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Author Topic: The American Creed: Our Founding Fathers:  (Read 191562 times)
Freki
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« Reply #850 on: January 05, 2011, 08:10:14 AM »

"[H]onesty will be found on every experiment, to be the best and only true policy; let us then as a Nation be just." --George Washington, Circular letter to the States, 1783
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #851 on: January 05, 2011, 11:31:10 AM »

The Foundation
"[T]he present Constitution is the standard to which we are to cling. Under its banners, bona fide must we combat our political foes -- rejecting all changes but through the channel itself provides for amendments." --Alexander Hamilton

Editorial Exegesis

Boehner to have the Constitution read aloud"For the last decade, presidents and Congresses representing both major political parties have caused federal spending, regulation, and debt to explode as never before, with a result that the central government is in truly dire financial shape even as its power to control the most minute details of American daily life has never been greater. ... [W]e think incoming Speaker of the House John Boehner has been unjustly criticized in some, mostly liberal, precincts for his decision to open the 112th Congress with a public reading of the Constitution. Aside from the sad fact that the reading will likely be the closest encounter many lawmakers have ever had with the actual words of the document, the occasion will be a happy one because it will also provide citizens across the country with an opportunity to join Congress in examining and discussing the words of our founding document. Comparing the words of the Constitution to the actions of our leaders in recent years will surely make clear the enduring wisdom of James Madison's warning that 'there are more instances of the abridgment of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.' Talking seriously about this condition is the first step to remedying it, just as Madison and the rest of the Founders intended." --The Washington Examiner

Dezinformatsia
Deliberate ignorance: "[Reading the Constitution aloud in Congress is] a gimmick. I mean, you can say two things about it. One, is that it has no binding power on anything. And two, the issue of the Constitution is not that people don't read the text and think they're following. The issue of the Constitution is that the text is confusing because it was written more than 100 years ago and what people believe it says differs from person to person and differs depending on what they want to get done." --Washington Post blogger Ezra Klein

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Freki
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« Reply #852 on: January 06, 2011, 08:11:02 AM »

"If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the General Welfare, the Government is no longer a limited one, possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one, subject to particular exceptions." --James Madison, letter to Edmund Pendleton, 1792
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Freki
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« Reply #853 on: January 10, 2011, 09:19:36 AM »

"It would reduce the whole instrument to a single phrase, that of instituting a Congress with power to do whatever would be for the good of the United States; and as they would be the sole judges of the good or evil, it would be also a power to do whatever evil they please. Certainly no such universal power was meant to be given them. It [the Constitution] was intended to lace them up straightly within the enumerated powers and those without which, as means, these powers could not be carried into effect." --Thomas Jefferson, Opinion on a National Bank, 1791
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Freki
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« Reply #854 on: January 11, 2011, 09:58:29 PM »

"For the same reason that the members of the State legislatures will be unlikely to attach themselves sufficiently to national objects, the members of the federal legislature will be likely to attach themselves too much to local objects." --James Madison, Federalist No. 46, 1788
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Freki
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« Reply #855 on: January 12, 2011, 09:09:21 AM »

"Laws that forbid the carrying of arms... disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes... Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man." --Cesare Beccaria, On Crimes and Punishment, quoted by Thomas Jefferson in Commonplace Book
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Freki
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« Reply #856 on: January 14, 2011, 08:44:07 AM »

"With hearts fortified with these animating reflections, we most solemnly, before God and the world, declare, that, exerting the utmost energy of those powers, which our beneficent Creator hath graciously bestowed upon us, the arms we have compelled by our enemies to assume, we will, in defiance of every hazard, with unabating firmness and perseverance employ for the preservation of our liberties; being with one mind resolved to die freemen rather than to live as slaves." --John Dickinson & Thomas Jefferson, Declaration of the Cause and Necessity of Taking up Arms, 1775
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Freki
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« Reply #857 on: January 19, 2011, 08:45:14 AM »


"It will not be denied that power is of an encroaching nature and that it ought to be effectually restrained from passing the limits assigned to it. After discriminating, therefore, in theory, the several classes of power, as they may in their nature be legislative, executive, or judiciary, the next and most difficult task is to provide some practical security for each, against the invasion of the others." --James Madison, Federalist No. 48
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Freki
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« Reply #858 on: January 25, 2011, 07:43:25 AM »

"In the first place, it is to be remembered, that the general government is not to be charged with the whole power of making and administering laws: its jurisdiction is limited to certain enumerated objects, which concern all the members of the republic, but which are not to be attained by the separate provisions of any." --James Madison, Federalist No. 14, 1787
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Freki
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« Reply #859 on: January 26, 2011, 08:03:56 AM »

"There exists in the economy and course of nature an indissoluble union between virtue and happiness … we ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained." --George Washington, First Inaugural Address, 1789
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Freki
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« Reply #860 on: January 27, 2011, 08:35:45 AM »

