorant and misguided multitude, under the influence of selfish interests or turbulent and ungoverned passions. The excitement, which men of superficial but popular talents sometimes occasion among the less informed and more combustible class of citizens, by exaggerating public grievances, some of which from the imperfection of all human institutions, are unavoidable, and consequently cannot be prevented by the wisest and best organized administration, can furnish no rational ground for dissolving a compact of this nature. The federal constitution was formed after long deliberation by men of distinguished abilities, and, after a critical examination and thorough scrutiny by assemblies in each state, of men selected for their great knowledge, experience and political discernment, was recommended to the citizens of the several states. In consequence of this recommendation, the constitution of the United States was adopted by the people of the thirteen states, which first constituted the federal union, and who in their primary assemblies ratified it and bound themselves, and their posterity being citizens of some of the slates, to comply with and obey it. Whether any after generation of citizens of any single state, even though unanimous, have any absolute right of dissolving their connexion with the United States, is not satisfactorily made out in the affirmative. For, it has never been demonstrated, to the satisfaction of any but political smatterers without knowledge or principle, that every body of men have a right to abolish the lawful government of the territory under which they have been born and educated, whenever they fancy they can govern themselves better; at any rate, it is not yet settled, that the rest of the nation are under any obligation to submit to such an arrangement. But, if the citizens of such state are not unanimous; if there is a respectable minority among them, against secession; the federal government has an undoubted right to compel the state to submit to its authority. Such an exercise of power, it is not improbable, would eventually receive the approbation of the very persons, who under the influence of some popular speaker, may have raised the loudest shouts in favor of separation and disunion. For, the inconsiderate resolutions or actions of any body of men, acting under the transient excitement occasioned by the declamation of some improvisalori, who from practice has acquired a graceful and fluent manner of speaking on all subjects, without any other advantage than a very superficial view of their tendency and consequences, are certainly not to be compared with the deliberations of Jay, Madison, Hamilton, Pendleton, Governor Randolph, and other distinguished statesmen. When the excitement is over, therefore, the people will view with regret, perhaps with shame and disgust, any excesses or disorders, which they may have committed during their infatuation; or, if they have been arrested in their career of madness and folly, will feel grateful to those who have performed for them so kind an office.

To suppress any such internal commotion, however, it is hoped, that it will never become necessary, even under the most threatening appearances, to resort to any harsher measures than persuasion or remonstrance. If the majority of the citizens of a state should be in favor of adhesion, there would probably be but little occasion for the general government to interpose for the preservation of tranquility and order. And, if the majority were in favor of separation, the proximity of a small national force without the limits of the state, would be a sufficient protection for the minority, who adhered to the federal government, if they should be threatened with violence, and who should be cautioned against the use of any force but in repelling aggression. By this moderate course of measures, the temporary excitement would soon subside. When the fit of intoxication was over, which would soon be the case if not imprudently exasperated, intemperate resolves would give place to a spirit of prudence and moderation. A total change would take place in the public sentiment, and consequently in the state administration. As the people of the state resumed the exercise of their reason, they would supplant in office, folly and rashness, by good sense and a spirit of conciliation. If unfortunately there should be an attempt to array an armed force in opposition to the general government, it would probably be suppressed in a moment. The most turbulent and violent of the leaders, and consequently idolized by the credulity of the abused people, as an illustrious patriot and hero—who perhaps fancied himself a state Washington—being arrested, would see his partisans abandon him to his fate. Being then tried and convicted of treason, he would be surprised to find himself regarded by the multitude whom he had attempted to mislead, neither as a patriot, nor a renowned hero, not even as a martyr of liberty, but merely as an unsuccessful political incendiary; while the citizens of the state, having learned a useful lesson respecting the arts and fate of demagogues, and having put in office men of sound judgment and deliberate consideration, would be surprised to find that they can live in happiness and prosperity all their days, notwithstanding the fancied oppressions of the general government.

To return; from the preceding observations and reflections, it cannot be difficult to determine how far the United States constitute a single consolidated empire; and,in what respects, they are merely a confederacy of independent nations. And it is evident, that there is not the slightest inconsistency either theoretical or practical, in relation to the subject, if rightly considered. For, within the powers delegated to the legislative, judicial and executive departments of the general government, the United States form one grand consolidated empire, and within the prescribed limits of these delegated powers, no other difference can be discerned between this government, and the most absolute monarchy on earth, while, in the actual exercise of no greater powers than these, except in the single circumstance, that the monarchy restrains itself; but the general government is restrained by the federal constitution. So far therefore as the exercise of the powers delegated requires, the states cease to be independent, and consequently, sovereign and independent. The state governments however, it must be repeated, have nothing to do with this subject. It concerns merely the citizens of each state, taken collectively as forming a distinct tribe or nation; the general government, formed by the constitutional compact between all these states; and the citizens of all the states taken in their new relation to each other under this national compact, as fellow citizens of the American republic. It is true, that a citizen of each state has, in certain respects, the freedom of all the other states ; but should the union be dissolved, it will be found, that he derives this advantage from the federal constitution alone; and whether he is afterwards to be considered as an alien, or as a denizen of any other state, will depend upon the laws of that state alone.

That it was not intended by the federal constitution, to consolidate the states, any further, than is necessarily implied in the exercise of the powers delegated in it, is evident from the express provision of the constitution, that, no ‘ new state shall be formed by the junction of two or more states or parts of states, without the consent of the legislatures of the states concerned, as well as of the congress.’

Further, the states, in many respects, seem wholly independent of the union. The government of the United States cannot appropriate an acre of land belonging to any state, or assume exclusive jurisdiction, without the assent Of grant of the state.

If an officer of the United States commits a crime against the laws of any state, he is amenable to the state court where the crime is committed, and the judgment of the state court will be final. If the officer should set up a defence under the laws and constitution of the United States, for the purpose of bringing the case before the supreme court of the United States, that court will examine no farther into the merits of the case, than to ascertain whether the laws or constitution of the United States are at all brought in question; and if not, the judgment of the state court will be permitted to take its course.

