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I'm originally from New Jersey where I spent most of my life. I now live in North Carolina with my husband and 4 children. I'm an attorney

Charlottesville, Virginia: Demonizing Thomas Jefferson and Continuing to Foreclose Education and Free Speech

THOMAS JEFFERSON - statue at U-VA

by Diane Rufino, July 6, 2019

On July 2, the Charlottesville (Virginia) City Council voted to no longer recognize Thomas Jefferson’s birthday, April 13, as a celebrated a paid holiday. Charlottesville is the hometown of our country’s most renown Founding Father. It is the home his sprawling hilltop estate, Monticello. In fact, it’s hard to think of Charlottesville, Virginia, without thinking of Jefferson. He was born there in 1743 and he died there, and Monticello was always the place he called home and the place where he found his greatest inspiration and greatest comfort.

Monticello draws almost half a million visitors annually and the town benefits greatly from that tourism.

According to local news, “city officials voted to scrap the holiday in honor of the slave-owning third president of the United States and instead adopt Liberation and Freedom Day, to be celebrated each March 3.” The city council’s decision came just days after James Fields Jr., the 22-year-old driver convicted of killing a woman and injuring dozens of other people at the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville in 2017, was sentenced to life behind bars.

Jason Hill, a professor at DePaul University in Chicago, said: “I think this was a great man that helped found this country. If we start by retroactively looking at the sins of great figures who have made enormous contributions to western philosophy, we are going to be left with a decimated history.” Professor Hill is an African-American who is not one of those who is unable to review history except thru the lens of slavery. While he refers to slavery as a “birth defect” of the United States, he acknowledges that Jefferson’s legacy, the Declaration of Independence in particular, was ultimately used to freed people from its bonds.

Hill accuses Jefferson of being a flawed man, as evidenced by his ownership of slaves, but his legacy which includes enormous contributions to America far outweighs that single flaw.

It should be mentioned that since slavery was an established institution in the states, and since it was recognized and protected by the Constitution, that almost all of our Founding Fathers from the more southern states and tied to an agrarian economy can be accused of practicing something that was perfectly legal and acceptable at the time. We will be hard-pressed to find any of our Founding Fathers or leading historical figures from any of the southern states who either didn’t own slaves or who didn’t say even something that might be taken as insensitive by today’s civil rights standards. The fact is that today’s hyper-sensitivity to our pre-13th Amendment past prejudices southern historical figures. We cannot judge our forefathers by the social norms of our current times.

What disturbs me, intellectually, aside from the very public snub of the man who gave us our “government of the people, by the people, and for the people” and who gave us the notion of inalienable rights, as opposed to government-granted rights, thereby establishing our American system that values the protection and security of those rights over the longevity of government, is that Charlottesville choice to observe a far more offensive event. The Charlottesville City Council voted to substitute March 3 – that day in 1865 when Union General Philip Sheridan’s troops entered the town and found a population that was majority African-American (most of them being slaves) – as the new “official holiday.”

Why do I say this event is offensive? First of all, the act of the Northern states, having control of the federal government, attacking, invading, and subjugating the Southern states back into the union was the ultimate act of government tyranny. It was unconstitutional on every single level, including an outright violation of paragraph two of Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence. The Southern states had duly and lawfully left the union and established an independent and sovereign new nation. The invasion of the South had nothing to do with slavery, as an honest historian and researcher well knows. It was about the North deciding that the union needed the southern states and that an independent Confederate States of America posed great threats to the interests of the North. Virginia did not secede to protect slavery or to maintain slavery; when Virginia finally voted to secede, it was because Abraham Lincoln demanded the state send its share of 750,000 troops to fight its southern neighbors. Virginia, respecting the principles in the Declaration and respecting the understanding the states had when they adopted the Constitution and agreeing to be loosely-held in a union, knew that the Constitution would never sanction the government demanding that one state take up arms against another state. Jefferson, as it turned out, was the most vocal proponent of the proper remedies states are entitled to when they simply no longer get along or find enough common interests – with the most fundamental being secession. After all, the colonies seceded from Great Britain with the Declaration – a secessionist document. [The first paragraph opens up: “When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them…” (ie, It becomes necessary to secede from the government it has been associated with and establish an independence). And the last final paragraph reads: “We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do.”]

Second, Abraham Lincoln issued his Emancipation Proclamation, by executive order, on January 1, 1863. It did nothing to free any slave in the southern states because the southern states had seceded from the union and therefore dissolved its association with the federal government. It was intended as a war measure to incite slave rebellions in the South, and particularly against the women and children who were left home on the farms/plantations (while the men were off fighting). It was an insidious war measure but Lincoln hoped the men fighting would leave the battlefield and go back to their homes and their farms/plantations. What the Emancipation did allow, however, was the freeing of slaves in any territory that the Union forces captured and took control of. This certainly would have been something, right? But the truth is that essentially not a single Union general exercised his discretion to free the slaves. And this was what happened in Charlottesville. While some of the slaves may have used the Union occupation to try to escape their condition, it was not Sheridan who granted them freedom. It was not the Emancipation Proclamation which freed them. Sheridan was a cold killer. After the Civil War, he was given the task of slaughtering the American Indians and moving them off land that the federal government wanted.

So what exactly did the Charlottesville City Council vote to endorse while impugning Thomas Jefferson? They chose to endorse slavery. They chose to endorse the view by the Union that slaves should not be freed, even when agents of that government (Union generals) had the discretion to do so. They chose to endorse the notion that the federal government has the absolute right to order one state to invade, wreak violence, and subjugate another state with whom it disagrees with. They chose to endorse the notion that the federal government is supreme and has the right to subjugate the states to its views and to its whims, including as dictated and coopted by an absolute tyrant.

Charlottesville not only voted to reject Thomas Jefferson but it voted to reject the Declaration of Independence as well.

Virginia sure has come a long way. An how utterly shameful it has become.

In March of this year, some students at Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY. called for the removal of a Jefferson statue from the campus, claiming he represented racism and slavery. I find it troubling that they would associate Thomas Jefferson with racism and slavery rather than as the author of the Declaration of Independence or the father to the liberties and rights that they obviously take for granted. I find it troubling that college students are that unintelligent and that uninformed as to our country’s history, although after listening to college students speak these days, I am not surprised.

I am sorry that our country has a checkered history. I am sorry that the British imposed slavery on our colonies and that the colonies embraced the ownership and forced labor of fellow human beings. I am, however, grateful that several of our founders tried very hard to abolish it early on – before we formed our union of states. Truth be told, the very man that modern liberals like to demonize, Thomas Jefferson, had several plans to abolish slavery or at least to minimize it and to transition to freedom. Even prior to the Constitutional Convention in 1787, Thomas Jefferson proposed (in 1779) a policy of gradual emancipation, education and training, and possible re-location and colonization as a practical solution to end the legal enslavement of human beings (ie, chattel slavery). He believed education and training were absolutely necessary and must be part of the plan to abolish slavery because liberating people who were unprepared for total freedom would be a recipe for disaster. They would need to be able to support themselves and live in dignity. He wanted Africans to be successful and to build successful black communities. In 1784, Jefferson proposed federal legislation that would ban slavery in the New Territories of the North and South after 1800, which ended up failing to pass Congress by only one vote. In his Notes on the State of Virginia, which he published in 1785, Jefferson expressed the beliefs that slavery corrupted both masters and slaves alike and promoted the idea that African-Americans were inferior in intelligence. Again, Jefferson seemed to be looking out for Africans and not looking to keep them in bondage. In 1807, President Jefferson signed legislation to finally abolish the slave trade to the United States.

I am sorry that today’s liberals are so fragile-minded, so fragile psychologically and emotionally, so intellectually stunted, and so intolerant that the sight of Thomas Jefferson or even the mention of his name shatters their fragility and reduces them to absolute moron-ity. I’m sorry that today’s liberals have taken a position to move our notions of civility backwards in the United States. Modern Americans are the very examples of what our Founders hoped could be avoided by giving individuals a country devoted to freedom (and finally, to equality) and instilling in them the responsibility to defend it. Today’s liberals are mental midgets, more obsessed with a long-dead institution than with the health and stability of our country. I’m sorry that slavery continues to dominate our national discourse and taint our ability to come together to celebrate shared values, shared ideals, and shared dreams. I’m sorry that the history of one particular race continues to dictate what can be discussed, celebrated, acknowledged, taught, or included on plaques, memorialized in statue form, inscribed on buildings, in this country. I’m sorry that certain individuals are completely incapable of seeing things without looking at them through a lens of color.

I wish these individuals, these loud-mouths, these trouble-makers and rubble-rousers, would exercise the same tolerance that they demand of others.

Nowhere in the Bill of Rights does it guarantee that individuals have a right NOT to be offended or to feel offended, or the right NOT to be confronted by events in history that happen to offend them. In fact, these rights are not even included in the progressives’ version of the Bill of Rights (authored by FDR who referred to it as “The Second Bill of Rights). This “Second Bill of Rights,” pushed so strongly by FDR, then Truman, then LBJ, then Nixon, then Clinton, and then, to some extent George Bush was an attempt by liberal/progressive-minded presidents to mitigate the “evils” that naturally arise in a free market, capitalistic society – one based on competition and ambition and hard work. The results of our American system (the “evils”), as FDR believed, are primarily economic inequality and to a lesser degree, social inequality. This “Second Bill of Rights” includes the “right” to a job, food, a home clothing, healthcare, a good education, and recreation, and the freedom from the “fear” of unemployment, old age, sickness, and unfair competition.

The First Amendment guarantees the right of FREE speech – not sensitive speech, not politically-correct speech, not sanitized speech… but FREE speech. The First Amendment guarantees that every spoken word, every written word, every historical event, every statue, every plaque, every painting, every work of art is an opportunity for discussion and debate. It is an opportunity for more speech. It is always a learning or teaching opportunity – something to sharpen our minds and our understanding, and NOT to foreclose it to views that others, including government, want to dominate.

The sad thing is that there is a group of individuals – a group much larger than the current liberal snowflakes I am referring to above – that has no connection to slavery, has no part in any efforts to discriminate or any past action of discrimination, and has no discriminatory mindset or discriminatory heart, but who absolutely loves this country, recognizes its history (both good and bad), and values the lessons we had to learn as a fledgling nation predicated on the equal rights of man. Our entire history has made us the country we are today, for good or for bad – but always as a subject for discussion and political views. I am a second or third generation American, depending on whether you look from my mother’s side of the family or my father’s. My family came to the United States from Italy prior to WWI, with little money in their pockets and with no safety net or entitlements to help them. Italians in the day were not a popular ethnic group and as our immigration laws in the 1920’s showed (set limits on the number of immigrants from Italy to limit their population in the US) and as employment signed showed (“No Italians need apply”), they were generally not welcome. But Italians don’t languish over their mistreatment; rather, they quickly became one of the most patriotic and loyal of ethnic groups

The people that I know and that I associate with (mostly white since I am a white woman) do not possess the thought process that says that just because a person has a different skin color, he or she is of a different worth or has less dignity as a human being. We often don’t possess the thought process that directs us to review and scrutinize everything we write and say to make sure that absolutely nothing can be misconstrued, mistaken, or twisted into showing us to be discriminatory or to be otherwise insensitive to others. It’s because we come from a place where we don’t discriminate and we don’t set out in any way, shape, or form to be insensitive to others. Most of us are like this because of our deep foundation in religion. We respect one another because we are taught to love one another; strong communities are founded on mutual respect and a fondness for one another. The problem is that our current culture of racial divide, the constant flinging of the terms “racist” and “white supremist” are imputing on well-intentioned white people a tendency – always a tendency, as President Obama, Michele Obama, and Hillary Clinton publicly stated – to be these terrible things and to inherently look down on black people. It’s not fair to the vast majority of white persons and this problem needs to be addressed. Something needs to done to protect white people and their free exercise of the First Amendment, without the automatic presumption of discrimination.

Maybe we’ve dwelled on slavery and on past discrimination for too long. Maybe we’ve retreated to political correctness for too long to avoid honest conversations about the state of race relations and the effect of history on our current status. Perhaps we’ve allowed African-Americans, too fragile to think outside the “slavery and discrimination” box, to control the dialogue for too long. Thomas Sowell once said: “When people get used to preferential treatment, equal treatment seems like discrimination.” Maybe for once we should really trying treating everyone as equals rather than as special.

It is a true denial of the free speech rights of others and an exercise of true intolerance when certain individuals refuse to see things without looking at them through a lens of color. How far can it go? I think the Charlottesville city council vote is one example. In their myopathy, they chose to discard Thomas Jefferson in favor of another form of acceptance of slavery and in favor of government tyranny. Of course, the war against Confederate monuments and leaders is another example.

In closing, I want to emphasize again that I wish today’s liberals and race mongers would exercise the same tolerance that they demand of others.

