The Boston Tea Party and Its Protest Against Government Power Concentrated in a Far-Distant Land

HISTORY - Boston Tea Party (BEST)

by Diane Rufino, December 20, 2018

Four days ago, a date came and went without much mention. Yet it was so significant.

On December 16, 1773, some 30 to 130 protesters, mostly members of the Sons of Liberty, dressed up as Mohawk Indians, boarded three British ships (the Beaver, Dartmouth, and Eleanor), and dumped all its cargo of tea. In all, they dumped 342 chests of British East India Company tea, weighing over 92,000 pounds (roughly 46 tons) into Boston Harbor. The cargo was worth more than $1,700,000 dollars in today’s money. Merchant John Andrews wrote in his December 18, 1773 letter, “ten thousand pounds sterling of the East India Company’s tea was destroyed the evening before last…” The British East India Company reported £9,659 worth of damage caused by the Boston Tea Party.

The chests were smashed using an assortment of axes but aside from the tea and one  broken padlock, historical accounts of the event record no damage was done to any of the three ships, the crew or any other items onboard the ships. The padlock was the personal property of one of the ships’ captains, and was promptly replaced the next day by the Patriots. Nothing was stolen or looted from the ships, not even the tea. One participant tried to steal some tea but was reprimanded and stopped. The Sons of Liberty were very careful about how the action was carried out and made sure nothing besides the tea was damaged and they took great care to avoid any destruction of personal property. After the destruction of the tea, the participants swept the decks of the ships clean and anything that was moved was put back in its proper place.

The point of this seemingly useless emphasis on detail is that the Sons of Liberty used the event as a protest, carefully and glaringly obvious as one aimed at the importation of the East India Company tea pursuant to the Tea Act. It wasn’t a protest against Britain in general and it wasn’t a protest against the East India Company. It was a protest designed to show the colonists’ resistance to a law that was passed in abuse of government power. They were interposing to exert their liberty rights.

The Boston Tea Party wasn’t about the AMOUNT of tax on the tea, because in reality, the tax would have lowered the amount colonists would pay for tea. (In fact, King George thought the Tea Act would be welcome in the colonies because finally, it was going to save them money). No, the Boston Tea Party was about two things:  (1) The Tea Act was passed by a legislature that did not allow any representatives from the colonies (in violation of the English Bill of Rights of 1689, with its precursor being the Magna Carta; the Magna Carta introduced the concept of “Taxation with Representation”), and (2)  The Tea Act established a monopoly on the sale of tea, destroying the free market on the item and putting colonial traders out of business (or making criminals out of them should they dare to continue selling tea), thus highlighting the lack of procedures in government to protect and respect the rights of the colonies.

I bring this last point up because, as you would have noticed by reading the list of grievances against King George III in the Declaration of Independence, gradually, the King and Parliament came to exert complete control and governance over the colonies and the colonists; the last straw came when, at Lexington & Concord, the Redcoats attempted to destroy the colonial arsenal of ammunition, and then the King sent a decree to all Royal governors and the Royal Navy to block all importation of guns and ammunition to the colonies, and then in Virginia (1775), when Royal Governor Dunmore disbanded the colonial legislature, seized ammunition stores, and sought to confiscate colonial stockpiles of ammunition (prompting Patrick Henry to introduce resolutions to raise colonial militias and to deliver his famous “Give me Liberty or Give me Death!” speech). The last and most valuable of the rights of the colonists (recognized in the English Bill of Rights) were their rights of self-defense and self-determination. They would be worth fighting for.

Effective and responsive government in a free land is government that is closest to the people. A government that attempts to control people from a distant land (or a distant part of the country) is not responsible government. It is not what our Founders intended. That is why our Founders gave us a limited federal government; a federation of sovereign states. That is why we have the Tenth Amendment.

In a speech Ronald Reagan delivered on October 27, 1964 in support of Barry Goldwater (the conservative candidate), this idea was put clearly to the American people. Reagan said:

“And this idea that government is beholden to the people, that it has no other source of power except the sovereign people, is still the newest and the most unique idea in all the long history of man’s relation to man.

This is the issue of this election: whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capitol can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.”