"No experiment can be more interesting than that we are now trying, and which we trust will end in establishing the fact, that man may be governed by reason and truth. Our first object should therefore be, to leave open to him all the avenues to truth. The most effectual hitherto found, is the freedom of the press. It is, therefore, the first shut up by those who fear the investigation of their actions." --Thomas Jefferson, letter to Judge John Tyler, 1804

« Last Edit: January 27, 2011, 08:44:22 AM by Freki » Logged
Freki
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« Reply #861 on: January 31, 2011, 08:46:26 AM »

"It is … [the citizens] choice, and depends upon their conduct, whether they will be respectable and prosperous, or contemptable and miserable as a Nation. This is the time of their political probation; this is the moment when the eyes of the World are turned upon them." --George Washington, Letter to the Governors, 1783
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Freki
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« Reply #862 on: February 01, 2011, 11:20:49 AM »

"A republic, by which I mean a government in which the scheme of representation takes place, opens a different prospect and promises the  cure for which we are seeking." --James Madison, letter to William Hunter, 1790
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Freki
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« Reply #863 on: February 02, 2011, 08:43:01 AM »

"One of the most essential branches of English liberty is the freedom of one's house. A man's house is his castle." --James Otis, On the Writs of Assistance, 1761



Property tax?
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Freki
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« Reply #864 on: February 03, 2011, 08:41:07 AM »

"What is to be the consequence, in case the Congress shall misconstrue this part [the necessary and proper clause] of the Constitution and  exercise powers not warranted by its true meaning, I answer the same as if they should misconstrue or enlarge any other power vested in them...the success of the usurpation will depend on the executive and judiciary departments, which are to expound and give effect to the legislative acts; and in a last resort a remedy must be obtained from the people, who can by the elections of more faithful representatives, annul the acts of the usurpers." --James Madison, Federalist No. 44
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Freki
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« Reply #865 on: February 05, 2011, 08:14:20 AM »

"Poverty wants some things, luxury many things, avarice all things."-Benjamin Franklin
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bigdog
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« Reply #866 on: February 07, 2011, 05:56:08 AM »



This was one of my favorite parts of the Super Bowl. 
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Freki
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« Reply #867 on: February 07, 2011, 09:13:03 AM »

"If the present Congress errs in too much talking, how can it be otherwise in a body to which the people send 150 lawyers, whose trade it is to question everything, yield nothing, & talk by the hour? That 150 lawyers should do business together ought not to be expected." --Thomas Jefferson, Autobiography, 1821
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DougMacG
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« Reply #868 on: February 07, 2011, 09:57:02 AM »

BD,  That was beautiful and I had missed it trying to avoid the 14 day pre-game show.

In the context of today, I feel very much like I live in the pre-Declaration United States, ruled with a heavy hand from afar than the model of liberty and limited government that they pledged their lives and fortunes to begin.
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G M
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« Reply #869 on: February 07, 2011, 11:15:31 AM »



This was one of my favorite parts of the Super Bowl. 

It was the best part. A reminder that freedom, and silly things like sports are thing we have because people stood up and stand up for this nation today.
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G M
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« Reply #870 on: February 07, 2011, 11:23:45 AM »




I still get chills and tear up a little seeing this. Too bad Whitney threw her talent away.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #871 on: February 08, 2011, 02:08:12 PM »

My personal favorite is Aretha Franklin's rendition preceding Thomas Hearns fighting for (and winning) the Light Heavy Weight title from Dennis Andries in Detroit.
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Freki
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« Reply #872 on: February 10, 2011, 10:03:34 AM »

"My ardent desire is, and my aim has been ... to comply strictly with all our engagements foreign and domestic; but to keep the United States free from political connections with every other Country. To see that they may be independent of all, and under the influence of none. In a word, I want an American character, that the powers of Europe may be convinced we act for ourselves and not for others; this, in my judgment, is the only way to be respected abroad and happy at home." --George Washington, letter to Patrick Henry, 1775
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Freki
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« Reply #873 on: February 11, 2011, 08:38:41 AM »

"As on the one hand, the necessity for borrowing in particular emergencies cannot be doubted, so on the other, it is equally evident that to be able to borrow upon good terms, it is essential that the credit of a nation should be well established." --Alexander Hamilton, Report on Public Credit, 1790
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Freki
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« Reply #874 on: February 15, 2011, 07:46:48 AM »

"It is a wise rule and should be fundamental in a government disposed to cherish its credit, and at the same time to restrain the use of it within the limits of its faculties, 'never to borrow a dollar without laying a tax in the same instant for paying the interest annually, and the principal within a given term; and to consider that tax as pledged to the creditors on the public faith.'" --Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Wayles Eppes, 1813


"I have been happy... in believing that... whatever follies we may be led into as to foreign nations, we shall never give up our Union, the last anchor of our hope, and that alone which is to prevent this heavenly country from becoming an arena of gladiators." --Thomas Jefferson, letter to Elbridge Gerry, 1797

"As on the one hand, the necessity for borrowing in particular emergencies cannot be doubted, so on the other, it is equally evident that to be able to borrow upon good terms, it is essential that the credit of a nation should be well established." --Alexander Hamilton, Report on Public Credit, 1790

