Don’t Let the Few Determine the Outcome… GET OUT and VOTE!!!

Boston Gazette, April 2, 1781

Extract of a Letter from the Southward.

“As we have a Constitution (Articles of Confederation were adopted March of 1781) which is admired for its genuine Principles, I have been solicitous (def: eager or anxious) to know, whether our Countrymen at large partook of the Spirit of those who formed it. I have conceived strong Hopes, that in organizing their Government and electing Persons to fill the important Places of Trust, no Consideration would avail, to govern their Suffrages in Favour of any Candidate, unless he was possessed of those Qualities which are necessary, to enable him to perform the Duties of the Office to be filled, to the Advantage of the Publick. I have flattered my self, that both the Governors and the Governed would have lain aside the gawdy Trappings of Monarchy, and put on that Simplicity which is the Ornament and Strength of a free Republick. HOW far it has been done, I am not able to judge at this Distance. It is a great Satisfaction to me to be informed, that some of the best Men in the Commonwealth have been elected into the Principal Departments of Government. Men, who will dignify the Character of our Country—who will revive and disseminate those Principles, moral and political, to propagate which, our Ancestors transplanted themselves into this new World—Men who by the Wisdom of their Councils and their exemplary Manners, will establish the public Liberty on the Foundation of a Rock.—These Men will secure to themselves more of the Esteem of their virtuous, and even of their vicious Fellow-Citizens, than they could by a thousand courtly Addresses which are commonly the Breath of Vanity and Adulation.—There is a charm in Virtue to force Esteem.—If Men of a different Character have by any Means been advanced to those hallow’d Seats, who have even sollicited public Employments to give a Scope to Views of Ambition and Avarice, Passions which have in all Ages been the Bane of human Society; or, to gratify the raging Thirst for popular Applause, a Disease with which little minds are usually tormented, it is our Happiness that the Constitution requires annual Elections, and such Mistakes may be corrected at the next.

I was sorry to hear, that the Number of Votes returned, the last Time, did not amount to a Quarter of the Number of qualified Electors in the Commonwealth. The Choice of Legislators, Magistrates and Governors, is surely a Business of the greatest Moment, and claims the Attention of every Citizen. The Framers of our Constitution, while they gave due Attention to Political were not forgetful of Civil Liberty—that personal Freedom and those Rights of Property, which the meanest Citizen is intitled to, and the Security of which is the great End of political Society. It was not indeed their Province to make particular Laws for these Purposes. To do this, and to provide for the equal and impartial Execution of such Laws, agreeable to the Constitution, is the Duty of the Legislature. Hence every Citizen will see, and I hope will be deeply impressed with a Sense of it, how exceedingly important it is to himself, and how intimately the welfare of his Children is connected with it, that those who are to have a Share in making as well as in judging and executing the Laws should be Men of singular Wisdom and Integrity. Such as are conscious that they are deficient in either of these Qualities, should even TREMBLE at being named as Candidates! I hope the great Business of Elections will never be left by the Many, to be done by the Few; for before we are aware of it, that few may become the Engine of Corruption—the Tool of a Junto.—Heaven forbid! that our Countrymen should ever be byass’d in their Choice, by unreasonable Predilections for any man, or that an Attachment to the Constitution, as has been the Case in other Countries, should be lost in Devotion to Persons. The Effect of this would soon be, to change the Love of Liberty into the Spirit of Faction. 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.

“When the great Body of the People are determined not to be imposed upon by a false Glare of Virtues held before their Eyes, but, making up their own Minds, shall impartially give in their Suffrages, after their best Enquiries into the Characters of Candidates, for those whom they judge to be the fittest Persons, there will be no Danger that the generous Enthusiasm of Freedom, so characteristic of the People of Massachusetts, will ever sink into the Violence and Rage of Party, which has often proved fatal to free Republicks.”

[a draft is in the Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library. Endorsed by Adams: “The foregoing was sent to Mr Edes by the Post March 13, 1781.”]

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Anti-Federalis Paper: Brutus VI

I appreciated Mr. Yates of New York addressing the potential dangers of the unamended constitution as submitted to the States for ratification.  Being a strong proponent of Liberty since my Masters Thesis in 1742 I too have many issues regarding this consolidation of government.  Hear the arguments of Mr. Yates relating to taxation, growth of government, lack of definition of the “general welfare” and virtually establishing a future despotic plan for posterity, IF moral and virtuous people are not holding the seats that would be the national government.  The fallen nature of man with this constitution as submitted by the 1787 convention, leaves open the opportunities for a future tyranny over the people.

I bolded and underlined that which I found very thought provoking and which could come to fruition for future generations.

S. Adams

Brutus  VI

 

 27 December 1787   

It is an important question, whether the general government of the United States should be so framed, as to absorb and swallow up the state governments? or whether, on the contrary, the former ought not to be confined to certain defined national objects, while the latter should retain all the powers which concern the internal police of the states?

I have, in my former papers, offered a variety of arguments to prove, that a simple free government could not be exercised over this whole continent, and that therefore we must either give up our liberties and submit to an arbitrary one, or frame a constitution on the plan of confederation.  Further reasons might be urged to prove this point — but it seems unnecessary, because the principal advocates of the new constitution admit of the position.  The question therefore between us, this being admitted, is, whether or not this system is so formed as either directly to annihilate the state governments, or that in its operation it will certainly effect it.  If this is answered in the affirmative, then the system ought not to be adopted, without such amendments as will avoid this consequence.  If on the contrary it can be shewn, that the state governments are secured in their rights to manage the internal police of the respective states, we must confine ourselves in our enquiries to the organization of the government and the guards and provisions it contains to prevent a misuse or abuse of power.  To determine this question, it is requisite, that we fully investigate the nature, and the extent of the powers intended to be granted by this constitution to the rulers.

In my last number I called your attention to this subject, and proved, as I think, uncontrovertibly, that the powers given the legislature under the 8th section of the 1st article, had no other limitation than the discretion of the Congress.  It was shewn, that even if the most favorable construction was given to this paragraph, that the advocates for the new constitution could wish, it will convey a power to lay and collect taxes, imposts, duties, and excises, according to the discretion of the legislature, and to make all laws which they shall judge proper and necessary to carry this power into execution. This I shewed would totally destroy all the power of the state governments.  To confirm this, it is worth while to trace the operation of the government in some particular instances.

The general government is to be vested with authority to levy and collect taxes, duties, and excises; the separate states have also power to impose taxes, duties, and excises, except that they cannot lay duties on exports and imports without the consent of Congress.  Here then the two governments have concurrent jurisdiction; both may lay impositions of this kind.  But then the general government have supperadded to this power, authority to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying the foregoing power into execution.   Suppose then that both governments should lay taxes, duties, and excises, and it should fall so heavy on the people that they would be unable, or be so burdensome that they would refuse to pay them both — would it not be necessary that the general legislature should suspend the collection of the state tax?  It certainly would.  For, if the people could not, or would not pay both, they must be discharged from the tax to the state, or the tax to the general government could not be collected. — The conclusion therefore is inevitable, that the respective state governments will not have the power to raise one shilling in any way, but by the permission of the Congress.  I presume no one will pretend, that the states can exercise legislative authority, or administer justice among their citizens for any length of time, without being able to raise a sufficiency to pay those who administer their governments.

 If this be true, and if the states can raise money only by permission of the general government, it follows that the state governments will be dependent on the will of the general government for their existence.

What will render this power in Congress effectual and sure in its operation is, that the government will have complete judicial and executive authority to carry all their laws into effect, which will be paramount to the judicial and executive authority of the individual states: in vain therefore will be all interference of the legislatures, courts, or magistrates of any of the   states on the subject; for they will be subordinate to the general government, and engaged by oath to support it, and will be constitutionally bound to submit to their decisions.

The general legislature will be empowered to lay any tax they chuse, to annex any penalties they please to the breach of their revenue laws; and to appoint as many officers as they may think proper to collect the taxes.  They will have authority to farm the revenues and to vest the farmer general, with his subalterns (an officer in the army below the rank of captain, esp. a second lieutenant.), with plenary (absolute) powers to collect them, in any way which to them may appear eligible.  And the courts of law, which they will be authorized to institute, will have cognizance of every case arising under the revenue laws, the conduct of all the officers employed in collecting them; and the officers of these courts will execute their judgments.  There is no way, therefore, of avoiding the destruction of the state governments, whenever the Congress please to do it, unless the people rise up, and, with a strong hand, resist and prevent the execution of constitutional laws.  The fear of this, will, it is presumed, restrain the general government, for some time, within proper bounds; but it will not be many years before they will have a revenue, and force, at their command, which will place them   above any apprehensions on that score.