 

- 0000 (3)

 

Reference: “Charlottesville Will No Longer Celebrate Thomas Jefferson’s Birthday in His Virginia Hometown,” FOX News. Referenced at: https://www.foxnews.com/politics/charlottesville-will-no-longer-celebrate-thomas-jeffersons-birthday-in-his-virginia-hometown-report

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In Defense of the Electoral College

ELECTORAL COLLEGE

by Diane Rufino, July 4, 2019

The Electoral College seems to be a hot topic lately, right? Democrats are trying very hard to have it abolished, in favor of having the president chosen by a national popular vote rather than an electoral vote. You may have heard of this “National Popular Vote Initiative” and the efforts to push it state-by-state. The one essential reality that one must understand about this NPV Initiative is that a president can be elected simply by catering to the views and issues of just a few of our country’s largest, most densely-packed cities and ignoring the entire rest of the country. If you understand this, then you can clearly see why Democrats want to abolish the Electoral College. It is nothing more than an initiative to enrich their chances of winning presidential elections… Actually, it’s an initiative that will ensure that they win all future presidential elections.

Simply put, the NPV Initiative robs states of their sovereignty, the cornerstone of the federal Union established by the US Constitution.

Our top 25 most populous cities are (in order of greatest population): New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Antonio, San Diego, Dallas, San Jose, Austin, San Francisco, Jacksonville (FL), Indianapolis, Columbus (OH), Fort Worth, Charlotte, Detroit. Nashville, El Paso, Seattle, Memphis, Washington DC, Boston, and Denver. California has 4 cities in the top 12. Texas has 4 cities in the top 11, and 5 in the top 16. A candidate for president would only need to spend his or her time in California and Texas, and maybe include a few trips to NYC, Chicago, Philly, Phoenix, and maybe Jacksonville, Florida, to shore up the votes to tip the national popular vote in his or her favor. You will notice that most states have no cities on this list, which means that candidates can effectively ignore them and their concerns. My state of North Carolina might be ignored, but I’m quite positive that states like Alaska, Hawaii, all the southeast states, all the mid-west states (except the state of Texas and the city of Phoenix), and all the New England states will be completely ignored. And we all know that the issues of states like West Virginia, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Mississippi, Alabama, and Arkansas will never be the issues of Los Angeles, San Francisco, NYC, and Philly. We know that the concerns and views of the good people of those states will never be the same as those crowded in the huge urban centers of the county.

For those who don’t know how the Electoral College works, it’s quite simple actually:

The Electoral College is made up of 538 electors who have the task of casting votes to decide the President and Vice-President of the United States. Where did this number 538 come from? The number equals the number of US House representatives (435 for the 50 states, plus 3 for the District of Columbia) and the number of US senators (100). And the break-down, or apportionment, of electors for each state follows exactly their representative in Congress. So, for example, North Carolina has 13 representatives in the US House and, just like every other state, it has 2 senators, which means that it has 15 electoral votes. California has 53 representatives in the US House with 2 senators, which means it has 55 electoral votes. Rhode Island has 2 representatives in the US House with 2 senators, and so it has 4 electoral votes. And Alaska has 1 representative in the US House with 2 senators, thus giving it a whopping 3 electoral votes.

Lesser populated states that have very small numbers of electoral votes include Delaware, Vermont, Alaska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, and Wyoming (all have only 3 electoral votes) and New Hampshire, Hawaii, Idaho, and Maine (all having only 4 electoral votes).

You can see how the Electoral College gives a slight edge to the smaller states. In the case of Delaware, Vermont, Alaska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, and Wyoming, their electoral vote count is greatly boosted by their seats in the US Senate. In the case of New Hampshire, Hawaii, Idaho, and Maine, their electoral vote count is doubled by their seats in the US Senate. In the case of California, its seats in the Senate barely make a noticeable difference in their electoral vote count. Same for Texas, New York, and Florida.

The six states with the most electors are California (55), Texas (38), New York (29), Florida (29), Illinois (20), and Pennsylvania (20)

When voters go to the polls on Election Day, they are choosing which candidate receives their state’s electors. The candidate who receives a majority of electoral votes (270) wins the Presidency. The number 270 is comes from the total number of 538, divided in half (which is 269), plus 1 (to make it the majority). During election season, and especially Election Day evening, we are extremely focused on that number 270. Candidates strategize during campaign season on how to get to that number (and concentrate their campaigning efforts accordingly) and on Election night, we are focused on which candidate reaches the magic number as the election returns come rolling in.

All states except two (Nebraska and Maine) have what’s called a “winner-take-all” electoral system. In such a system, the candidate who wins the majority of votes in a state wins all of that state’s electoral votes. In Nebraska (5 electoral votes) and Maine (4 electoral votes), however, electoral votes are assigned by proportional representation, meaning that the top vote-getter in those states wins two electoral votes (for the two Senators) while the remaining electoral votes are allocated congressional district by congressional district. These rules make it possible for both candidates to receive electoral votes from Nebraska and Maine, unlike the winner-take-all system in the other 48 states.

Under the Electoral College system, a candidate who is able to pile up victories in sparsely-populated states can win the presidency without winning the popular vote by pulling out narrow victories in a few larger states (which is what Donald Trump did in 2016).

So we know how the Electoral College is comprised and we know where the magic number of 270 comes from. But how, exactly, does the Electoral College work?

The Electoral College is a very carefully considered structure that the Framers of the Constitution set up to balance the competing interests of large and small states. It prevents candidates from wining an election by focusing only on high-population urban centers (ie, the big cities) and ignoring smaller states and the more rural areas of the country (ie, what some refer to as “fly-over country”). Were it not for the Electoral College, presidential candidates could act as if many Americans don’t even exist. They know they only need a handful of states with big concentrated populations to win the election and so that is where they would not only spend most of their time in those states (and particular, in their big, populous cities) but the issues of those populations would become the issues that define the candidate’s campaign and would become the focus of his or her attention. Candidates would ignore the issues and concerns of those in “fly-over country”). As we all know, people in “flyover country” don’t get enough attention as it is, but without the Electoral College, they’d be completely at the mercy of the majority.

The United States is not a democracy (although it has some democratic elements); our system is a republic. Our Founders specifically and intentionally chose our system to be a republic rather than a democracy because a democracy is essentially “mob rule.” Benjamin Franklin described it as “two wolves and a lamb voting on what’s for dinner.” Our Founders extended that same mentality to the presidency (not allowing the office of the president to be subject to pure democracy). They didn’t want to subject the election of our Chief Executive to the inherent dangers of what James Madison called “the tyranny of the majority.” And so, just as they did in designing our government system to be a republic, they established the Electoral College as a system carefully balanced to safeguard the rights of both the majority and the minority. To explain it as Franklin may have described it: “What the wolves want matters, but so does what the sheep wants. The Electoral College ensures that no one winds up on the menu.”

Again, under the Electoral College system, the number of each state’s electors is tied exactly to the size of its congressional delegation; that is, the total number of its representatives in the US Congress (both the House + the Senate). Because each state — regardless of how many voters live there — gets two electors for each of its senators, the Electoral College gives an extra edge to less populous rural states which have long been Republican strongholds. The Democrats’ strength in the urban centers is concentrated in relatively few states, giving them a smaller Electoral College base. And this brings me to the initiative, as mentioned in the first paragraph, on the part of progressives (Democrats) to abolish the Electoral College altogether.

There is a well-financed effort by liberals/progressives/Democrats to do away with the Electoral College and to do exactly the opposite of what our Founding Fathers and the Framers of the US Constitution sought strenuously to avoid – which was to subject the office of the country’s highest executive office to the tyranny of the majority. Our Founders were keen to realize that the majority of voters, even back then, are uninformed, unintelligent, and unfit to cast a responsible vote for the individual to hold the extremely critical office of President of the United States. This is the National Popular Vote (MPV) Initiative.

Rather than amend the Constitution to change the way we elect our president, which is the lawful, constitutional way to change the Constitution, the MVP approach would involve an end-run around the Constitution, which is the method-of-choice of liberals, progressives, and Democrats. [We see this in the aggressive manner in which progressives seek to advance their (often unconstitutional) agenda by going to liberal federal courts]. The NVP movement asks states to sign a contract to award its electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote, rather than to the winner of the state’s popular vote. This is why I wrote earlier that the NVP Initiative robs states of their sovereignty.

As you can see, the NVP Initiative seeks to fundamentally change the system by which we elect our president – from a more state-centered approach to a pure national approach. Such a fundamental change to a system expressly laid out in the Constitution MUST be made by a constitutional amendment. The well-financed liberal individuals and groups behind NVP know that they will never be successful with a constitutional amendment and that’s why they’ve come up with this “end-run on the Constitution” approach.

The unique design feature of our American government system is the separation of government powers among equal sovereigns (federalism, dual sovereignty) established by the US Constitution. The union so created by the Constitution (which is a “compact” or agreement among the states) is characterized as a federation of states (a consortium of states, if you will). This system, which is a decentralized government system, was intentionally designed as such. As the 10th Amendment restates, the federal government is delegated with certain limited and clearly-defined tasks to carry out on behalf of all the states while the overwhelming majority of government functions resides with and is reserved to the individual states. The election of the president of the United States, the chief executive that must equally represent and be concerned with each state, was also designed to be a decentralized process.

As I mentioned earlier, the NVP Initiative robs states of their sovereignty – their inherent sovereign right to carry out government functions reserved to them under the Constitution and again (restated) by the Tenth Amendment. A key benefit or key feature of the Electoral College is that it decentralizes control of our presidential elections. We are not a consolidated nation of people but rather a federation of 50 states which are allowed to govern those who reside within its borders. Currently, a presidential election is really 51 separate elections – one in each state and one in the District of Columbia (thanks to the 23rd Amendment). These 51 separate processes exist side-by-side and in harmony with one another. So, a vote cast in Texas can never affect the award of electors in California.

The NVP Initiative would disrupt this delicate balance. It would throw all voters in the United States into one national election pool. We would be changing the nature of our system from one of a federation (a loosely-held consortium of states, held together by the Constitution and assent to the powers delegated to the federal government) to one of complete consolidation into a borderless, stateless country. Under the NVP Initiative, a vote cast in Texas would allows affect the allocation of electors in California. Remember, every state has its own election laws, election rules (such as rules for early voting, for registering to vote, to determine qualifications to vote, allowing or disallowing felons to vote, and for triggering a re-count), election codes, and election practices. Some states take election fraud and voter fraud seriously and take steps to prevent such while others completely look the other way. Some states allow for ballot harvesting and others do not. Some tolerate organized election tampering schemes (such as multiple voting, voting using the identification of a deceased person or someone who had moved away, or voting by illegals by giving them fake identification), while others do not. Because states play by different rules, the NVP Initiative allows the national popular vote to be diluted, distorted, manipulated, tainted, etc by these different rules.

To look at the parade of horribles that can result from the NVP Initiative, go to this Prager U video (“Popular Vote v. The Electoral College” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LXnjGD7j2B0 ).

A week ago, I posted a piece about the Electoral College titled “Rejection of the Electoral College is the Surest Path to the Destruction of This Country” in Beaufort County Now (BCN). Essentially, the piece addressed an interview with an expert on the Electoral College who explained why it is important and the goals it furthers. Many comments showed that people understand the role of the Electoral College and respect it. Stan Deatherage, publisher of BCN, also engaged in the dialogue, showing his understanding of the process. One lady, however, apparently tried to cast doubt on the Electoral College by listing presidents and politicians who have supported abolishing it in favor of a national popular vote. I will simply call her “Susan.” I wanted to include her comment and include my response to her.

SUSAN: In 1969, The U.S. House of Representatives voted for a national popular vote by a 338–70 margin. It was endorsed by Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and various members of Congress who later ran for Vice President and President such as then-Congressman George H.W. Bush, and then-Senator Bob Dole.

Past presidential candidates with a public record of support, before November 2016, for the National Popular Vote bill that would guarantee the majority of Electoral College votes and the presidency to the candidate with the most national popular votes: Bob Barr (Libertarian- GA), U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R–GA), Congressman Tom Tancredo (R-CO), and Senator Fred Thompson (R–TN).

Rich Bolen, a Constitutional scholar, attorney at law, and Republican Party Chairman for Lexington County, South Carolina, wrote: “A Conservative Case for National Popular Vote: Why I support a state-based plan to reform the Electoral College.”