The Sons of Liberty, along with our great founding fathers, resisted, with every means possible, all attempts of the King and Parliament to concentrate power and control over the colonies and colonists from the far-off land of Great Britain. That control came at a huge cost – the loss of natural rights and rights specifically enumerated in the various charters of England and in its Bill of Rights.

We as Americans are allowing that very same thing to happen to us – allowing almost all government control to be concentrated in DC, to be carried out by a group of corrupt human beings more beholden to a political party than to the people themselves. How can we justify this when our history is one defined by the Boston Tea Party and the American Revolution?

We should be ashamed of ourselves.

Anyway, I hope you will take the time to read my good friend Dave Benner’s article on the Boston Tea Party. “Today in History: The Boston Tea Party” [https://tenthamendmentcenter.com/2018/12/16/today-in-history-the-boston-tea-party/ ].  In that article, Mr. Benner writes:

Contrary to popular belief, this was not specifically a tax protest – the patriots did object to taxes levied without representation, but 1773 Tea Act had actually lowered the taxes on tea. Instead, the colonists disavowed mercantile practices of the British government, specifically the tea monopoly that was granted to the East India Tea Company through the law. Additionally, they renounced the idea that Parliamentary law was supreme over all of the British Empire and could override the will of the colonial assemblies.

Upon learning of the event, John Adams wrote: “This Destruction of the Tea is so bold, so daring, so firm, so intrepid, and so inflexible, and it must have so important Consequence sand so lasting, that I cannot but consider it as an Ecpocha in History.”

Although it was the most famous event called a “Tea Party,” other states resisted the implementation of the act as well. In South Carolina, patriots dumped tea into the Cooper River. In Annapolis, a ship carrying loads of tea was put to the torch. In New York and Philadelphia, the ships bringing the tea were rejected and turned back to England.

In Edenton, North Carolina, Penelope Barker organized a group of patriot women and signed a document of rebuke against the act and pledged to boycott British goods. They agreed to obstruct the policy “until such time that all acts which tend to enslave our Native country shall be repealed.” Effectively, all states meddled with the enforcement of the law in the same ways they had resisted the Stamp Act, effectively nullifying it.

As I hope most of us remember from our study of early American History, the British responded harshly to the Boston Tea Party. Parliament responded by passing a series of four acts collectively known as the Coercive Acts of 1774. The Acts were meant to punitive, to punish the Massachusetts colonists for their Tea Party protest. Parliament hoped these punitive measures would, by making an example of Massachusetts, reverse the trend of colonial resistance to parliamentary authority that had begun with the 1765 Stamp Act.

The first of the four Acts was The Boston Port Act which closed the port of Boston until the colonists paid for the destroyed tea and the king was satisfied that order had been restored.  This, of course, crippled the colony’s maritime economy. The second of the Acts was The Massachusetts Government Act, which essentially abolished the colonial government. It unilaterally took away Massachusetts’ charter and brought it under control of the British government, and for that reason, it provoked even more outrage than the Port Act. Under the terms of the Government Act, almost all positions in the colonial government were to be appointed by the governor, Parliament, or king. The act also severely limited town meetings in Massachusetts to one per year.  The third act, The Administration of Justice Act, allowed the Royal governor to order trials of accused royal officials to take place in Great Britain or elsewhere within the Empire if he decided that the defendant could not get a fair trial in Massachusetts. And the fourth, the Quartering Act, allowed a governor to house soldiers in certain buildings if suitable quarters were not provided. Unlike the other acts, the Quartering Act applied to all the colonies.

The Intolerable Acts were so harsh that the colonists referred to them as the Intolerable Acts.

Quickly, the Intolerable Acts would set the colonies on a course that would lead to war and ultimately to our independence. Months after the Intolerable Acts were imposed on Massachusetts, the First Continental Congress was called in order to address the conduct by Great Britain towards her colonies. The First Continental Congress met in Philadelphia from September 5 – October 26, 1774. Three achievements came of that historic meeting:  (1) The twelve colonies who sent representatives to the Congress agreed to boycott the import of British goods beginning on December 1, 1774: (2) The representatives called for a second Continental Congress to meet in May of the following year; and (3) The Congress approved a Petition to the King of England (King George III) which it sent before adjourning. That Petition explained to his majesty that if it had not been for the acts of oppression forced upon the colonies by the British Parliament, the American people would be standing behind British rule. It further appealed to the King to interceded on their behalf (in regard to their opposition to and subjugation under the Coercive Acts) and to call for their repeal.