"My ardent desire is, and my aim has been ... to comply strictly with all our engagements foreign and domestic; but to keep the United States free from political connections with every other Country. To see that they may be independent of all, and under the influence of none. In a word, I want an American character, that the powers of Europe may be convinced we act for ourselves and not for others; this, in my judgment, is the only way to be respected abroad and happy at home." --George Washington, letter to Patrick Henry, 1775
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Freki
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« Reply #875 on: February 19, 2011, 08:18:36 AM »


"Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence; true friendship is a plant of slow growth, and must undergo and withstand the shocks and adversity before it is entitled to the appellation." --George Washington, Letter to Bushrod Washington, 1783

"The constitution of the United States is to receive a reasonable interpretation of its language, and its powers, keeping in view the objects and purposes, for which those powers were conferred. By a reasonable interpretation, we mean, that in case the words are susceptible of two different senses, the one strict, the other more enlarged, that should be adopted, which is most consonant with the apparent objects and intent of the Constitution." --Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #876 on: February 19, 2011, 04:06:49 PM »


By JOHN R. MILLER
Today we merge Washington's birthday with the birthdays of other presidents and submerge them all in clothing and appliance sales. But it was not always so. Americans in past centuries celebrated Washington's birthday as a winter version of the Fourth of July.

Americans in Cambridge, Williamsburg, Richmond and Milton, Conn., were already celebrating Washington's birthday even before the end of the Revolutionary War. After his death in 1799, hundreds of cities and towns held birthday events. Such celebrations briefly abated in the early 1800s, as John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were, while admiring of Washington, also envious of the awe in which Americans held him.

By the 100th anniversary of Washington's birth in 1832, however, celebrations were once again held throughout the land. Pealing church bells, sermons, fireworks, marching bands and songs about Washington were all part of a holiday embraced without official sanction. Businesses closed, Washington's picture hung in school houses, and Feb. 22 was a day of national rejoicing.

Throughout the 19th century, activist groups of all stripes used Washington's birthday to further their causes. Antislavery activists claimed Washington since he had freed his slaves. Immigration supporters claimed him as a stalwart of religious, political and economic refugees. Advocates of Indian rights noted that after defeating the Iroquois in Revolutionary War battles, Washington restored their land and maintained their reservations. Striking Massachusetts shoemakers invoked his name as that of the first great American rebel. Temperance supporters praised his prudence, but given his fondness for Madeira, the connection there was less clear.

View Full Image

The Gallery Collection/Corbis
 
A portrait of George Washington
.In 1880, Congress and President Chester Arthur proclaimed Washington's birthday as an official national holiday, but the 20th century saw a gradual ebbing of public interest. As our country grew, new heroes emerged.

In 1968, the public-employee unions, seeking a three-day weekend, convinced Congress to move the commemoration of Washington's birthday to the third Monday in February. This eventually led to what we now call Presidents Day, which marks the birthday not only of Washington but of Lincoln and all other presidents. By celebrating every birthday, we effectively celebrate none.

Washington's contemporaries hailed his Revolutionary War victories at Trenton and Yorktown, but they honored him more for risking his fame, fortune and life in taking on military responsibilities for which he wasn't paid—and then giving up command to return to his farm and family. The young American citizenry esteemed him for bringing together and presiding over the Constitutional Convention, but they honored him more for his steadfastness in holding the colonies together and facing down potential insurrectionists who might have seized the government and made him a military dictator. And while they appreciated him returning to public service as president, they honored him more for leaving an office that many expected him to hold for life.

Americans in the 18th and 19th centuries were unaware of, but they would not have been surprised by, what King George III supposedly said upon hearing that Washington, after winning the Revolutionary War, had refused to be king: "If that is true, he must be the greatest man in the world."

Today we expect our leaders to seek and hold power, to take credit for their accomplishments, to demonstrate empathy, and to be facile with their written and spoken words, either their own or those of a speechwriter. Like the great Greek and Roman leaders, however, Washington was ambitious but learned to control it. He was too proud, in a good sense, to take credit.

Washington took advice from privates and generals, citizens and cabinet members, but his reserve kept them from feeling that they were his friends. When pressed to orate—as in his farewell toast to his officers or when he returned his sword to Congress after the Revolutionary War—Washington uttered some fine phrases, but he didn't give a single speech to the Continental Congresses. The delegates chose him anyway as commanding general and gave him far-reaching powers. He also gave no speech to the Constitutional Convention, yet his presence moved the delegates to choose a presidential form of government, largely because they knew he would serve as the first chief executive.

Likewise, Washington was an able but not elegant writer. He never composed an essay on religious freedom. But his custom of attending church services of different Christian denominations, and his letter to the Jewish congregation of Newport, R.I., helped bring fractious religious groups together in the new country. He never wrote an essay on the evils of slavery. But by emancipating his slaves after his death and providing for their support and education, he set an example noted repeatedly in succeeding decades.

In the early republic, Americans idolized virtues molded and displayed over the years. Today we seem excited by new persons and talents every month.