How far the power to lay and collect duties and excises, may operate to dissolve the state governments, and oppress the people, it is impossible to say.  It would assist us much in forming a just opinion on this head, to consider the various objects to which this kind of taxes extend, in European nations, and the infinity of laws they have passed respecting them.  Perhaps, if leisure will permit, this may be essayed in some future paper.

 It was observed in my last number, that the power to lay and collect duties and excises, would invest the Congress with authority to impose a duty and excise on every necessary and convenience of life.  As the principal object of the government, in laying a duty or excise, will be, to raise money, it is obvious, that they will fix on such articles as are of the most general use and consumption; because, unless great quantities of the article, on which the duty is laid, is used, the revenue cannot be considerable.  We may therefore presume, that the articles which will be the object of this species of taxes will be either the real necessaries of life; or if not these, such as from custom and habit are esteemed so.  I will single out a few of the productions of our own country, which may, and probably will, be of the number.  

Cider (distilled alcohols and wines) is an article that most probably will be one of those on which an excise will be laid, because it is one, which this country produces in great abundance, which is in very general use, is consumed in great quantities, and which may be said too not to be a real necessary of life.  An excise on this would raise a large sum of money in the United States.  How would the power, to lay and collect an excise on cider, and to pass all laws proper and necessary to carry it into execution, operate in its exercise?  It might be necessary, in order to collect the excise on cider, to grant to one man, in each county, an exclusive right of building and keeping cider-mills, and oblige him to give bonds and security for payment of the excise; or, if this was not done, it might be necessary to license the mills, which are to make this liquor, and to take from them security, to account for the excise; or, if otherwise, a great number of officers must be employed, to take account of the cider made, and to collect the duties on it.   

Porter, ale, and all kinds of malt-liquors, are articles that would probably be subject also to an excise.  It would be necessary, in order to collect such an excise, to regulate the manufactory of these, that the quantity made might be ascertained or otherwise security could not be had for the payment of the excise.  Every brewery must then be licensed, and officers appointed, to take account of its product, and to secure the payment of the duty, or excise, before it is sold.  Many other articles might be named, which would be objects of this species of taxation, but I refrain from enumerating them.  It will probably be said, by those who advocate this system, that the observations already made on this head, are calculated only to inflame the minds of the people, with the apprehension of dangers merely imaginary.  That there is not the least reason to apprehend, the general legislature will exercise their power in this manner.  To this I would only say, that these kinds of taxes exist in Great Britain, and are severely felt.  The excise on cider and perry (an alcoholic drink made from the fermented juice of pears.), was imposed in that nation a few years ago, and it is in the memory of every one, who read the history of the transaction, what great tumults it occasioned.

This power, exercised without limitation, will introduce itself into every comer of the city, and country — It will wait upon the ladies at their toilett, and will not leave them in any of their domestic concerns; it will accompany them to the ball, the play, and the assembly; it will go with them when they visit, and will, on all occasions, sit beside them in their carriages, nor will it desert them even at church; it will enter the house of every gentleman, watch over his cellar, wait upon his cook in the kitchen, follow the servants into the parlour, preside over the table, and note down all he eats or drinks; it will attend him to his bed-chamber, and watch him while he sleeps; it will take cognizance of the professional man in his office, or his study; it will watch the merchant in the counting-house, or in his store; it will follow the mechanic to his shop, and in his work, and will haunt him in his family, and in his bed; it will be a constant companion of the industrious farmer in all his labour, it will be with him in the house, and in the field, observe the toil of his hands, and the sweat of his brow; it will penetrate into the most obscure cottage; and finally, it will light upon the head of every person in the United States.  To all these different classes of people, and in all these circumstances, in which it will attend them, the language in which it will address them, will be   GIVE! GIVE!

A power that has such latitude, which reaches every person in the community in every conceivable circumstance, and lays hold of every species of property they possess, and which has no bounds set to it, but the discretion of those who exercise it[,] I say, such a power must necessarily, from its very nature, swallow up all the power of the state governments.

I shall add but one other observation on this head, which is this — It appears to me a solecism (a breach of good manners; a piece of incorrect behavior.), for two men, or bodies of men, to have unlimited power respecting the same object.  It contradicts the scripture maxim, which saith, “no man can serve two masters,” the one power or the other must prevail, or else they will destroy each other, and neither of them effect their purpose.  It may be compared to two mechanic powers, acting upon the same body in opposite directions, the consequence would be, if the powers were equal, the body would remain in a state of rest, or if the force of the one was superior to that of the other, the stronger would prevail, and overcome the resistance of the weaker.

But it is said, by some of the advocates of this system, “That the idea that Congress can levy taxes at pleasure, is false, and the suggestion wholly unsupported: that the preamble to the constitution is declaratory of the   purposes of the union, and the assumption of any power not necessary to establish justice, &c. to provide for the common defence, &c. will be   unconstitutional.  Besides, in the very clause which gives the power of levying duties and taxes, the purposes to which the money shall be appropriated, are specified, viz. to pay the debts, and provide for the common defence and general welfare.”[1] I would ask those, who reason thus, to define what ideas are included under the terms, to provide for the common defence and general welfare?  Are these terms definite, and will they be understood in the same manner, and to apply to the same cases by every one?  No one will pretend they will.  It will then be matter of opinion, what tends to the general welfare; and the Congress will be the only judges in the matter.  To provide for the general welfare, is an abstract proposition, which mankind differ in the explanation of, as much as they do on any political or moral proposition that can be proposed; the most opposite measures may be pursued by different parties, and both may profess, that   they have in view the general welfare; and both sides may be honest in their professions, or both may have sinister views.  Those who advocate this new constitution declare, they are influenced by a regard to the general welfare; those who oppose it, declare they are moved by the same principle; and I have no doubt but a number on both sides are honest in their professions; and yet nothing is more certain than this, that to adopt this constitution, and not to adopt it, cannot both of them be promotive of the general welfare.

It is as absurd to say, that the power of Congress is limited by these general expressions, “to provide for the common safety, and general welfare,” as it would be to say, that it would be limited, had the constitution said they should have power to lay taxes, &c. at will and pleasure.  Were this authority given, it might be said, that under it the legislature could not do injustice, or pursue any measures, but such as were calculated to promote the public good, and happiness.  For every man, rulers as well as others, are bound by the immutable laws of God and reason, always to will what is right.  It is certainly right and fit, that the governors of every people should provide for the common defence and general welfare; every government, therefore, in the world, even the greatest despot, is limited in the exercise of his power.  But however just this reasoning may be, it would be found, in practice, a most pitiful restriction.  The government would always say, their measures were designed and calculated to promote the public good; and there being no judge between them and the people, the rulers themselves must, and would always, judge for themselves.

There are others of the favourers of this system, who admit, that the power of the Congress under it, with respect to revenue, will exist without limitation, and contend, that so it ought to be.

It is said, “The power to raise armies, to build and equip fleets, and to provide for their support, ought to exist without limitation, because it is impossible to foresee, or to define, the extent and variety of national exigencies (the exigencies of the war: need, demand, requirement, necessity.), or the correspondent extent and variety of the means which may be necessary to satisfy them.[“]

This, it is said, “is one of those truths which, to correct and unprejudiced minds, carries its own evidence along with it.  It rests upon axioms as simple as they are universal: the means ought to be proportioned to the end; the person, from whose agency the attainment of any end is expected, ought to possess the means by which it is to be attained.”[2]

This same writer insinuates, that the opponents to the plan promulgated by the convention (the constitution), manifests a want of candor, in objecting to the extent of the powers proposed to be vested in this government; because he asserts, with an air of confidence, that the powers ought to be unlimited as to the object to which they extend; and that this position, if not self-evident, is at least clearly demonstrated by the foregoing mode of reasoning.  But with submission to this author’s better judgment, I humbly conceive his reasoning will appear, upon examination, more specious (superficially plausible, but actually wrong) than solid.  The means, says the gentleman, ought to be proportioned to the end: admit the proposition to be true it is then necessary to enquire, what is the end of the government of the United States, in order to draw any just conclusions from it.  Is this end simply to preserve the general government, and to provide for the common defence and general welfare of the union only? certainly not: for beside this, the state governments are to be supported, and provision made for the managing such of their internal concerns as are allotted to them. It is admitted, “that the circumstances of our country are such, as to demand a compound, instead of a simple, a confederate, instead of a sole government,” that the objects of each ought to be pointed out, and that each ought to possess ample authority to execute the powers committed to them. The government then, being complex in its nature, the end it has in view is so also; and it is as necessary, that the state governments should possess the means to attain the ends expected from them, as for the general government.  Neither the general government, nor the state governments, ought to be vested with all the powers proper to be exercised for promoting the ends of government.  The powers are divided between them — certain ends are to be attained by the one, and other certain ends by the other; and these, taken together, include all the ends of good government.  This being the case, the conclusion follows, that each should be furnished with the means, to attain the ends, to which they are designed.