The colonists appealed to the King with these words: “To a Sovereign, who glories in the name of Briton, the bare recital of these Acts must, we presume, justify the loyal subjects, who fly to the foot of his Throne, and implore his clemency for protection against them…..”  [The Petition can be read at:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petition_to_the_King ] King George never gave the Colonies a formal reply to their petition. In fact, it is said he compared the colonists to petulant children who were rebelling rather than protesting. Although the Petition was not meant for Parliament, the King sent it there where it also received little attention and no response.

On April 19, 1775, the first shots of the revolution were fired at Lexington and Concord after a contingent of British redcoats marched from Boston to arrest the tea party planners Samuel Adams and John Hancock and to destroy the munitions stockpiled at Concord. The following month, on May 11, the Second Continental Congress convened in Philadelphia, no longer to tasked with smoothing relations with Britain but now to plan and manage the war that was certainly coming.

On June 14, the Second Continental Congress adopted a resolution to establish the Continental Army, to coordinate the military efforts of the colonies in their revolt against the rule of Great Britain, and five days later, on June 19, George Washington was appointed General of that Army. Still hoping to prevent war, the Second Continental Congress, on July 5, agreed to send a petition to King George asking him to reach an agreement with the Americans. This petition was termed “The Olive Branch Petition.” The following day, the Congress adopted the “Declaration on the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms” to follow the Olive Branch Petition and explain why the American colonies were fighting.

The “Declaration of the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms,” which was written by John Dickinson but relying on language from Thomas Jefferson, would be the final attempt on the part of the colonies to avoid war with Great Britain. Just as the Petition asserted the year before, The Declaration of Causes affirmed American loyalty to Great Britain and beseeched King George III to prevent further conflict. Like the petitions presented to the earlier Kings of England, the one sent by the colonies listed their grievances (again reminding the King of their right to have representation when being taxed and their concerns over the growing tyranny over the colonies), gave their reasons for fighting the British, and stated that the American colonies are “resolved to die free men rather than live as slaves.” When the Petition and Declaration arrived in August and were handed to the King, he refused to read them. Yet, on August 23, he proceeded to formally declare the colonies to be in a state of active rebellion against the Crown (Proclamation of Rebellion) and declared the colonists to be traitors.

It is said that up until this Petition, Benjamin Franklin held great regard and affection for Great Britain and valued his status as a British subject. But when the King chose not to respond to the Petition, nor to even acknowledge the colonists’ legitimate grievances, and when Parliament did the same, he realized that his affections and loyalty to Great Britain were ill-placed and that the relationship between the colonies and the Crown was in a fatal state of disunity, and from that moment on, he was in favor of independence from Great Britain. After he voted in favor of sending the Petition, Franklin penned a letter to a friend there, William Straham. Straham was a British Member of Parliament who had, until that point, been a good friend of his for at least thirty years. In that letter, Franklin vented his anger and frustrations:

“You are a Member of Parliament, and one of that Majority which has doomed my country to destruction. You have begun to burn our towns, and murder our people. Look upon your hands! They are stained with the blood of your relations! You and I were long friends: You are now my enemy, and I am Yours.  —  B. Franklin.”

The Second Continental Congress continued to meet in 1776, with the war in full swing. On July 2, the Congress adopted the Lee Resolution, formally declaring independence from Great Britain (“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.”), and finally, on July 4, the longer Declaration of Independence (listing the many grievances against the King and Parliament) was adopted.

To reject the principles that drove the Sons of Liberty and other colonial protesters to destroy the tea in Boston that cold December evening in 1773, to diminish its impact on our founding. or to fail to understand its influence on our Founders’ intent for government is to help send our country on its way to government supremacy over our lives. It is to accept that government tyranny is acceptable. It is to submit to the easier course of action which is that we can tolerate government violating and limiting our liberty rights.

Ronald Reagan, in that famous speech mentioned above, had this to say:  “You and I are told increasingly we have to choose between a left or right. Well I’d like to suggest there is no such thing as a left or right. There’s only an up or down: [up] man’s old — old-aged dream, the ultimate in individual freedom consistent with law and order, or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism. And regardless of their sincerity, their humanitarian motives, those who would trade our freedom for security have embarked on this downward course.”

