Thursday :: Sep 23, 2004

We, The Primary And Supreme Branch Of The Government ...

by pessimist

The Constitution, the supreme law of the United States, begins with these words:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
- Preamble to the Constitution of the United States of America.

When we have our civics or government classes in school, we're only told that there are three branches of government: The executive, the legislative, and the judicial.

This, folks, is a lie. An incredible and fantastic fabrication which has been fomented and distributed in order to weaken our defenses and to facilitate the very situation of internal subversion we as a nation face today.

Read the words again:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Every one of the branches of government that we are taught about in school is established and defined by the Constitution. The Constitution is itself a creation of the people of the United States: We the People of the United States, ... do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

This makes the people of this nation the ultimate governing authority in these United States. Not the fascist-Republican-dominated Congress. Not Nino Scalia's Stupor-eme Court jesters. Not George Warmonger Bu$h.

We. The People. We are the ultimate authority.

You don't have to believe me on this one - I have powerful friends to speak on behalf of my proposition:

Here sir, the people govern.
- Alexander Hamilton, speech to the New York Ratifying Convention, June 17, 1788

[The people] are in truth the only legitimate proprietors of the soil and government.
- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Pierre Samuel Dupont de Nemours, 1813

A free people [claim] their rights as derived from the laws of nature, and not as the gift of their chief magistrate.
- Thomas Jefferson, Rights of British America, 1774

The fabric of American empire ought to rest on the solid basis of THE CONSENT OF THE PEOPLE. The streams of national power ... flow from that pure, original fountain of all legitimate authority.
- Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 22, December 14, 1787

We the People did create a government to exercise some power in the interests of the common good. This was not done lightly, but with a great deal of debate and deliberation in order to minimize the risks inherent in such a move, however necessary:

Why has government been instituted at all? Because the passions of men will not conform to the dictates of reason and justice without constraint.
- Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 15

Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.
- Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776

Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves, therefore, are its only safe depositories.
- Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, Query 14, 1781

Governments are an act of human beings. Thus, it takes human beings to act in the name of the people as governmental officials. My friends have some words on this subject as well:

A government ought to contain in itself every power requisite to the full accomplishment of the objects committed to its care, and to the complete execution of the trusts for which it is responsible, free from every other control but a regard to the public good and to the sense of the people.
- Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 31, January 1, 1788

Nothing is more essential to the establishment of manners in a State than that all persons employed in places of power and trust must be men of unexceptionable characters.
- Samuel Adams, letter to James Warren, November 4, 1775

In selecting men for office, let principle be your guide. Regard not the particular sect or denomination of the candidate look to his character....
- Noah Webster, Letters to a Young Gentleman Commencing His Education, 1789

A good government implies two things; first, fidelity to the objects of the government; secondly, a knowledge of the means, by which those objects can be best attained.
- Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833

The aim of every political constitution is, or ought to be, first to obtain for rulers men who possess most wisdom to discern, and most virtue to pursue, the common good of the society; and in the next place, to take the most effectual precautions for keeping them virtuous whilst they continue to hold their public trust.
- Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 57, February 19, 1788

Nothing so strongly impels a man to regard the interest of his constituents, as the certainty of returning to the general mass of the people, from whence he was taken, where he must participate in their burdens.
- George Mason, speech in the Virginia Ratifying Convention, June 14, 1778

They are of the People, and return again to mix with the People, having no more durable preeminence than the different Grains of Sand in an Hourglass. Such an Assembly cannot easily become dangerous to Liberty. They are the Servants of the People, sent together to do the People's Business, and promote the public Welfare; their Powers must be sufficient, or their Duties cannot be performed. They have no profitable Appointments, but a mere Payment of daily Wages, such as are scarcely equivalent to their Expences; so that, having no Chance for great Places, and enormous Salaries or Pensions, as in some Countries, there is no [in]triguing or bribing for Elections.
- Benjamin Franklin, letter to George Whatley, May 23, 1785