Our ancestors expected that America would produce other great leaders. But they celebrated Washington's birthday because, as the Connecticut Courant observed in 1791, "Many a private man might make a great president; but will there ever be a President who will make so great a man as WASHINGTON?"

Mr. Miller, a former U.S. Ambassador at Large and visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Institute of Governmental Studies, is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute. He is writing a book about Washington and civilian supremacy over the military.

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Freki
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« Reply #877 on: February 22, 2011, 09:59:05 AM »

"I entirely concur in the propriety of resorting to the sense in which the Constitution was accepted and ratified by the nation. In that sense alone it is the legitimate Constitution. And if that is not the guide in expounding it, there may be no security for a consistent and stable, more than for a faithful exercise of its powers. If the meaning of the text be sought in the changeable meaning of the words composing it, it is evident that the shape and attributes of the Government must partake of the changes to which the words and phrases of all living languages are constantly subject. What a metamorphosis would be produced in the code of law if all its ancient phraseology were to be taken in its modern sense. And that the language of our Constitution is already undergoing interpretations unknown to its founder, will I believe appear to all unbiassed Enquirers into the history of its origin and adoption." --James Madison, letter to Henry Lee, 1824

"The people can never willfully betray their own interests: But they may possibly be betrayed by the representatives of the people; and the danger will be evidently greater where the whole legislative trust is lodged in the hands of one body of men, than where the concurrence of separate and dissimilar bodies is required in every public act." --James Madison, Federalist No. 63, 1788
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Freki
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« Reply #878 on: February 24, 2011, 09:12:56 PM »

"[D]emocracy will soon degenerate into an anarchy, such an anarchy that every man will do what is right in his own eyes and no man's life or property or reputation or liberty will be secure, and every one of these will soon mould itself into a system of subordination of all the moral virtues and intellectual abilities, all the powers of wealth, beauty, wit and science, to the wanton pleasures, the capricious will, and the execrable cruelty of one or a very few." --John Adams, An Essay on Man's Lust for Power, 1763
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Freki
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« Reply #879 on: February 25, 2011, 08:24:16 AM »

"It behooves you, therefore, to think and act for yourself and your people. The great principles of right and wrong are legible to every reader; to pursue them requires not the aid of many counselors. The whole art of government consists in the art of being honest. Only aim to do your duty, and mankind will give you credit where you fail." --Thomas Jefferson, A Summary View of the Rights of British America, 1775
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Freki
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« Reply #880 on: February 28, 2011, 08:27:15 AM »


"The ordaining of laws in favor of one part of the nation, to the prejudice and oppression of another, is certainly the most erroneous and mistaken policy. An equal dispensation of protection, rights, privileges, and advantages, is what every part is entitled to, and ought to enjoy." --Benjamin Franklin, Emblematical Representations, 1774
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Freki
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« Reply #881 on: March 02, 2011, 08:24:42 AM »

"There is no good government but what is republican. That the only valuable part of the British constitution is so; for the true idea of a republic is 'an empire of laws, and not of men.' That, as a republic is the best of governments, so that particular arrangement of the powers of society, or in other words, that form of government which is best contrived to secure an impartial and exact execution of the law, is the best of republics." --John Adams, Thoughts on Government, 1776

"The regular distribution of power into distinct departments; the introduction of legislative balances and checks; the institution of courts composed of judges holding their offices during good behavior; the representation of the people in the legislature by deputies of their own election... They are means, and powerful means, by which the excellences of republican government may be retained and its imperfections lessened or avoided." --Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 9, 1787
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Freki
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« Reply #882 on: March 02, 2011, 11:12:53 AM »

Happy 175th Texas Independence Day!!!!!!

“When a government has ceased to protect the lives, liberty and property of the people, from whom its legitimate powers are derived, and for the advancement of whose happiness it was instituted…[it] becomes an instrument in the hands of evil rulers for their oppression.” – Richard Ellis, The Texas Declaration of Independence,1836
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Freki
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« Reply #883 on: March 07, 2011, 07:48:34 AM »

"It is so difficult to draw a clear line of separation between the abuse and the wholesome use of the press, that as yet we have found it better to trust the public judgment, rather than the magistrate, with the discrimination between truth and falsehood. And hitherto the public judgment has performed that office with wonderful correctness." --Thomas Jefferson to M. Pictet, 1803

"Republics are created by the virtue, public spirit, and intelligence of the citizens. They fall, when the wise are banished from the public councils, because they dare to be honest, and the profligate are rewarded, because they flatter the people, in order to betray them." --Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833
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Freki
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« Reply #884 on: March 08, 2011, 07:36:54 AM »

"A general dissolution of principles and manners will more surely overthrow the liberties of America than the whole force of the common enemy. While the people are virtuous they cannot be subdued; but when once they lose their virtue then will be ready to surrender their liberties to the first external or internal invader." --Samuel Adams, letter to James Warren, 1779
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Freki
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« Reply #885 on: March 09, 2011, 07:17:03 AM »

