Modern Conclusion and Application from an ARTICLE SIGNED “VINDEX.”

Modern Conclusion and Application from an ARTICLE SIGNED “VINDEX.”[i]

[Boston Gazette, January 21, 1771.]

The beginning of the article regarded the discussion around the events and trial that you moderns have come to know as the Boston Massacre.  My conclusion to that whole discussion is pertinent to your present arguments over Patriotism.  We too were contending for what that meant.  The Tory’s had an uncompromising view that Patriotism was having ones complete faith in the reigning government in England.  The Colonies, having always had their own Charters that allowed for independent local legislatures, viewed Patriotism to the source of Liberty – that being the Foundations set by the leaders of the Reformation and architects of Liberty like Rutherford – which through the continued raising of the peoples awareness, ensured that the Magna Carta was the core of what We called the Constitution.  Our Rights as Citizens being secured in the English Constitution and Common Law was set all the way back to Alfred the Great in the Principles of Deuteronomy as the core guides to good governance.

With the truth that our Liberties and Rights are absolutely from God and that Rutherford’s Lex Rex[ii] clarified good kings and administrations from bad, we knew what usurpation, tyranny and despotism actually mean.  You moderns still have much to understand in respect to those three words.  Now, I will relate how the conclusion of my Article is relevant to you by bringing your situations into the context of the argument, especially regarding Patriotism.  Modern emphasis is in (parens) and/or italics.

I shall conclude what I have to say in this article, upon this interesting subject in my next article. In the mean time let me assure Philanthrop (a King’s man who would be your modern progressive pundits as with “Media Matters, the statist/progressive radical bureaucrats, NEOCONS and career politicians), that I am fully of his mind, that a true patriot “will not from private views, or by any ways or means foment (instigate or incite) and cherish groundless fears and jealousies”: But perhaps we may not be so well agreed in our determination, when the fears and jealousies of our fellow citizens are groundless – It is I believe the general opinion of judicious men, that at present, even in the 21st Century, there are good grounds to apprehend a settled design, most assuredly through the United Nations, to enslave and ruin the colonies (The united States of and in America); and that some men of figure and station, (educators, career politicians, NGO’s and even religious leaders) in America, have adopted the plan[iii], and would gladly lull the people to sleep, the easier to put it in execution: But I believe Philanthrop would be far from acknowledging that he is of that opinion. The fears and jealousies of the people are not always groundless: And when they become general (when the scandals and plans become greater public knowledge), it is not to be presum’d that they are (real); for the people in general seldom complain, without some good reason. The inhabitants of this continent are not to be dup’d “by an artful use of the words liberty and slavery[iv], in an application to their passions,” as Philanthrop would have us think they are; like the miserable Italians, who are cheated with the names ” Excommunication, Bulls, Crusades,” They can distinguish between “realities and sounds (false flags and rumors)“; and by a proper use “of that reason which Heaven has given them “, they can judge, as well as their betters (those who would be thought more informed, educated or intelligent), when there is danger of slavery. They have as high a regard for George the III. (the office of President but not always the man himself) as others have, & yet can suppose it possible they may be made slaves (the policies of the leadership and administration will us law to destroy the Citizens Rights), without “enslaving themselves by their own folly and madness” (Believing that the elected and bureaucrats would have the same understanding of Rights such that they would recognize that what they legislate would ultimately fall on their heads also, thereby making them slaves to the bad legislation as well); They can believe, that men who “are bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh, born and bred among us,” may, like Achan[v], for a wedge of gold (power and money from political gain or ideology), detach themselves from the common interest, and embark in another bottom; in hopes that they, “with their wives and children” will one day stand and see, and enjoy, and triumph, in the ruins of their country: Such instances there have been frequently in times past; and I dare not say, we have not at present, reason enough for “exclaiming with the roman patriot, 0 tempora, 0 mores[vi]“. The true patriot therefore, will enquire into the causes of the fears and jealousies of his countrymen; and if he finds they are not groundless, he will be far from endeavoring to allay or stifle them: On the contrary, constrain’d by the Amor Patrae (Love for ones Country), and from public views, he will by all proper means in his power foment (stir up) and cherish them: He will, as far as he is able, keep the attention of his fellow citizens awake to their grievances; and not suffer them to be at rest, till the causes of their just complaints are removed.

At such a time Philanthrop’s (The King’s man) Patriot may be “very cautious of charging the want of ability or integrity to those with whom any of the powers of government are entrusted”: But the true patriot, will constantly be jealous of those very men: Knowing that power, especially in times of corruption, makes men wanton ((of a cruel or violent action) deliberate and unprovoked); that it intoxicates the mind; and unless those with whom it is entrusted, are carefully watched, such is the weakness or the perverseness of human nature, they will be apt to domineer over the people, instead of governing them, according to the known laws of the state, to which alone they have submitted. If he finds, upon the best enquiry, the want of ability or integrity; that is, an ignorance of, or a disposition to depart from, the constitution, which is the measure and rule of government & submission, he will point them out, and loudly proclaim them: He will stir up the people, incessantly to complain of such men, till they are either reform’d, or remov’d from that sacred trust (elected office or bureauracracy), which it is dangerous for them any longer to hold.