 

MY RESPONSE: Stan, I’m glad you get it and understand WHY the Electoral College was the system our founders came up with to honor our particular government system. We are a federation, and NOT a consolidated union. This fact, this reality, is lost on most of the people we talk to. Ms. Anthony, I think this point is also lost on you as well. I don’t mean that with any disrespect at all. You aren’t really making a point, other than to point out what others have supported. The 1960’s was a time of great social upheaval and rebellion against everything that had been accepted for most of our history. When Andrew Jackson and then Abraham Lincoln wanted to change the character of this country and mold it into something that was politically more advantageous, they first worked very hard to unmoor our country from its foundations. They began to re-characterize the nature of the US Constitution and the nature of our federal union. Once government benefitted from their deception and once it grew into a more aggressive and dominating beast, it took over education and began teaching/indoctrinating our children in the lessons that would continue to dissociate our national values and the foundations required to secure a limited federal government and liberty from our collective understanding of our country’s identity. Then politicians came along, such as Teddy Roosevelt, FDR, Truman, LBJ, Nixon, Clinton, Bush, and Obama who saw the federal government in a different light than our Founders did and the States who debated and eventually ratified the Constitution did. They ignored the original responsibility of the government, which was simply to abide by the limited responsibilities in the Constitution and to leave all the rest of governing responsibilities to the individual states. Rather, they saw the federal government as the solution to EVERY PROBLEM. They saw it as a government of greatly consolidated functions; they saw the federal government as the one supreme government that knows best and is able to govern best. FDR tried hard to enshrine a “Second Bill of Rights” which, he explained, would help overcome the inherent evil of our American system which produces inequality by providing new rights such the right to a job, to food, to clothing, to recreation, to a home, to healthcare, and to a good education, as well as the freedom from the “fear” of unemployment, aging, sickness, and unfair competition. Teddy Roosevelt articulated the precursor to this Second Bill of Rights. But all of the presidents mentioned above latched onto this “new set of rights” and used their administrations to further them in one way or another. All ignored their oaths to the Constitution. They also needed to unchain or unmoor founding principles and institutions from our collective understanding of what our country was founded on and what is needed to ensure her longevity and the longevity of the individual rights of ALL citizens of the US. That is what the abolition of the Electoral College is all about. It’s a political movement, not a righteous movement. It’s goal is to further a political goal – the election of Democrats for president. It is not the goal of our founders which was always the maintaining of the federal government as a “common government” for all states, to represent their interests equally. (In fact the movement to abolish the Electoral College would make absolutely sure that the government and the president does not represent each state equally. The point I am trying to make is that the presidents and president hopefuls you mention, whether they had a “D” or a “R” after their name, were ALL progressive presidents. Not a single one of them had any respect for the system of government that was given to us and that, at its core (because the Constitution is essentially unchanged) is STILL IN PLACE. The Electoral College is a key foundational element of that system. Our government system does NOT exist to benefit any political elite. It doesn’t exist to benefit any political party. It doesn’t even exist to benefit the federal government over the state governments. It doesn’t exist to destroy the federal nature of our union (because certainly that would favor and benefit the federal government). It exists to maintain the STATUS QUO – to maintain the vital and critical relationship between the federal government and the States (ie, federalism, sovereign v. sovereign, dual sovereignty). Why? It is this relationship that was intended to be the last and most important of all the Checks and Balances on the government in DC. Checks and balances exist and are essential in order to prevent any unconstitutional laws, policies, executive actions, and even court rulings from being enforced on We the People. To allow such is the very definition of tyranny and government abuse. Anyone who favors or supports any changes to our system which undermines the very goals of our system (to maintain a limited government, to prevent government tyranny, and to preserve and protect our inalienable and other liberty rights) needs to have his or her head examined. Our country was founded on the notion of liberty and our system was chosen because it was deemed best to secure liberty the longest and most effectively. Any person who favors such changes as to erode our founding goals, I would argue, does not deserve to live in this country and is unfit to help secure the blessings of liberty to subsequent generations – “to the generations to come and millions yet unborn.”

 

Do NOT fall for the deceptions of the National Popular Vote Initiative. Again, a group of wealthy progressive individuals and groups are behind this movement for one reason only – to ensure the election of Democratic presidents. If this wasn’t the likely goal, why else would this group invest their money and push this initiative so strongly? Our Founding Fathers were far more intuitive and intelligent than those who are trying to run or influence the country now. Our Founding Fathers’ motives were far more benign and non-politically motivated than those who are behind this initiative. Respect them. Support them and Reject the arguments of the NVP movement.

To learn more about the Electoral College, I suggest watching the three short Prager U instructional videos listed below in my references section.

 

References:

Edwin J. Feulner, “Preventing “The Tyranny of the Majority” Heritage Foundation, March 7, 2018. Referenced at: https://www.heritage.org/conservatism/commentary/preventing-the-tyranny-the-majority

Diane Rufino, “Rejection of the Electoral College is the Surest Path to the Destruction of This Country,” Beaufort County Now, July 1, 2019. Referenced at: https://beaufortcountynow.com/post/32758/rejection-of-the-electoral-college-is-the-surest-path-to-the-destruction-of-this-country.html

Bill Moyers, “The Electoral College Explained,” November 10, 2016. Referenced at:   https://billmoyers.com/story/electoral-college-explained/

Distribution of Electoral Votes – https://www.archives.gov/federal-register/electoral-college/allocation.html   [Note that the 23rd Amendment gave the District of Columbia 3 electoral votes and thus is treated like a state for the purposes of the Electoral College].

Prager U, “Do You Understand the Electoral College,” YouTube video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V6s7jB6-GoU

Prager U, “Three Reasons Why We Need the Electoral College,” YouTube video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K80msVnqaHE

Prager U, “Popular Vote v. The Electoral College (including the National Popular Vote Initiative, or NPV Initiative),” YouTube video – – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LXnjGD7j2B0

The Declaration of Independence: Thirteen Colonies Yearned to Be Free

DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE - Philadelphia Gazette

by Diane Rufino, July 4, 2019

Independence Day – What it really means….

What does Independence Day – the 4th of July – mean to you? Is it just a holiday to eat, drink, and light off fireworks? Do you display and wave the flag of the United States out of habit – because everyone else on the block does it? Do you cover your table with a plastic table cloth of stars and stripes and decorate your yard with red, white, and blue because that’s what Target and Walmart remind you to do with its holiday displays and sales? Do you actually understand what the 4th of July signifies? Did you sleep through that lesson in American History Class? Was it even taught to you at all?

I just hope you aren’t one of those Americans who thinks it’s the big event of the summer to enjoy cook-out food and watch fireworks.

When I was very young, I thought Independence Day marked the day when the 13 colonies defeated the British for our independence. Then in middle school, I learned that it marked the date the Declaration of Independence was signed. That was the extent of my understanding until I did my own reading. Soon I learned that not only was the Declaration of Independence signed on July 4, 1776, but that it was an act of treason against the British Crown. It was an act of treason because while the colonies were fighting for their independence, the British were fighting to quash their rebellious nature for good. Rebellion against the Crown was high treason and it would not be tolerated.

But it wasn’t until I graduated law school that I was finally able to appreciate the real significance of the Declaration of Independence. First and foremost, and above all else, it was a secessionist document. It announced the separation (secession) of America’s thirteen independent colonies from the (oppressive) mother country, Great Britain. Sure, the name of the document was “The Declaration of Independence,” which pretty much tells the reader what it will declare. And yes, the ultimate purpose of the document was to declare the intention of the colonies – to be free and independent from Great Britain. But, the American colonies could only claim their independence if and when they had severed their bonds with Great Britain. That is, they could only claim their independence once they had seceded from her.

Amazingly, I learned all about secession and about it being a fundamental, organic right that no constitution or other compact or agreement can extinguish from reading and studying the Declaration of Independence. (I never learned about it in school, which makes complete sense. The government would never want its children to grow up having a fundamental understanding of the right of secession. Abraham Lincoln, after all, is the government’s poster child, it’s greatest president…… He destroyed the idea in the mind of the States and then in the minds of American citizens that there is no right of secession).

Second of all, it set out the reasons for secession, laying the primary reason on the importance of man’s natural and inalienable rights and the right to have a government that secures them and protects them for the enjoyment and free exercise of the People. Simply put, as its author Thomas Jefferson explained: “The Declaration of Independence… is the declaratory charter of our rights, and of the rights of man.” And in that magnificent document, Jefferson has laid out the natural order of our rights and the natural purpose and limits of government.

But before I go any further into the meaning of the Declaration, I think it’s important to make clear, as Michael Maharrey makes clear in his article “The Declaration of Independence Birthed 13 Sovereign Nations,” (Tenth Amendment Center, July 3, 2019), that July 4, 1776 marks the date when thirteen independent colonies, not a consolidated group of colonies, declared their independence. When the war was concluded, when Lord Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown on October 19, 1781 and then when the Treaty of Paris was signed on September 4, 1783, what was birthed was NOT an independent United States of America (one nation) but rather thirteen independent States, united in their affection for one another and their willingness to work together for common goals.

Just look at the words of the Declaration and of the Treaty of Paris.

The last paragraph of the Declaration famously reads:

We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

One of the key points of the Treaty of Paris reads: “Britain acknowledges the United States (New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia) to be free, sovereign, and independent states, and that the British Crown and all heirs and successors relinquish claims to the Government, property, and territorial rights of the same, and every part thereof.”

The Declaration of Independence was almost forced on the colonies by history’s happenstance. It began with the colonies’ restlessness in the wake of an over-zealous King and Parliament which first sought to extract tax revenue from them (without representation) and then to oppress and subjugate them as a means of punishment. They were punished for daring to stand up for their rights as Englishmen, as Englishmen had done for over 500 years of their history. Indeed, the history of England has been a history of repeated attempts, first by the barons and then by all subjects, to assert basic human rights and to demand from the King a promise (a charter) that he will respect such. Some of the attempts were successful and some only temporary, but all of England’s notable charters were signed and limited the reach of the King and Parliament, even if only for a very short time.

Some of these charters and other significant documents include: The Charter of Liberties of King Henry I (1100), the Magna Carta (1215), the Petition of Right (1628), the Grand Remonstrance (1641), and the English Bill of Right of 1689. This history is critical for the foundation for our country because all total, these documents establish the notion that government must respect boundaries on the individual, acknowledging that they have certain essential rights and liberties. The rights and liberties asserted and re-asserted in these documents are the “rights of Englishmen” that the colonists most eagerly embraced and were most eager to protect.

Author Brion McClanahan explains the significance of England’s grand history in his article Rethinking the Declaration of Independence: “In 1100, King Henry I of England agreed to restrictions on his power through the Charter of Liberties. The English barons rejected absolute authority and sought to preserve traditional decentralized “government.” Just over one hundred years later, in 1215, King John was forced again by the English nobles to sign the Magna Charta. The “Great Charter,” as it is known in English, declared that the king was not above the law – making him essentially equal to the nobles – and it resisted the trend toward centralization in England. Though on the books, the Magna Charta was often ignored by more powerful English monarchs, but several of its provisions became the basis of English common law, most notably the writ of habeas corpus.” (See the Habeas Corpus Act of 1679).

In October 1214, King John returned to England in disgrace. His mission to reconquer his lost territory in northern France had failed and other military campaigns were unsuccessful as well. He taxed England’s barons heavily to finance these campaigns and they were not happy. Upon his return, he found that a group of angry barons from across the country had formed an association and were prepared renounce him as king. Over the next eight months, they made repeated demands to the King, requesting that he give them a guarantee that he would observe their rights. But the negotiations amounted to nothing. And so, on May 5 of that year, the barons gathered and agreed to declare war on King John. On May 17, 1215 they captured London, the largest town in England, without a fight. With London lost and ever more supporters flocking to the side of the barons, the King John realized he would have to address their concerns.

On June 8, he notified the barons of his willingness to negotiate. Over the next few days, the barons assembled in great numbers at Runnymede, a relatively obscure meadow just a few miles from Windsor castle, where King John was based. They arrived to repeat their demands and negotiate peace terms. On June 15, the barons presented their terms to the King and he signed the great document – The Great Charter (“Magna Carta”).

In Chapter 39 of Magna Carta, one of the document’s most important clauses, King John made the following promise: “No freeman shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgement of his equals or by the law of the land.”

Here, it was agreed that the Crown and his administration would not arrest, outlaw, banish, or incarcerate any free man, deprive him of his rights, possessions or legal standing, or otherwise take official and forceful action against him, except in accordance with the lawful judgement of his equals or in accordance with the laws of the Kingdom. This was, in embryonic form, the principle of due process of law: The government shall not deprive any person subject to its jurisdiction of life, liberty, or property without due process of law. The Magna Carta provided that justice was to be guaranteed to every person in the Kingdom, that the right of justice would not be sold, delayed, or denied to any person. Thus, this critical, historic document provided that every freeman — i.e., every Englishmen who was not a serf — was to enjoy security and protection from illegal interference by the King (ie, government) in his person and property. [See Dr. Almon Leroy Way, Jr. (Professor of Political Science), “The American System of Government….”] The terms listed in the Magna Carta would later be referred to as “the ancient rights and liberties of Englishmen” in the English Bill of Rights of 1689.

King John, in giving his consent to Magna Carta, agreed that: (1) the Monarch was subject to the law of the Kingdom and (2) the law placed limits on royal authority. This reflected an early stage in the development of the central idea of English and American constitutionalism — the idea that the ruler was not above the law and therefore had to abide by the law and stay within the limits the law imposed on his power. [See Dr. Almon Leroy Way, Jr.]