"In Europe, charters of liberty have been granted by power. America has set the example  … of charters of power granted by liberty. This revolution in the practice of the world, may, with an honest praise, be pronounced the most triumphant epoch of its history, and the most consoling presage of its happiness." --James Madison, National Gazette Essay, 1792
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Freki
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« Reply #886 on: March 10, 2011, 08:47:42 AM »

"What was the primary and principal object in the institution of government? Was it -- I speak of the primary and principal object -- was it to acquire new rights by a human establishment? Or was it, by human establishment, to acquire new security for the possession or the recovery of those rights, to the enjoyment or acquisition of which we were previously entitled by the immediate gift, or by the unerring law, of our all-wise and all-beneficent Creator? The latter, I presume, was the case…" --James Wilson, 1790
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Freki
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« Reply #887 on: March 11, 2011, 08:05:10 AM »

"[A]ll are subject by nature to equal laws of morality, and in society have a right to equal laws for their government, yet no two men are perfectly equal in person, property, understanding, activity, and virtue, or ever can be made so by any power less than that which created them … all are subject by nature to equal laws of morality, and in society have a right to equal laws for their government." --John Adams, Discourse on Davila—XV, 1776
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Freki
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« Reply #888 on: March 18, 2011, 07:56:06 AM »

"I am not among those who fear the people. They, and not the rich, are our dependence for continued freedom. And to preserve their independence, we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. We must make our election between economy and liberty, or profusion and servitude." --Thomas Jefferson

"It is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth -- and listen to the song of that syren, till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? Are we disposed to be of the number of those, who having eyes, see not, and having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it might cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it." --Patrick Henry, speech in the Virginia Convention, 1775
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Freki
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« Reply #889 on: March 22, 2011, 08:15:29 AM »

"If we resort for a criterion to the different principles on which different forms of government are established, we may define a republic to be, or at least may bestow that name on, a government which derives all its powers directly or indirectly from the great body of the people, and is administered by persons holding their offices during pleasure for a limited period, or during good behavior." --James Madison, Federalist No. 39

"[D]emocracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security, or the rights of property; and have, in general, been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths." --James Madison, Federalist No. 10, 1787
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #890 on: March 25, 2011, 05:30:29 AM »

Celebrated by his countrymen as a leading member of America’s Founding Fathers, especially as his long life surpassed those of his contemporaries, Charles Carroll (1737-1832) is long overdue for an historical appreciation.
For, of the men who founded the United States, it is unfortunate that only a few still figure in the hearts and minds of those of their countrymen who still care about the past: Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, and Hamilton. The rest of these gallant men—not all of them equally important but all equally brave, having risked their property, including their necks, as traitors to the Crown—inhabit an historical shadow land clapped shut between the covers of dusty books disintegrating on university library shelves. Judging by the execrable state of American public education, that vast cauldron of political correctness, the average text-messaging child would be hard pressed to name the patriots just mentioned, let alone explain their individual significance to America's founding.

A thumbnail sketch of Carroll’s life proves that he is not a figure for either historian or thoughtful reader to thumb his nose at. A bastard son later legally recognized and made heir of colonial America’s wealthiest family, he was an aristocratic Catholic classically educated in France by Jesuits, from whom he learned an orthodox Christian defense of overthrowing one’s government. And from his youth to late middle-age, he was intimately engaged in the birthing and rearing of a young nation, though he often preferred working behind the scenes and within the newspapers as a propagandist in the best sense of the word: propagating the truth with clarity and conviction—two qualities abounding in this fine biography.

The only Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence, he also was the last surviving member of a brave group of men who risked their lives and fortunes to defend the freedoms they once enjoyed as Englishmen before George III, influenced by asinine advisors, began treating the colonials as second-class subjects. And he died a celebrated statesman and patriot, despite the stubborn, sometimes vitriolic anti-Catholicism of his times. Indeed, Charles Carroll was a deeply Catholic Christian, increasingly open about his faith as his lengthy years progressed. Yet his faith was expressed with a certain reserve that separated the tiny core of English Catholics in early America from their fellow faithful who came from countries spared the persecution of a Protestant majority.

The Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI), America's premier purveyor of conservative thought in academia and public life, heroically works to correct historical ignorance. In its "Lives of the Founders" series, ISI Books, the publication wing of ISI, pays filial homage to Founding Fathers under-served by historians guilty either of scholarly neglect or abuse borne of ideological bias.

Charles Carroll, for example, has suffered from neglect more than abuse, though one could aver that the neglect stems from left-leaning historians uninterested in writing about Founding Fathers who lack radical chic, real or imagined. (A perennial favorite is Thomas Paine, the revolutionary pamphleteer who sealed his fame with "Common Sense" before falling out of vogue with his viciously anti-Christian tracts.) Were it not for the astute new appreciation of this "forgotten Founder" by Bradley Birzer, history professor at Hillsdale College, Carroll might remain best remembered for two things: being the only Catholic to sign the Declaration of Independence, and persevering into his tenth decade, the last signer to die.