 

References:

“The Boston Tea Party Destruction of the Tea” –  https://www.bostonteapartyship.com/the-destruction-of-the-tea

Dave Benner, “Today in History: The Boston Tea Party,” Tenth Amendment Center, December 16, 2018.  Referenced at:  https://tenthamendmentcenter.com/2018/12/16/today-in-history-the-boston-tea-party/

Ronald Reagan, speech of October 27, 1964 (“A Time for Choosing”) – https://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/ronaldreaganatimeforchoosing.htm

David B. Kopel, “How the British Gun Control Program Precipitated the American Revolution,” Charleston Law Review, Vol. 6, No. 2 (Winter 2012).  Referenced at:  http://www.academia.edu/10621580/How_the_British_Gun_Control_Program_Precipitated_the_American_Revolution

David B. Kopel, “The American Revolution Against British Gun Control” Administrative and Regulatory Law News (American Bar Association), Vol. 37, no. 4 (Summer 2012).  Referenced at:  http://www.davekopel.org/2A/LawRev/american-revolution-against-british-gun-control.html

“Benjamin Franklin Joins the Revolution,” The Smithsonian.  Referenced at:  https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/benjamin-franklin-joins-the-revolution-87199988/

Advertisements

What Our Founding Generation Would Have Said About Obamacare

tea-party-you-mean-we-can-tax-them-for-not-buying-tea       by Diane Rufino, February 25, 2017

Although we are on the verge of having President Obama’s signature piece of legislation, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka, “Obamacare”) repealed and replaced, I am writing this piece to remind folks of the loss of freedom we suffered at the hands of President Obama and his administration with the unconstitutional and universal healthcare scheme he misrepresented and then forced on the American people.

The assault on the precious liberties of the American people were realized by only a handful (and certainly not the liberal members of the Supreme Court) and to half of these, it didn’t matter. When I talk about those who could care less, I am referring to the Republican members of Congress, who for years seemed unable to craft legislation or summon a vote.

Certainly, the caliber of an “American” has changed. We should all shutter for the future of our republic and for the security of the liberties our forefathers fought a revolution for. The debacle known as Obamacare has shown that they are never secure in the face of a hostile president who uses a “phone and a pen” and secret meetings to pressure legislation that that are violative of them.

Yes, it would be wonderful for everyone to have healthcare insurance to help them with their healthcare costs. It would be great if insurance didn’t make it cost prohibitive for those with pre-existing conditions. It would be great if times were like they were many years ago when everyone went to school, took their education seriously, got a job, and took care of themselves and their families. But jobs are scarce and people willing to invest in themselves and look for a job are even scarcer. It would be great if people took stock of their health and avoided tobacco, drugs, and fattening foods so that they are not obese and prone to diabetes and heart disease and therefore put an enormous strain on our healthcare system, but they don’t.

Yes, there are poor people out there. Some are poor because of a legitimate situation but most are poor because of a mindset and lifestyle choice. Some complain about being poor but don’t want a job; they merely want to be made more comfortable in poverty, which the Democratic Party is all-too-happy to do. Dependents make the most loyal voters. Why would anyone want to set an alarm to get up early every morning, worry about shuffling their kids to daycare, deal with traffic on the roads, put up with bullshit at work, put up with a horrible boss, have to show up even when they don’t feel well, strive to earn a decent performance evaluation just to hopefully be able to take home the same amount of money the following year, stress out about whether he or she has job security, balance work with other parenting obligations (such as when children get sick), and deal with limited days off when they could stay home, sleep late, get a welfare check from the government, have their apartments paid for, heating and air-conditioning paid for, food paid for, daycare covered (even though they aren’t working), a free cell phone, and free healthcare. Why do they need to work? Why would they even want to work?

American used to produce things. Americans used to be productive citizens. They were ambitious, resourceful, proud. Our government programs are creating the human waste and decay that is beginning to define America and destroy our cities, our schools, and our ability to live contently amongst each other. How can one group of Americans, who work hard, raise their families responsibly, pay their taxes and then find out that those exceedingly high taxes are going to pay for others and their families, have any respect for the latter? They don’t. They don’t look at them as equals.