Under Magna Carta, the King still governed England, but he had to share with the barons one important sphere of political authority — the power of taxation. All royal requests for extraordinary taxes had to be submitted to the Common Council for its consideration and decision. When it came to the King’s raising revenue by means other than collecting the feudal fees and aids in amounts due him by customary right, he had to share with the barons, the largest and most powerful bloc in the Common Council, the authority to make binding decisions. The requirement, stipulated in Magna Carta, that the King submit proposals for extraordinary taxation to an assembly of his leading subjects — the barons and the Church officers of high rank — was one small but significant step on the long road to firmly establishing as a constitutional guarantee, truly binding on the Monarch and all other officers of the government, the age old principle of English government that no subject could be taxed without his consent, given by the subject directly in person or indirectly through elected representatives in a legislative assembly. [See Dr. Almon Leroy Way, Jr.].

When Britain began taxing the colonies without allowing them representation in Parliament, particularly with the Stamp Tax, the colonists asserted this basic right from the Magna Carta in their protest slogan “No taxation without representation.” The phrase actually originated with Massachusetts attorney James Otis about 1761, who proclaimed: “Taxation without representation is tyranny!”

After the Magna Carta, the Petition of Right of 1628, which was written by Parliament, was presented to King Charles I to re-assert the civil liberties of his subjects. The Petition contained four main points: (1) No taxes could be levied without Parliament’s consent; (2) No English subject could be imprisoned without cause–thus reinforcing the right of habeas corpus; (3) No quartering of soldiers in citizens’ homes; and (4) No martial law may be used in peacetime. Each of these four points enumerated specific civil rights that Englishmen felt Charles I had breached throughout his reign. Although he’d never been that popular as the monarch, his abuse of power against the people escalated to an intolerable level after Parliament refused to increase taxation and finance his unpopular foreign policies. The purpose of the Petition was to seek redress for the serious grievances Charles had committed.

When Charles showed no sign of repenting, Parliament drafted an extensive list of grievances which it presented to him on December 1, 1641. The grievances included 204 instances of gross abuses of the King’s power and usurpations of the rights of the people. Preceding this list of grievances were the following significant paragraphs:

For the preventing of those miserable effects which such malicious endeavours may produce, we have thought good to declare the root and the growth of these mischievous designs: the maturity and ripeness to which they have attained before the beginning of the Parliament: the effectual means which have been used for the extirpation of those dangerous evils, and the progress which hath therein been made by His Majesty’s goodness and the wisdom of the Parliament: the ways of obstruction and opposition by which that progress hath been interrupted: the courses to be taken for the removing those obstacles, and for the accomplishing of our most dutiful and faithful intentions and endeavours of restoring and establishing the ancient honour, greatness and security of this Crown and nation.

The root of all this mischief we find to be a malignant and pernicious design of subverting the fundamental laws and principles of government, upon which the religion and justice of this kingdom are firmly established.

The Grand Remonstrance would help precipitate a civil war in England and eventually lead Parliament to file official charges of high treason against Charles I. He would be tried, convicted, and executed (beheaded) in 1649. His son Charles II was exiled and his other son James II was able to escape to France dressed as a girl.

When England erupted in this civil war, the Parliament asserted its authority and suspended the reign of the Monarch, and by 1688 had become the driving force behind English law and policy. From 1649 to 1660, England became a republic. At first it was ruled by Parliament, but in 1653, Oliver Cromwell, commander of the army, became Lord Protector of England and served until he died (1658; his son took over briefly). Eventually the blood line of Charles I was restored in 1660 first with Charles II (who sat on the throne at the time of the plague and the great fire of London) and then in 1665, with James II. He was terribly unpopular, and in fact, was widely hated by the people. Not only did he force his Roman Catholic faith on the British people, but he willingly allowed the persecution of Protestants. He was forced to give up the crown in the Glorious Revolution (the “Bloodless Revolution”) of 1688.

When King James II was expelled from England in 1688, Parliament invited King William III of Orange and his wife Mary II (daughter of James II), of the Netherlands, to assume the throne. Parliament promised no resistance. The only requirement was that they sign the English Bill of Rights that Parliament had drawn up on behalf the people. It condemned James II for violating the rights of Englishmen, which the Parliament called the “laws and liberties of this kingdom,” and placed restrictions on the powers of the monarch. William and Mary “gladly accepted what was offered them” and signed the English Bill of Rights.

Those from England who settled the colonies, particularly Massachusetts, seeking freedom from religious persecution (Puritans and Pilgrims) and others, brought this history – and these rights – with them. After all, they were still Englishmen; they were living on a continent claimed by England and establishing settlements and communities pursuant to land patents issued by the King.

But the bond of affection would seem to be one-way only. While the colonists sought to live as loyal subjects to the Crown, enjoying the same the rights and liberties as the citizens of England, England sought to exploit the colonies for raw materials, trade, and taxes. For several years, things were good. No complaints. But just as the British colonies were growing and expanding, there were French colonies growing and expanding as well – in the frontier region west of Virginia up to Canada. They were mainly fur-trappers. Eventually, Britain felt its American colonies and interests were being threatened and the two empires went to war. It lasted seven years (the French-Indian War, aka, the Seven Years War, 1754–1763), and eventually, the French were expelled and England secured greater territory. Believing the war was primarily for the benefit of the safety and security of the colonies, Parliament enacted a series of taxes on the colonies to recoup the money it had spent. [Note that around 1750, the plantations were established and against the wishes of the colonies, Britain pushed the slave trade on them to ensure that raw materials such as sugar, tobacco, indigo, cotton, and rice were produced plentifully and productively and shipped to England]

Accordingly, Parliament enacted the following taxes: The Navigation Acts (1651, 1660, and 1663; duties on tobacco and molasses, to name a few), the Plantation Duty Act (1673; a duty on plantations), the Sugar Act (1764; a duty or tax on sugar), the Stamp Act (1765; a tax on all documents, including legal documents, calendars, cards, etc), and the Townshend Acts (1767; duties on items imported by the colonists, including glass, lead, paints, paper, and tea). The colonists were outraged. They weren’t outraged at the taxes themselves, but rather by the violation of their essential right to have representation in the legislative body that passes such tax measures. “No Taxation Without Representation!” They compared the current king, King George III, to Charles I for indiscriminately taxing the colonies without their consent. The Sons of Liberty organized at this time – originating in Massachusetts and New York and eventually having a presence in all thirteen colonies – and they were extremely effective at protesting these taxes and frustrating their enforcement.

Protests heightened with the passage of the Tea Act in 1673. The Tea Act allowed the British East India Company, which had a surplus of tea, to have a monopoly on import tea to the colonies. In passing this act, Parliament actually thought it was doing a favor to the colonies by providing tea at a reduced price (due to the surplus). In fact, the cost of the tea, together with the new tax (“a mere 3 pence”), would be lower than the cost of the tea provided by other sources. But Parliament didn’t get it. The colonists didn’t think government had the right to force a monopoly on them and interfere with the trade of colonial tea merchants. Colonial merchants couldn’t compete with the less-expensive tea that the East India Tea Company provided so abundantly. And so, the colonists once again took matters in their own hands. In Pennsylvania and New York, colonists did not allow British tea ships to enter the large city ports. They sent ships out into the harbors to block the tea ships. In Boston, they had a “party.” On that evening of December 16, 1773, approximately 100 “radicals,” members of a secret organization of American Patriots called the Sons of Liberty, dressed up as Mohawk Indians, boarded three East India Company ships, broke open all 342 wooden chests of tea, and dumped them into the Boston Harbor. The value of the tea destroyed, in today’s market, would amount to about $1 million.

Well, that particular act of protest was the one that the broke the camel’s back. At first King George III didn’t seem too perturbed at the incident, but soon, the tide of British public opinion would grow against the colonists, whom they regarded as rebellious and childish, and that rising sentiment would force Parliament and King George to punish the citizens of Boston for their recalcitrance. Parliament would no longer tolerate disobedience; the colonies’ “rebellious spirit” would finally have to be addressed and they would have be made to obey British laws. Parliament would no longer be soft when it came to obeying British laws. It would show the colonies what happens to those who happen to have a “rebellious spirit” and are disobedient, and in doing so, reinforce upon them the need to obey its laws. What followed would be a series of laws called the “Coercive Acts” (also referred to as the “Intolerable Acts”).

On March 28, 1774, in response to the Boston Tea Party, Parliament passed four acts which together became known as the Coercive Acts. These individual acts included: (1) The Boston Port Act, which closed the port of Boston until damages from the Boston Tea Party were paid (no ship carrying colonial goods could enter or leave Boston Harbor until the Massachusetts Colony paid for all the tea that was destroyed); (2) The Massachusetts Government Act, which effectively revoked Massachusetts Charter of the Province of Massachusetts Bay (1691), its colonial charter, prohibited democratic town meetings, and turned the royal governor’s council into an appointed body with wide-ranging powers (in other words, shifting government authority from Massachusetts colony to the royal governor); (3) The Administration of Justice Act, which made British officials immune to criminal prosecution in Massachusetts; and (4) The Quartering Act, which required colonists to house and quarter British troops on demand, including in their private homes as a last resort.

Indeed, the situation was intolerable. Parliament ordered the Royal Navy to blockade the Boston Harbor, preventing ships from entering and bringing in goods and supplies and blocking colonial merchant ships from leaving and selling their goods. By fiat, the basic structure of colonial government was altered. England was now governing the colony. To add insult to injury, King George appointed General Thomas Gage, who had served as the head of the British Army in North America, as the new Governor of Massachusetts, and he brought troops with him. On May 13, General Gage arrived in Boston with four regiments of troops. Aside from the fact that the colonists felt stripped them of their previously enjoyed rights, perhaps more unnerving was the presence of four thousand British soldiers in Boston. Under the Quartering Act, there would be guaranteed residence for the British Army and the citizens of Massachusetts would be required to quarter them, if necessary (otherwise they would have to remain on ships). The Quartering Act required the colonies to house British soldiers in barracks provided by the colonies. If the barracks were too small to house all the soldiers, then localities were to accommodate the soldiers in local inns, stables, ale houses, and houses of sellers of wine. Should there still be soldiers without accommodation after all such public houses were filled, the colonies were then required to take, hire and make fit for the reception of his Majesty’s forces, such and so many uninhabited houses, outhouses, barns, or other buildings as shall be necessary. Finally, British officials could abuse these acts and be free from prosecution in the colony.

In response, provincial militias started to gather munitions and store them in the countryside out of reach of the British regulars.

On May 26, Parliament dissolved Virginia’s colonial government – its Virginia House of Burgesses. And on September 1, General Gage seized the Massachusetts Colony’s arsenal at Charlestown, located just across the Charles River from Boston – near Bunker Hill.

On Benjamin Franklin’s advice, the colonies decided to meet in a common body to address Britain’s treatment of the colonies, in particular the blockade of Boston Harbor and the Intolerable Acts on the Province of Massachusetts. And so, on September 5, the First Continental Congress met with 56 delegates in Carpenters Hall in Philadelphia. Twelve out of the thirteen colonies sent delegates (Georgia did not send any). The Continental Congress, which would meet on two separate occasions, became the governing body of the “united” colonies during the time leading up to and then during the American Revolution.

On October 14, the First Continental Congress adopted a Declaration and Resolves against the blockade, the Coercive Acts, the Quartering of troops, and other objectionable British actions. These resolutions listed a series of grievances against Parliament (where have we seen that response before?) and appealed to the King to intercede on behalf of the colonies for proper respect for their rights as Englishmen. The Declaration and Resolves began as follows:

The good people of the several colonies of New-Hampshire, Massachusetts-Bay, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New-York, New-Jersey, Pennsylvania, Newcastle, Kent, and Sussex on Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North- Carolina and South-Carolina, justly alarmed at these arbitrary proceedings of parliament and administration, have severally elected, constituted, and appointed deputies to meet, and sit in general Congress, in the city of Philadelphia, in order to obtain such establishment, as that their religion, laws, and liberties, may not be subverted: Whereupon the deputies so appointed being now assembled, in a full and free representation of these colonies, taking into their most serious consideration, the best means of attaining the ends aforesaid, do, in the first place, as Englishmen, their ancestors in like cases have usually done, for asserting and vindicating their rights and liberties, DECLARE,

That the inhabitants of the English colonies in North-America, by the immutable laws of nature, the principles of the English constitution, and the several charters or compacts, have the following RIGHTS:

Resolved, N.C.D. 1. That they are entitled to life, liberty and property: and they have never ceded to any foreign power whatever, a right to dispose of either without their consent.
Resolved, N.C.D. 2. That our ancestors, who first settled these colonies, were at the time of their emigration from the mother country, entitled to all the rights, liberties, and immunities of free and natural- born subjects, within the realm of England.
Resolved, N.C.D. 3. That by such emigration they by no means forfeited, surrendered, or lost any of those rights, but that they were, and their descendants now are, entitled to the exercise and enjoyment of all such of them, as their local and other circumstances enable them to exercise and enjoy.
Resolved, 4. That the foundation of English liberty, and of all free government, is a right in the people to participate in their legislative council: and as the English colonists are not represented, and from their local and other circumstances, cannot properly be represented in the British parliament, they are entitled to a free and exclusive power of legislation in their several provincial legislatures, where their right of representation can alone be preserved.