To apply this reasoning to the case of revenue; the general government is charged with the care of providing for the payment of the debts of the United States; supporting the general government, and providing for the defence of the union.  To obtain these ends, they should be furnished with means.  But does it thence follow, that they should command all the revenues   of the United States!  Most certainly it does not.  For if so, it will follow, that no means will be left to attain other ends, as necessary to the happiness of the country, as those committed to their care.  The individual states have debts to discharge; their legislatures and executives are to be supported, and provision is to be made for the administration of justice in the respective states.  For these objects the general government has no authority to provide; nor is it proper it should. It is clear then.  That the states should have the command of such revenues, as to answer the ends they have to obtain.  To say, “that the circumstances that endanger the safety of nations are infinite,” and from hence to infer, that all the sources of revenue in the states should be yielded to the general government, is not conclusive reasoning: for the Congress are authorized only to controul in general concerns, and not regulate local and internal ones; and these are as essentially requisite to be provided for as those.  The peace and happiness of a community is as intimately connected with the prudent direction of their domestic affairs, and the due administration of justice among themselves, as with a competent provision for their defence against foreign invaders, and indeed more so.

Upon the whole, I conceive, that there cannot be a clearer position than this, that the state governments ought to have an uncontroulable power to raise a revenue, adequate to the exigencies of their governments; and, I presume, no such power is left them by this constitution.                                                   

 Brutus.   

 

1. Vide an examination into the leading principles of the federal constitution, printed in Philadelphia, Page 34.

 2. Vide the Federalist, No. 23. 

Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Twinsburg, Ohio – 2013

Local, State and National Representatives from Twinsburg, Summit County and the 14th Ohio Congressional District took part in Reading the Declaration of Independence.  I was visiting this once frontier land and was asked to comment on the Declaration and the idea of Liberty.

Please view the video and then see my unabridged written comments from Loyalty and Sedition:

From Loyalty and Sedition written 1748

Edited for the Reading of the Declaration in Twinsburg Ohio July 4, 2013

About Liberty:

” There is no one thing which mankind are more passionately fond of, which they fight with more zeal for, which they possess with more anxious jealousy and fear of losing, than liberty.  But it has fared with this, as with many other things, that the true notion and just definition of it has been but little understood, at the same time that zeal for it and disputes about it have produced endless altercations.  There is, there certainly is such a thing as liberty, which distinguishes man from the beasts.  And though the notions of men were ten times more confused and unsettled, and their opinions more various about this matter than they are, there yet remains an internal and essential distinction between this same liberty and slavery.

“In the state of nature, every man has a right to think and act according to the dictates of his own mind, which, in that state, are subject to no other control and can be commanded by no other power than the laws and ordinances of God, the great Creator of all things.

“This is liberty in a state of nature, which, as no man ought to be abridged of, so no man has a right to give up, or even part with any portion of it, but in order to secure the rest and place it upon a more solid foundation; it being equally with our lives the gift of the same bounteous Author of all things.[1]  As, therefore, no man’s life is his own in such a sense as that he may wantonly destroy it at his own pleasure, or submit it to the wanton pleasure of another, so neither is his liberty. And had mankind continued in that innocent and happy state in which the sacred writings represent them as first created, it is possible that this liberty would have been enjoyed in such perfection as to have rendered the embodying into civil society and the security of human laws altogether needless.

“But though in the present corrupt and degenerate times no such state of nature can with any regularity exist, it will not, however, be difficult from the description we have given of liberty in that state to form the true notion and settle the just bounds of it in a state of society and civic government.  But here, too, we must distinguish and consider liberty as it respects the whole body and as it respects each individual.  As it respects the whole body, it is then enjoyed when neither legislative nor executive powers (by which I mean those men with whom are intrusted the power of making laws and of executing them) are disturbed by any internal passion or hindered by any external force from making the wisest laws and executing them in the best manner; when the safety, the security, and the happiness of all is the real care and steady pursuit of those whose business it is to care for and pursue it;

” As it respects individuals, a man is then free when he freely enjoys the security of the laws and the rights to which he is born; when he is hindered by no violence from claiming those rights and enjoying that security, but may at any time demand the protection of the laws under which he lives, and be sure when demanded to enjoy it.  This is what I take to be liberty; and considered in this light, all the fine things said of it by ancient and modern do justly belong to it.—it is the choicest gift that Heaven has “lent to man ; an emanation from the Father of Lights; an image and representation of the government of the Supreme Director of all things, which, though it can never be controlled by any superior force, is yet ever guided by the laws of infinite wisdom.

” But alas! in this exalted sense, liberty is rather admired in the world than truly enjoyed. What multitudes of persons are there who have not so much as the shadow of it!

” It has been a question much controverted in the world what form of government is best, and in what system this liberty is best consulted and preserved.  I cannot say that I am wholly free from that prejudice which generally possesses men in favor of their own country, and the manners they have been used to from their infancy.  But I must declare, for my own part, that there is no form of civil government, which I have ever heard of, appears to me so well calculated to preserve this blessing, or to secure to its subjects all the most valuable advantages of civil society, as ours.  For in none that I have ever met with is the power of the governors and the rights of the governed more nicely adjusted, or the power which is necessary in the very nature of government to be intrusted in the hands of some, by wiser checks prevented from growing exorbitant.  This Constitution has indeed passed through various amendations, but the principal parts of it are of very ancient standing, and have continued through the several successions of kings to this day; having never been in any great degree attacked by any, but they have lost their lives or their crowns in the attempt.

” The two main provisions by which a certain share in the government is secured to the people are their Legislatures and their juries.  By this means the Citizen can never be oppressed by bad laws, nor lose the security of good ones, but by his own fault; and though I am not such an extravagant admirer of my own country as to suppose that the Legislature never made unwise laws, or that jurors never put false constructions on wise ones, yet I will venture to assert that every man’s security and happiness is much safer in such hands than under an arbitrary or aristocratical form of government.  Especially since, by the wise provisions of our ancestors, both these powers are of short continuance; for power intrusted for a short time is not so likely to be perverted as that which is perpetual.

” From this happy Constitution of our mother country, ours in this is copied, or rather improved upon.  Our invaluable charter secures to us all the English liberties, besides which we have some additional privileges which the common people there have not.  Our fathers had so severely felt the effects of tyranny, that they underwent the greatest difficulties and toils to secure to themselves and transmit to their posterity those invaluable blessings; and we, their posterity, are this day reaping the fruits of their toils. Happy beyond expression! —in the form of our government, in the liberty we enjoy,—if we know our own happiness and how to improve it.  But neither the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt. He therefore is the truest friend to the liberty of his country who tries most to promote its virtue, and who, so far as his power and influence extend, will not suffer a man to be chosen into any office of power and trust who is not a wise and virtuous man.  We must not conclude merely upon a man’s speaking upon liberty, and using the charming sound, that he is fit to be trusted with the liberties of his country.  It is not unfrequent to hear men declaim loudly upon liberty, who, if we may judge by the whole tenor of their actions, mean nothing else by it but their own liberty— to oppress without control or the restraint of laws all who are poorer or weaker than themselves.  It is not, I say, unfrequent to see such instances, though at the same time I esteem it a justice due to my country to say that it is not without shining examples of the contrary kind;— examples of men of a distinguished attachment to this same Liberty I have been describing; whom no hopes could draw, no terrors could drive, from steadily pursuing, in their sphere, the true interests of their country; whose fidelity has been tried in the nicest and tenderest manner, and has been ever firm and unshaken.

** The sum of all is, if we would most truly enjoy this gift of Heaven, let us become a virtuous people: then shall we both deserve and enjoy it.  While, on the other hand, if we are universally vicious and debauched in our manners, though the form of our Constitution carries the face of the most exalted freedom, we shall in reality be the most abject slaves.”

 

 


[1] Compare the Rights of the Colonists, November, 1772 ; and the Declaration of Rights in the Congress of 1774.

Parallels In Time

How does this description of England in 1772 describe your present day?