The slates are perfectly independent of each other, and their dependence on the general government is just so much as they voluntarily agreed to, in giving the government of the United States a supremacy in certain defined respects, by the adoption of the federal constitution. They are sovereign within their own territory, therefore, in all other cases; and if congress should violate this sovereignty by enacting unconstitutional laws, the state wronged may have the subject examined before the supreme court of the United States, the tribunal of last resort for constitutional questions, and if the law should be decided to be unconstitutional, it will lose its validity. But, it may be objected here, and the objection deserves consideration, If the supreme court is the tribunal of ultimate resort for all questions arising under the constitution of the United States, of what avail is the express limitation of the powers granted by it to the federal government? For, if congress should pass an unconstitutional law, and the supreme court should declare it to be constitutional, to what remedy can any state or individual injured by it resort? Certainly to none that is not paramount or collateral to the constitution itself, as, for instance, a convention of the states, in order to amend it by declaring its intention so clearly as to prevent the possibility of misinterpretation. This subject has been partially discussed ante p. 152. A few remarks, in further illustration of the view there submitted to the discerning reader, but in a different connexion, it is hoped will be excused here. Suppose congress to,enact an unconstitutional law, and the supreme court of the United States, making the same mistake with the -members of congress, should decide it to be constitutional, must a state submit to have its rights sacrificed? To answer this question correctly, it would seem necessary to establish a distinction analogous to that suggested in the place just referred to, to wit: that, as the constitution is a compact of the several states in the federal union, conferring certain powers on the federal government, and reserving others to the states; where laws are made, the subject matter of which is within the powers granted to the general government, the supreme court is the proper tribunal to decide whether they are constitutional or not. But, if the subject matter of the law, is not within the powers delegated to the general government, no state can justly be bound by such law, even on the absurd supposition, that the supreme court should decide it to be constitutional. Here it may be objected again, if this court has no conclusive jurisdiction, except where the subject matter of the law is within the powers delegated to congress, it follows, that this court will have no authority to decide a law to be constitutional, except in cases where there is no need of any such decision, viz, where the law comes within the express words of the constitution, made use of in defining the powers of congress. But, the answer is, that the subject matter of a law may be clearly within the powers granted to the general government, and yet the law may be unconstitutional. In any such case the court will have jurisdiction to decide; and though they should decide wrong, the decision will be binding on the states. To illustrate: The power of taxation is delegated to congress; yet, if congress should impose an unequal tax, the law would be unconstitutional and consequently void; but, as the subject matter of the law is within the power delegated to congress, the supreme court has a power to decide finally in relation to it. On the other hand, as the constitution confers no power on the general government to interfere in the municipal concerns or internal organization of a state, if congress should enact a law to control either in any respect, it would seem, that it would be void, and though the supreme court should decide it to be constitutional, the decision would not bind the states, because the subject matter of any such law, does not come within the powers delegated to the general government. In cases like these, it can hardly be supposed that the several states, in the formation of the federal constitution, intended entirely to resign to the supreme court, the right not merely of construing that compact, for this is not doubted, but of extending it by construction to matters not contemplated by it.

How far these remarks may apply by way of analogy to the case of enforcing the decision of an arbitrator, appointed by the United States and a foreign government, in relation to disputed boundaries between the foreign government and one of the states; and how far this point ought to depend upon the inquiry, whether the state whose territory is concerned, had previously consented to such arbitration or not; or how far these remarks may be considered applicable to the case of a state, which has forcibly taken possession of a territory, which, agreeably to a decision of the supreme court, is protected by treaties made with the United States, is submitted to the discerning reader.

Let it be supposed, further, that congress should require the justices of the peace holding commissions under the several states, to perform certain acts when requested, under a certain penalty, there can be no doubt, that though such law might be a sufficient authority to the justice to perform the act, so far as the United States is concerned, yet it would be wholly void as to the penalty ; because the subject matter of the law, so far as requiring a:state officer to perform any act under a penalty, does not fall within any provision of the federal constitution. It is true, the state officer may lawfully do the act for the sake of the fee, which he may be entitled to claim for it under the act of congress; but in any other respect his services will be merely gratuitous. Who then, it may be asked, is to decide whether a certain power is granted to congress in the federal constitution or not? It seems, that the supreme court has conclusive and unquestionable jurisdiction to decide, that a certain power is not granted; that the court has also conclusive jurisdiction to decide that a certain power is incidental, that is to say, absolutely necessary to the exercise of some other power expressly granted in the constitution, and consequently that such incidental power is also granted. But, unless they determine such power, not being an express one, to be thus incidental, they cannot bind the state by a decision, that the law made by virtue of it, is constitutional. So, the supreme court cannot bind the states by a decision, that a certain power is incident to a certain other power, where such supposed incident power is expressly prohibited in the constitution. But, if the constitution does not expressly prohibit the exercise of the power, decided by the court to be incidental, the decision of the court will conclude the states, even on the supposition that it is erroneous in fact. Because, where the supreme court has jurisdiction at all, as no other tribunal is provided for the correction of errors, its decision must be taken for as near an approximation to absolute right, as the fallibility of human nature permits; and consequently should be submitted to by the states, who have so far constituted that court their final arbitrator.

The express words of the constitution of the United States are, that “the constitution and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof, and all treaties made or which shall be made &c. It is plain then, that it is only those laws which are made in pursuance of the constitution, that will bind the state courts, even although sustained by a decision of the supreme court, unless that court has constitutionally a jurisdiction over the subject matter. In the case however of the most manifest usurpation of power on the part of congress, it would be highly unjust as well as inexpedient, for any state to array itself against the United States. For, an unconstitutional act can never with propriety be ascribed to the people of the union, who have expressly refused to congress the power to pass any unconstitutional law. Until the people have received notice of it, and have had a full opportunity of learning the true state of the case, and of electing another set of public officers, any such unconstitutional act should be ascribed to the general administration only. Till that time, any state which considers itself aggrieved, will best consult its interests, by restricting the exercise of its powers to endeavors to enlighten the public mind, and, in this way, induce them to elect wiser legislators.

Continued in CHAPTER VI. Of the rights reserved to the people of the United States; not being granted either to the general government, or to the state governments.

See the other parts of this series:
RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: General Rights; Division One
RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: General Rights; Division Two
RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: General Rights; The Social Compact
RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: The Powers delegated to the General Government in the Federal Constitution
RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: Powers delegated to the State Governments
RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: The Independence of the States
RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: The rights reserved to the people of the United States
RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: Of the right of suffrage and of elections
RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: The Liberty of Speech and of the Press
RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: The Power of Courts to punish for Contempts
RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: The Law of Libel in relation to Public Officers
RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: The mode of obtaining redress for infringement of civil or political rights

RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: General Rights; Division Two

PrecedentThe Rights of an American Citizen: With a Commentary on State Rights, and on the Constitution and Policy of the United States by Benjamin Lynde Oliver published 1832


Division II. Of those natural rights which are usually retained in organized society. Sec. I. Of self defence in cases of extreme urgency.— Sec. II. Of qualified liberty, under which is considered, 1, the right of expatriation; 2, the rights of conscience and freedom of inquiry; 3, the right of property; 4, the right of equality; 5, the right of freely discussing public measures; 6, the right of petition and remonstrance; 7, the right to reform the Government.

Sec. I. Self-defense in cases of extreme urgency. The first and most important of these rights, is that of self-defense. This right is reserved to every individual, in all cases, where there is not time sufficient to apply to the government for protection. So that, if a man is assaulted, and his life is in extreme danger, and he has no opportunity to apply to the police, because his case will admit of no delay, he will be excused by the law of society as well as by the law of nature, if he takes the life of his assailant, supposing always that he has no other way to save his own. For, in any such case as this, society cannot afford him that protection, which was one of the principal motives, which led him to unite with others in the formation of it. His natural right to protect himself in any such extremity, is therefore always reserved to him. But, where the aggression is threatened previously to its being actually made, no individual has a right to make preparations for his own defence, personally, if such preparations constitute a disturbance of the public peace. In any such case, the individual threatened ought to apply to the proper officers of the society for that protection, which it is their duty to afford him.