I am not influenced by the expectation of promotion or pecuniary reward. I wish to be useful, and every kind of service necessary for the public good, become honorable by being necessary.
- Nathan Hale, remark to Captain William Hull, who had attempted to dissuade him from volunteering for a spy mission for General Washington, September, 1776

It behooves you, therefore, to think and act for yourself and your people. The great principles of right and wrong are legible to every reader; to pursue them requires not the aid of many counselors. The whole art of government consists in the art of being honest. Only aim to do your duty, and mankind will give you credit where you fail.
- Thomas Jefferson, A Summary View of the Rights of British America, 1775

Most of us would agree that the Founding Fathers were learned and wise, and would understand that, in creating a government and giving it power, there were great risks involved. They calculated these risks, and proceeded to bestow these powers - but not without attempting to warn us of these risks:

All men having power ought to be distrusted to a certain degree.
- James Madison, speech at the Constitutional Convention, July 11, 1787

Sometimes it is said that man can not be trusted with government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others? Or have we found angels in the forms of kings to govern him? Let history answer this question.
- Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1801

In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place, oblige it to control itself.
- James Madison, Federalist No. 51, February 8, 1788

The spirit of encroachment tends to consolidate the powers of all the departments in one, and thus to create whatever the form of government, a real despotism. A just estimate of that love of power, and proneness to abuse it, which predominates in the human heart is sufficient to satisfy us of the truth of this position.
- George Washington, Farewell Address, September 19, 1796

We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.
- John Adams, Address to the Military, October 11, 1798

The principle of the Constitution is that of a separation of legislative, Executive and Judiciary functions, except in cases specified. If this principle be not expressed in direct terms, it is clearly the spirit of the Constitution, and it ought to be so commented and acted on by every friend of free government.
- Thomas Jefferson, January, 1797

The dignity and stability of government in all its branches, the morals of the people, and every blessing of society depend so much upon an upright and skillful administration of justice, that the judicial power ought to be distinct from both the legislative and executive, and independent upon both, that so it may be a check upon both, and both should be checks upon that.
- John Adams, Thoughts on Government, 1776

The truth is, that, even with the most secure tenure of office, during good behavior, the danger is not, that the judges will be too firm in resisting public opinion, and in defence of private rights or public liberties; but, that they will be ready to yield themselves to the passions, and politics, and prejudices of the day.
- Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833

[L]iberty can have nothing to fear from the judiciary alone, but would have everything to fear from its union with either of the other departments.
- Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 78, 1788

Without justice being freely, fully, and impartially administered, neither our persons, nor our rights, nor our property, can be protected. And if these, or either of them, are regulated by no certain laws, and are subject to no certain principles, and are held by no certain tenure, and are redressed, when violated, by no certain remedies, society fails of all its value; and men may as well return to a state of savage and barbarous independence.
- Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
- Tenth Amendment to the Constitution, Bill of Rights, December 15, 1791

The Founding Fathers were among the most learned and educated men of their time. They understood the role their education played in the formation of this nation, and knew that to keep this nation and its liberty free from tyranny, the public would have to be educated - and informed. They thus were outspoken advocates both of readily-available public education and a free press:

Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe.
- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Charles Yancey, January 6, 1816

If Virtue & Knowledge are diffused among the People, they will never be enslav'd. This will be their great Security.
- Samuel Adams, letter to James Warren, February 12, 1779

It is an object of vast magnitude that systems of education should be adopted and pursued which may not only diffuse a knowledge of the sciences but may implant in the minds of the American youth the principles of virtue and of liberty and inspire them with just and liberal ideas of government and with an inviolable attachment to their own country.
- Noah Webster, On the Education of Youth in America

Law and liberty cannot rationally become the objects of our love, unless they first become the objects of our knowledge.
- James Wilson, Of the Study of the Law in the United States, Circa 1790