“But, in England, during the reign of George the Third, society among both sexes had reached the extreme of profligacy (definition: recklessly extravagant or wasteful in the use of resources; a licentious, dissolute person), corruption, and immorality. The severe virtues of the New England creed and practice, if known, would have been ridiculed in polite society, where all sacred things were habitually treated with disrespect. The rotten borough system, by which seats in Parliament were openly bought and sold, was but a small portion of the universal depravity.  The Twelfth Parliament, which closed in 1768, “had never been rivalled for its bold profligacy.” It was the most “shameless in its corruption ” of any that had ever been ‘known.  “It was corrupt, and knew itself to be corrupt, and made a jest of its corruption.” Nor was this changed when the New House succeeded. “Corruption lost nothing of its effrontery; ten and even a hundred thousand pounds were paid for boroughs; and the purchasers were the legislators whose measures stripped England of her great inheritance,—America.  Franklin bears witness to the mobs and riots at this time. Clergymen, by their loose morals, cast discredit upon the Church, and it was fashionable to scoff at religion.  The greatest statesmen were notorious for their excesses. The beaus were perfumed and painted like women, took a woman’s time over the toilette, wore silks, brocades, and lace embroidery, and, even to cross the street, were carried in chairs. Gaming was the reigning vice, in which all classes engaged: whole fortunes were lost and won at a sitting, and ladies compromised themselves at the card-table. Some of the chief places of resort where fashionable ladies and gentlemen assembled, such as Ranelagh, Vauxhall, Mrs. Cornely’s, and the Pantheon, were sinks of indescribable infamy; and Mr. Massey, in his History of this period, declares that, from the accession of the House of Hanover to the end at least of the first ten years of the reign of George the Third, the depravity of English manners was not excelled in the decline of the Roman Empire or the decay of the old French monarchy.”[1]

“It was to guard their own remote land from the like vices of England and the Europe mainland, that the Boston press constantly enjoined upon the people the values frugality, moderation, and temperance. I, Samuel Adams, above all others, interwove these counsels into my writings, and never ceased to warn my countrymen, “in their little corner of the world,” against the introduction of English luxuries and effeminacy. Devoid of bigotry or intolerance in any form, I could promote innocent pleasures, but sternly warred against the demoralizing influence of these foreign invaders, which I held up as embodied in “standing armies and ships of war, episcopates (definition: the office or term of office of a bishop), and their numerous ecclesiastical retinue, pensioners, placemen, and other jobbers for an abandoned and shameless Ministry (bureaucracy), hirelings, pimps, parasites, panders, prostitutes, and whores.”  I held that the “religion and public liberty of a people are intimately connected,” and I warned my readers of the apparent plan to poison their morals, as a preliminary to the destruction of their liberties! “Remember, my countrymen,” said I, “it will be better to have your liberties wrested from you by force, than to have it said that you implicitly surrendered them.”[2]

You must under stand that one of the formidable books that I read and took to heart in every aspect, such that my Masters Thesis “Whether it be lawful to resist the Supreme

Magistrate, if the Commonwealth cannot be otherwise preserved,” was the “Vindiciae Contra Tyrannos – A Defense of Liberty Against Tyrants.”  I highly suggest that you read it to understand one book that touched the minds and hearts of Liberty loving leaders of my day. You moderns can find it to read at this location.

Regarding Liberty, I must bring this Circular to your minds and hearts again!  At the age of twenty-six, in 1748 I wrote “Loyalty and Sedition.” Here is what you need to hear again for this very moment in history:

“There is no one thing which mankind are more passionately fond of, which they fight with more zeal for, which they possess with more anxious jealousy and fear of losing, than liberty. But it has fared with this, as with many other things, that the true notion and just definition of it has been but little understood, at the same time that zeal for it and disputes about it have produced endless altercations.

“There is, there certainly is such a thing as liberty, which distinguishes man from the beasts, and a society of wise and reasonable creatures from the brutal herd, where the strongest horns are the strongest laws. And though the notions of men were ten times more confused and unsettled, and their opinions more various about this matter than they are, there yet remains an internal and essential distinction between this same liberty and slavery.

“…In the state of nature, every man has a right to think and act according to the dictates of his own mind, which, in that state, are subject to no other control and can be commanded by no other power than the laws and ordinances of the great Creator of all things. The perfection of liberty therefore, in a state of nature, is for every man to be free from any external force, and to perform such actions as in his own mind and conscience he judges to be Tightest; which liberty no man can truly possess whose mind is enthralled by irregular and inordinate passions ; since it is no great privilege  to be free from external violence if the dictates of the mind are controlled by a force within, which exerts itself above reason.

“This is liberty in a state of nature, which, as no man ought to be abridged of, so no man has a right to give up, or even part with any portion of it, but in order to secure the rest and place it upon a more solid foundation; it being equally with our lives the gift of the same bounteous Author of all things.  As, therefore, no man’s life is his own in such a sense as that he may wantonly destroy it at his own pleasure, or submit it to the wanton pleasure of another, so neither is his liberty. And had mankind continued in that innocent and happy state in which the sacred writings represent them as first created, it is possible that this liberty would have been enjoyed in such perfection as to have rendered the embodying into civil society and the security of human laws altogether needless.

“But though in the present corrupt and degenerate times no such state of nature can with any regularity exist, it will not, however, be difficult from the description we have given of liberty in that state to form the true notion and settle the just bounds of it in a state of society and civic government. But here, too, we must distinguish and consider liberty as it respects the whole body and as it respects each individual. As it respects the whole body, it is then enjoyed when neither legislative nor executive powers (by which I mean those men with whom are intrusted the power of making laws and of executing them) are disturbed by any internal passion or hindered by any external force from making the wisest laws and executing them in the best manner; when the safety, the security, and the happiness of all is the real care and steady pursuit of those whose business it is to care for and pursue it; in one short word, where no laws are carried through humor or prejudice, nor controlled in their proper execution by lust of power in the great, nor wanton licentiousness in the vulgar.

“As it respects individuals, a man is then free when he freely enjoys the security of the laws and the rights to which he is born; when he is hindered by no violence from claiming those rights and enjoying that security, but may at any time demand the protection of the laws under which he lives, and be sure when demanded to enjoy it. This is what I take to be liberty; and considered in this light, all the  fine things said of it by ancient and modern do justly belong to it. O Libertas! Dea certe! — it is the choicest gift that Heaven has “lent to man; an emanation from the Father of Lights; an image and representation of the government of the Supreme Director of all things, which, though it can never be controlled by any superior  force, is yet ever guided by the laws of infinite wisdom.

“But alas! in this exalted sense, liberty is rather admired in the world than truly enjoyed. What multitudes of persons are there who have not so much as the shadow of it! who hold their property and even their lives by no other tenure than the sovereign will of a tyrant, and he often the worst and most detestable of men, who, to gratify the least humor or passion in his nature, does not scruple to massacre them by thousands! Sure it is true what orthodox divines tell us, that men are apostate from God, since in his righteous providence he subjects so many of them to such miserable fate!

“But there are other states and civil societies in the world, the model of whose government seems to promise the sure enjoyment of this blessing; which yet, if we attentively examine, we shall find to be really destitute of it. We shall often find, that where the forms of it are observed, the substance of it is wanting; for, as that man is truly a slave, who, though impelled by no external violence, is yet carried away by the impetuosity of his passions to do those things which are abhorrent from his nature and his reason, so neither can the people be called free, who, though they make their own laws, are yet blinded by prejudice and diverted by undue influence from uniformly pursuing their own interest.”

I’ll not bore you moderns with much more of what I wrote about securing Liberty but I will leave you with this, “From this happy Constitution of our mother country, ours in this is copied, or rather improved upon. Our invaluable charter secures to us all the English liberties, besides which we have some additional privileges which the common people there have not. Our fathers had so severely felt the effects of tyranny and the weight of the bishop’s yoke, that they underwent the greatest difficulties and toils to secure to themselves and transmit to their posterity those invaluable blessings; and we, their posterity, are this day reaping the fruits of their toils. Happy beyond expression! – in the form of our government, in the liberty we enjoy,— if we know our own happiness and how to improve it. But neither the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt. He therefore is the truest friend to the liberty of his country who tries most to promote its virtue, and who, so far as his power and influence extend, will not suffer a man to be chosen into any office of power and trust who is not a wise and virtuous man. We must not conclude merely upon a man’s haranguing upon liberty, and using the charming sound, that he is fit to be trusted with the liberties of his country.  It is not unfrequent to hear men declaim loudly upon liberty, who, if we may judge by the whole tenor of their actions, mean nothing else by it but their own liberty — to oppress without control or the restraint of laws all who are poorer or weaker than themselves. It is not, I say, unfrequent to see such instances, though at the same time I esteem it a justice due to my country to say that it is not without shining examples of the contrary kind;— examples of men of a  distinguished attachment to  this same Liberty I have been describing; whom no hopes could draw, no terrors could drive, from steadily pursuing, in their sphere, the true interests of their country; whose fidelity has been tried in the nicest and tenderest manner, and has been ever firm and unshaken.