Bill of RightsSec. II. Of qualified liberty of action; freedom from unnecessary restraints, requisitions and exactions, &c. Where the people form a social compact, contained in a written constitution, the extent of the powers granted to the government, may be defined with precision. But, where there is no written constitution, the extent of such powers is ascertained by usages and precedents, that is to say, by the practice of the rulers, sanctioned by the silent acquiescence of the people, in peaceable and quiet times. In different societies and under different governments, the powers of the rulers, and the consequent restraint on the natural liberty of the subjects, vary greatly.

Civil liberty consists in not being restrained from acting, and not being constrained to act, by any law which does not conduce to the general welfare. But, it may be asked, how shall it be ascertained whether a law conduces to the general welfare or not? The answer is, this is submitted to the wisdom and discretion of the rulers. But, it may be asked again, is there no restraint upon the exercise of this discretion? The answer is, that they are restrained from enacting laws, or adopting any public measures which are inconsistent with the constitution, whether ascertained by usage or contained in a written document or compact. But, it may be asked again, who shall determine whether a law is or is not agreeable to the constitution or social compact? The answer must be, the tribunal (if any) provided in the constitution, for the determination of such questions, must decide. But, if none is provided, then that person or persons in whom the power is vested in the last resort, by the frame of government, whether a monarchy, an aristocracy, or a democracy, will have the constitutional right to determine. But, where the act in violation of the constitution, is committed by the very person or persons, to whom the supreme power of the government is given by the constitution; there is no peaceable remedy, if the illegal laws or measures are persisted in, after petition and remonstrance by the subjects; for the truth is, the frame of government is defective, and the conduct of the rulers or ruler is so far oppressive and tyrannical.

As the degree of restraint upon natural liberty or freedom, may vary under different constitutions or forms of government, it is obvious, that it may also vary greatly under the same constitution at different times, owing to the various interpretations and constructions put upon it, by persons of greater or less integrity and intelligence.

The definition of the freedom, which men have in a state of nature, of consulting their own happiness in all they do, so as they offend against- neither religion nor morality, that is, provided they transgress no divine law, and do no injury to the rest of mankind, is sufficiently intelligible and plain. But, in a state of society, this single right branches out into a great variety of rights, each of which has received a distinct appellation. The first division of this natural liberty or freedom, is into a freedom from restraint, and a freedom from exactions or requirements. By relinquishing the first, we become liable to be restrained by the laws of society, from doing many things which, in a state of nature, we are at perfect liberty to do, without committing any wrong or injustice. By relinquishing the second, we become liable to be bound to do, by virtue of our social compact, and the laws made under it, many things, which, in a state of nature, we were under no such obligation to do, and which, from the general maxim of the natural equality of all mankind as to their rights, no man or body of men could have any right to compel us to do, without some previous consent or other act of our own.

Under the former of these branches of natural liberty, viz: freedom from restraint upon the right of action, may be comprehended,
1. The right of expatriation. That a citizen of any community, in ordinary cases, has a right to leave its territory at pleasure, and reside in some other country, and cast off his native allegiance to his own, seems to follow of course, from the preceding view of the natural rights of mankind, and the origin of governments. It is true, that this right has been absolutely denied by some, who hold that a man can never shake off the allegiance which may be claimed by his native country. This, however, seems something like setting up an idol, and is entirely contrary to the principles acknowledged in the constitution of the United States. For, if a foreigner cannot become an American citizen, without committing a crime, or at least doing a manifest injustice to the country of his birth, why is the naturalization of aliens permitted among us? Why is it thought worth while to inquire into the character of an individual, who, by the very act of applying for naturalization, which renders such inquiry necessary, shows that he is not fit to be a citizen of any other country, since he must first throw off his allegiance to his native land? But, though this may furnish an excellent theme for declamation, which will be omitted here, such opinion seems not to be sufficiently well grounded to stand the test of a close examination. For, what is a man’s country? Is it the place of his birth or residence? This would be a very unreasonable supposition, unless taken in connexion with its inhabitants, its frame of government, and its laws and institutions. For, a man cannot owe allegiance to inanimate nature, as mountains, rivers, and groves, whatever poets may imagine. Neither can it consist in the government, laws, and institutions; for, if so, then to change them in a material point, would deprive a man of his country. It must then consist in the inhabitants forming a society, the identity of which is preserved, like that of a river, by perpetual succession under the government to which he has either expressly or tacitly agreed, on the territory subject to that government, and belonging to its citizens.

If a man owes allegiance to any of these, let it be first supposed that it is to the government. But if it is owed to the government, independently of the inhabitants, then it must be due to the persons of the rulers for the time being. For the government in any other sense, is a mere abstraction. In monarchies, it is admitted, allegiance is due to the king, as the feudal head of the nation, and who is acknowledged to be the lawful political master and lord of his subjects. But such allegiance can be claimed only in monarchies and aristocracies. In our republic, to whom is allegiance due? The answer must be, that no such allegiance is due to any one. But, with regard to the state of which he is a citizen, each one’s allegiance is limited by the terms of the constitution made by the citizens of that state, and to which he has either expressly or tacitly assented. The same remark applies to the constitution of the United States, to which we must, resort, if we would know precisely the kind of allegiance which is to be considered as due from the citizens of the Union.

As nothing is said in restraint of this natural right of going where he pleases, or expatriation, in either of those compacts, it follows that a man may rightfully expatriate himself, and throw off his supposed natural allegiance to his own country, whenever he pleases, provided he was not personally a party to the original compact, and has never taken any oath of allegiance, either to the state of which he is a citizen, or to the United States. For, obligations like these, whatever the common practice may be, are not to be assumed and cast off again at pleasure.

But, perhaps it will be urged, that a man’s country consists properly in the succession of inhabitants in the territory and under the government of which he is a resident native citizen; and that, it is to these inhabitants in a body and in their political capacity as a nation, that allegiance is properly due. But, it may be replied, if he is under an obligation of this kind to them, every other citizen is also under a reciprocal obligation to him, as well as a similar obligation to each other. This supposition would gratuitously and unnecessarily impose reciprocal obligations upon every one of the citizens of a country, to remain in it subject to its allegiance, however adverse it might be to his interest or happiness; when, on the contrary, it would be much more agreeable to natural freedom, to consider every individual as having a right to expatriate himself, and form new connections at discretion. Whether an American citizen can throw off his allegiance or not, without an act of Congress to authorize him, seems not to be judicially settled. 7 Wheat. 283.