The Declaration and Resolves was presented to the King and then to Parliament on January 19, 1775. King George laughed and dismissed the document and the Parliament did not even address it. King George, to whom the Declaration was addressed, never even offered a formal response, for in his mind, he did not have to submit to the demands of the colonists, whom he regarded as insolent children. He famously said to the Prime Minister Lord North: “The die is now cast, the colonies must either submit or triumph.” He would not negotiate with them. His tacit response made it clear that he meant to maintain political unity between the colonies and the United Kingdom even at the expense of the happiness of the colonists.

Word of the Intolerable Acts and the subjugation of the colonists in Boston began to spread to other colonies and they began to react. Perhaps the most famous response came from Virginia, and Patrick Henry!

Because England had dissolved Virginia’s colonial government, its Virginia House of Burgesses, the state’s colonial leaders were forced to meet in secret. And so they did, on March 20, 1775, at a small church which is now called St. John’s Church, in Richmond, away from the Capitol in Williamsburg. Delegate Patrick Henry presented resolutions to raise a militia, and to put Virginia in a posture of defense. He believed that martial law would eventually come to Virginia. Henry’s opponents urged caution and patience, holding out hope that the King would eventually respond – and respond generously – to the Declarations and Resolves. On the evening of the 23rd, Henry presented a proposal to organize a volunteer company of cavalry or infantry in every county of Virginia and delivered a fiery speech in support of it. His final words “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death!” would be a rallying cry for the cause of independence and indeed, his entire speech is probably the most stirring, most passionate case in defense of liberty in our American history.

The question before the House is one of awful moment to this country. For my own part, I consider it as nothing less than a question of freedom or slavery; and in proportion to the magnitude of the subject ought to be the freedom of the debate. It is only in this way that we can hope to arrive at truth, and fulfil the great responsibility which we hold to God and our country. Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offence, I should consider myself as guilty of treason towards my country, and of an act of disloyalty toward the majesty of heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings.

Mr. President, it is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and, having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it.

I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided; and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging of the future but by the past. And judging by the past, I wish to know what there has been in the conduct of the British ministry for the last ten years, to justify those hopes with which gentlemen have been pleased to solace themselves, and the House? Is it that insidious smile with which our petition has been lately received? Trust it not, sir; it will prove a snare to your feet. Suffer not yourselves to be betrayed with a kiss. Ask yourselves how this gracious reception of our petition comports with these war-like preparations which cover our waters and darken our land. Are fleets and armies necessary to a work of love and reconciliation? Have we shown ourselves so unwilling to be reconciled, that force must be called in to win back our love? Let us not deceive ourselves, sir. These are the implements of war and subjugation; the last arguments to which kings resort. I ask, gentlemen, sir, what means this martial array, if its purpose be not to force us to submission? Can gentlemen assign any other possible motive for it? Has Great Britain any enemy, in this quarter of the world, to call for all this accumulation of navies and armies? No, sir, she has none. They are meant for us; they can be meant for no other. They are sent over to bind and rivet upon us those chains which the British ministry have been so long forging. And what have we to oppose to them? Shall we try argument? Sir, we have been trying that for the last ten years. Have we anything new to offer upon the subject? Nothing. We have held the subject up in every light of which it is capable; but it has been all in vain. Shall we resort to entreaty and humble supplication? What terms shall we find which have not been already exhausted? Let us not, I beseech you, sir, deceive ourselves. Sir, we have done everything that could be done, to avert the storm which is now coming on. We have petitioned; we have remonstrated; we have supplicated; we have prostrated ourselves before the throne, and have implored its interposition to arrest the tyrannical hands of the ministry and Parliament. Our petitions have been slighted; our remonstrances have produced additional violence and insult; our supplications have been disregarded; and we have been spurned, with contempt, from the foot of the throne. In vain, after these things, may we indulge the fond hope of peace and reconciliation. There is no longer any room for hope. If we wish to be free² if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for which we have been so long contending²if we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle in which we have been so long engaged, and which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon until the glorious object of our contest shall be obtained, we must fight! I repeat it, sir, we must fight! An appeal to arms and to the God of Hosts is all that is left us!

They tell us, sir, that we are weak; unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house? Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance, by lying supinely on our backs, and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot? Sir, we are not weak if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. Three millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations; and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, sir, we have no election. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged! Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston! The war is inevitable²and let it come! I repeat it, sir, let it come.

It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace²but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!

Patrick Henry succeeded in convincing the body of delegates to pass his resolutions. Virginia would call up a militia.

On April 14, 1775, General Gage received orders from London to take decisive action against the rebel-rousers of Boston – the leaders of the Sons of Liberty, Samuel Adams and John Hancock. In the wee hours of the April 19, seven hundred British troops were dispatched to Lexington, where they would capture Adams and Hancock, and then to Concord, where they would seize a secret stockpile of colonial gunpowder (Gage had received intelligence about its location). But spies and friends of the Sons of Liberty leaked word of Gage’s plan. One lantern hanging from Boston’s North Church informed the countryside that the British were going to attack by land and two lanterns if they were going to attack by sea. A series of horseback riders – Paul Revere, William Dawes and Dr. Samuel Prescott – galloped off to warn the countryside that British troops were coming.

Word spread from town to town, and militias prepared to confront the British and help their neighbors in Lexington and Concord. Colonial militias had originally been organized to defend settlers from civil unrest and attacks by French or Native Americans and selected members of the militia were called “minutemen” because they could be ready to fight in a minute’s time. Sure enough, when the advance guard of nearly 240 British soldiers arrived in Lexington during the early morning hours, they found about 70 minutemen waiting for them on Lexington Green. Both sides eyed each other not knowing what to expect or what to do. Suddenly, a bullet rang out. It would be known as “the shot heard round the world.” Seven American militiamen were killed in that skirmish. The British retreated to Concord, where they found an even larger, more organized group of militiamen. They then retreated back to Boston, and as they did so, new waves of Colonial militia intercepted them. Shooting from behind fences and trees, the militias inflicted over 125 casualties, including several officers. The American Revolution had begun. By happenstance…. not because of the blockade of Boston Harbor, not because of the Intolerable Acts, not because of the quartering of troops, not because of King George’s rejection of the pleas of the Colonies in the Declarations and Resolves, and not because of the other instances of mistreatment of the colonies. It was because the British had come for their ammunition.

Thus, the war for independence began over the colonists’ right to bear arms and store ammunition for their defense.

Not fully expecting the standoff in Massachusetts to explode into full-scale war, the thirteen colonies agreed to reconvene the Continental Congress in Philadelphia on May 10, 1775. Samuel Adams, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock, Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington were some of the esteemed delegates.

By the time the Second Continental Congress met again, war was already underway, and so its purpose primarily became to conduct the war and manage the efforts. Already, colonial militias had seized arsenals, driven out royal officials, and besieged the British army in the city of Boston. On June 14, the Congress voted to create the Continental Army out of the militia units around Boston and quickly appointed Congressman George Washington of Virginia as the Commanding General of the Continental Army. On July 6, Congress approved a Declaration of Causes outlining the rationale and necessity for taking up arms in what had become the American Revolutionary War. The original draft was written by Thomas Jefferson but the final was written by John Dickinson of Pennsylvania. Much of Jefferson’s language was retained in the final draft. The Declaration insisted that the colonists do not yet seek independence from the mother country but were forced to take up arms “in defense of the Freedom that is our Birthright and which we ever enjoyed until the late Violation of it”, and will “lay them down when Hostilities shall cease on the part of the Aggressors.’ [Interestingly, the very first sentence of the declaration includes a condemnation of the institution of slavery, which the Crown imposed on the colonies].

On July 8, 1775, the Second Continental Congress drafted what was called the Olive Branch Petition, which it sent to the British Crown as a final attempt at reconciliation. In it, the colonies expressed their collective desire to remain loyal to the British crown. King George, however, refused to receive it.

Rather, on October 27, the King spoke before both houses of the British Parliament to discuss the growing concern about the rebellion in America, which he viewed as a traitorous action against himself and Great Britain. He began his speech by reading a “Proclamation of Rebellion” and urged Parliament to move quickly to end the revolt and bring order to the colonies. He spoke of his belief that “many of these unhappy people may still retain their loyalty, and may be too wise not to see the fatal consequence of this usurpation, and wish to resist it, yet the torrent of violence has been strong enough to compel their acquiescence, till a sufficient force shall appear to support them.” With these words, the king gave Parliament his consent to dispatch troops to use against his own subjects, a notion that his colonists believed impossible.

At this point, note that just as the British continued to implore the King to respect their rights and liberties with their various charters and petitions and remonstrances, the colonists followed their same path. The colonies would have preferred to remain associated with Great Britain through bonds of affection and respect, sharing the history and bounded government that had been established for over 500 years, but for over 15 years, the actions and reactions by King and Parliament amounted to “a history of repeated injuries and usurpations” which were clearly designed to establish absolute rule over the colonies. We can see how England’s own history is providing the path – even the format and the words – for Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence.

Thomas Paine, who moved to the colonies from England at the end of 1774, published his pamphlet “Common Sense” in January 1776. Common Sense advocated independence from Great Britain; Paine used moral and political arguments to encourage common people in the Colonies to fight for an independent government – one that suited their happiness; he appealed to their common sense. And it worked. The publication was wildly popular.

The two sides had once and for all reached a final political impasse and the bloody War for Independence would now be conducted in earnest. The skirmish had now become a war for independence.

On April 12, the state of North Carolina authorized her delegates to the Continental Congress to vote for independence. This was the first official action by a colony calling for independence. The 83 delegates present in Halifax at the Fourth Provincial Congress unanimously adopted the Halifax Resolves. The Resolves read:

“The Select Committee taking into Consideration the usurpations and violences attempted and committed by the King and Parliament of Britain against America, and the further Measures to be taken for frustrating the same, and for the better defense of this province reported as follows, to wit,

It appears to your Committee that pursuant to the Plan concerted by the British Ministry for subjugating America, the King and Parliament of Great Britain have usurped a Power over the Persons and Properties of the People unlimited and uncontrolled; and disregarding their humble Petitions for Peace, Liberty and safety, have made divers Legislative Acts, denouncing War Famine and every Species of Calamity against the Continent in General…..

Resolved that the delegates for this Colony in the Continental Congress be empowered to concur with the delegates of the other Colonies in declaring Independency….

North Carolina’s state flag proudly displays this historic date.

Virginia followed suit. On May 15, 1776, the Virginia Convention passed a similar resolution. It read:

Resolved, unanimously, that the Delegates appointed to represent this Colony in General Congress be instructed to propose to that respectable body to declare the United Colonies free and independent States, absolved from all allegiance to, or dependence upon, the Crown or Parliament of Great Britain; and that they give the assent of this Colony to such declaration, and to whatever measures may be thought proper and necessary by the Congress for forming foreign alliances, and a Confederation of the Colonies, at such time and in the manner as to them shall seem best: Provided, That the power of forming Government for, and the regulations of the internal concerns of each Colony, be left to the respective Colonial Legislatures.

At that same Convention, Virginia decided to instruct its delegate in the Second Continental Congress to introduce a formal resolution to declare the colonies independent from Great Britain. And so, on June 7, delegate Richard Henry Lee, introduced a resolution, termed the Lee Resolution or Resolution of Independence, which contained three parts: (1) to declare the united Colonies rightfully independent of the British Empire: (2) to establish a plan for establishing foreign relations with the Colonies; and (3) to establish a plan of a confederation to unite them officially.

The Lee Resolution simply read:

Resolved, that these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved;

That it is expedient forthwith to take the most effectual measures for forming foreign Alliances;

That a plan of confederation be prepared and transmitted to the respective Colonies for their consideration and approbation.

On June 11, 1776, the Second Continental Congress appointed three concurrent committees in response to the Lee Resolution – one to draft a declaration of independence, a second to draw up a plan of treaties “for forming foreign alliances,” and a third to “prepare and digest the form of a confederation.” A Committee of Five was assembled to draft a document to explain the reasons for independence and it included John Adams of Massachusetts, Roger Sherman of Connecticut, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, Robert Livingston of New York, and Thomas Jefferson of Virginia. According to Adams, Jefferson proposed that he, Adams, do the writing of the document, but he declined. Rather, Adams said, it should be Jefferson. Jefferson was known for his writing skills. As Adams told him: “Reason first: you are a Virginian and a Virginian ought to appear at the head of this business. Reason second: I am obnoxious, suspected and unpopular. You are very much otherwise. Reason third: You can write ten times better than I can.”