But there is a constitutional way to solve problems and there is an unconstitutional way to solve them. And that’s why it is so important to vet presidential candidates for their constitutional character and not make choices based on skin color or social justice.

And so, a lesson taught so well that it inspired a revolution has been lost on today’s generation of Americans. And that lesson was to never yield individual liberties to the designs of government, even if those designs are well-intentioned. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis once wrote: “Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government’s purposes are beneficient… The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding.”

The lesson of the Boston Tea Party, an act of civil disobedience and protest that inspired today’s Sons of Liberty movement (the Tea Party), is an important and timeless lesson.

On the night of December 16,1773, members of the Sons of Liberty dressed as Indians, boarded three ships in the Boston harbor, and tossed 342 chests of tea overboard. They did this to protest the Tea Act. The Tea Act was actually not so bad in its provisions – it provided a high-quality tea, at lower costs than the colonists had been used to, and at a lower tax than what they had been previously used to. So why were the colonists so upset?

The Tea Act of 1773 was a follow-up to the Revenue Act, which was one of the laws in the hugely unpopular Townshend Acts. The Townshend Acts set new import duties (taxes) on British goods including paint, paper, lead, glass and tea. Due to protests from British merchants, whose trade was seriously effected by the American colonists refusing to buy the goods, Parliament ultimately repealed all of the duties (taxes) – except the tax on tea.

The principal objective of the Tea Act was to reduce the massive amount of tea held by the financially-troubled British East India Company in its London warehouses and to help the struggling company survive and to do so, it created a monopoly on the sale of tea to the colonies to the East India Company. It allowed the East India company to sell its large tea surplus below the prices charged by colonial competitors and thus under-cut and threatened local tea merchants. It was able to sell its tea at lower prices because the Act granted the Company the right to ship its tea directly to North America from its China warehouses (without first stopping at Britain to pay export duties). However, as mentioned earlier, the tea imposed on the colonies was still subject to the tea tax under the Revenue Act.

Specifically, the Tea Act provided:

1. Tea could be shipped in East India Company ships directly from China to the American colonies, thus avoiding the tax on goods first due England, as required by previous legislation.

2. A duty (tax) of 3 pence per pound was to be collected on tea delivered to America. [The previous duty (tax) was 12 pence (1 shilling) per pound, which was paid on tax which had been sent from Britain, so colonists would be paying LESS in tea tax with this Act. Also, interestingly, they would be getting their tea cheaper than the people of Britain !!].

3. The tea would be marketed and forced on colonists by special consignees (receivers of shipments) who would be selected by the East India Tea Company.

The new import tax of 3 pence was considerably less than the previous tea tax on the colonists, in which 12 pence (1 shilling) per pound on tea sent via Britain, so colonists would be paying LESS in tea tax with the Tea Act of 1773. Also, interestingly, they would be getting their tea cheaper than the people of Britain !! Even King George III was reported to comment that “the colonists will finally be happy!” and will stop protesting.

The Act also encouraged British agents to seek out local merchants of tea who were smuggling in tea (in violation of the new law) and shut down their operations. In effect, they were making sure the monopoly on tea was complete and that colonists were buying only the tea that the British Parliament were forcing on them.

While the average contemporary American might look at the bottom dollar and assess the law based on their pocketbook and conclude that the Tea Act was good and fair, our founding generation looked at the insidious violations to their fundamental liberties embedded in this seemingly harmless law.

First of all, the Tea Act forced the colonists to purchase Company tea on which the Townshend duties were paid, thus implicitly asserting Parliament’s right of taxation. Even though the costs and the taxes were lowered, they would not back down on their demand that there be “No Taxation Without Representation!” This basic English right was secured in the Magna Carta of 1215 and re-asserted over and over again up until the English Bill of Rights of 1689, which essentially transferred government power from the King to the peoples’ house – Parliament. And second, the Tea Act compelled the colonists to buy a product identified by a legislative body far away. It took away their right to enjoy competition and to pursue livelihoods.

If men like Sam Adams, John Hancock, James Otis Jr., Paul Revere were alive today, they would have called out Obamacare for violations similar to those in the Tea Act. They wouldn’t be complaining about the increased premiums or the frustration in signing up for healthcare… they would be sounding the alarm to government compulsion and unconstitutional taxation.