Philanthrop may tell us of the hazard “of disturbing and inflaming the minds of the multitude whose passions know no bounds”: A traitor to the constitution alone can dread this: The multitude I am speaking of, is the body of the people – no contemptible multitude – for whose sake government is instituted; or rather, who have themselves erected it, solely for their own good – to whom even kings (presidents, judges and congress) and all in subordination to them, are strictly speaking, servants and not masters. “The constitution and its laws are the basis of the public tranquility – the firmest support of the public authority, and the pledge of the liberty of the citizens: But the constitution is a vain Phantom, and the best laws are useless, if they are not religiously observed. The nation ought then to watch, and the true patriot will watch very attentively, in order to render them equally respected, by those who govern, and the people destin’d to obey ” – To violate the laws of the state is a capital crime; and if those guilty of it, are invested with authority, they add to this crime, a perfidious abuse of the power with which they are entrusted: “The nation therefore, the people, ought to suppress those abuses with their utmost care & vigilance” – This is the language of a very celebrated author, whom I dare say, Philanthrop is well acquainted with, and will acknowledge to be an authority.

Philanthrop, I think, speaks somewhat unintelligibly, when he tells us that the well being and happiness of the whole depends upon subordination; as if mankind submitted to government, for the sake of being subordinate: In the state of nature there was subordination: The weaker was by force made to bow down to the more powerful. This is still the unhappy lot of a great part of the world, under government: So among the brutal herd, the strongest horns are the strongest laws. Mankind have entered into political societies, rather for the sake of restoring equality; the want of which, in the state of nature, rendered existence uncomfortable and even dangerous. I am not of leveling (utopian/socialist) principles: But I am apt to think, that constitution of civil government which admits equality in the most extensive degree, consistent with the true design of government, is the best; and I am of this opinion, because I agree with Philanthrop and many others, that man is a social animal. Subordination is necessary to promote the purposes of government; the grand design of which is, that men might enjoy a greater share of the blessings resulting from that social nature, and those rational powers, with which indulgent Heaven has endow’d us, than they could in the state of nature: But there is a degree of subordination, which will for ever be abhorrent to the generous mind; when it is extended to the very borders, if not within the bounds of slavery: A subordination, which is so far from conducing “to the welfare and happiness of the whole”, that it necessarily involves the idea of that worst of all the evils of this life, a tyranny: An abject servility, which instead of “being essential to our existence as a people,” disgraces the human nature, and sinks it to that of the most despicable brute.

I cannot help thinking, that the reader must have observed in Philanthrop’s last performance, that a foundation is there laid for a dangerous superstructure: and that from his principles, might easily be delineated a plan of despotism, which however uncommon it may be, for the laws and constitution of the state to be openly and boldly oppos’d, our enemies have long threatened to establish by violence. If Philanthrop upon retrospection shall think so, he will, like a prudent physician, administer an antidote for the poison: If not, I hope the attention of others will be awakened to that excellent maxim, “no less essential in politicks than in morals”, principiis obsta (Resist the first advances.). It is impolitick to make the first attempt to enslave mankind by force: This strikes the imagination, and is alarming: “Important changes insensibly happen: It is against silent & slow attacks that a nation ought to be particularly on its guard.”

VINDEX.

Jan. 15th.

 


[i] The Writings of Samuel Adams, volume II (1770 – 1773) collected and edited by Harry Alonso Cushing, Pgs. 70 & 71, http://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/2092/pg2092.html            4/16/11 11:41 AM

[ii] Lex, Rex

[iv] Algernon Sydney – Thomas Jefferson regarded John Locke and Algernon Sidney as the two leading sources for the American understanding of the principles of political liberty and the rights of humanity.  Sidney (or Sydney, as it was sometimes spelled) was once a popular hero. Like Socrates, he was famous for his controversial doctrines on government and for a nobility of character displayed during a dramatic trial and execution that was widely regarded as judicial murder. Unlike Socrates, Sidney was emphatically a political man and a partisan of republicanism. For a century and more he was celebrated as a martyr to free government, as Socrates is still celebrated as a martyr to the philosophic way of life. Socrates died the defiant inquirer, who knew only that he did not know the most important things. Sidney, in contrast, the defiant republican, kept getting into trouble for his democratic political views and projects.

Sidney fell out of fashion during the nineteenth century. The educated began to favor statesmen like Cromwell and Napoleon, who relished the exercise of unrestrained power for grand projects in the service of mankind. Scholars have recently shown renewed interest in Sidney as an object of research. But in spite of twentieth-century tyrannies more terrible than any Sidney experienced or read about, he still fails to satisfy the taste of most contemporary intellectuals. This new edition of Discourses Concerning Government may provide an occasion for students of political liberty to reassess Sidney’s eclipse.

[v] See Joshua 22:20, Comments by: James Parsons – http://ibiblestudies.com/auth/parsons/achan%27s_sin_and_achan%27s_end.htm

I..THE PERPETRATION OF SIN. Iniquity is the common characteristic of all mankind: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.” But there is before us a reference to one particular act of sin, which, while proceeding from the depraved heart possessed by the perpetrator in common with others, appears to us in prominent and isolated distinction of enormity.
1. The iniquity of Achan was heinous, on account of its intrinsic nature. It was an act of covetousness. He was beguiled by a greedy and unprincipled desire after the attainment and preservation of wealth.
2. The iniquity of Achan was perpetrated against the Divine command, distinctly expressed and amply known.
3. The iniquity of Achan was heinous on account of its attendant dissimulation and attempted concealment.

[vi]O tempora o mores” is a sentence by Cicero in the fourth book of his second oration against Verres (chapter 25) and First Oration against Catiline. It translates as Oh the times! Oh the customs! (Oh what times! Oh what customs!) It is often printed as O tempora! O mores!, with the interposition of exclamation marks (not present in Classical Latin).  Wikipedia contributors, “O tempora o mores!,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=O_tempora_o_mores!&oldid=554203539 (accessed May 25, 2013).

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