Jefferson completed his draft of the declaration in just a few days. He argued in his opening two paragraphs that individuals have inalienable rights, that governments are instituted by consent of the people primarily to secure those rights, and that people have the right to overthrow their government when it abuses their fundamental natural rights over a long period of time. Then, in a direct attack on King George (in like fashion to the Grand Remonstrance of 1641 and the English Bill of Rights of 1689), Jefferson listed 27 grievances against King George III – 27 instances when the king violated the “the ancient rights and liberties” of the American colonists. Having thoroughly laid out his proof that the king was a “tyrant” who was “unfit to be the ruler of a people,” Jefferson continued on to condemn the British Parliament and the British people. “These unfeeling brethren,” he wrote, had reelected members of Parliament who had conspired with the king to destroy the rights of the colonists. Jefferson ended his draft by stating, “we do assert and declare these colonies to be free and independent states….. ”

When Jefferson submitted his draft to the Congress on June 28, the delegates left the first two paragraphs essentially unchanged. Instead, they concentrated on Jefferson’s list of grievances against King George and the British people. On July 2, 1776, the Second Continental Congress voted to declare the independence of the American colonies from English rule. And on the July 4 – the Fourth of July – it approved the final edited version of the Declaration of Independence.

News of the colonies’ independence rang out in all the colonies.

While the 4th of July is the date that we celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the 56 signers didn’t actually affix their signatures until August 2. John Hancock, President of the Continental Congress, was the first to sign his name and he did so in big letters. The story goes that after he signed his name, he gazed upon it and said: “There! His Majesty can now read my name without his spectacles!”

In explaining the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson wrote: “This was the object of the Declaration of Independence. Not to find out new principles, or new arguments, never before thought of, not merely to say things which had never been said before; but to place before mankind the common sense of the subject, in terms so plain and firm as to command their assent, and to justify ourselves in the independent stand we are compelled to take. All its authority rests then on the harmonizing sentiments of the day, whether expressed in conversation, in letters, printed essays, or in the elementary books of public right, as Aristotle, Cicero, Locke, Sidney, etc.”

For most of my life, I marveled at the Declaration. Its words were stirring, its declarations were brilliant, its indictment of King George was compelling, and its conclusion was heroic. I assumed the ideas, the words, and the flair were all the brainchild of Jefferson. But after reviewing the historical documents he had studied all his life, and taking into account the various resolutions and declarations written and adopted by the various colonies at the time, it’s quite clear that the Declaration is a composite of several documents. First of all, Jefferson essentially copied the form of the English Bill of Rights (and to some degree the Grand Remonstrance before it) as he sat down to compose his draft. Thus, Jefferson’s indictment of King George III was not a radical departure from accepted English practices. He was following English tradition, which in turn he adapted to American circumstances. I’ve seen signs and tee shirts calling our Founding Fathers “Our Founding Liberals,” but realizing that Jefferson, in writing the Declaration, followed established English tradition and re-asserted the “ancient rights and liberties” that for over 500 years have defined Englishmen, our Founders were actually quite conservative.

Winston Churchill commented on this tradition: “We must never cease to proclaim in fearless tones the great principles of freedom and the rights of man which are the joint inheritance of the English-speaking world and which through Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights, the Habeas Corpus, trial by jury, and the English common law find their most famous expression in the American Declaration of Independence.”

In addition to historic English documents, Jefferson also borrowed language from George Mason’s Virginia Declaration of Resolves in drafting the Declaration. Mason asserted that “all men are by nature equally free and independent, and have certain inherent rights…namely the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and maintaining happiness and safety.” Jefferson altered – shortened – his language in his original draft to state: “We hold these truths to be sacred and undeniable: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their creator with inherent and inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” In fact, Jefferson adopted his famous phrase from John Locke’s 1689 publication Two Treatises on Civil Government – “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Everyone at the time understood that Jefferson equated “happiness” with property and safety. By “equal,” Jefferson meant that all citizens or freeholders are, as Mason wrote, born “equally free and independent” under the law. Note that the barons of England asserted their legal equality with the king in 1100 and 1215. So, Jefferson was not stating anything new. [ See Brion McClanahan, “Rethinking the Declaration of Independence”]

By its very name, the Declaration of Independence was a bold assertion of independence. Because it was asserted in defiance of the King, it was a highly treasonous document. Its signers were traitors. The outcome of the war would decide their fate. On October 19, 1781, British General Cornwallis surrendered his troops at Yorktown, Virginia and the British were defeated. After six years of fighting, the Colonies had won their independence. And once the Colonies had become independent, the Declaration essentially ceased to have any legal force. That which it sought to accomplish had been accomplished.

But that’s not where the Declaration of Independence’s story ends.

The Declaration may lack legal force but nonetheless, it remains the source of all legitimate political authority here in the United States and it memorializes the principles on which our country is founded. Abraham Lincoln once referred to the principles embodied in the Declaration of Independence as “the electric cord that links the hearts of patriotic and liberty-loving men together, that will link those patriotic hearts as long as the love of freedom exists in the minds of men throughout the world.” And Calvin Coolidge remarked that “the doctrine of the Declaration of Independence predicated upon the glory of man and the corresponding duty to society that the rights of citizens ought to be protected with every power and resource of the state, and a government that does any less is false to the teachings of that great document — false to the name American.”

A review of the most famous paragraphs of the Declaration remind us of the essential principles that make up our political foundation and ground our precious liberties.

The first paragraph reads:

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

The first paragraph characterizes the nature of the Declaration. When Jefferson writes that it is time for the colonies “to dissolve the political bonds which have connected them with another” he is saying that the colonies intend to secede from Great Britain. The Declaration, first and foremost, is a secessionist document. What follows in the other paragraphs are the reasons and explanations for the decision to “dissolve their political bonds”; that is, to secede.

The phrase “the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God entitle them” is a particularly significant one. It means that our rights are not a gift from the State, but arise from our nature. This marks a paradigm shift from the system in England. English law was still dictated by the Divine Right of Kings. Even though charters, petitions, and a Bill of Rights put limitations on the Crown and to some extent, on government in general, they still acknowledged that the King and the State had power over the individual. Without such charters, petitions, and Bill of Rights, the King and government could treat the individual as it wanted, generously or oppressively. Thomas Jefferson was making it clear that in the United States, rights are NOT a gift from the State, to be enjoyed at its benevolence, but rather that they arise from Nature and from God, separately and equally. God and Nature go hand in hand. God who created the heavens and the Earth also created the laws of nature. For those who believe God to be the great author of Nature, then rights come from Him, as our Creator. For those who lack faith, they can rest assure that our Declaration equally recognizes that all individuals possess fundamental rights because they are natural rights – part of our very humanity from birth. Even if you do not believe in a God Almighty, still you must respect the laws of nature. In this way, Jefferson was laying out the concept of Individual Sovereignty in a way that its people could universally understand and agree, irrespective of the particulars of their individual and very diverse faiths. Individual Sovereignty is the basis of our Rights in this country.

We may argue yet what are Nature’s Laws, but this much we can be certain: All people must observe and ultimately obey it, just as the laws of nature apply equally to all human beings. Since governments are merely fictional entities created by mankind and not by nature, rights supersede government. Saying that government is more important than the individual would be “unnatural.”

In the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence reads:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

In this paragraph, Jefferson’s mighty pen goes into greater detail about the nature of the aforementioned natural rights. He tells us that our rights, which are endowed by our Creator (or Nature), are unalienable and although are numerous, the most obvious ones are “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” “Unalienable” (which is the same as “inalienable”) means that the individual can never been divested of these rights. They cannot be taken away or denied. They remain with the individual and government cannot take them away. “Life,” of course, is clear enough. “Liberty,” according to Jefferson, was the degree to which an individual can exercise his rights, his freedom. The rights which come under this umbrella would include the rights asserted in the Magna Carta, for example, or in the English Bill of Rights, or in Virginia’s Declaration of Rights. (Remember the time period that the Declaration was written). “Pursuit of Happiness” includes property, but encompasses much more. “Pursuit of Happiness” means an individual should be able to freely exercise all his rights in order to live his life to its full potential. That “full potential” includes the ownership of property and the fruits of one’s labor, mind, and personality (all that which makes a person a unique “individual”). “Property” was too narrow a term for Jefferson. Now, just as the individual has the rights to Life, Liberty, and Property, he also has the equal right to protect them. This right of self-protection and self-preservation is also a natural right. Samuel Adams summed it best: “Among the natural rights of the colonists are these: First a right to life, secondly to liberty, and thirdly to property; together with the right to defend them in the best manner they can.”

“That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed” is another important principle. It is a critical and basic tenet of our form of government. First it states unequivocally that the primary role of government is “to secure these rights.” In other words, in the grand scheme of things, individual rights are supreme over the authority of the State (ie, government). The primary role of government, and the motivating force behind the formation of government, is to secure the inalienable rights, endowed by our Creator (Nature), of each individual. This means that government is to be ideally limited to the role of a policeman, a judge, a prison warden, and a military force. Furthermore, this provision explains that government has no powers of its own, but only “derives” its powers from individuals consenting to transfer power to it. This is where the doctrine of Individual Sovereignty comes from. In a state of Nature, man has full sovereign power to govern himself – to provide for himself, to protect himself, to think and act as he wants. He is responsible for himself and his conduct. What is especially critical about this principle of “deriving powers from the consent of the governed” is that power delegated by the people is always “temporary” in nature. The people can always re-assume their sovereign power – their right to govern themselves.

Having told us the proper function of government, Jefferson then tells us what gives cause to changing it: “That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

The first thing to note is that governments are always “temporary.” Government exists at the whim of the people and have no right in and of itself to its own existence or longevity. Government is a “creation.” It is not a natural institution. Because is arises by the “consent of the governed,” it is a product of compact. Compacts have elements of contract law and agency law. The second thing to note is the Declaration acknowledges that individuals have the RIGHT to establish their government to effect THEIR happiness and their safety. When government ceases to serve those purposes, then individuals are well within their natural right to abolish that government and establish another.

The Declaration goes one step further and challenges individuals to be vigilante of their rights and critical of their government. “Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

How will a people know for sure when it is time to “abolish” their government? Or how will they know when it is time to dissolve political bonds that tie them to another; that is, how will they know when it is time to secede from another political body? The Declaration, in that last sentence, tells us: “When a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

And that line, as Jefferson will explain in the section that follows, sums up the position of the Colonies. In that section, Jefferson sets out to make the case that the conduct of the King is a history of abuses and usurpations. Historical precedents such as the Magna Carta and the Bill of Rights 1689 had established the principle that the King was not to interfere with the rights of Englishmen, as held by the people. The list of grievances essentially all stem from a refusal by the King and by Parliament to recognize these rights in the colonists and instead, to abuse their power by interfering, burdening, and evening denying those rights. Jefferson lists 27 grievances against King George III – 27 instances where he violated the rights of the colonists – which he, Jefferson, (and the Second Continental Congress, as evidenced by its adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776) believe evidences a design to reduce them under an absolute Despotism (tyranny).

What are some of these grievances?

The first, for example, reads: “He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.” With this grievance, Jefferson points to the fact that the King repeatedly refused to ratify Colonial legislation, thus tacitly refusing to ignore their right of colonial self-government.

Grievance ten reads: “He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.” One can look at the Stamp Act to see what Jefferson means by this item. After the passage of the Stamp Act, stamp distributors were appointed in every considerable town. In 1766 and 1767, acts for the collection of duties created “swarms of officers,” all of whom received high salaries; and when in 1768, admiralty and vice admiralty courts were established on a new basis, an increase in the number of officers was made. The high salaries and extensive perquisites of all of these, were paid with the people’s money, and thus “swarms of officers” “eat out their substance.”

Grievance eleven reads: “He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.” This item refers to two notable situations – namely, the British troops kept in America following the war with France (Seven Years War) and then following the Boston Tea Party, the King established martial law in Massachusetts under General Gage. A subsequent grievance refers to the quartering of British troops in and among the colonies. One of the Intolerable Acts of 1774 was the Quartering Act, a particularly offensive law to the colonists.

After the treaty of peace with France, in 1763, Great Britain left quite a large number of troops in America, and required the colonists to contribute to their support. There was no use for this standing army, except to repress the growing spirit of Republicanism among the colonists, and to enforce compliance with taxation laws. The presence of troops was always a cause of complaint; and when, finally, the colonists boldly opposed the unjust measures of the British government, armies were sent hither to awe the people into submission. It was one of those “standing armies” kept here “without the consent of the Legislature,” against which the patriots at Lexington, and Concord, and Bunker Hill so manfully battled in 1775.

Of course, Jefferson included a grievance addressing an early, but repeated, grievance – that of “taxation without representation,” The grievance reads: “For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:”

One should read all the grievances. Some we are familiar with from our study of American History in grade school but others would absolutely shock us with their severity.

In the last paragraph of the Declaration, Jefferson will finally make the case that because of this evil design, the Colonies have a right and a duty to dissolve their political bonds with the King.