None of his contemporaries would have considered him a mere side note, however, which is why the virtue of Birzer's book rests not upon novelty, but truth. The prose is strong yet graceful, the historical scholarship thoroughly engaging (there is a veritable treasure trove of early Americana drawn from original documents), and the personal portraits are rendered with the same luminosity with which Sir Joshua Reynolds painted the portrait of a young Charles Carroll, featured on the cover of the handsomely-designed dust jacket.

Indeed, Professor Birzer paints a portrait of the man in full with a depth that, rather than drowning the reader in detail, invites him to inspect the subject further. This is a portrait of Charles Carroll as known by his deeds as well as his personal life and character.

As for his deeds, he was pivotal to his beloved native Maryland, signing the Declaration of Independence and later ratifying the U.S. Constitution. He also was pivotal in dislodging, through politicking and the press, laws as well as attitudes that prevented Catholics and other Christians from enjoying full religious and political liberty.

A conservative of the mind as well as the heart, his similarity to Edmund Burke, whom he knew during his London days studying the law, is profound. Both championed the timeless and true, as manifested within time and place, kith and kin. For them, a “citizen of the world” was a sorry specimen of deracinated humanity, attached to everything and, therefore, nothing. Both were wary of abstract rights, pure democracy, and utopian idealism -- experiments which, from the French Revolution on, have been dragged back down to earth with bloody thuds, killing millions. Whereas Burke continues to influence conservative thought to this day, Carroll himself directly influenced an admiring houseguest, Alexis de Tocqueville. The young Frenchman’s magisterial Democracy in America spurns sugar-coating the dangers inherent in that form of government that was best expressed in ancient Athens—and that, not too well.

As for his personal life and character, Professor Birzer shows Carroll to be a man of strong, steadfast character who stuck to principle and showed himself smart and courageous in the political realm. In private, however, his aristocratic detachment must have made life less than charming for his family: at least for the son who died of alcoholism and the wife who, after bearing his children and dying young, seems to have died in a pain deeper and more hurtful than the pain dulled by the opium addiction she acquired during her illness.

Yet, Professor Birzer shows how Charles Carroll mellowed with age and deepened in personal understanding as decade passed into decade till he died in his tenth to great outpourings of national mourning. The reasons for such mourning deserve to be known once again—indeed, known even more deeply, this generation of Americans having no nostalgic connection to those among the first.

Matthew A. Rarey, a journalist living in Chicago, graduated from St. John’s College in Annapolis, where Charles Carroll spent much of his life. Any visitor to this most English of American cities will be imbued with the presence of Carroll, whose ancestral home is located next door to the Catholic church, steps up the street from the harbor.

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Body-by-Guinness
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« Reply #891 on: March 30, 2011, 09:15:04 AM »

Have yet to see further discussion of this, but when it occurs I'll be following it:

Eric Posner, Guest-Blogging About Executive Unbound: After the Madisonian Republic
Eugene Volokh • March 21, 2011 1:16 am

I’m delighted to report that Prof. Eric Posner (University of Chicago) — who had blogged with us a few years ago — will be visiting again this week, to blog about his and Prof. Adrian Vermeule’s new book, Executive Unbound: After the Madisonian Republic. Here is Eric’s very brief summary:

The book argues that the Madisonian system of separation of powers has eroded beyond recognition and been replaced with a system of executive primacy (which others have called the “imperial presidency”) in which Congress and the courts play only a marginal role. Most scholars who have recognized this development have called for a return to the Madisonian system, but we believe that the rise of the executive has resulted from a recognition among political elites that only a powerful executive can address the economic and security challenges of modern times.

Not a thesis to make anyone happy, on the left or right.


But you’ll hear much more detail on the subject this coming week.

http://volokh.com/2011/03/21/eric-posner-guest-blogging-about-executive-unbound-after-the-madisonian-republic/
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« Reply #892 on: March 30, 2011, 09:35:15 AM »

2nd post.

Tyrannical “governments” are not genuine governments
David Kopel • March 18, 2011 2:07 am

Some background sources for the principle in our Declaration of Independence that tyrannical “governments” are merely a large-scale form of organized crime, rather than real governments:

In the views of the American Founders: Don B. Kates, The Second Amendment and the Ideology of Self-Protection, 9 Cconstitutional Commentary 87 (1992) (Founders saw no fundamental distinction between individual self-defense against criminals and collective self-defense against criminal governments).

Algernon Sidney, Discourses Concerning Government, ed., Thomas G. West  (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1996), ch. 3, sect. 46, p. 574 (To be subject to a tyrant is little different from being under the power of a pirate). Sidney, who was executed for treason in 1683 by the wicked Stuart regime, was venerated by the English and Americans as one of the greatest martyrs of liberty. Thomas Jefferson listed Sidney (along with Aristotle, Cicero, and John Locke) as one of the four major sources of the American consensus on rights and liberties which was expressed in the Declaration of Independence.