Further, if a man is under obligations to any one, it must be to his parents; yet nature sets him free from all ties but those of gratitude, affection and reverence, as soon as he arrives at maturity. If then he becomes free from them, there is certainly but little reason, why he should be under any higher obligations, in the ordinary course of events, to his countrymen, unless he has entered into some express, voluntary engagements to them.

It is not intended, however, to palliate or excuse, the conduct of any individual, who should see fit to exercise this right at a time when his country is in a state of peril or distress from hostile aggression, and has need of his assistance in its defence. The gratitude, which would be due to it, from him, on account of the protection it has afforded him during his youth, and the advantages which he has derived from its various laws and institutions, and the civilities and kindnesses which he has received from his fellow-citizens, would render his conduct deserving of the same reprehension as that of a son, who should refuse to relieve the necessities of his parents, on the ground, that gratitude is a duty of imperfect obligation, and that he had a natural right to do as he pleased in relation to the subject.

Neither is it intended to deny the perfect right of the government of the country, to adopt such measures, as may be necessary to protect itself against any of its citizens, who, not satisfied with renouncing their allegiance, should take up arms against their country, and abuse their knowledge of the weak points in its defenses, to insure its overthrow.

2. The rights of conscience, and freedom of inquiry. In a state of nature, these rights, as well as others of a similar kind, are derived from the natural freedom from the control of others, to which all men are entitled; while again this natural freedom results from the natural equality of all men as to their rights. If these rights are relinquished on the formation of society, it must be by virtue of the constitution or social compact of the society or government. But, if not so relinquished, either expressly or by tacit acquiescence, they remain unimpaired to the members of the society or body politic, and the rulers have no right to do any thing to infringe them.

It is not necessary, however, in order to authorize the government of a country to legislate on these subjects, that a power for that purpose should be expressly given in the constitution. It will be sufficient, if the constitution imposes no restraint on the government, to prevent the exercise of such authority, and that a particular emergency has arisen, requiring such legislative interposition. For, unless expressly prohibited, their general authority to provide for the public welfare, would be amply sufficient for this purpose. These remarks, however, can apply only to open acts, opinions promulgated, and doctrines openly taught and inculcated. For, under a general power to provide for the general welfare, to institute a scrutiny into private opinions, and to require men to avow or disavow them, whether in relation to religious, moral or political subjects, would be an act of mere usurpation, and grossly tyrannical. Yet, a government, it is obvious, may be authorized by the citizens who frame and adopt it, to exclude from the rights of citizenship, or naturalization, all foreigners, who refuse to disclose their sentiments, whether religious or political. And, for the same reason, may be authorized by their citizens, to impose a test whether religious or political, on the citizens themselves, the refusal to take which, should be considered as a disqualification for office, whenever the public good requires such a measure. But, in most cases, the adoption of any such course would be highly odious. For the same reason, if it were part of the constitution, that no individual, though born within the country, should have the rights of citizenship, if he should profess any other religion than that of the state, such person would be a mere resident alien. And if the legislature, being authorized for that purpose by the constitution, should deem it expedient to exclude from its territory, all persons, who were not of the same religion with that of the government, there would seem to be no absolute violation of natural right in this, though it would seem to be an act of gross intolerance, not to be justified but by circumstances of great urgency. To express this doctrine in a few words;—as every man* in a state of nature, has a right to exclude from his household and family, every individual of bad character, notorious for bad principles or corrupt practices, it cannot be doubted, that, in organizing a society, the constituent members may confer a similar power on their government by using express terms for that purpose. A general authority to take care of the public welfare, would also be sufficient for that purpose, unless the exercise of this general power were expressly restrained in this particular instance.

Under any such authority, whether express or implied, the government would have a right to banish from its territory, any individual who should undertake to teach or disseminate opinions dangerous to the peace or welfare of society. And on this subject, the rulers or constituted authorities alone, would be the proper judges. It will make no difference, in this respect, of what nature such opinions or principles may be, or whether they relate to religion, morals or politics, if they lead, or, by the constituted authorities are thought to lead, to injurious consequences. For, erroneous opinions on the subjects of religion and politics, are found by experience to be a fruitful source of public troubles and disturbances, with their bloody concomitants, tortures, rapine, murder, massacre and civil war: while erroneous opinions in relation to morals, may soon sap the foundation of innocence and virtue, and raise on their ruins, a temple dedicated to vice, corruption, abomination, Dagon and Moloch. Can it be doubted then, that the open teaching, promulgation and inculcation of false and dangerous opinions, should immediately be stopped? The government, supposing them to have full authority from the people on this subject, should exercise a sound discretion in relation to it. If they merely punish crimes and immorality when they occur, they perform only half of their duty; since they ought to stop the sources of corrupt practices at the fountain head, in vicious principles.

Yet, on the other hand, the most perfect freedom of inquiry should be allowed, for the sake of informing the conscience. For, it cannot be supposed, that any individual, by coming under the obligations of society, intended to surrender his liberty of conscience, or his natural right of worshiping God according to the dictates of his own reason, to the mere opinions of other men as fallible as himself. Still, no christian government can be under any obligation to tolerate any grossly immoral or indecent practices, under the pretense of indulging religious freedom. For, such practices constitute a disturbance of the public peace, and are an offence or nuisance to all the orderly citizens. For similar reasons, the public teaching of a false religion, or the open inculcation of doctrines, professedly aiming at the subversion of all religion, should be silenced by public authority. For, the government acting on the behalf of the people, have a perfect right to adopt such measures as they may judge necessary for this purpose, provided they do not interfere with the right of free inquiry for the private satisfaction of each individual’s own conscience.

It may be objected here, if these observations apply equally to all forms of government, where is the freedom, which is so much boasted of under democratic or republican forms of government? The answer is, that as, under a monarchy, it was never intended to deprive the people of the power of doing good; so under a republic or a democracy, it was never intended that the people should be free to do evil; and, if there is less power and opportunity of doing good under a monarchy, and greater liberty as well as temptation to do ill under a republic or democracy, it is no part of the design of the framers of such governments; but such consequences naturally attend the greater or less degree of freedom enjoyed under each, respectively. To restrain the introduction of dangerous opinions among the people, is no infringement of their liberties; on the contrary, it is the most effectual method of preserving what the people have in view, in the exercise of their liberties, viz: their tranquility and happiness.

Here it may be objected again, if this doctrine is true, then the rulers for the time being, will be the sole judges of the truth as well as the tendency of all avowed opinions, and open practices. Consequently if they chance to be in an error, the truth will be kept from the people. The answer is, it is no part of the duty of the government to regulate the consciences of individuals; but every person should be left at perfect liberty to form his opinions as he pleases, provided he does not disturb others with them. But, where the people and the government are agreed in the general grounds of their religious faith, it would be very extraordinary, if they had not a perfect right to exclude from their territory, any persons, who should disturb the public peace by attempting to introduce a new one.

