Champion of Liberty: Edmund Burke

Dinner Topics for Thursday

Champion of Liberty, Edmund Burke

Edmund Burke quotes

keyThose who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.

‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.’

The people never give up their liberties but under some delusion. ~Edmund Burke

From Wikipedia

Edmund Burke 12 January [NS] 1729[1] – 9 July 1797) was an Irish[2][3] statesman born in Dublin; author, orator, political theorist, and philosopher, who, after moving to England, served for many years in the House of Commons of Great Britain as a member of the Whig party.

Mainly, he is remembered for his support of the cause of the American Revolutionaries, and for his later opposition to the French Revolution. The latter led to his becoming the leading figure within the conservative faction of the Whig party, which he dubbed the “Old Whigs”, in opposition to the pro–French Revolution “New Whigs”, led by Charles James Fox.[4]

Burke was praised by both conservatives and liberals in the nineteenth century.[5] Since the twentieth century, he has generally been viewed as the philosophical founder of conservatism.[6][7]

American War of Independence

EdmundBurke1771Burke expressed his support for the grievances of the American Colonies under the government of King George III and his appointed representatives. On 19 April 1774 Burke made the speech, On American Taxation (published in January 1775), on a motion to repeal the tea duty:

Again and again, revert to your old principles—seek peace and ensue it; leave America, if she has taxable matter in her, to tax herself. I am not here going into the distinctions of rights, nor attempting to mark their boundaries. I do not enter into these metaphysical distinctions; I hate the very sound of them. Leave the Americans as they anciently stood, and these distinctions, born of our unhappy contest, will die along with it. … Be content to bind America by laws of trade; you have always done it. … Do not burthen them with taxes. … But if intemperately, unwisely, fatally, you sophisticate and poison the very source of government by urging subtle deductions, and consequences odious to those you govern, from the unlimited and illimitable nature of supreme sovereignty, you will teach them by these means to call that sovereignty itself in question. … If that sovereignty and their freedom cannot be reconciled, which will they take? They will cast your sovereignty in your face. No body of men will be argued into slavery. Sir, let the gentlemen on the other side … tell me, what one character of liberty the Americans have, and what one brand of slavery they are free from, if they are bound in their property and industry by all the restraints you can imagine on commerce, and at the same time are made pack-horses of every tax you choose to impose, without the least share in granting them. When they bear the burthens of unlimited monopoly, will you bring them to bear the burthens of unlimited revenue too? The Englishman in America will feel that this is slavery; that it is legal slavery, will be no compensation either to his feelings or to his understandings.[48]

On 22 March 1775, in the House of Commons, Burke delivered a speech (published during May 1775) on reconciliation with America. Burke appealed for peace as preferable to civil war and reminded the House of America’s growing population, its industry, and its wealth. He warned against the notion that the Americans would back down in the face of force, since the Americans were descended largely from Englishmen:

… the people of the colonies are descendants of Englishmen. … They are therefore not only devoted to liberty, but to liberty according to English ideas and on English principles. The people are Protestants … a persuasion not only favourable to liberty, but built upon it. … My hold of the colonies is in the close affection which grows from common names, from kindred blood, from similar privileges, and equal protection. These are ties which, though light as air, are as strong as links of iron. Let the colonies always keep the idea of their civil rights associated with your government—they will cling and grapple to you, and no force under heaven will be of power to tear them from their allegiance. But let it be once understood that your government may be one thing and their privileges another, that these two things may exist without any mutual relation—the cement is gone, the cohesion is loosened, and everything hastens to decay and dissolution.

As long as you have the wisdom to keep the sovereign authority of this country as the sanctuary of liberty, the sacred temple consecrated to our common faith, wherever the chosen race and sons of England worship freedom, they will turn their faces towards you. The more they multiply, the more friends you will have; the more ardently they love liberty, the more perfect will be their obedience. Slavery they can have anywhere. It is a weed that grows in every soil. They may have it from Spain, they may have it from Prussia. But, until you become lost to all feeling of your true interest and your natural dignity, freedom they can have from none but you.[49]

Burke prized peace with America above all else, pleading with the House of Commons to remember that the interest and money received off of the American colonies was far more attractive than any sense of putting the colonists in their place:

The proposition is peace. Not peace through the medium of war, not peace to be hunted through the labyrinth of intricate and endless negotiations, not peace to arise out of universal discord…it is simple peace, sought in its natural course and in its ordinary haunts. It is peace sought in the spirit of peace, and laid in principles purely pacific.[50]