Philo of Alexandria (approx. 20 B.C. – 50 A.D.). One of the greatest Jewish legal scholars of antiquity, Philo wrote about the Jewish law in Alexandria, Egypt, during the period when Egypt and Israel were both under Roman rule. Much of Philo’s treatise aimed to show that Jewish law from the Bible was consistent with Roman law. Erwin R. Goodenough, The Jurisprudence of the Jewish Courts in Egypt: Legal Adminsitration by the Jews Under the Early Roman Empire as Describes by Philo Judeaus 230–31 (The Lawbook Exchange 2002; reprint of 1929 translation) (A petty thief is no different in principle from a tyrant who steals the resources of his nation, or nation which plunders another nation. In other words, all forms of theft are merely variations on a single type of attack on society: an assault on the right of ownership of private property.)

Mencius (approx. about 371–289 B.C.), the most influential developer of Confucian thought: “Now the way feudal lords take from the people is no different from robbery.” Mencius, transl. D.C. Lau (N.Y.: Penguin, 1970), book 5, part B. Accordingly, killing a tyrant is very different from killing a legitimate king, which would be immoral: “A man who mutilates benevolence is a mutilator, while one who cripples rightness is a crippler. He who is both a mutilator and a crippler is an ‘outcast.’ I have heard of the punishment of the ‘outcast Tchou’ [an emperor who was overthrown], but I have not heard of any regicide.” Ibid., book 1, part B, item 8. Unlike the other authors cited in this post, the philosophy of Mencius was not known to the American Founders directly, nor was it known indirectly through other philosophers. Mencius did, however, express the same principles of Natural Law which the Founders believed to be universal. (More by Kopel on Mencius here.)

John of Salisbury. Author of Policraticus (approx. 1159), the most influential Western book written between the sixth century and the thirteenth. To rule tyrannically is necessarily to perpetrate treason, and therefore a tyrant may be slain:

(I)t is not only permitted, but it is also equitable and just to slay tyrants.  For he who receives the sword deserves to perish by the sword.
 But ‘receives’ is to be understood to pertain to he who has rashly usurped that which is not his, not to he who receives what he uses from the power of God.  He who receives power from God serves the laws and is the slave of justice and right.  He who usurps power suppresses justice and places the laws beneath his will.  Therefore, justice is deservedly armed against those who disarm the law, and the public power treats harshly those who endeavour to put aside the public hand.  And, although there are many forms of high treason, none of them is so serious as that which is executed against the body of justice itself.  Tyranny is, therefore, not only a public crime, but if this can happen, it is more than public.  For if all prosecutors may be allowed in the case of high treason, how much more are they allowed when there is oppression of laws which should themselves command emperors?  Surely no one will avenge a public enemy, and whoever does not prosecute him transgresses against himself and against the whole body of the earthly republic.


Jofhn of Salisbury, Policraticus 25 (Cary J. Nederman ed. and trans., Cambridge Univ. Press 1990) (approx. 1159). (My essay on the book is here.)

Augustine of Hippo. The most influential Christian philosopher since the closing of the canon: “If justice be taken away...what are governments but great bands of robbers?” Augustine, Concerning the City of God Against the Pagans 139 (Henry Bettenson trans., Penguin, book 4, 1984) (translation from 1467 manuscript; originally written in early 5th century ). To illustrate the point, Augustine used a story attributed to Cicero:

Indeed, that was an apt and true reply which was given to Alexander the Great by a pirate who had been seized. For when that king had asked the man what he meant by keeping hostile possession of the sea, he answered with bold pride, “What thou meanest by seizing the whole earth; but because I do it with a petty ship, I am called a robber, whilst thou who dost it with a great fleet art styled emperor.”

“All tyrants reach a miserable end,” wrote John of Salisbury. He was not universally right, at least in the sense that he meant, listing various tyrants who died violently; Stalin, Lenin, and Mao died of natural causes. But his words are coming true in Libya. How long will Gaddafi’s mercenaries from Chad, Niger, and Syria be willing to endanger their own lives in attempting to resist the overwhelming might of air forces and navies which are better-armed, and superior in every respect?

http://volokh.com/2011/03/18/tyrannical-governments-are-not-genuine-governments/
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« Reply #893 on: April 05, 2011, 07:46:10 AM »

"Strive to be the greatest man in your country, and you may be disappointed. Strive to be the best and you may succeed: he may well win the race that runs by himself." --Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanack, 1747
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« Reply #894 on: April 06, 2011, 11:52:37 AM »

"The first and governing maxim in the interpretation of a statute is to discover the meaning of those who made it." --James Wilson, Of the Study of Law in the United States, 1790
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« Reply #895 on: April 07, 2011, 10:40:39 AM »

"It is sufficiently obvious, that persons and property are the two great subjects on which Governments are to act; and that the rights of persons, and the rights of property, are the objects, for the protection of which Government was instituted. These rights cannot well be separated." --James Madison, Speech at the Virginia Convention, 1829
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« Reply #896 on: April 08, 2011, 08:05:41 AM »

His face adorns the $10 bill, but as Richard Brookhiser, host of "Rediscovering Alexander Hamilton" (airing on PBS April 11), finds when conducting a quick street canvas -- many Americans cannot identify him.