These remarks, however, so far as they respect opinions on religious subjects, are not intended to apply to any organized society or government, where, on account of the great number of religious opinions, universal toleration is one of the fundamental articles of the constitution or social compact. Nor will they apply to persons, who profess to come as divine ambassadors, provided only they are furnished with those divine credentials, which furnish the only safe criterion, by which uninspired persons, can, in every case, distinguish between enthusiasm, fanaticism, or imposture, and true inspiration. But if, having no other evidence or assistance than other men, they undertake to disturb and revolutionize society, with the visions of their own imaginations or the mere deductions of their own understandings, without any other sanction or authority than enthusiastic reveries, or supported alone by the self-blandishing but fallacious supposition of their own intellectual superiority, and the ignorance and delusion of others, the government, having sufficient authority from the people for that purpose, will do no more than their duty in gently sending them out of the country without further molestation.

Neither are these remarks designed to apply in the slightest degree to missionaries, as if it were intended to deter them from what they consider their duty, in attempting to spread the divine revelation among the heathen. On the contrary, this most benevolent intention, this attempt to comply with or fulfill the divine command, ‘Go preach the gospel to all nations,’ cannot in the fallible view of our narrow understandings, be too much applauded. Still, they should be careful not to disseminate as divine truths, any mere opinions or inventions of men. If unfortunately they should propagate error, what thanks can they deserve? Certainly nothing more than the praise of good intentions, accompanied with the discouraging abatement, of having done harm instead of good. In this case, it is obvious, there is ample room for an apparent conflict of rights and duties. For, the missionary may possibly mistake the peculiar tenets of the sect to which he belongs, for the only essential part of divine revelation, and esteem it his duty to spread them even at the risk of his life. On the other hand, the government of the country may consider those peculiar tenets, as nothing more than pernicious errors, and consider it their duty to put a stop to the dissemination of them.

Where a christian missionary goes among the heathen, thus exposing himself to toil, danger, hardships, and privation in the service of the great Master of our religion, there can be but one opinion, as to his merit and his reward. On the other band, can there remain a doubt, that an enlightened christian community may adopt decisive measures, to prevent the propagation of delusion, fanaticism, or any doctrines of sufficient plausibility and having a tendency to disturb the public tranquility, by subverting the true religion in the minds of the weak and defenseless, and introducing in its place, principles productive of confusion and numberless disorders?

Suppose, again, an enthusiast should be so zealous as to go to Rome for the purpose of converting the Pope, a case which history informs us has actually happened; what better treatment could he have a right to expect, than was given in the instance alluded to, viz. to be sent to a mad-house? Might not the Pope very properly answer his exhortation, by saying, ‘Friend, it appears, that you have come hither, for the purpose of converting me to what you believe to be the true doctrine of the christian religion. Your design, though in some measure vainglorious, is filled with benevolence; and if you have any new revelation, of the authenticity of which you can furnish satisfactory proof, I am ready to listen to it with the deepest veneration and humility. But, if you have not, what vanity can actuate you to suppose that I shall substitute your infallibility in the place of that, which is commonly ascribed to my office.

‘If I am sincere in the profession of the Catholic doctrine, can you be so simple as to expect to convert me to your opinions without the advantage of any other revelation, than I have myself, by the superiority of your intellectual powers alone? Or, if I am not sincere, what occasion is there for your kind offices? Would you take up arms against a shadow?’

3. The right of property. As society is organized for the security of property as well as life, this right remains in full force, and cannot be invaded without the grossest tyranny and oppression.

This right however is not infringed by equal taxes for public purposes, imposed by adequate legitimate authority. A misapplication or misappropriation of funds in the public treasury, however, must be considered as a violation of this right, though it is also a great breach of public trust. Any regulations introduced by law, for the transmission of property by descent, or directing the mode of transferring property on a sale, will be free from exception on this account; provided that no estate actually vested under a law, is divested by the operation of a law afterwards enacted. In any case, where an individual fails to receive what he had stipulated for, or what otherwise he would have a just right to expect, from an omission to comply with the laws of society, it must be ascribed to his own imprudence or negligence.

4. Right of equality. As men are naturally equal in their rights, there can be no doubt, as has been already remarked, that no individual would be willing to join in organizing a society, unless he were put on an equal footing with others, as to all the rights secured to him in the social compact, or constitution of the society. It would obviously be no violation of this principle, if, in the constitution itself, it had been stipulated and agreed, that certain classes of persons, which classes should be accessible to all, should have greater powers, or should be exempted from certain public burdens. There is nothing unfair or unequal in this, in reality.

Neither would it be a violation of this principle, if a law should be passed, making men liable to certain common burdens for the benefit of society, as soon as they arrive at a certain age, and to exempt them from such burdens, as soon as they arrived at a certain other age, as in the case of military service. Because the law is general in its application, and the difference of condition occasioned by it, is merely temporary. Since every man, however aged, has once been young; and the young, if they live, will certainly arrive at an age, at which they too will in like manner be exempted. But, it would be a violation of this principle, if the legislature should attempt to alter by law, the requirements of individuals made in the constitution in order to qualify them for the exercise of certain civil rights, either by adding to or taking from them; or, by imposing new conditions, or removing old ones. And therefore a disqualification of individuals by law, grounded on distinctions not recognized in the constitution, is a violation of this principle.

For the same reason, a sacrifice of the interests of particular individuals, or inhabitants of particular districts, either in favor of other individuals or classes, or, even in favor of the public at large, is a violation of this right. But the government is generally considered as having authority to apply private property to public uses, if an adequate compensation is made to the proprietor, especially in cases of great emergency.

Where the operation of a law is, to prefer one class of citizens over another, the question, whether the law is to be considered as a violation of the natural right of equality, will depend upon the previous question, whether this effect is one of the principal inducements to pass the law; in which case it is tyrannical, as emanating from an usurped power; or, whether, without having such inducement, the principal operation or effect of the law, is to give such a preference; in which case, it is unjust because unequal in its operation, and if continued after notice of its effects, is also arbitrary and oppressive; or whether this unequal effect was wholly overlooked by the legislature, and is a necessary attendant upon some great public advantage, the obtaining of which, was the sole object which the legislature had in view in the passing of the law; in which case, it will be no violation of private right. But, as one class of citizens ought not to be sacrificed for the benefit of another, or, even of the public, the latter, out of the great advantage which they derive from the law, ought to make satisfactory compensation to those persons, who are sufferers by its enactment; the loss to be ascertained by impartial appraisers or assessors. If the public are not willing to make this compensation, the wrong to the property of the suffering class or individuals, is neither more nor less than a robbery under pretense of law. But, if the public cannot afford, out of the benefit which they derive from the passage of such law, to make such compensation, it is conclusive proof, that the law is inexpedient as well as unjust; since it will occasion more disadvantage than benefit. Where the principal operation of a law is to give a preference to one class of citizens over another, this is not a cause for compensation; but is a direct violation of the right of equality, to be waived by the injured class alone. As soon as this effect is ascertained, therefore, the law should be immediately repealed.