“The sum of all is, if we would most truly enjoy this gift of Heaven, let us become a virtuous people: then shall we both deserve and enjoy it. While, on the other hand, if we are universally vicious and debauched in our manners, though the form of our Constitution carries the face of the most exalted freedom, we shall in reality be the most abject slaves.”


[1] Life & Public Service of Samuel Adams, Vol. 1, William Wells, 1865, Pg. 503

[2] Ibid

Education, True Historical Education, Is A Protector of Liberty

I was always a strong proponent of True Historical and Virtuous education.  Clearly in what I spoke and wrote about it and am now introducing you to our history through this interaction with these great education leaders from Haiti in the videos below:

To James Warren – Feb 12, 1779: “…A general Dissolution of Principles & 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 they will be ready to surrender their Liberties to the first external or internal Invader. How necessary then is it for those who are determind to transmit the Blessings of Liberty as a fair Inheritance to Posterity, to associate on publick Principles in Support of publick Virtue. I do verily believe, and I may say it inter Nos, that the Principles & Manners of N Engd, producd that Spirit which finally has establishd the Independence of America; and Nothing but opposite Principles and Manners can overthrow it. If you are of my Mind, and I think you are, the Necessity of supporting the Education of our Country must be strongly impressd on your Mind. It gives me the greatest Concern to hear that some of our Gentlemen in the Country begin to think the Maintenance of Schools too great a Burden. I wish they could hear the Encomiums that are given to N Engd by some of the most sensible & publick spirited Gentlemen in the southern States, for the Care & Expence which have been freely borne by our Ancestors & continued to this time for the Instruction of youth. Virginia is duly sensible of the great Importance of Education, and, as a friend in that Country informs me, has lately adopted an effectual Plan for that necessary Purpose. If Virtue & Knowledge are diffusd among the People, they will never be enslavd. This will be their great Security. Virtue & Knowledge will forever be an even Balance for Powers & Riches. I hope our Countrymen will never depart from the Principles & Maxims which have been handed down to us from our wise forefathers. This greatly depends upon the Example of Men of Character & Influence of the present Day. This is a Subject my Heart is much set upon…” Vol IV Page 79 of 233  http://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/2094/pg2094.html

How to destroy our Liberty by debilitating True Virtuous Historical Education

To John Scollay 1780: “It was asked in the Reign of Charles the 2d of England, HOW shall we turn the Minds of the People from an Attention to their Liberties? The Answer was, by making them extravagant, luxurious, effeminate. Hutchinson advisd the Abridgment of what our People called English Liberties, by the same Means. We shall never subdue them, said Bernard, but by eradicating their Manners & the Principles of their Education. Will the judicious Citizens of Boston be now caught in the Snare, which their artful, insidious Enemies, a few years ago laid for them in vain? Shall we ruin ourselves by the very means, which they pointed out in their Confidential Letters, tho even they did not dare openly to avow them? Pownal, who was indeed a mere Fribble, venturd to have his Riots & Routs at his own house, to please a few Boys & Girls. Sober People were disgusted at it, & his privy Councellors never thought it prudent to venture so far as expensive Balls. Our Bradfords, Winslows & Winthrops would have revolted at the Idea of opening Scenes of Dissipation & Folly; knowing them to be inconsistent with their great Design, in transplanting themselves into what they called this “Outside of the World.” Vol. IV Page 137 of 233

I was one of the first to encourage the full education of young girls and women – To John Adams – 1781:   “… And this Metropolis has lately appointed a Committee, to consider the present Arrangement of the Schools & what further Improvements may be made, in which the better Education of female Children is designd to be comprehended. All these things I know are pleasing to you…” and again to John Adams in 1790: “… Should we not, my friend, bear a gratefull remembrance of our pious and benevolent Ancestors, who early laid plans of Education; by which means Wisdom, Knowledge, and Virtue have been generally diffused among the body of the people, and they have been enabled to form and establish a civil constitution calculated for the preservation of their rights, and liberties. This Constitution was evidently founded in the expectation of the further progress, and “extraordinary degrees” of virtue…” and in 1790 “…We agree in the Utility of universal Education, but “will nations agree in it as fully, and extensively as we do”? Why should they not? It would not be fair to conclude, that because they have not yet been disposed to agree in it, they never will. It is allowed, that the present age is more enlightened than former ones. Freedom of enquiry is certainly more encouraged: The feelings of humanity have softned the heart: The true principles of civil, and religious Liberty are better understood: Tyranny in all its shapes, is more detested, and bigotry, if not still blind, must be mortified to see that she is despised. Such an age may afford at least a flattering Expectation that Nations, as well as individuals, will view the utility of universal Education in so strong a light as to induce sufficient national Patronage, and Support…” continuing, “…The Cottager may beget a wise Son; the Noble, a Fool: The one is capable of great Improvement—the other not. Education is within the Power of Men, and Societys of Men. Wise, and judicious Modes of Education, patronized, and supported by communities, will draw together the Sons of the rich, and the poor, among whom it makes no distinction; it will cultivate the natural Genius, elevate the Soul, excite laudable Emulation to excel in Knowledge, Piety, and Benevolence, and finally it will reward its Patrons, and Benefactors by sheding its benign Influence on the Public Mind.  Education inures Men to thinking and reflection, to reasoning and demonstration. It discovers to them the moral and religious duties they owe to God, their Country and to all Mankind. Even Savages might, by the means of Education, be instructed to frame the best civil, and political Institutions with as much skill and ingenuity, as they now shape their Arrows. Education leads youth to “the Study of human nature, society, and universal History” from whence they may “draw all the Principles” of Political Architecture, which ought to be regarded. All Men are “interested in the truth.” Education by showing them “the End of all its consequences” would induce, at least, the greatest numbers to inlist on its side. The Man of good understanding who has been well educated, and improves these advantages as far as his circumstances will allow, in promoting the happiness of Mankind, in my opinion, and I am inclined to think in yours is indeed “well born.” It may be “puerile, and unworthy of Statesmen” to declame against Family Pride; but there is and always has been such a ridiculous kind of Vanity among Men. “Statesmen know the evil, and danger is too serious to be sported with.” I am content they should be put into one hole; as you propose, but I have some fears that your Watchmen on each side will not well agree. When a Man can recollect the Virtues of his Ancestors; he certainly has abundantly more solid satisfaction than another who boasts that he sprang from those, who were rich, or noble; but never discovers the least degree of Virtue, or true worth of any kind…”

Haitian Education Leaders with Samuel Adams Part 1:

Haitian Education Leaders with Samuel Adams Part 2:

From 1748 “Loyalty and Sedition”

Again you moderns lack understanding to what are the ideals of Liberty.  It is sad to see that the activities of the King and Parliament are again dominant in these United States such that sedition has lead to elected usurpation and the soft Tyranny that Mr. de Tocqueville would write about.  I’m sorry to see you enslaved by your own volition.  You have given up the ideals and protection of Liberty for the false hopes of economy and security.  Only you, as individuals can produce the latter two by ensuring the former!

 This I wrote in 1748. 

” But we oftentimes perceive such significations assumed by those who find the wrong use of the words conducive to the increase of power or gain, that it is difficult to tell whether loyalty is really commendable or sedition blameworthy. True loyalty in the sense just now explained is the beauty and perfection of a well-constituted state. It cannot indeed subsist in an arbitrary government, because it is founded in the love and possession of liberty. It includes in it a thorough knowledge of our Constitution, its conveniences and defects as well as its real advantages; a becoming jealousy of our immunities, and a steadfast resolution to maintain them. It delights in the quiet and thankful enjoyment of a good administration, and it is the scourge of the griping oppressor and haughty invader of our liberties.

” But sedition is founded on the depraved and inordinate passions of the mind: it is a weak, feverish, sickly thing, a boisterous and unnatural vigor, which cannot support itself long, and oftentimes destroys the unhappy patient. It proceeds from gross mistake or great wickedness, from lust of power or gain, in the first promoters of it, and from untamable obstinacy and a vitiated palate that cannot relish the happiness of a free state in the creatures of their designs.