Burke wasn’t simply promoting peace to Parliament; rather, he stepped forward with four reasons against using force, carefully reasoned. He laid out his objections in an orderly manner, focusing on one before moving to the next. His first concern was that the use of force would have to be temporary, and that the uprisings and objections to British governance in America would not be. Second, Burke worried about the uncertainty surrounding whether Britain would win a conflict in America. “An armament”, Burke wisely says, “is not a victory”.[51] Third, Burke brought up the issue of impairment; it would do the British Government no good to engage in a scorched earth war and have the object they desired (America) become damaged or even useless. The American colonists could always delve back into the mountains, but the land they left behind would most likely be unusual, whether by incident or design. The fourth and final reason to avoid the use of force was experience; the British had never attempted to reign back in an unruly colony by force, and they didn’t know if it could be done, let alone accomplished thousands of miles away from home.[51] Not only were all of these concerns reasonable, but some turned out to be prophetic—the American colonists did not surrender, even when things looked extremely bleak, and the British were ultimately unsuccessful in their attempts to win a war fought on American soil.

It wasn’t temporary force, uncertainty, impairment, or even experience that Burke cited as the number one reason for avoiding war with the American colonies, however; it was the character of the American people themselves:

In this character of Americans, a love of freedom is the predominating feature which marks and distinguishes the whole…this fierce spirit of liberty is stronger in the English colonies, probably, than in any other people of the earth…[the] men [are] acute, inquisitive, dextrous, prompt in attack, ready in defense, full of resources…”.[51] Burke concludes with another plea for peace, and a prayer that Britain might avoid actions which, in Burke’s words, “may bring on the destruction of this Empire”.[51]

Burke proposed six resolutions to settle the American conflict peacefully:

  1. Allow the American colonists to elect their own representative, thus settling the dispute about taxation without representation;
  2. Acknowledge this wrong and apologize for grievances cause;
  3. Procure an efficient manner of choosing and sending these delegates;
  4. Set up a General Assembly in America itself, with powers to regulate taxes;
  5. Stop gathering taxes by imposition (or law), and start gathering them only when they are needed; and
  6. Grant needed aid to the colonies.[51]

The effect of these resolutions, had they been passed, can never be known. Unfortunately, this speech was given less than a month before the explosive conflict at Concord and Lexington,[52] and as these resolutions were not passed, little was done that would help to dissuade conflict.

One of the reasons this speech was greatly admired was the passage on Lord Bathurst (1684–1775). Burke imagines an angel in 1704 prophesying to Bathurst the future greatness of England and also of America: “Young man, There is America—which at this day serves little more than to amuse you with stories of savage men, and uncouth manners; yet shall, before you taste of death, shew itself equal to the whole of that commerce which now attracts the envy of the world”.[53] Samuel Johnson was so irritated at hearing it continually praised, that he made a parody of it, where the devil appears to a young Whig and predicts that in short time, Whiggism will poison even the paradise of America.[53]

The administration of Lord North (1770–1782) tried to defeat the colonist rebellion by military force. British and American forces clashed in 1775 and, in 1776, came the American Declaration of Independence. Burke was appalled by celebrations in Britain of the defeat of the Americans at New York and Pennsylvania. He claimed the English national character was being changed by this authoritarianism.[9] Burke wrote: “As to the good people of England, they seem to partake every day more and more of the Character of that administration which they have been induced to tolerate. I am satisfied, that within a few years there has been a great Change in the National Character. We seem no longer that eager, inquisitive, jealous, fiery people, which we have been formerly”.[54]

Regarding the French Revolution

In January 1790, Burke read Dr. Richard Price‘s sermon of 4 November 1789 entitled, A Discourse on the Love of our Country, to the Revolution Society.[75] That society had been founded to commemorate the Glorious Revolution of 1688. In this sermon Price espoused the philosophy of universal “Rights of Men”. Price argued that love of our country “does not imply any conviction of the superior value of it to other countries, or any particular preference of its laws and constitution of government”.[76] Instead, Price asserted that Englishmen should see themselves “more as citizens of the world than as members of any particular community”.

A debate between Price and Burke ensued that was “the classic moment at which two fundamentally different conceptions of national identity were presented to the English public”.[77] Price claimed that the principles of the Glorious Revolution included “the right to choose our own governors, to cashier them for misconduct, and to frame a government for ourselves”.