5. The right of freely discussing public measures, &c. Another right, which, it must necessarily be presumed, the people mean to reserve to themselves in every free elective government, is that of discussing the qualifications and characters of all candidates for public offices, who consent to stand for them, as well as the character, conduct, and general measures of all public officers. This subject will be considered more at large in Part II. Chapters 1 and 2.

But in governments so framed, that misconduct in the chief ruler or magistrate, does not by their constitutions, involve his disqualification for office, or his removal from it, whether it be elective or hereditary, it would be of no advantage to the people, for each citizen to have a right to comment harshly upon him, for the purpose of bringing him into hatred or contempt with the people; since it could have but little tendency to correct public grievances, but might lead to public disorders and disturbances, and thus, instead of removing evils, might aggravate some and occasion others. For, it would be impossible to prevent the right of animadversion on the conduct of a bad prince, from being perverted to an unjust vituperation of the character and conduct of an excellent one. On the contrary, is it not very possible, that under a good prince, there might be thousands of factious demagogues, who, under the pretense of patriotism, the public good, and freedom and the rights of man, and other topics of popular declamation, might asperse and vilify their rulers; while under a cruel and merciless tyrant, whose public life was a disgrace to human nature, and whose administration of public affairs, was impolitic, unjust and ruinous, those same pretended patriots, from fear would have remained in perfect silence and perhaps have been most conspicuous for abject sycophancy and fawning servility? (fn1) Under all arbitrary governments, therefore, seditious speeches and writings are considered but little short of treason, to which they directly tend.

6. The right of petition and remonstrance. Another right retained by the people in all free governments, and which it is believed, is seldom denied under the most arbitrary and tyrannical, is that of representing to the government any particular evil or grievance, which the petitioner suffers from any law or other public measures, and requesting its removal, or that suitable compensation be made him for the damage, which he sustains in consequence of it. It should not be considered any infringement of this right, that the petition should be made in decent and respectful terms, however contrary it may seem to the opinions of those persons, who from a mistaken idea of the true principles of democracy, think there can be no freedom, where the private citizens may not affront and insult with impunity their superiors in office.

7. The right to reform the government. On this critical and dangerous subject, it seems difficult to establish any certain principles of general application, which will not be liable to be abused and misapplied, and which consequently may not involve in their operation, if injudiciously carried into practice, the most lamentable and disastrous results. A profound historian indulging in some reflections upon the American Revolution, makes the following observations. ‘To overset an established government, unhinges many of those principles which bind individuals to each other. A long time and much prudence, will be necessary to reproduce a spirit of freedom, without which, society is a rope of sand. The right of the people to resist their rulers, when invading their liberties, forms the corner stone of American Republics. This principle, though just in itself, is not favorable to the tranquility of present establishments. The maxims and measures, which in the years 1774 and 1775, were successfully inculcated and adopted by American patriots, for oversetting the established government, will answer a similar purpose, when recurrence is had to them by factious demagogues for disturbing the freest governments that were ever devised.’

It should not be overlooked, though it may seem to imply a contradiction in terms, that the strict enforcement or assertion of our most perfect rights, under peculiar circumstances may sometimes constitute a crying sin, as being a violation of some duty, which though of the strongest obligation in a religious and moral point of view, is usually called or defined a duty of imperfect obligation, because those persons who are the objects of it, have no right themselves to compel its performance. This is true in relation to our rights in a state of nature, and towards individuals; and is equally so in relation to our civil and political rights in a state of society, and towards the public. But, in the latter case, the consequences may be infinitely more disastrous, and wholly remediless. The following remarks are to be taken, subject to this qualification.

No government can have any legitimate foundation but in the good of the people; for, the people were not made to be governed for the interest or pleasure of the rulers; but rulers were set up and established to protect the people, and direct them by salutary laws and regulations, in the pursuit of their welfare and true interests. Where the people have good sense, and the virtues of self-denial, and the love of justice, as a nation, so as to know how to redress their wrongs on other nations, if any should be offered, and so as to be contented to do without, what they cannot gain without wrong to others, they have no need of arbitrary rulers, whose powers, in a political point of view, originate with themselves. But, if they have not this good sense and these virtues, they will soon fall a prey to usurpation, as a punishment for their folly and injustice. What nations have, and what nations have not, this intelligence and these virtues to a sufficient extent, may be conjectured, but can only be certainly determined by experience. To think so, and to be able to do it, are different things. To overthrow a monarchy is one thing; to establish a permanent, free, popular government is another. The characteristic qualities of a people, which may lead them to the former, are not of themselves sufficient to enable them to effect the latter. The form of general government established by American sages, though most admirable, is not perfect; and will stand no longer than while a portion of the same wisdom, patriotism and disinterestedness, which actuated them, shall continue to animate the public councils.

Governments were established at first, in days of ignorance violence and injustice. In most cases the strong, crafty and bold, reduced the weak, timorous, simple and defenseless to a state of subjection. The latter, in this way, became slaves to the former, in the first instance; and afterwards, by a gradual melioration of their condition became subjects, while the companions of the leader or conqueror, became nobles. This however was not always the, case. For, in some instances, it is probable, where the weak were not immediately overrun in the first invasion, they were .able by uniting and forming themselves into an organized society, adopting an exact military discipline, and inventing armor as well as improved weapons of offence, as shields, darts and swords, to prevail over those, who, relying merely on their gigantic stature and resistless bodily strength, had never felt the necessity, and consequently had never thought of any such expedients, but at best, had never made use of any weapons more effective than the stone, the stake, or the war club. It is most probable, that it was in this way, that Chedorlaomer, the first conqueror on record, subdued the various tribes of giants, enumerated in the holy scriptures. For, he had no divine assistance, and no mention is made of the superior stature of his soldiers or subjects. But they dwelt in cities, and must therefore have made some considerable advances in civilization and the necessary arts. But the nations or tribes whom he conquered, it is apparent, lived in a savage state; and were most of them conspicuous for their lofty stature; viz. the Emims, who are compared to the sons of Anak, of whom it was said, ‘Who can stand before the Anakims,’ the Rephaims, or giants, of whom it is said in the scriptures Og, the King of Bashan, was the last survivor, and whose stature, according to the scripture account, could not have been far from fifteen English feet; the Horims, who dwelt in caves and holes in the ground on Mount Seir, and who, in this respect, were literally Troglodytes. These giants were in a great measure destroyed by Chedorlaomer, and it is most probable without any miraculous aid, by superior weapons, and military skill alone. But, when other nations of gigantic men succeeded, such as the Anakims and the Amorites, who were acquainted with warlike implements and defensive armor, and subject to military discipline, it was impossible for the Israelites to conquer them without divine assistance, and the three sons of Anak, who struck terror into the hearts of the Israelite spies, with the exception of Caleb and Joshua, it is probable from the same account, were not cut off, until they were upwards of fourscore years of age; there being no evidence that, under the divine economy, the ordinary course of nature is ever disturbed by a miracle without necessity.