” It is a very great mistake to imagine that the object of loyalty is the authority and interest of one individual man, however dignified by the applause or enriched by the success of popular actions. This has led millions into such a degree of dependence and submission, that they have at length found themselves to homage the instruments of their ruin at the very time they were at work to effect it. The true object of loyalty is a good legal constitution, which, as it condemns every instance of oppression and lawless power, derives a certain remedy to the sufferer by allowing him to remonstrate his grievances, and pointing out methods of relief when the gentle arts; of persuasion have lost their efficacy. Whoever, therefore, insinuates notions of government contrary to the constitution, or in any degree winks at any measures to suppress or even to weaken it, is not a loyal man. Whoever acquaints us that we have no right to examine into the conduct of those who, though they derive their power from us to serve the common interests, make use of it to impoverish and ruin us, is in a degree a rebel to the undoubted rights and liberties of the people. He that despises his neighbor’s happiness because he wears a worsted cap or leathern apron, he that struts immeasurably above the lower size of people, and pretends to adjust the rights of men by the distinctions of fortune, is not over loyal. He that aggravates beyond measure the well-meant failings of a warm zeal for liberty, he that leaves no stone unturned to defend and propagate the schemes of illegal power, cannot be esteemed a loyal man. Indeed, the reverse use of these words may possibly find authorities in some parts of the world where language and sense are deluged in the torrent of arbitrary power.”

“*Libertate modice utantur. (Make use of a little Liberty) Temperatam earn salubrem et singulis et civitatibus esse: nimiam et aliis gravem, et ipsis qui habeant effrenatam et praecipitem esse Alienis armis partam, externa fide redditam libertatem sua cura custodirent servarentque, ut populus Romanus dignis datam libertatem ac munus suum bene positum sciret.’ (It wholesome to be tempered and every one, and the cities of: an excessive and other severe, and precipitation, are foreign to those who possessed, the unbridled and won, by force of arms, the freedom of His care to keep the external servarentque faith restored, given that the Roman people worthy of freedom and responsibility he knew his well-placed.)— Orat T. Quint, ad Grsec Civit apud Liv. XXXrV. 49.

” There is no one thing which mankind are more passionately fond of, which they fight with more zeal for, which they possess with more anxious jealousy and fear of losing, than liberty. But it has fared with this, as with many other things, that the true notion and just definition of it has been but little understood, at the same time that zeal for it and disputes about it have produced endless altercations.

There is, there certainly is such a thing as liberty, which distinguishes man from the beasts, and a society of wise and reasonable creatures from the brutal herd, where the strongest horns are the strongest laws. And though the notions of men were ten times more confused and unsettled, and their opinions more various about this matter than they are, there yet remains an internal and essential distinction between this same liberty and slavery.  “In a former paper, the true notion of loyalty has been considered; I shall now offer to the public some general thoughts upon liberty, in order rightly to apprehend which subject we must consider man in two different states, namely, those of Nature and of Society.”

In the state of nature, every man has a right to think and act according to the dictates of his own mind, which, in that state, are subject to no other control and can be commanded by no other power than the laws and ordinances of the great Creator of all things.  The perfection of liberty therefore, in a state of nature, is for every ruan to be free from any external force, and to perform such actions as in his own mind and conscience he judges to be Tightest; which liberty no man can truly possess whose mind is enthralled by irregular and inordinate passions; since it is no great privilege to be free from external violence if the dictates of the mind are controlled by a force within, which exerts itself above reason.

This is liberty in a state of nature, which, as no man ought to be abridged of, so no man has a right to give up, or even part with any portion of it, but in order to secure the rest and place it upon a more solid foundation; it being equally with our lives the gift of the same bounteous Author of all things.*  As, therefore, no man’s life is his own in such a sense as that he may wantonly destroy it at his own pleasure, or submit it to the wanton pleasure of another, so neither is his liberty. And had mankind continued in that innocent and happy state in which the sacred writings represent them as first created, it is possible that this liberty would have been enjoyed in such perfection as to have rendered the embodying into civil society and the security of human laws altogether needless.

But though in the present corrupt and degenerate times no such state of nature can with any regularity exist, it will not, however, be difficult from the description we have given of liberty in that state to form the true notion and settle the just bounds of it in a state of society and civic government. But here, too, we must distinguish and consider liberty as it respects the whole body and as it respects each individual. As it respects the whole body, it is then enjoyed when neither legislative nor executive powers (by which I mean those men with whom are intrusted the power of making laws and of executing them) are disturbed by any internal passion or hindered by any external force from making the wisest laws and executing them in the best manner; when the safety, the security, and the happiness of all is the real care and steady pursuit of those whose business it is to care for and pursue it; in one short word, where no laws are carried through humor or prejudice, nor controlled in their proper execution by lust of power in the great, nor wanton licentiousness in the vulgar.”

As it respects individuals, a man is then free when he freely enjoys the security of the laws and the rights to which he is born when he is hindered by no violence from claiming those rights and enjoying that security, but may at any time demand the protection of the laws under which he lives, and be sure when demanded to enjoy it. This is what I take to be liberty; and considered in this light, all the fine things said of it by ancient and modern do justly belong to it. O Libertas! Dea certe! (Oh, Freedom! goddess at least!) — it is the choicest gift that Heaven has “lent to man; an emanation from the Father of Lights; an image and representation of the government of the Supreme Director of all things, which, though it can never be controlled by any superior force, is yet ever guided by the laws of infinite wisdom.

But alas! in this exalted sense, liberty is rather admired in the world than truly enjoyed. What multitudes of persons are there who have not so much as the shadow of it! who hold their property and even their lives by no other tenure than the sovereign will of a tyrant, and he often the worst and most detestable of men, who, to gratify the least humor or passion in his nature, does not scruple to massacre them by thousands! Sure it is true what orthodox divines tell us, that men are apostate from God, since in his righteous providence he subjects so many of them to such miserable fate!

“But there are other states and civil societies in the world, the model of whose government seems to promise the sure enjoyment of this blessing; which yet, if we attentively examine, we shall find to be really destitute of it. We shall often find, that where the forms of it are observed, the substance of it is wanting; for, as that man is truly a slave, who, though impelled by no external violence, is yet carried away by the impetuosity of his passions to do those things which are abhorrent from his nature and his reason, so neither can the people be called free, who, though they make their own laws, are yet blinded by prejudice and diverted by undue influence from uniformly pursuing their own interest.

” It has been a question much controverted in the world what form of government is best, and in what system this liberty is best consulted and preserved. I cannot say that I am wholly free from that prejudice which generally possesses men in favor of their own country, and the manners they have been used to from their infancy. But I must declare, for my own part, that there is no form of civil government, which I have ever heard of, appears to me so well calculated to preserve this blessing, or to secure to its subjects all the most valuable advantages of civil society, as the English. For in none that I have ever met with is the power of the governors and the rights of the governed more nicely adjusted, or the power which is necessary in the very nature of government to be intrusted in the hands of some, by wiser checks prevented from growing exorbitant. This Constitution has indeed passed through various amendations, but the principal parts of it are of very ancient standing, and have continued through the several successions of kings to this day; having never been in any great degree attacked by any, but they have lost their lives or their crowns in the attempt.

“The two main provisions by which a certain share in the government is secured to the people are their Parliaments and their juries; by the former of which no laws can be made without their consent, and by the latter none can be executed without their judgment. By this means the subject can never be oppressed by bad laws, nor lose the security of good ones, but by his own fault; and though I am not such an extravagant admirer of my own country as to suppose that Parliament never made unwise laws, or that jurors never put false constructions on wise ones, yet I will venture to assert that every man’s security and happiness is much safer in such hands than under an arbitrary or aristocratical form of government. Especially since, by the wise provisions of our ancestors, both these powers are of short continuance; for power intrusted for a short time is not so likely to be perverted as that which is perpetual.

“From this happy Constitution of our mother country, ours in this is copied, or rather improved upon. Our invaluable charter secures to us all the English liberties, besides which we have some additional privileges which the common people there have not. Our fathers had so severely felt the effects of tyranny and the weight of the bishop’s yoke, that they underwent the greatest difficulties and toils to secure to themselves and transmit to their posterity those invaluable blessings; and we, their posterity, are this day reaping the fruits of their toils. Happy beyond expression! — in the form of our government, in the liberty we enjoy, — if we know our own happiness and how to improve it. But neither the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt. He therefore is the truest friend to the liberty of his country who tries most to promote its virtue, and who, so far as his power and influence extend, will not suffer a man to be chosen into any office of power and trust who is not a wise and virtuous man. We must not conclude merely upon a man’s haranguing upon liberty, and using the charming sound, that he is fit to be trusted with the liberties of his country. It is not unfrequent to hear men declaim loudly upon liberty, who, if we may judge by the whole tenor of their actions, mean nothing else by it hut their own liberty^ — to oppress without control or the restraint of laws all who are poorer or weaker than themselves. It is not, I say, unfrequent to see such instances, though at the same time I esteem it a justice due to my country to say that it is not without shining examples of the contrary kind; — examples of men of a distinguished attachment to this same Liberty I have been describing whom no hopes could draw, no terrors could drive, from steadily pursuing, in their sphere, the true interests of their country; whose fidelity has been tried in the nicest and tenderest manner, and has been ever firm and unshaken.