Let’s hope that when Obamacare is repealed it will be replaced by a scheme that divests the federal government of compulsion power over the American people and returns power to the free market system. And let’s help educate our lesser-informed members of society that those who are all too happy to receive hand-outs from the government are the most insidious threats to the very liberty upon which our country was founded. “A man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for, nothing which he cares about more than he does about his personal safety,” wrote John Stuart Mill, “is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.”

Where are Today’s Sons of Liberty?

Sons of Liberty    by Diane Rufino

We talk a lot today about how the Constitution no longer means what it used to and it no longer protects individual freedom and liberty as it used to. We say this because a government of limited and defined powers has steadily and without apology become a government of broad and undefined powers.  When a state should happen to assert its sovereignty and challenge the usurpation of power, the federal government issues a letter threatening to take them to court. The government knows that what the Constitution won’t allow it to do, the courts will.

But the situation is far more serious than what we thought.  Yes, our Constitution is and has been under attack. And yes, the relationship between the individual and the government has been fundamentally altered. But the document that perhaps may be even more significant to us as Americans, the Declaration of Independence, is also under attack. The attack, if we want to be intellectually honest, started with the man the government touts as the greatest American president Abraham Lincoln.

Just as the Constitution was fundamentally transformed as the American people slept and as they became virtual strangers to their own history and heritage, the Declaration has been eroded because of the same reason.

John Adams once said: “A constitution of government once changed from freedom, can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever.”  The American people don’t know how close they are to losing the very gifts they have taken for granted for so long.  We here today will enjoy the last remnants of freedom, but through our actions, our neglect, our spite, and our ignorance we may condemn our children and grandchildren to repurchase it, perhaps with their lives. It may be too late.

What shame we should feel that the people we love most in this world – our children – will not be able to exercise liberty as fully and enjoy property as unconditionally as we did when we were young. The most important property of all – that which stems from our minds, our hearts, and our ambitions – has come increasingly under the control of the federal government, to be regulated for others rather than protected for the individual.

Our greatest shame should be in the reality that posterity will have to buy back a gift we were supposed to preserve for them.

The problem today is that we’ve too long forgotten what makes us uniquely American. It’s not the heritage we bring with us to add to this melting pot we call the United States.  No, it’s the very thing that Martin Luther King referred to in his “I Have a Dream” speech – the promissory note that all Americans are entitled to. “When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” as well as the guarantee that government would be protect those rights. That promissory note attaches to us at our birth and attaches to everyone who comes to America’s shores looking for freedom and the American Dream. In the United States, individual liberty is the product of natural law and God’s law and not a token gift from a benevolent government. In the United States, government doesn’t grant rights; it protects them. Our laws apply in times of good and bad; they apply to good people and bad people. The Bill of Rights has no exemptions for “really bad people” or even non-citizens. The Bill of Rights, as prefaced in its preamble as “further declaratory and restrictive clauses” on the power delegated to the government in the Constitution – is an important check on government power against any person. That is not a weakness in our legal system; it is the very strength of our legal system. And at the core of what defines America is that grand moral proclamation so eloquently articulated in the Declaration of Independence.

For too many years, Americans have remained silent as precious liberty interests have been taken away from them. It’s been a slow, progressive erosion indeed.  We today are guilty too, if not more than any other generation. We don’t understand that our freedom and liberty is only as secure as the foundation that supports and protects it. And every bit of that foundation is being eroded or has been eroded, including the notion of individual sovereignty (as I’ve pointed out in my previous article – “What It Means to be Sovereign” –  http://forloveofgodandcountry.com/2013/07/30/what-it-means-to-be-sovereign/).

We no longer jealously guard what our Founding Fathers sought to accomplish when they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor for and what our forefathers fought and died for. The spirit of the American Revolution is dead. Patrick Henry warned that we should never lose that spirit. Yet, when the Constitution was written and then presented to the Virginia ratifying convention in 1788 – only one year after it was written in Philadelphia – Henry took the floor and listed a series of issues he found with the document, all “tending to re-establish a monarchy” and subjecting citizens to the type of government that they had just dissolved their bonds of allegiance with. He accused the Virginians of already losing the spirit of the Revolution and being too willing to surrender their freedoms. He warned them to guard “that precious jewel,” which is liberty.