In later times, governments are chiefly grounded in the first instance on conquest or usurpation. For we see in history, Kings are dethroned and are succeeded for the most part by tyrants; Republics are conquered through delay or dissension, or corruption, and are annexed to the empire of the conqueror; monarchies are subverted and succeeded by anarchy and confusion, until the turbulent authors are cut off, one chief being left to trample on the people’s liberties and reduce them to a more abject state than they suffered before. In a few. instances, the people have rescued themselves from oppression, and have established a mild and free government.

Legitimate governments may be of any form whatever, whether a monarchy, an aristocracy, a democracy, or a combination of these. Where they are not established by divine appointment, they must be grounded, according to natural right, in the will of the people, express or tacit. A people, therefore, it is evident, without any government, when organizing a political society and forming a nation, may adopt any form of government which they think expedient, whether monarchy, aristocracy, democracy, or a republic. Whatever form they adopt, is a legitimate government, and no individuals in any succeeding generation, have a shadow of right to attempt to subvert it, or to excite the people to do so. Yet individuals who are dissatisfied, have a right to consult their happiness and leave the country; but so long as they reside within it, they are bound to obey the laws. But, if the rulers should abuse their legitimate authority, and oppress the people by acts of tyranny and cruelty, the people, after petitioning for redress of grievances in vain, if unanimous, (otherwise not,) will have a natural right to remove their rulers, choose others in their room and reform the government, and adopt a new constitution if they see fit. A bare majority of the people, however, has no such right.

This extreme right, on account of the terrible consequences usually attending its exercise, notwithstanding the most tyrannical and unjustifiable conduct in the rulers, in most cases it would be very wrong, indeed a great sin, to put in force. For, the benefits resulting from revolutions, seldom compensate for the horrors which almost invariably attend them. The risk of violating many duties, which, though of imperfect obligation, cannot be disregarded without incurring a degree of guilt and responsibility, proportional to the calamitous consequences which must necessarily follow, must therefore make every reasonable and conscientious person pause and deliberate long, before he arms himself against his rulers; and it is very probable, that it is in part for such reasons, that we christians are commanded ‘to submit to the powers that be. But, in fact, the people are seldom or never unanimous for a change of their government, even when it is of the most arbitrary form, and their rulers are tyrants. Where they appear to be so, (and especially if the administration is mild, and the people do not stand in awe of it,) it is owing to the dread and fear which the orderly citizens entertain of the threats, outrages and massacres of revolutionists and anarchists, which are greater than the respect or regard, which they entertain for a government, in their opinion no longer capable of protecting either them or itself. Many of these citizens, therefore, in such cases, through mere apprehension, side with the unprincipled and disorderly, in order to escape their violence, (though being suspected, on account of the previous respectability of their characters, their hypocrisy is not always successful in this respect,) when they would prefer to submit to the measured oppressions of any regular government, rather than be exposed to the capricious and illimitable envy and malignity of ignoble and unprincipled disorganizers. There is seldom, therefore, an occasion where such right can be said to exist at all; and it would be a rare case indeed, that would render the exercise of it perfectly justifiable.

In the original formation of a government established by the people, it is their consent which renders it legitimate. But, though the government should commence unjustly, as by conquest or usurpation, yet, if the people afterwards acquiesce in it, no succeeding generation has any greater right to alter it, than if it had been established by the free consent of the people in the first instance. For, the generation which acquiesces, have the same right to adopt the government under which they live, that a people without a government, have to form and establish one. The voluntary acquiescence of the former, is equal in its effects to the free choice of the latter. The contrary supposition would be attended with many inconveniences, if not absurdities. For, suppose a democracy is established by the free choice of the people, what sanction has this government, after the generation has passed away, which first established it? Certainly none but the tacit acquiescence of the people which succeed. In any such case, can we suppose that a political leader has a right to endeavor to persuade the people that their rulers oppress them, and, in this way, induce them to resist, throw off, or dissolve the government? For, without dwelling upon the probable consequences, mobs, riots, insurrections, rebellions, civil war, massacres, and other outrages, with which the overthrow of a settled government is invariably attended; and the anarchy and confusion, and suspension of the distribution of justice, which immediately follow ; and the establishment of a military despotism, which would in all probability be the termination, and the only effectual one, of these horrors; whence could a demagogue derive this right? Can such a pretense owe its origin to any other source, than an abuse of the great liberty which is permitted in a democracy; but which in a stronger government, would well be considered as a crime of the greatest magnitude and atrocity, and which would immediately be punished as it deserved ; or rather would rarely show itself, having no hopes of escaping punishment in case of a failure in the attempt. For, the confident expectation of escaping with impunity, is the chief origin of the fervid and inflammatory declamation against imaginary political evils and abuses, in the pretended patriot and lover of the people, as well as of the lawless violence of an ignorant and debased rabble, under the influence of intoxicating liquors, and in the exercise of, what they affect to believe, some of the rights of man.

When in the first formation of a constitution, a mode of amending the frame of government is pointed out in that instrument or political compact, all amendments and reforms made in the mode prescribed, though not unanimously agreed on, are doubtless as valid and binding, as if they constituted a part of the original compact, to which all the people had unanimously assented in the first instance. And here it will make no difference, whether agreeably to such mode of amendment, the alterations in the constitution are to be made by the rulers themselves, or by the people convened in their primary assemblies. But, as the majority have no natural right to frame a government in the first instance, which shall bind the minority who dissent, though the minority may silently ratify it by their peaceable acquiescence, if they see fit; it follows that a mere majority have no right to alter the constitution, unless it is expressly agreed that they may do so in the mode prescribed for that purpose in the constitution itself. It seems to follow, therefore, that though the people, if unanimous, have a right to change their form of government, even Where there is no provision for any such alteration in their constitution; yet, the rulers may justly enact laws to punish with exemplary severity, any persons who should attempt to excite the people to make radical changes in the government, or to remove, in an irregular and disorderly manner, those who preside over the administration of public affairs. This authority naturally results to the rulers, from the general power which is bestowed on them, either expressly or by implication, to provide for the public safety and welfare; and the exercise of it is justified, not only by the bad motives which usually actuate innovators, such as disappointed avarice, or ambition, envy, vanity, and a desire of self-aggrandizement; but, because of the infinite evils which attend an attempt to overthrow the government, where the people are divided into parties or factions, as they invariably are on such occasions.