The right of freely examining public characters and measures, and of free communication among the people thereon ... has ever been justly deemed the only effectual guardian of every other right.
- James Madison, Virginia Resolutions, December 21, 1798

The public cannot be too curious concerning the characters of public men.
- Samuel Adams, letter to James Warren, November 4, 1775

In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened.
- George Washington, Farewell Address, September 19, 1796

Children should be educated and instructed in the principles of freedom.
John Adams, Defense of the Constitutions, 1787

Every child in America should be acquainted with his own country. He should read books that furnish him with ideas that will be useful to him in life and practice. As soon as he opens his lips, he should rehearse the history of his own country.
- Noah Webster, On the Education of Youth in America, 1788

Knowledge is, in every country, the surest basis of public happiness.
- George Washington, First Annual Message, January 8, 1790

Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people, who have a right ... and a desire to know ... they have a right, an indisputable, unalienable, indefeasible, divine right to that most dreaded and envied kind of knowledge; ... [that] of the characters and conduct of their rulers.
- John Adams, Dissertation on Canon and Feudal Law, 1765

In order to effect this protection of liberty and freedom and ensure the oversight of the ultimate authority, We the People, the Founding Fathers believed in the necessity of a free press, and attempted to pass along to us their reasons:

No government ought to be without censors & where the press is free, no one ever will.
- Thomas Jefferson, September 9, 1792

Public opinion sets bounds to every government, and is the real sovereign in every free one.
- James Madison, Public Opinion, December 19, 1791

Enlighten the people, generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like spirits at the dawn of day.
- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Dupont de Nemours, April 24, 1816

Without Freedom of Thought there can be no such Thing as Wisdom; and no such Thing as Public Liberty, without Freedom of Speech.
- Benjamin Franklin, writing as Silence Dogood, No. 8, July 9, 1722

History by apprising [citizens] of the past will enable them to judge of the future; it will avail them of the experience of other times and other nations; it will qualify them as judges of the actions and designs of men; it will enable them to know ambition under every disguise it may assume; and knowing it, to defeat its views.
- Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, Query 14, 1781

A nation, under a well regulated government, should permit none to remain uninstructed. It is monarchical and aristocratical government only that requires ignorance for its support.
- Thomas Paine, Rights of Man, 1792

No one more sincerely wishes the spread of information among mankind than I do, and none has greater confidence in its effect towards supporting free and good government.
- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Trustees for the Lottery of East Tennessee College, May 6, 1810

To give to every citizen the information he needs for the transaction of his own business; To enable him to calculate for himself, and to express and preserve his ideas, his contracts and accounts, in writing; To improve, by reading, his morals and faculties; To understand his duties to his neighbors and country, and to discharge with competence the functions confided to him by either; To know his rights; to exercise with order and justice those he retains; to choose with discretion the fiduciary of those he delegates; and to notice their conduct with diligence, with candor, and judgment; And, in general, to observe with intelligence and faithfulness all the social relations under which he shall be placed.
- Thomas Jefferson, Report of the Commissioners for the University of Virginia, August 4, 1818

Sometimes, even a Founding Father had troubles with that free press!

During the course of administration, and in order to disturb it, the artillery of the press has been leveled against us, charged with whatsoever its licentiousness could devise or dare. These abuses of an institution so important to freedom and science are deeply to be regretted, inasmuch as they tend to lessen its usefulness and to sap its safety.
- Thomas Jefferson, Second Inaugural Address, December 9, 1805

If by the liberty of the press were understood merely the liberty of discussing the propriety of public measures and political opinions, let us have as much of it as you please: But if it means the liberty of affronting, calumniating and defaming one another, I, for my part, own myself willing to part with my share of it, whenever our legislators shall please so to alter the law and shall chearfully consent to exchange my liberty of abusing others for the privilege of not being abused myself.
- Benjamin Franklin, An Account of the Supremest Court of Judicature in Pennsylvania, viz. The Court of the Press, September 12, 1789