Before the Revolution, as we all know, the British Parliament imposed the Stamp Act – a tax on documents. The colonists did everything in their power, mostly through the Sons of Liberty, to frustrate its enforcement. They protested, hung British officials in effigy, organized angry mobs, threw rocks at the homes of officials tasked with collecting the tax, and otherwise intimidated such officials so that most resigned. In short, the Stamp Act could not be enforced. The colonists stood up for their rights (the right NOT to have a government in some far off land legislate for them and tax them without their representation).  As Benjamin Franklin (who was acting as the ambassador to England from Massachusetts at the time) tried to explain to Parliament: “The Stamp Act says we shall have no commerce, make no exchange of property with each other, neither purchase nor grant, nor recover debts; we shall neither marry nor make our wills, unless we pay such and such sums; and thus it is intended to extort our money from us or ruin us by the consequence of refusing to pay it…. They (the colonists) think it extremely hard and unjust that a body of men in which they have no representatives should make a merit to itself of giving and granting what is not its own but theirs, and deprive them of a right they esteem of the utmost value and importance, as it is the security of all their other rights.” A member of Parliament then asked Franklin if the colonists know their rights, and Franklin responded that they know them very well indeed. Franklin went on to warn Parliament that if the Stamp Act was not repealed, the colonies would likely revolt.

Next came the tax on tea. The King and Parliament were mindful of the rising passions of the colonists and their “revolutionary spirit.” In order to impose a tax yet not burden the colonists, Parliament secured a great surplus of tea from the East India Company. Because it was a surplus, it would be sold to the colonies at a lower price. On top of that, there would be a tax imposed of 3 pence per pound. It was no doubt, a minute tax on the tea. With the reduced price plus the tax, colonists would still be paying less for tea than they had paid before. There was no burden. Yet, we know what happened. We know that about 100 members of the Sons of Liberty dressed up as Mohawk Indians and dumped 342 chests of tea into the Boston Harbor to protest that minute tax. They protested, not because the tax imposed a hardship, but because they were smart enough and liberty-minded enough to recognize the violation of their rights which was at the core of that tax. They would not submit.

Today, we stand idly by even while the government destroys chunks of our liberties. When the 2011-2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) was passed, the Obama administration added a new clause (to the original Authorization of Military Force, AUMF, which Bush requested to hunt down and prosecute the perpetrators of 9/11). Instead of targeting the perpetrators of 9/11, the federal government added a clause to target US citizens, on American soil, who are engaged in hostilities against the United States (undefined terms, of course). Once targeted, they are stripped of their Bill of Rights and can be interrogated, tortured, and held indefinitely without a formal charge or without a trial. The Supreme Court created a special term for these Americans (reviving a term used by FDR in WWII) – “enemy combatants.” The US Constitution already addresses these types of people – they are called “traitors” – and appropriate action is clearly spelled out, so as not to punish without recognizing inherent human rights. But our government needed a way to by-pass constitutional rights and so, we have the NDAA and the ability of the Executive Department to unilaterally attach the label of “enemy-combatant” to an American citizen. But what did the American people do when their rights were taken away? Most said: “Well, the government needs to do what it needs to do to keep us safe.” And where was the outrage when the Supreme Court found that Obamacare was constitutional and the federal government can use the taxing power to compel human behavior in ways that in and of itself are unconstitutional (federal government has NO right to get involved in healthcare; it’s not an enumerated function). Again, too many people were just happy to know the government will be ensuring that they have healthcare coverage than to appreciate the enormity of the violation of fundamental rights that underlies that decision. The debate over whether the government needs to restrain gun rights in order to stem violence in our schools is another issue. Sustainable development policies are another. The “Wall of Separation” and growing hostility of government against religion is another….

The list goes on and on. We just sit back. We don’t protest, we don’t do all we can to frustrate the enforcement of unconstitutional federal laws or policies or even court decisions….  We’ve lost the Revolutionary spirit. We’ve lost the spirit in our hearts and minds that compels us to stand up for our precious liberties.

And the sad thing, we’ve already lost so much.

So the question is this: Why don’t we care?  Why aren’t we doing more?  And where are today’s Sons of Liberty?