Farther; if it were permitted to individuals to excite the people to overthrow their government, or change it in an irregular manner under the plausible pretext of reform, then nothing could ever remain sacred or established among mankind. It can make no essential difference, what the form of government may be, which it is desired to overthrow. Yet, it is certain, that where the form and administration of the government, is most arbitrary and despotic, and consequently where there will be the most just ground of complaint, there will be less of it made, through fear. On the contrary, where the government is most free, and there is consequently less danger of punishment for seditious or treasonable practices, unprincipled demagogues, from a desire of becoming popular, will pretend public abuses where none exist, and exaggerate those which do. Not but that there are tyrannical abuses of authority in democracies and republics, as well as in monarchies; but for the most part, they excite less apprehension and alarm in popular governments; because in them the power, however it may be abused, is supposed to be limited, and the evil consequences of such abuse, are definite and circumscribed. But in monarchies, where the political power exercised by the ruler is either arbitrary, or, at least very great, the abuse of it excites alarm ; because the extent of the abuse, or of the evils that may be occasioned by it, cannot be either distinctly perceived or foreseen, or precisely ascertained. It is for this reason, that, under the government of an arbitrary tyrant, there is no one but must entertain apprehensions for his own personal safety. Yet, for the most part, timid and conscientious persons, are desirous of a strong, though not of an arbitrary government. Because, from its very structure, a strong government is most likely to be permanent, and they consequently feel a greater confidence that they shall be protected from the innovations, abuses, and violence of the turbulent and disorderly. On the other hand, the unprincipled, dissolute and flagitious, always desire a weak government, in order that they may be at liberty to practice wickedness with the greater hope of impunity.

Where the form of government is strong and effective, the just and peaceable therefore, enjoy the highest degree of that rational liberty which consists in the security of their persons and property, and the quiet and undisturbed exercise of all their civil and political rights, free from the molestation of the turbulent and licentious. On the other hand, where the form of government is weak and tottering, and the rulers, from a desire of popularity, neglect a discharge of their duty, and are consequently timeserving and inefficient, the turbulent and unjust enjoy the highest degree of freedom and impunity in their insolent practices of fraud, violence and imposition upon those, who hare not the power to protect themselves, and, whom, the rulers through an apprehension of a loss of popularity, are base enough to leave unprotected. For, flagitious and disorderly persons dislike wholesome laws, because they find their freedom to commit wrongs with impunity, is restrained by them. They therefore make an outcry for liberty, and for a repeal of such laws. But laws to prevent wrong and injustice do not deprive well disposed persons of any freedom; because they would do no wrong and commit no crime, if there were no law against them. They therefore are in favor of such laws, to protect society and themselves against the lovers of such liberty. And as the good, who alone may safely be entrusted with such freedom, i. e. a state of exemption from such laws, never complain for want of it; so, those who do complain, are the very persons in whom such confidence cannot be placed.

Lastly; though it cannot be doubted, that where all the people are unanimous, they have a natural right to alter their government, whether any provision for such alteration is made in their constitution or not, because the government is intended for their benefit, and, if they had not such right, the most horrible tyranny, cruelty and oppression might be continued from generation to generation, unless there were some miraculous interposition of providence; still the wise and prudent will be very cautious how they engage in any such enterprises; some of which, seem to have been signally marked with the divine displeasure. The reader will readily recollect that the same nation, which dethroned and beheaded Charles I, a legitimate monarch, under pretence that he had made use of an unwarrantable stretch of his regal authority, which however was not well defined, was compelled to submit to a bloody usurper and ruthless tyrant, who died peaceably in his bed. And here the sturdy republicans of parliament, who had deprived the nobles of their constitutional authority, and who made it almost a matter of conscience to withhold due reverence and respect from their lawful sovereign, were compelled by Cromwell, both a republican and a fanatic, and as bloody and ferocious as themselves, but far superior to them in ability and decision of character, to bow their necks before him with servile fear; yet, after all, were thrust out of parliament by him with the utmost scorn and contempt.

What massacres followed the decapitation of the mild and benevolent Louis XVI? What a succession of demons afterwards controlled the public affairs of France, who, deluding the infatuated people with the ceaseless, false and senseless outcry and jargon of liberty, equality, the rights of man, tyranny, priestcraft, aristocrat, democrat, citizen and patriot, never hesitated to violate every precept of religion, every moral duty, and every feeling of humanity, and carried their extravagance to the height of the most blasphemous impiety. Were the horrors, which thus succeeded to the overthrow of this established government, a judgment from heaven, or were they merely the natural consequences, which may always be expected to flow from the prevalence of anarchy, atheism, and unbounded licentiousness? Certainly, no tyranny can occasion such evils, as an intoxication of the intellect, arising from an influx of false principles on the subject of religion, morals and philosophy.

Well-disposed men therefore will hesitate long, before they join in any attempt to overthrow or revolutionize their government, under any pretext whatever. It is true the people may be unanimous in subverting their government, and yet afterwards, they may not be able to agree in forming a new one, and, if so, they will be in a much worse condition, than they were in, under that which they have rejected; because, to destroy is not the same as to reform. Will it not be worse than living under any regular government, to remain in a state of anarchy and confusion, until the different parties and factions, are reduced by battles, massacres and assassinations, under one; and another government is established by force or fraud, ten times more arbitrary and despotic than that which they have been induced to overturn? For, in many cases, revolutions do not result so much from a sense of intolerable oppression, as from a fondness for an idol—a golden calf—a false god—an imaginary degree of liberty, which, if it were real, the frailty, perverseness and folly of mankind, to say nothing of their wickedness, injustice and depravity, wholly disqualify them from enjoying.

1. Such conduct is perfectly natural, when it is considered, that demagogues and false patriots are actuated by the same motives, as the courtiers and flatterers of kings. For, it is to power, wherever placed, that each class equally bows. In monarchies, they are induced to pay court to the opinions and wishes of the king, if they would rise to employment in the state. With the same object in view, in democracies, they suffer neither honor, conscience, truth, justice, decency, nor religion, to stand in competition with popular notions, prejudices, or selfish interests. With such, the voice of the people, right or wrong, is the voice of God; and whatever is unpopular, is unpardonable. If they have sagacity enough to foresee in what direction the majority of the people will incline, it is there such persons will always be found, justifying or recommending in advance, measures which the people would blush to commit individually, as private citizens; and, instead of using the information which a superior education has given them, in endeavoring to remove popular errors, mistakes and prejudices, and settling the public opinion on true principles of religion, justice and morality, prostituting their superior advantages and influence, in confirming such errors, opinions and prejudices, rather than incur the risk of the displeasure of the people, by attempting to set them right.

Continued from RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: General Rights; Division One

Continued on CHAPTER II  Of the Social Compact of the Citizens of the different States in the American Union, in the formation of the General Constitution, taken in connexion with the real or supposed compact of the citizens of each State, in the formation of its own Constitution or State Government.

See the other parts of this series:
RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: The Powers delegated to the General Government in the Federal Constitution
RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: Powers delegated to the State Governments
RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: The Independence of the States
RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: The rights reserved to the people of the United States
RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: Of the right of suffrage and of elections
RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: The Liberty of Speech and of the Press
RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: The Power of Courts to punish for Contempts
RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: The Law of Libel in relation to Public Officers

RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: The mode of obtaining redress for infringement of civil or political rights

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