“The sum of all is, if we would most truly enjoy this gift of Heaven, let us become a virtuous people: then shall we both deserve and enjoy it. While, on the other hand, if we are universally vicious and debauched in our manners, though the form of our Constitution carries the face of the most exalted freedom, we shall in reality be the most abject slaves.”

Mr. Adams’ Views & Understanding of Constitutional Republicanism for Liberty – Today!

With all that is happening in modern lack of good governance this letter as Governor, Mr. Adams addresses the State Legislature and the Citizenry with great knowledge of how a Republic is to function to preserve Life, Liberty and Property (also considered happiness).  We must raise up statesmen and stateswomen for our states and nation to preserve Liberty.  Let Mr. Adams be an example for you.

TO THE LEGISLATURE OF MASSACHUSETTS.

JANUARY 19, 1796.

[Independent Chronicle, January 21, 1796]

FELLOW CITIZENS,

I CANNOT but congratulate you upon the many blessings which the bountiful hand of Providence has bestowed upon us since your adjournment.

We with our Fellow Citizens at large have observed a day solemnly to recognize these blessings; and if sincere obedience to our gracious Benefactor, shall accompany the gratitude which we then professed, we may humbly rely upon him that he will continue his divine favors to the citizens at large, and direct the public councils of our Nation and Commonwealth to such measures as shall be productive of the safety and welfare of all.

In my former address to this General Court I mentioned the duty required by the (state) Constitution, frequently to revise the laws, and amend such of them as may still be necessary to secure the lives, liberty and property of the citizens — The importance of civil commutative justice and the good policy of making adequate compensations to those who administer well — and the great advantages of cherishing the interests of literature and the sciences, and all seminaries of them among the body of the people. Upon these I shall not now enlarge.

Agriculture and Commerce mutually depend upon each other. As foreign markets are supplied from our fields, it is an object of importance, that the transportation of heavy articles, and means of communication from one part of the State to another, may be rendered as easy and cheap as the nature of the country will admit. By the spirit of enterprize, which so remarkably animates the citizens, countenanced by the Legislature, much has been done and is still doing in various parts of the Commonwealth.

The improvement of Arts and Manufactures is of interesting moment. The encouragement of such manufactures in particular, as will diminish the consumption of Foreign Articles and exhibit a real balance in our favor, is the common concern of the whole Union — Such encouragement as will spread the spirit of Industry individually through the body of the people, will tend to increase their happy feelings of Independence, and give them an exalted idea of the truly noble character of Free Citizens. Industry naturally leads to sobriety of sentiment, rectitude of manners, a due observance of wise and constitutional laws, and of course to public and private virtue.

Fellow Citizens,

IT is wisdom often to recur to first principles. The people of this Commonwealth, as well as those of the United States, have voluntarily formed such constitutions of government, as they have judged well adapted to secure their own political safety.  These Constitutions are founded upon the same principles; and they avow the great and fundamental political truth that all power is derived from the people.

As these and all new forms of Government which recognize principles, never reduced to practice until the period of our illustrious Revolution must be in their nature experiments, the provision of a peaceable and constitutional remedy for such defects as experience may point out, is with great propriety established in our State and National Governments.  The citizens of this Commonwealth, have lately discovered their acquiescence under their Constitution as it now stands. But it still remains recorded in our declaration of rights, that the people alone have an incontestible, unalienable and indefeasible right to institute government; & to reform, alter, or totally change the same when their protection, safety, prosperity and happiness require it. And the Federal Constitution, according to the mode prescribed therein has already undergone such amendments in several parts of it, as from experience has been judged necessary.

The Government of the United States is entrusted solely with such powers as regard our safety as a nation; and all powers not given to Congress by the Constitution remain in the individual States and the people. In all good Governments the Legislative, Executive and Judiciary powers are confined within the limits of their respective Departments. If therefore it should be found that the Constitutional rights of our federal and local Governments should on either side be infringed, or that either of the Departments aforesaid should interfere with another, it will, if continued, essentially alter the Constitution, and may in time, I hope far distant, be productive of such convulsions as may shake the political ground upon which we now happily stand.

Under these impressions, I cannot forbear to mention to you a subject which has lately arrested the public attention and employed the pens of ingenious men of different sentiments concerning it. In discussing a subject so exceedingly momentous as a national Treaty, no personal attachment or prejudice, no private or selfish feelings, no arts of deception should be suffered to intermingle: Truth should be the object, and reason the guide.

By the Constitution of the United States, it is provided, that all Legislative powers therein granted, shall be vested in a Congress, to consist of a Senate and a House of Representatives. These several branches have, and exercise a positive negative upon each other: No Legislative act, therefore, can pass without their joint concurrence. But in another part of the Constitution, under the head of Executive, the President has the power with the advice and consent of the Senate, provided two thirds of the Senate present, concur, to make Treaties; and all Treaties which are made or shall be made under the authority of the United States, shall be among the Supreme Laws of the Land: The Senate therefore partakes with the Executive, so far as to advise and consent; but the most popular branch of Congress has no concern therein. I do earnestly recommend to you to turn your attention to those parts of the Constitution, at least, which relate to the Legislative and Executive powers, and judge for yourself, whether they may not be construed to militate with each other and lead to an absurd conclusion– that there actually exists in the Government of the United States, two distinct and decisive Legislatives.

I am far from being desirous that unnecessary alterations of our Constitution, should be proposed: but it is of great consequence to the liberties of a nation, to review its civil Constitution and compare the practice of its administrators with the essential principles upon which it is founded. We, fellow-citizens, are under the strongest obligations, from the solemnity of our mutual compacts, and even our sacred oaths, with a watchful eye at every point to defend and support our Constitutions; and to strengthen the essential principles upon which they are founded, when it shall be needful, falls in my opinion within those solemn obligations.

I hope, fellow-citizens, that what I am now about to say will not be deemed improper.

I have been accustomed to speak my mind upon matters of great moment to our common country with freedom; and every citizen of the United States has the same right that I have. I may never hereafter have an opportunity of publicly expressing my opinion on the Treaty made with the Court of London: I am therefore constrained with all due respect to our Constituted Authority to declare, that the Treaty appears to me to be pregnant with evil. It controuls some of the powers specially vested in Congress for the security of the people; and I fear that it may restore to Great Britain such an influence over the Government and people of this country as may not be consistent with the general welfare. This subject however it is expected will come before the Congress whose immediate province it is to discuss it, and to determine, so far as it may be in their power, as they shall think, for the safety and welfare of the people.

I shall use my best endeavor to dispatch the business which you shall lay before me. And it is my cordial wish that all your decisions may tend to the prosperity of the Commonwealth, and afford to you the most agreeable reflections.

 

SAMUEL ADAMS.

Choosing a Candidate and Voting

Simple and again relevant to the present.    Emphasis added

ARTICLE, UNSIGNED.

[Boston Gazette, April 2, 1781;

a draft is in the Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library.1]

 

…”I was sorry to hear, that the Number of Votes returned, the last Time, did not amount to a Quarter of the Number of qualified Electors in the Commonwealth. The Choice of Legislators, Magistrates and Governors, is surely a Business of the greatest Moment, and claims the Attention of every Citizen. The Framers of our Constitution, while they gave due Attention to Political were not forgetful of Civil Libertythat personal Freedom and those Rights of Property, which the meanest Citizen is intitled to, and the Security of which is the great End of political Society. It was not indeed their Province to make particular Laws for these Purposes. To do this, and to provide for the equal and impartial Execution of such Laws, agreeable to the Constitution, is the Duty of the Legislature. Hence every Citizen will see, and I hope will be deeply impressed with a Sense of it, how exceedingly important it is to himself, and how intimately the welfare of his Children is connected with it, that those who are to have a Share in making as well as in judging and executing the Laws should be Men of singular Wisdom and Integrity. Such as are conscious that they are deficient in either of these Qualities, should even TREMBLE at being named as Candidates! I hope the great Business of Elections will never be left by the Many, to be done by the Few; for before we are aware of it, that few may become the Engine of Corruption—the Tool of a Junto.—Heaven forbid! that our Countrymen should ever be byass’d in their Choice, by unreasonable Predilections (a bias in favor of something) for any man, or that an Attachment to the Constitution, as has been the Case in other Countries, should be lost in Devotion to Persons. The Effect of this would soon be, to change the Love of Liberty into the Spirit of Faction. 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.