"Washington has a monument," Brookhiser intones. "Jefferson has a memorial. It's often said that New York City is Hamilton's monument."

That would be more than enough for any man, yet, as this engrossing film from producer Michael Pack makes clear, it doesn't quite do justice to the genius of Hamilton. First secretary of the Treasury, a drafter of the Constitution, author of two-thirds of the Federalist Papers, and father of the U.S. economy, Hamilton was also the prototype of the self-made American success -- the original Horatio Alger hero, and then some.

Unlike the planters, wealthy merchants, and successful lawyers from established families who comprised the other founders, Hamilton was born in the Virgin Islands, "the bastard brat of a Scotch peddler," as John Adams sneered in one of his less charitable moments. (To be fair, Hamilton could be lacerating about Adams, too.)

He was a bastard -- but some brat. At age 11, orphaned and penniless, Hamilton found work in a St. Croix counting house. There he learned that strong application could yield advancement. He was so gifted at administration that his boss was willing to leave the 14-year-old Alexander in full charge of the business when he left for four months.

Also in St. Croix, Hamilton saw the suffering of slaves, forced to work endless hours in the scorching sun harvesting sugar cane. The camera lingers on the lanky, bamboo-shaped stalks. Most slaves, Brookhiser notes, "died within seven years." Hamilton became a fervent and lifelong opponent of slavery.

So prodigious were his talents that a few of the merchants on St. Croix sponsored his emigration to the colonies to further his education. He was 16. Within the next two decades, he would serve as deputy to Gen. George Washington, achieve glory in battle himself, excel at the law, and, from nothing, create for his adopted country its first monetary system, its first fiscal system, its first accounting system, and its first central bank. He also founded the Coast Guard, the Customs Service, and the New York Post. In a touching moment, the film captures the ritual in which newly minted Coast Guard officers -- to this day -- salute the grave of the service's founder.

Historical documentarians face a problem -- no footage. Most resort to long pans of period paintings, or linger over photographs and sunsets, or throw in the occasional actors in period costume marching off to battle, along with talking heads. There's nothing wrong with that style (Ken Burns, the master of the genre, has a great new film on Prohibition coming in October). But this film takes a different approach, setting itself firmly in the contemporary world -- the world that Hamilton did so much to create.

Brookhiser travels from a prison in the Virgin Islands, where he chats with women who, like Hamilton's mother, are behind bars, to the People's Court for a re-enactment of one of Hamilton's famous law cases, to the hectic streets of New York City, pulsing with business. He and Bernard-Henri Levi play-act the meeting between Hamilton and Talleyrand. He chats with Larry Flynt about the sex scandal that nearly ended Hamilton's career, and with former gang members about the touchy matter of honor, which did end his life.

To appreciate Hamilton fully, it's necessary to set the stage, as Brookhiser and historian Ron Chernow do, explaining that after the Revolution, the United States was an economic cripple, deeply in debt, its currencies nearly worthless as a result of inflation.

"We were," says Chernow, "the deadbeat of world finance. We were like a Third World country." Hamilton steered the new republic toward solvency. (We could use him now!)

Unlike the other founders, Chernow notes, who had mainly "pre-capitalist worldviews" with a strong bias toward agriculture, and who tended to see commerce and manufacturing as "corrupting influences," Hamilton foresaw that the United States could become a great trading nation. From his earliest days in the St. Croix counting house, doing business with people from around the world speaking many languages, Hamilton understood that wealth is created by trade and commerce, not just from the soil.

Hamilton was an economic wizard, but also a profound political philosopher, a deep-dyed patriot, a gifted administrator who served as Washington's informal "prime minister" during the first president's term -- and also a human being with weaknesses and foibles. He spoke brilliantly, the film reminds us, but sometimes too much. He might have bitten his tongue a bit more on the subject of Vice President Aaron Burr. But he did not, and the film takes us, reluctantly but inexorably, to the dueling ground at Weehawken, N.J., where we feel anew that day's terrible toll.
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Freki
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« Reply #897 on: April 08, 2011, 08:40:22 AM »

"Whoever attentively considers the different departments of power must perceive, that, in a government in which they are separated from each other, the judiciary, from the nature of its functions, will always be the least dangerous to the political rights of the Constitution; because it will be least in a capacity to annoy or injure them." --Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 78, 1788
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Freki
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« Reply #898 on: April 13, 2011, 08:21:40 AM »

"The same prudence which in private life would forbid our paying our own money for unexplained projects, forbids it in the dispensation of the public moneys." --Thomas Jefferson, letter to Shelton Gilliam, 1808
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Freki
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« Reply #899 on: April 14, 2011, 08:54:07 AM »

"Energy in government is essential to that security against external and internal danger and to that prompt and salutary execution of the laws which enter into the very definition of good government. Stability in government is essential to national character and to the advantages annexed to it, as well as to that repose and confidence in the minds of the people, which are among the chief blessings of civil society." --James Madison, Federalist No. 37, 1788
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