The last paragraph reads:

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

The Declaration of Independence ends with these powerful words: “For the support of this Declaration, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our Sacred Honor.” We can never forget that the Declaration was a treasonous document, which, if the British had won the war, would have sealed the fate of each of its signers and earned them a date with a hangman’s noose. But they believed in their cause. They believed in the words they wrote in that document and they believed in their case against the King. And they were willing to risk it all.

Signer Benjamin Rush (of Pennsylvania) wrote: “Do you recollect the pensive and awful silence which pervaded the house when we were called up, one after another, to the table of the President of Congress to subscribe what was believed by many at that time to be our own death warrants?”

After signing his name in a large flowing style, it is rumored that John Hancock’s full response was this: “There! His Majesty can now read my name without his spectacles. And he can double the reward on my head!” Benjamin Franklin, insisting that every single delegate sign the Declaration of Independence, said: “We must all hang together or surely we shall all hang separately.” The large, burly Virginian, Benjamin Harrison, turned to the pipsqueak from Massachusetts, Elbridge Gerry, and joked: “I will have a great advantage over you, Mr. Gerry, when we are all hung for what we are now doing. From the size and weight of my body I shall die in a few minutes, but from the lightness of your body, you will dance in the air an hour or two before you are dead.”

One day after the Declaration was adopted by the delegates to the Second Continental Congress, John Adams wrote home to his wife Abagail: “I am well aware of the toil and blood and treasure, that it will cost us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the gloom I can see the rays of ravishing light and glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the means. And that posterity will triumph in that day’s transaction.”

In a speech he gave on the 150th Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence (5 July 1926), Calvin Coolidge reflected:

Great ideas do not burst upon the world unannounced. They are reached by a gradual development over a length of time usually proportionate to their importance. This is especially true of the principles laid down in the Declaration of Independence. Three very definite propositions were set out in its preamble regarding the nature of mankind and therefore of government. These were the doctrine that all men are created equal, that they are endowed with certain inalienable rights, and that therefore the source of the just powers of government must be derived from the consent of the governed. If no one is to be accounted as born into a superior station, if there is to be no ruling class, and if all possess rights which can neither be bartered away nor taken from them by any earthly power, it follows as a matter of course that the practical authority of the Government has to rest on the consent of the governed. While these principles were not altogether new in political action, and were very far from new in political speculation, they had never been assembled before and declared in such a combination… In its main features the Declaration of Independence is a great spiritual document. It is a declaration not of material but of spiritual conceptions. Equality, liberty, popular sovereignty, the rights of man — these are not elements which we can see and touch. They are ideals. They have their source and their roots in the religious convictions. They belong to the unseen world. Unless the faith of the American people in these religious convictions is to endure, the principles of our Declaration will perish. We cannot continue to enjoy the result if we neglect and abandon the cause… If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final.

By a stroke of remarkable coincidence, both Thomas Jefferson and John Adams died on the same day – the fiftieth anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1826. Jefferson preceded Adams in death by five hours.

When I think about Independence Day, I think of our magnificent story. I think about the uncompromising determination of people to live free and the eternal vigilance it took to finally secure lasting boundaries on government. I think about the ways the British and then the colonists expressed their discontent with the King and the many ways they sought to exert their rights, and how the many efforts culminated in their most famous expression in the American Declaration of Independence. I think about how our Founding Fathers brilliantly turned government on its head – transforming a system of government based on the Divine Right of Kings to a system predicated on Individual Sovereignty. I think of a continuum of a story that began in 1215 with a stand-off on the meadow at Runnymede in order to secure a promise from an arrogant and ambitious king that ended with a document signed by 56 delegates assembled together from 13 separate states on July 4. The continent may have changed, but man’s yearning to be free did not.

Now, as we all know, a country is a physical location inhabited by a body politic. Principles are embraced by people and not by geography, and so liberty and independence is a spirit that must live in all of us. If it doesn’t, then we suffer oppression together. As Machiavelli once said: “It is just as difficult and dangerous to try to free a people that wants to remain servile as it is to enslave a people that wants to remain free.” The Declaration embraces our revolutionary spirit, and God help us when our country has the spirit of an aging grandmother. The key is to always keep that revolutionary spirit. And maybe that’s what Independence Day is all about…. to reflect on our history and to rekindle that spirit every year.

In conclusion, I would like to implore that on this Independence Day and on every Independence Day, that we remember the advice that was once given to us by James Madison: “The people of the U.S. owe their Independence and their liberty to the wisdom of descrying in the minute tax of 3 pence on tea, the magnitude of the evil comprised in the precedent. Let them exert the same wisdom, in watching against every evil lurking under plausible disguises, and growing up from small beginnings.”

 
References:
Diane Rufino, “Independence Day: The Story of Us,” Diane’s Blogsite (www.forloveofgodandcountry), July 3, 2016. Referenced at: https://forloveofgodandcountry.com/2016/07/08/independence-day-the-story-of-us/

Mike Maharrey, “The Declaration of Independence Birthed 13 Sovereign Nations,” Tenth Amendment Center, July 3, 2019. Referenced at: https://tenthamendmentcenter.com/2019/07/03/the-declaration-of-independence-birthed-13-sovereign-nations/

“Breaking Down the Declaration of Independence,” SAISD Social Studies Department – https://www.saisd.net/admin/curric/sstudies/resources/teacher_zone/Hands_On/gov_econ/pdf/ho_us1_breaking_doi.pdf

The List of Grievances in the Declaration of Independence, Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grievances_of_the_United_States_Declaration_of_Independence

Brion McClanahan, “Rethinking the Declaration of Independence,” Abbeville Institute, July 4, 2016. Referenced at : http://www.abbevilleinstitute.org/blog/rethinking-the-declaration-of-independence/

Dr. Almon Leroy Way, Jr. (Professor of Political Science), “The American System of Government: The American Constitutional System – English Origins (1066-1558),” Cyberland University of North Carolina.
Referenced at:  http://www.proconservative.net/CUNAPolSci201PartFourB.shtml [In-depth study of the Magna Carta]

The Petition of Right of 1628  –  http://study.com/academy/lesson/petition-of-right-of-1628-definition-summary.html

The English Bill of Rights of 1689  –  http://avalon.law.yale.edu/17th_century/england.asp

The Grand Remonstrance  –  http://www.constitution.org/eng/conpur043.htm

The Declaration and Resolves  –  http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/resolves.asp

Patrick Henry’s Speech of March 23, 1775 – https://www.history.org/almanack/life/politics/giveme.cfm

Halifax Resolves  –  http://www.learnnc.org/lp/editions/nchist-revolution/4328

Preamble and Resolution of the Virginia Convention of May 15, 1776 – http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/const02.asp

The Lee Resolutions  –  http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/lee.asp

“Boiling It Down, This Is What You’ve Said,” Mark America, October 15, 2011. Referenced at:  http://markamerica.com/2011/10/15/boiling-it-down-this-is-what-youve-said/

Winston Churchill, “The Sinews of Peace”, address at Westminster College, Fulton, Missouri (March 5, 1946); in Robert Rhodes James, ed., Winston S. Churchill: His Complete Speeches, 1897–1963 (1974), vol. 7, p. 7288.

Calvin Coolidge, speech on the Occasion of the 150th Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence (July 5, 1926).

I Voted

- 00000000000000000000000 (Voted, July 2019)

by Diane Rufino, July 3, 2019

I voted today.

It’s been a frustrating special election season. Tempers have flared, ambitions have run high, and friends have turned on each other. I’ve heard all kinds of reasons and justifications for why people are voting for the candidate they have chosen. We all are entitled to our choice of candidate for office, of course. After all, we all have our reasons for our vote and we all have our own criteria for an acceptable candidate. Some, like myself, put country first and its health and longevity, as well as the security of our essential liberties (which is tied to less government and less government regulation and intrusion into state and local matters). Some, like myself, set high standards for an acceptable candidate. Character flaws only manifest themselves later in ways that dishonor and disappoint us, the citizens. Some, like myself, do my homework on the candidates. I consider it my civic duty. I look at the candidates’ history and their record, if they have one. I look at the values that guide them and try to assess if they are strong enough to constrain them and to strengthen them, as the particular situation would require.

Others are content to vote for a candidate without having any idea of his or her record or his or her history. Being a strong conservative isn’t important to them. Being able to trust that person to make the right decisions and cast the right votes when no eyes are on him/her in Congress doesn’t matter. They come up with ridiculous justifications for their campaign, such as “So-and-so is the only candidate strong enough to beat Allen Thomas. Otherwise, we’ll lose the district to a Democrat” What they mean to say is that they are unwilling to fight for the BEST candidate.

The best, the honest, and the most responsible vote is one cast after looking closely at ALL the candidates, doing the due diligence, looking at records and history, assessing credibility and honesty, and judging them side-by-side according to the criteria that one deems most important to being a representative in DC.

I can sleep soundly tonight knowing that I did all that. I can sleep soundly, feeling confident in my vote, knowing that I cast it for all the right reasons.

MONTICELLO: Missing the Opportunity to Educate Americans on the Extensive Legacy of Thomas Jefferson

MONTICELLO

by Diane Rufino, June 29, 2019

I was contacted this morning by Monticello, asking for a donation. While those who know me, and perhaps even those who have read my articles, know that Thomas Jefferson is my favorite Founding Father and has had the most impact on me as I’ve come to learn and appreciate the role of government, the government system we’ve adopted here in the states and then in the United States, our understanding of what our rights and liberties are (natural and civil) and most importantly, how to successfully protect and secure them, I have a big problem with how Monticello has chosen to honor its famous owner. The following is the response I sent to Monticello:

Dear Monticello,

I would be happy to donate to anything to further the legacy of the great Thomas Jefferson, but unfortunately, today’s Monticello does very little in that regard. I visited Jefferson’s home 2 years ago and was horribly disappointed to see that about half of the tour and half of the presentations were NOT focused on Jefferson or on the extensive contributions he made to this country (and to France as well), but rather were focused on his slaves, on how they lived at Monticello, and on slavery in general. Visitors to Monticello would never know all the incredible contributions that Jefferson made during his life, other than his authorship of the Declaration of Independence. Thomas Jefferson gave us and the world the Declaration of Independence, the French Declaration of the Rights of Man & of the Citizen (a civil rights document from the French Revolution written as a collaboration between he and the Marquis de Lafayette), the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom (addressing both the natural right to one’s conscience and religious affiliation and exercise), the Northwest Ordinance, his influence on the state constitution of Virginia and its Declaration of Rights, his strong influence on James Madison to add a US Bill of Rights, his powerful defense of the “Necessary & Proper” Clause of the Constitution (to strictly confine what powers the government was delegated – going head-to-head with the nationalist/monarchist Alexander Hamilton), his defense of State’s Rights and his brilliant articulation of the doctrine of Nullification, the hundreds of letters he wrote explaining the meaning and intent of the Constitution and providing warnings and advice for future generations, and his creation of the US Library of Congress. While slavery was an (evil) institution practiced in our country, and in fact, was an institution that was firmly entrenched and embraced by almost all countries and colonies of the world at the time, it was NOT a contribution of Jefferson.

It is a sad state of affairs when one visits the home of Thomas Jefferson and leaves knowing more about his slaves and how they served him than about all of the products of his great genius…… the products that recognized the rights of the individual, have articulated those rights, have served as the precursor to the rights protected in the Bill of Rights, have emphasized the founding principles that define our US Constitution and our system of government, and have warned us of our eternal civil duty to this country.

Every year, an entire month is devoted to the study of slavery and the entire plight of African-Americans. There is no such month – in fact, not even a single day – devoted to the world-changing contributions of Thomas Jefferson. We hear about slavery almost every single day on the news and now from the halls of Congress, and our children are steeped in such lessons and themes in college. We no longer reference Thomas Jefferson, we don’t talk about him, our legislators don’t reference him, our schools don’t teach his lessons or teach of his contributions, and colleges/universities absolutely never give him his due (except to emphasize that he was a slave-owner). We all enjoy essential liberty rights today because of the founding documents written by him and every single American should know this and be able to link him to these rights.

Monticello, his home, his sanctum sanctorum, should AT LEAST, be the one place where tourists and visitors can be immersed in his great and extensive legacy (untainted and undiluted by a focus on slavery).

And so, I will NOT donate to Monticello. I refuse to donate a single dollar to an organization that so dishonorably dilutes the memory of our greatest Founding Father.

I hope you will reconsider how Monticello chooses to operate and how it chooses to use its unique status as a historical site, the home of our greatest Founding Father and the place of his greatest inspiration, as a teaching opportunity.

Sincerely,

Diane Rufino

Calvin Coolidge, the Last of the Jeffersonians

Calvin Coolidge

by Diane Rufino, June 19, 2019 (based on very large part on Brion McClanahan’s book “9 Presidents Who Screwed Up America (and 4 Who Tried to Save Her), pp. 257-259)

In an era when the States have been reduced to virtual provinces or wards of the federal government and the Tenth Amendment is repeatedly and audaciously ignored, it is refreshing to look back and appreciate how strongly President Calvin Coolidge resisted spending federal dollars on local issues. This was an indication of his belief in and respect for federalism and in the importance of family and personal responsibility (“These is an inescapable person responsibility for the development of character, of industry, of thrift, and of self-control. These do not come from the Government, but from the People themselves.”)