We are, heart and soul, friends to the freedom of the press. It is however, the prostituted companion of liberty, and somehow or other, we know not how, its efficient auxiliary. It follows the substance like its shade; but while a man walks erect, he may observe that his shadow is almost always in the dirt. It corrupts, it deceives, it inflames. It strips virtue of her honors, and lends to faction its wildfire and its poisoned arms, and in the end is its own enemy and the usurper's ally, It would be easy to enlarge on its evils. They are in England, they are here, they are everywhere. It is a precious pest, and a necessary mischief, and there would be no liberty without it.
- Fisher Ames, Review of the Pamphlet on the State of the British Constitution, 1807

To the press alone, checkered as it is with abuses, the world is indebted for all the triumphs which have been gained by reason and humanity over error and oppression.
- James Madison, Report on the Virginia Resolutions, 1798

The maintenance of freedom and liberty, balanced by the need to surrender some power - through the informed consent of the governed - to a government for that body to perform its assigned tasks, requires constant vigilance - and the attention of the public.

Today, however, due to the domination of mass media by a handful of corporate interests, news is easily suppressed. We bloggers on the Internet have take over some of the role of informing the public about the excesses and abuses of our public servants, those we have entrusted the duties of exercising that power granted to them in order that they serve the greater good of the nation - a nation which is not in fact named Halliburton or Enron. We are attempting, in our way to inform those who have a responsibility to protect their own liberties and freedoms by removing those from office who would abuse the trust we place in them. Profligate spending of public monies, cronyism, waging unjust wars, treason - and maybe worse crimes yet - certainly qualify as good reasons for removal from office.

The Founding Fathers understood that human nature contains flaws that could destroy the creation of their labors:

If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.
- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Colonel Charles Yancey, January 6, 1816

Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigues of supporting it.
- Thomas Paine, The American Crisis, No. 4, September 11, 1777

It is certainly true that a popular government cannot flourish without virtue in the people.
- Richard Henry Lee, letter to Colonel Martin Pickett, March 5, 1786

Cherish, therefore, the spirit of our people, and keep alive their attention. Do not be too severe upon their errors, but reclaim them by enlightening them. If once they become inattentive to the public affairs, you and I, and Congress, and Assemblies, Judges, and Governors, shall all become wolves.
- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Edward Carrington, January 16, 1787

Republics are created by the virtue, public spirit, and intelligence of the citizens. They fall, when the wise are banished from the public councils, because they dare to be honest, and the profligate are rewarded, because they flatter the people, in order to betray them.
- Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833

In the midst of these pleasing ideas we should be unfaithful to ourselves if we should ever lose sight of the danger to our liberties if anything partial or extraneous should infect the purity of our free, fair, virtuous, and independent elections.
- John Adams, Inaugural Address, March 4, 1797

Let each citizen remember at the moment he is offering his vote that he is not making a present or a compliment to please an individual or at least that he ought not so to do; but that he is executing one of the most solemn trusts in human society for which he is accountable to God and his country.
- Samuel Adams, in the Boston Gazette, April 16, 1781

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?
- Patrick Henry, speech in the Virginia Convention, March 23, 1775

No people will tamely surrender their Liberties, nor can any be easily subdued, when knowledge is diffused and Virtue is preserved. On the Contrary, when People are universally ignorant, and debauched in their Manners, they will sink under their own weight without the Aid of foreign Invaders.
- Samuel Adams, letter to James Warren, November 4, 1775

Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect every one who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are inevitably ruined.
- Patrick Henry, speech in the Virginia Ratifying Convention, June 5, 1778

Nothing is more certain than that a general profligacy and corruption of manners make a people ripe for destruction. A good form of government may hold the rotten materials together for some time, but beyond a certain pitch, even the best constitution will be ineffectual, and slavery must ensue.
- John Witherspoon, The Dominion of Providence Over the Passions of Men, 1776