“When the great Body of the People are determined not to be imposed upon by a false Glare of Virtues held before their Eyes, but, making up their own Minds, shall impartially give in their Suffrages, after their best Enquiries into the Characters of Candidates, for those whom they judge to be the fittest Persons, there will be no Danger that the generous Enthusiasm of Freedom, so characteristic of the People of Massachusetts, will ever sink into the Violence and Rage of Party, which has often proved fatal to free Republicks.”

Mysteries of Government February 27th, 1769

In the days of the STUARTS, it was lookd upon by some men as a high degree of prophaness, for any subject to enquire into what was called the mysteries of government: James the first thundered his anathema against Dr. Cowel, for his daring presumption in treating of those mysteries, and forbad his subjects to read his books, or even to keep them in their houses. In those days passive obedience, non-resistance, the divine hereditary right of kings, and their being accountable to God alone, were doctrines generally taught, believd and practiced: But behold the sudden transition of human affairs! In the very next reign the people assumd the right of free enquiry, into the nature and end of government, and the conduct of those who were entrusted with it: Laud and Strafford were brot to the block; and after the horrors of a civil war, in which some of the best blood of the nation was spilt as water upon the ground, they finally called to account, arraignd, adjudgd, condemnd and even executed the monarch himself! and for a time held his son and heir in exile. The two sons of Charles the first, after the death of Oliver Cromwell, reigned in their turns; but by copying after their father, their administration of government was grievous to their subjects, and infamous abroad. Charles the second indeed reignd till he died; but his brother James was obligd to abdicate the throne, which made room for William the third, and his royal consort Mary, the daughter of the unfortunate James. This was the fate of a race of Kings, bigotted to the greatest degree to the doctrines of slavery and regardless of the natural, inherent, divinely hereditary and indefeasible rights of their subjects. At the revolution, the British constitution was again restord to its original principles, declared in the bill of rights; which was afterwards passd into a law, and stands as a bulwark to the natural rights of subjects. To vindicate these rights, says Mr. Blackstone, when actually violated or attackd, the subjects of England are entitled first to the regular administration and free course of justice in the courts of law–next to the right of petitioning the King and parliament for redress of grievances and lastly, to the right of having and using arms for self-preservation and defence. These he calls auxiliary subordinate rights, which serve principally as barriers to protect and maintain inviolate the three great and primary rights of personal security, personal liberty and private property: And that of having arms for their defence he tells us is a public allowance, under due restrictions, of the natural right of resistance and self preservation, when the sanctions of society and laws are found insufficient to restrain the violence of oppression. How little do those persons attend to the rights of the constitution, if they know anything about them, who find fault with a late vote of this town, calling upon the inhabitants to provide themselves with arms for their defence at any time; but more especially, when they had reason to fear, there would be a necessity of the means of self preservation against the violence of oppression. Every one knows that the exercise of the military power is forever dangerous to civil rights; and we have had recent instances of violences that have been offerd to private subjects, and the last week, even to a magistrate in the execution of his office! Such violences are no more than might have been expected from military troops: A power, which is apt enough at all times to take a wanton lead, even when in the midst of civil society; but more especially so, when they are led to believe that they are become necessary, to awe a spirit of rebellion, and preserve peace and good order. But there are some persons, who would, if possibly they could, perswade the people never to make use of their constitutional rights or terrify them from doing it. No wonder that a resolution of this town to keep arms for its own defence, should be represented as having at bottom a secret intention to oppose the landing of the Kings troops: when those very persons, who gave it this colouring, had before represented the people petitioning their Sovereign, as proceeding from a factious and rebellious spirit; and would now insinuate that there is an impropriety in their addressing even a plantation Governor upon public business. Such are the times we are fallen into!

The Unalienable Right of Property

The right to property is the most ancient of arguments beginning with the creation of mankind.  I learned early in my youth, during my studies of Scriptures, that God gifted mankind with the earth to be stewards over it.  While continuing my studies at Harvard and learning the details of the history of England and its Constitution, Property was a significant topic.  I studied the great philosopher of the day John Locke.  Locke well established that Property was extensible to not only land but to wages, effort, intellect or anything unique to an individuals person.

“Though the Earth, and all inferior Creatures be common to all Men, yet every Man has a Property in his own Person. This no Body had any Right to but himself. The Labour of his Body, and the Work of his Hands, we may say, are properly his. Whatsoever then he removes out of the State that Nature hath provided, and left it in, he hath mixed his Labour with, and joyned to it something that is his own, and thereby makes it his Property. It being by him removed from the common state Nature placed it in, it hath by this labour something annexed to it, that excludes the common right of other Men. For this Labour being the unquestionable Property of the Labourer, no Man but he can have a right to what that is once joyned to, at least where there is enough, and as good left in common for others.”  Sec. 27. Of the Second Treatise of Government

You must remember that the King had broken our Charter for self-governance in Massachusetts and through Parliament, beginning after the French and Indian War in 1765, had instituted acts that affected our commerce, businesses, homes and liberty.  These acts of tyranny culminated in the “Intolerable Acts” of 1774.

As you may know, I presented the “The Natural Rights of the Colonist as Men in November 1772.  I clearly spoke to our natural rights and the right to defend these in the best manner possible.  I argue the point that; “…The Legislative has no right to absolute, arbitrary power over the lives and fortunes of the people; nor can mortals assume a prerogative not only too high for men, but for angels, and therefore reserved for the exercise of the Deity alone.

“The Legislative cannot justly assume to itself a power to rule by extempore arbitrary decrees; but it is bound to see that justice is dispensed, and that the rights of the subjects be decided by promulgated, standing, and known laws, and authorized independent judges”; that is, independent, as far as possible, of Prince and people. “There should be one rule of justice for rich and poor, for the favorite at court, and the countryman at the plough.”

“…The supreme power cannot justly take from any man any part of his property, without his consent in person or by his representative.”

Now I look into your present time in history and see that your properties, all the definitions of it, are in jeopardy!  The tyranny that I see is that Non Governmental Organization, Government Agencies, the Courts and foreign agencies/governments (The United Nations) are dictating how your Rights to your property are being diminished.  We rose up, we rose against what the King and Parliament did to us.  And yet, You, you sleep and tolerate the chains that will bind you.

I continued in the November 1772 writing with, “Now what liberty can there be where property is taken away without consent?  Can it be said with any color of truth and justice, that this continent of three thousand miles in length, and of a breadth as yet unexplored, in which, however, it is supposed there are five millions of people, has the least voice, vote, or influence in the British Parliament? Have they all together any more weight or power to return a single member to that House of Commons who have not inadvertently, but deliberately, assumed a power to dispose of their lives, liberties, and properties, than to choose an Emperor of China? Had the Colonists a right to return members to the British Parliament, it would only be hurtful; as, from their local situation and circumstances, it is impossible they should ever be truly and properly represented there. The inhabitants of this country, in all probability, in a few years, will be more numerous than those of Great Britain and Ireland together; yet it is absurdly expected by the promoters of the present measures that these, with their posterity to all generations, should be easy, while their property shall be disposed of by a House of Commons at three thousand miles’ distance from them, and who cannot be supposed to have the least care or concern for their real interest; who have not only no natural care for their interest, but must be in effect bribed against it, as every burden they lay on the Colonists is so much saved or gained to themselves. Hitherto, many of the Colonists have been free from quit rents; but if the breath of a British House of Commons can originate an act for taking away all our money, our lands will go next, or be subject to rack rents from haughty and relentless landlords, who will ride at ease, while we are trodden in the dirt. The Colonists have been branded with the odious names of traitors and rebels only for complaining of their grievances. How long such treatment will or ought to be borne, is submitted.”

I implore you Citizens and Countrymen do not let Agenda 21, ICLEI, Sustainability fool you and steal away your Rights.  You must fight these tyrannical policies and acts upon your person.  Otherwise, I can only say now what I wrote in my day and am most noted for saying, “Contemplate the mangled bodies of your countrymen, and then say ‘what should be the reward of such sacrifices?’ Bid us and our posterity bow the knee, supplicate the friendship and plough, and sow, and reap, to glut the avarice of the men who have let loose on us the dogs of war to riot in our blood and hunt us from the face of the earth? If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude than the animated contest of freedom, go from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen!”

“The liberties of our country, the freedom of our civil constitution, are worth defending against all hazards: And it is our duty to defend them against all attacks.”

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