In his third annual message, in December 1925, President Calvin Coolidge, spoke these words:

“The functions which the Congress are to discharge are not those of local government but of National government. The greatest solicitude should be exercised to prevent any encroachment upon the rights of the States or their various political subdivisions. Local self-government is one of our most precious possessions. It is the greatest contributing factor to the stability, strength, liberty, and progress of the Nation. It ought not to be weakened by assault or undermined by purchase. It ought not to abdicate its power through weakness or resign its authority through favor. It does not at all follow that because abuses exist it is the concern of the federal government to attempt their reform.”

Earlier that year, he delivered a speech titled “The Reign of Law” in which he gave this message: “If there is to be a continuation of individual and local self-government, and of state sovereignty, the INDIVIDUAL and LOCALITY MUST GOVERN THEMSELVES and the STATE MUST ASSERT ITS SOVEREIGNTY. Otherwise, these rights and privileges will be confiscated under the all-compelling pressure of ‘public necessity.’ Although the founding generation had established a dual system of state government and federal government, each supreme in its own sphere, it is the States which MUST BE THE GUARDIANS of the form and course of their societies. Our Founders hoped for the permanence of the Union but also they were more concerned with the permanence of the States. In times of war, under the Constitution, we possess an indestructible Union. We must not fail to demonstrate in times of peace that we must possess and maintain indestructible States.”

The following year, he again addressed the theme of federalism: “Clearly there exists abuse in the business of the federal government. When it is determined to provide a remedy, that is when we most see the abuse. The presumption, therefore, should be that it is in the business of local state governments that they look to solve their own problems. National action results in an encroaching upon the salutary independence of the States and by undertaking to supersede their natural, sovereign authority, it fills the land with bureaus and departments which are undertaking to do what it iimposible for them to accomplish and brings our whole system of government into disrespect and disfavor.”

He later wrote: “Society is much more danger from encumbering the national government beyond its wisdom to comprehend, or its ability to administer, than from leaving the local communities to bear their own burdens and remedy their own evils. The wiser policy is to leave the localities possessed of their own sources of revenue and charged with their own obligations.”

Coolidge was devoted, as the good Jeffersonian that he was, to the notion that the President of the United States is only obligated to sign into laws those bills which are constitutional. He has no duty to sign those which he believes are unconstitutional. He had great respect for the Constitutional Separation of Powers and the system of Checks and Balances. He believed they are integral and essential to keeping the power of the federal government in check. He referred to these design features as the great “guarantees of Liberty,”. He knew, as our Founders knew, that the greatest of all checks on the power of the federal government was the sovereignty of the States under the federal nature of the Constitution, especially as re-stated in the Tenth Amendment.

From his principled point of view, President Coolidge knew that if he, and all presidents, could maintain the independence of the executive branch and honor the federalist nature of our system, as fought for by our founding generation, the United States and the American public would remain “free from oppression.”

 

Reference: Brion McClanahan, “9 Presidents Who Screwed Up America (And 4 Who Tried to Save Her,” (2016) Regnery History Publishers.. Part II (4 Who Tried to Save Her, Calvin Coolidge, pp. 257-259]

Tea Party Big Mouth, Amy Kremer, Claims SHE Started the Tea Party Movement

Amy Kremer (Fox News)

(Photo credit: Fox News)

by Diane Rufino, June 16, 2019

Just recently, I heard something absolutely offensive from Amy Kremer, spokeswoman for Women For Trump (and from what I can tell, the only member!)

This past week-end, Amy was stumping for Dr. Greg Murphy (for US Congress from eastern NC, which is district 3) at one of his events, and as she has done over and over in the past, she used her pulpit to spread the same tired lies about his opponent, Dr. Joan Perry, that she enjoyed spreading when she first came to Pitt County to support him. She went on to accuse Dr. Perry of being a “Pelosi liberal” and of having no intention of supporting President Trump when she gets to DC. It was an offensive rant, and several who listened to her showed expressions of disgust. I guess after hearing Dr. Murphy complain over and over again of the negative campaign ads against him, one would think he would have the decency of not doing the very same thing to Dr. Perry, and especially from his very own platform! But politics is politics, I guess. If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. If you can’t let the name-calling and the politically-motivated accusations roll off you, then perhaps politics isn’t for you. If you want to win bad enough, then sling the shit.

There are no tissues in politics and there are no safe spaces. If Dr. Murphy can dish it, it’s best he learn to take it.

But that’s not what bothered me, because I know politics is a dirty game, and I know ambition when I see it and I know what it does to a person’s character and how it affects his or her actions. In other words, I’ve come to accept it. What bothered me was Kremer’s comment that she – yes, SHE – started the Tea Party movement back in 2009.

I couldn’t believe my ears….   Was she really trying to take credit for the whole Tea Party movement? Was she daring to take credit for a movement that can be best characterized as a “grassroots movement”?? Does she even realize that the Tea Party movement is a grassroots movement? Was she conscious during the years 2009-2019? To someone like me who started a Tea party group in 2009, who has worked tirelessly at that group to keep it going and growing to the group it is today, who has worked tirelessly with other Tea Party and like-minded groups to educate on and further the principles on which the movement had coalesced, who has worked diligently and honestly as an activist in ways to expose the abuse and dishonesty and incompetence in government, who has worked in every way possible to compensate for the gross inundation of fake news and political propaganda out there by exposing the facts (collected by doing the hard work of reading and investigating and asking hard questions) and trying to set the record straight, who has confronted the negative accusations about the Tea Party, who has won over hundreds of voters, and who has fought, written, blogged, protested, met with legislators to push back against every bit of progressivism and every bit of government over-reach, there is no more absolute truth than this: There is NO ONE PERSON who can take credit for the Tea Party movement or has the right to.

The fact that Kremer can even suggest that she “started the movement” shows that she fundamentally lacks an understanding of the movement in general. She is nothing more than an opportunist, a woman badly seeking attention and validation.

The Tea Party movement was an organic, grassroots movement started in 2009 when Rick Santelli, a CNBC business news reporter (on “Task Force”) who was reporting from the floor of the Chicago Board of Trade on February 18, 2009, went off on a rant about the government bail-out program. [See the rant here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wcvSjKCU_Zo ] Santelli accused the Obama administration of promoting bad behavior and suggested something novel for DC legislators: “government should reward people who can ‘carry the water’ instead of those who just ‘drink the water.’’ He then posed a question to the Chicago Board of Trade: “Who wants to subsidize other people’s mortgage?” The response was over-whelming. Everyone thought the program was asinine and offensive. They were tired of the government using taxpayer dollars to try to keep people in homes that they will never be able to keep making payments on. As Santelli was hinting to, there is no “right to own a home” in America, no matter how much Democrats want it to be so. The so-called “Second Bill of Rights” that they so love to promise to their voters (something FDR had come up with in 1944 – to include the “right “to a job, food, clothing, recreation, a home, medical care, sound education, economic equality, and freedom from the fear of unemployment, old age, sickness, and unfair competition) is not a list of inherent rights, attaching automatically to our very humanity, but rather a list of services that will have to be provided to some at the expense of others. Santelli ended his rant with this invitation: “We’re thinking of having a Chicago Tea Party in July. All you capitalists who want to show up on Lake Michigan, I’m gonna start planning it…”

With that rant, and that simple call to peaceful protest and civil disobedience, Tea Party protests immediately began popping up everywhere. People, young and old, met in fields, in parks, in parking lots, in stadiums, at intersections, etc to protest the government bail-out program and its plans to control national healthcare. After those initial protests, Tea Party groups organized all over the country – in towns and cities, each in their own way and having their own unique flavor. Some organized as larger monthly group meetings and some organized to meet om a smaller scale – in intimate “table-talk” groups. Some focused on planning big events and protests, some focused on education and learning, some focused on griping, some organized for the purpose of infiltrating their local GOP to weed out the overbearing establishment influence, some organized mainly to vet Tea Party candidates for all types of offices, and some focused on such useful goals as serving as government (local, state, and federal) watchdog groups. Some groups didn’t last for more than a few years (with members moving into the GOP to pressure that group to return to stronger and more principled conservatism) while many others are still going strong (serving as the conservative beacon of their counties). All, however, have achieved one important goal – to promote the principles on which the Tea Party movement began, as inspired by Rick Santelli’s rant – limited government, constitutional government, fiscal responsibility, personal responsibility, and free markets. All have helped to swing the political pendulum further to the right and all have helped to demonize establishment conservatives. All have served an important role – to help educate and inform their local voters; to make more responsible voters out of them. All have made a difference.

Almost immediately, Tea Party members were able to figure out the stark reality – that all of the current problems and troubles in our country stem from one thing and one thing only – a government that has grown too aggressive and bloated, concentrating too many government powers in DC (far more than were delegated to it under the US Constitution), that has become abusive and reckless with those powers, and has become too intrusive and controlling in the lives and affairs of We the People, with our property, and in our businesses and livelihoods. The federal government has never met a law it doesn’t like or a problem it doesn’t want to solve (with more laws, bureaucracy, and tax dollars, of course). A people who understand and appreciate that our nation’s problems stem from the refusal of all three branches of the federal government to confine itself to the limits imposed by the Constitution can engage in politics, whether as an activist, a party member, or a voter in a manner that will help restore proper constitutional balance and restraint. We can only help to get our “house” in order when we are willing to stand up and fight for those principles that can make it so. Being an American, to we Tea Party folk, is not about wearing red, white, and blue shirts, waving an American flag or a “Don’t Tread on Me (Gadsden flag), marching on Washington DC, or any other type of similar demonstrative act…. It’s about taking the time to know our founding history, reading our founding documents, and understanding – truly understanding – what makes our country so unique and so intelligently designed to exist as a free nation; that is, to be able to secure and protect the God-given rights and other liberty rights that individuals are naturally entitled to. And it’s about being willing to fight for them, particularly in the arena that matters most – in speech and expression, and in the political arena. We represent the best in America, her ideals and her assurances…. Not the ones that politicians offer but the ones that the Declaration, the US Constitution, and the Bill of Rights articulate.

The gains made by the Tea Party movement have been made on the local level, by well-meaning folks committed to restoring proper governance in our country and committed to educating and spreading the word to their communities. The success of the movement is not related to the success of Women for Trump or groups like that, but rather to the success of groups in towns and cities all over the country in being effective spokesman for our founding principles.

I’ve never heard the name Amy Kremer before this spring. The first time I heard her name was on a local radio program when she had come to Greenville to endorse Greg Murphy for the US House. It was also the first time I had her of her organization, Women for Trump. I immediately discounted her of having any meaningful influence because she totally lacked any credibility. The talk radio show host almost seemed to be holding back laughter from the ridiculousness and the idiocy of her answers. Kremer or her group have never come to Greenville, NC or any other town in eastern NC. They have never once contacted either the ENC Tea Party or the Coastal Carolina Taxpayers Association (CCTA), which is the largest, most active Tea Party group in the state. Kremer supposedly worked for Tea Party Express several years ago. Yet, that group also has never come to Greenville, NC or has never contacted the ENC Tea Party or CCTA to see what they are doing or what they might need help with.

Again, there is a certain audacity that Kremer has in claiming she started the Tea Party movement. As I said earlier, too say something so outrageous simply means that she lacks a fundamental understanding of what the Tea Party movement was, is, and continues to be about. The Tea Party movement is THE PEOPLE – much like the Sons of Liberty in the colonial days. The movement is comprised of ordinary folks who love their country, who are enamored with the system of government and the principles upon which our country was founded, who are deeply appreciative of those who created and adopted our founding documents, for the great wisdom and foresight they had and used, who refuse to sit on the sidelines and allow further government abuse and tyranny to go unnoticed and uncontested, and who volunteer their time and energy to be active in politics on all levels. The Tea Party is not a top-down movement, but rather a grassroots, bottom-up movement – by the People, For the People No one person is the face of the Tea Party and no one person is responsible for it. Just as the intolerable actions of the British King and Parliament caused the colonists to get off their seats and into the political arena (“No taxation without representation!”) and into action (acts of civil disobedience to frustrate the enforcement of the laws passed by Parliament enacted without representation by the colonies), the intolerable actions of our own federal government have inspired a new generation of American patriots to get out of their chairs and into the political arena.

If Amy Kremer wanted to truly act in the best interests of the Tea Party, she should have contacted the REAL Tea Parties in eastern North Carolina, which SHE DID NOT EVEN ATTEMPT TO DO !! Local Tea Parties would have a far greater handle on the candidates than someone like her could ever have. But she is more interested in putting her own name and her own ego before the movement – something a true Tea Party activist would never ever do. She is more concerned in elevating her own relevance than in elevating or promoting the Tea Party movement.

Kremer is a fraud and a hack. She is a lobbyist, not a Tea Partier. She is offensive and an opportunist.