[N]either the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt.
- Samuel Adams, essay in The Public Advertiser, Circa 1749

The known propensity of a democracy is to licentiousness which the ambitious call, and ignorant believe to be, liberty.
- Fisher Ames, speech in the Massachusetts Ratifying Convention, January 15, 1788

There is not a single instance in history in which civil liberty was lost, and religious liberty preserved entire. If therefore we yield up our temporal property, we at the same time deliver the conscience into bondage.
- John Witherspoon, The Dominion of Providence Over the Passions of Men, 1776

Today, too many of us have forgotten these lessons from the men who created our country, with its principles of freedom and liberty, and bequeathed it to us as our heritage:

What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value.
- Thomas Paine, The American Crisis, No. 1, December 19, 1776

Now, we are faced with a growing danger of the loss of this heritage, for there are many things we've abandoned to those who would do us and our nation great harm. We have abandoned our responsibility to maintain our freedoms and liberties, choosing instead to believe that lie we were taught in our civics and government classes - that we are subjects and servants of a government that is in fact our subject and servant. We have also passively surrendered our access to accurate and unbiased information. Our goal as bloggers should be to take that role on and see that it gets distributed as widely as possible. The need is great, and time is short:

Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprize, every expanded prospect.
- James Madison, letter to William Bradford, April 1, 1774

Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclination, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.
- John Adams, in Defense of the British Soldiers on trial for the Boston Massacre, December 4, 1770

Among the numerous advantages promised by a well-constructed Union, none deserves to be more accurately developed than its tendency to break and control the violence of faction.
- James Madison, Federalist No. 10, November 23, 1787

I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power.
- Thomas Jefferson, letter to William Charles Jarvis, September 28, 1820

Today the press is still legally free; but most of the little papers have disappeared. The cost of [publishing] news is too high for the Little Man. In the totalitarian East there [was] political censorship, and the media of mass communication [were] controlled by the state. In the democratic West there is economic censorship and the media of mass communication are controlled by members of the Power Elite. Censorship by rising costs and the concentration of communication power in the hands of a few big concerns is less objectionable than State ownership and government propaganda; but certainly it is not something of which a Jeffersonian democrat could possibly approve. - Aldous Huxley, 1958

All the States but our own are sensible that knowledge is power.
- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Joseph C. Cabell, January 22, 1820

Only the vigilant can maintain their liberties, and only those who are constantly and intelligently on the spot can hope to govern themselves effectively by democratic procedures. A society, most of whose members spend a great part of their time, not on the spot, not here and now and in the calculable future, but somewhere else, in the irrelevant other worlds of sport and soap opera, of mythology and metaphysical fantasy, will find it hard to resist the enroachments of those who would manipulate and control it. - Aldous Huxley, 1958

But a Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever.
- John Adams, letter to Abigail Adams, July 17, 1775

There is, of course, no reason why the new totalitarianisms should resemble the old. Government by clubs and firing squads, by artificial famine, mass imprisonment and mass deportation, is not merely inhumane (nobody cares much about that nowadays); it is demonstrably inefficient and, in an age of advanced technology, inefficiency is the [greatest] sin ... - Aldous Huxley, in his 1946 revised forward to Brave New World

Fear is the foundation of most governments; but it is so sordid and brutal a passion, and renders men in whose breasts it predominates so stupid and miserable, that Americans will not be likely to approve of any political institution which is founded on it.
- John Adams, Thoughts on Government, 1776

A really efficient totalitarian state would be one in which the all-powerful executive of political bosses and their army of managers control a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced, because they love their servitude. To make them love it is the task assigned, in present-day totalitarian states, to ministries of propaganda, newspaper editors, and school teachers. ...[such propagandists] accomplish their greatest triumphs, not by doing something, but by refraining from doing. Great is truth, but still greater, from a practical point of view, is silence about truth. By simply not mentioning certain subjects... totalitarian propagandists have influenced opinion much more effectively than they could have done by the most eloquent denunciations, the most compelling of logical rebuttals. - Aldous Huxley, in his 1946 revised forward to Brave New World

If, then, the control of the people over the organs of their government be the measure of its republicanism, and I confess I know no other measure, it must be agreed that our governments have much less of republicanism than ought to have been expected; in other words, that the people have less regular control over their agents, than their rights and their interests require.
- Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Taylor, May 28, 1816

In regard to propaganda, the early advocates of universal literacy and a free press envisaged only two possibilities: the propaganda might be true, or it might be false. They did not foresee what in fact has happened, above all in our Western capitalist democracies - the development of a vast mass communications industry, concerned in the main neither with the true nor the false, but with the unreal, the more or less totally irrelevant. In a word, they failed to take into account man's almost infinite appetite for distractions. - Aldous Huxley, 1958

It is the manners and spirit of a people which preserve a republic in vigor. A degeneracy in these is a canker which soon eats to the heart of its laws and constitution.
- Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia Query 19, 1781

A general dissolution of principles and manners will more surely overthrow the liberties of America than the whole force of the common enemy. While the people are virtuous they cannot be subdued; but when once they lose their virtue then will be ready to surrender their liberties to the first external or internal invader.
- Samuel Adams, letter to James Warren, February 12, 1779

For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it might cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it.
- Patrick Henry, speech in the Virginia Convention, March 23, 1775

In their propaganda today's dictators rely for the most part on repetition, suppression and rationalization -- the repetition of catchwords which they wish to be accepted as true, the suppression of facts which they wish to be ignored, the arousal and rationalization of passions which may be used in the interests of the Party or the State. As the art and science of manipulation come to be better understood, the dictators of the future will doubtless learn to combine these techniques with the non-stop distractions which, in the West, are now threatening to drown in a sea of irrelevance the rational propaganda essential to the maintenance of individual liberty and the survival of democratic institutions. - Aldous Huxley, 1958

We seem to have reached that point - something the Founding Fathers foresaw in general terms:

[W]hen all government, domestic and foreign, in little as in great things, shall be drawn to Washington as the center of all power, it will render powerless the checks provided of one government on another.
- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Charles Hammond, August 18, 1821

In observations on this subject, we hear the legislature mentioned as the people's representatives. The distinction, intimated by concealed implication, through probably, not avowed upon reflection, is, that the executive and judicial powers are not connected with the people by a relation so strong or near or dear. But is high time that we should chastise our prejudices; and that we should look upon the different parts of government with a just and impartial eye.
- James Wilson, Lectures on Law, 1791

The first and governing maxim in the interpretation of a statute is to discover the meaning of those who made it.
- James Wilson, Of the Study of Law in the United States, Circa 1790

Finally, there seem to be but three Ways for a Nation to acquire Wealth. The first is by War as the Romans did in plundering their conquered Neighbours. This is Robbery. The second by Commerce which is generally Cheating. The third by Agriculture the only honest Way; wherein Man receives a real Increase of the Seed thrown into the Ground, in a kind of continual Miracle wrought by the Hand of God in his favour, as a Reward for his innocent Life, and virtuous Industry.
- Benjamin Franklin, Positions to be Examined, April 4, 1769

The Fork In The Road

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.

Have we reached the point where these words might once again ring out? It is too soon to say. But should events arise which compel their recitation, there are a few other words which should be included:

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, speech in the Virginia Convention, March 23, 1775

I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.
- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Benjamin Rush, September 23, 1800

If the federal government should overpass the just bounds of its authority and make a tyrannical use of its powers, the people, whose creature it is, must appeal to the standard they have formed, and take such measures to redress the injury done to the Constitution as the exigency may suggest and prudence justify.
- Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 33, January 3, 1788

Is the relinquishment of the trial by jury and the liberty of the press necessary for your liberty? Will the abandonment of your most sacred rights tend to the security of your liberty?
- Patrick Henry, speech in the Virginia Convention, June 5, 1788

The ultimate arbiter is the people of the Union.
- Thomas Jefferson, letter to William Johnson, 1823

We are either a United people, or we are not. If the former, let us, in all maters of general concern act as a nation, which have national objects to promote, and a national character to support. If we are not, let us no longer act a farce by pretending to it.
- George Washington, letter to James Madison, November 30, 1785

O sir, we should have fine times, indeed, if, to punish tyrants, it were only sufficient to assemble the people! Your arms, wherewith you could defend yourselves, are gone; and you have no longer an aristocratical, no longer a democratical spirit. Did you ever read of any revolution in a nation, brought about by the punishment of those in power, inflicted by those who had no power at all?
- Patrick Henry, speech in the Virginia Ratifying Convention, June 5, 1778

In planning, forming, and arranging [action], deliberation is always becoming, and always useful.
- James Wilson, Lectures on Law, 1791

The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave.
- Patrick Henry, speech in the Virginia Convention, March 23, 1775

[T]he people are not to be disarmed of their weapons. They are left in full possession of them.
- Zacharia Johnson, speech in the Virginia Ratifying Convention, June 25, 1778

Who are the militia? Are they not ourselves? It is feared, then, that we shall turn our arms each man against his own bosom. Congress have no power to disarm the militia. Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birthright of an American...[T]he unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments, but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people.
- A Pennsylvanian, The Pennsylvania Gazette, February 20, 1788

I have no notion of being hanged for half treason. When a subject draws his sword against his prince, he must cut his way through, if he means afterward to sit down in safety.
- Colonel Joseph Reed, to Mr. Pettit, September 29, 1775

I have not yet begun to fight!
- John Paul Jones, response to enemy demand to surrender, September 23, 1779

Our country is in danger, but not to be despaired of. Our enemies are numerous and powerful; but we have many friends, determining to be free, and heaven and earth will aid the resolution. On you depend the fortunes of America. You are to decide the important question, on which rest the happiness and liberty of millions yet unborn. Act worthy of yourselves.
- Joseph Warren, Boston Massacre Oration, March 6, 1775

Before we go down that dangerous road, let's try observing the letter and spirit of the object of these comments:

In the formation of our constitution the wisdom of all ages is collected--the legislators are antiquity are consulted, as well as the opinions and interests of the millions who are concerned. It short, it is an empire of reason.
- Noah Webster, An Examination into the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution, 1787

A constitution founded on these principles introduces knowledge among the people, and inspires them with a conscious dignity becoming freemen; a general emulation takes place, which causes good humor, sociability, good manners, and good morals to be general. That elevation of sentiment inspired by such a government, makes the common people brave and enterprising. That ambition which is inspired by it makes them sober, industrious, and frugal.
- John Adams, Thoughts on Government, 1776

Since private and publick Vices, are in Reality, though not always apparently, so [closely] connected, of how much Importance, how necessary is it, that the utmost Pains be taken by the Publick, to have the Principles of Virtue early inculcated on the Minds even of children, and the moral Sense kept alive, and that the wise institutions of our Ancestors for these great Purposes be encouraged by the Government.
- Samuel Adams, letter to James Warren, November 4, 1775

Liberty, the greatest of all earthly blessings give us that precious jewel ...! Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect every one who approaches that jewel.
- Patrick Henry, speech in the Virginia Convention, June 5, 1788

For no people will tamely surrender their Liberties, nor can any be easily subdued, when knowledge is diffusd and Virtue is preservd.
- Samuel Adams, letter to James Warren, November 4, 1775

To paraphrase Stephen Lawrence - Don't Give Up The Ship of State.

Huxley quotes from The Capitalist "Free Press"

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