Immediately after reading Price’s sermon, Burke wrote a draft of what eventually became, Reflections on the Revolution in France.[78] On 13 February 1790, a notice in the press said that shortly, Burke would publish a pamphlet on the revolution and its British supporters, however he spent the year revising and expanding it. On 1 November he finally published the Reflections and it was an immediate best-seller.[79][80] Priced at five shillings, it was more expensive than most political pamphlets, but by the end of 1790, it had gone through ten printings and sold approximately 17,500 copies. A French translation appeared on 29 November and on 30 November the translator, Pierre-Gaëton Dupont, wrote to Burke saying 2,500 copies had already been sold. The French translation ran to ten printings by June 1791.[81]

Later life

In November 1795, there was a debate in Parliament on the high price of corn and Burke wrote a memorandum to Pitt on the subject. In December Samuel Whitbread MP introduced a bill giving magistrates the power to fix minimum wages and Fox said he would vote for it. This debate probably led Burke to editing his memorandum, as there appeared a notice that Burke would soon publish a letter on the subject to the Secretary of the Board of Agriculture (Arthur Young), but he failed to complete it. These fragments were inserted into the memorandum after his death and published posthumously in 1800 as, Thoughts and Details on Scarcity.[129] In it, Burke expounded “some of the doctrines of political economists bearing upon agriculture as a trade”.[130] Burke criticised policies such as maximum prices and state regulation of wages, and set out what the limits of government should be.

The economist Adam Smith remarked that Burke was “the only man I ever knew who thinks on economic subjects exactly as I do, without any previous communications having passed between us”.[132]

Read more about Edmund Burke

 

Champion of Liberty: Alexander Hamilton

Champion of Liberty: Alexander Hamilton

Alexander Hamilton Quotes

keyFor it is a truth, which the experience of all ages has attested, that the people are commonly most in danger when the means of injuring their rights are in the possession of those [toward] whom they entertain the least suspicion. (Federalist Papers, No. 25, p.164)

Every unconstitutional action has usually been justified because it was for a “good cause.” Every illegal transfer of power from one department to another has been excused as “necessary.”

There is a certain enthusiasm in liberty, that makes human nature rise above itself, in acts of bravery and heroism.
Those who stand for nothing fall for anything.

A promise must never be broken.

It’s not tyranny we desire; it’s a just, limited, federal government.
Why has government been instituted at all? Because the passions of man will not conform to the dictates of reason and justice without constraint.
alexanderhamiltonAlexander Hamilton (January 11, 1755 or 1757 – July 12, 1804) was a founding father of the United States, chief staff aide to General George Washington, one of the most influential interpreters and promoters of the U.S. Constitution, the founder of the nation’s financial system, and the founder of the first political party.

As Secretary of the Treasury, Hamilton was the primary author of the economic policies of the George Washington administration, especially the funding of the states’ debts by the Federal government, the establishment of a national bank, a system of tariffs, and friendly trade relations with Britain. He became the leader of the Federalist Party, created largely in support of his views; he was opposed by the Democratic-Republican Party, led by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison.

Hamilton played a major role in the American Revolutionary War. At the start of the war in 1775, he organized an artillery company and was chosen as its captain. He later became the senior aide to General Washington, the American forces’ commander-in-chief. Washington sent him on numerous important missions to tell generals what Washington wanted. In 1798-99, Hamilton called for mobilization against France after the XYZ Affair and secured an appointment from President John Adams as commander of a new army, which he readied for war. However, the Quasi-War, while hard-fought at sea, was never officially declared and did not involve army action. In the end, Adams found a diplomatic solution which avoided a land war.

Born out of wedlock to a Scottish-French mother and raised in the West Indies, Hamilton was orphaned at about age 11. Recognized for his abilities and talent, he was sponsored by people from his community to go to North America for his education. He attended King’s College (now Columbia University), in colonial New York.[1] After the war, Hamilton was elected to the Congress of the Confederation from New York. He resigned, to practice law, and founded the Bank of New York.

Hamilton was among those dissatisfied with the Articles of Confederation—the first attempt at a national governing document—because it lacked an executive, courts, and taxing powers. He led the Annapolis Convention, which successfully influenced Congress to issue a call for the Philadelphia Convention, in order to create a new constitution. He was an active participant at Philadelphia; and he helped achieve ratification by the thirteen states, by writing 51 of the 85 installments of the The Federalist Papers, which supported the new constitution. To this day, The Federalist Papers are the single most important reference for Constitutional interpretation.[2]

In the new government under President George Washington, Hamilton was appointed the Secretary of the Treasury. An admirer of British political systems, Hamilton was a nationalist, who emphasized strong central government and successfully argued that the implied powers of the Constitution provided the legal authority to fund the national debt, assume states’ debts, and create the government-owned Bank of the United States. These programs were funded primarily by a tariff on imports, and later also by a highly controversial excise tax on whiskey.

Embarrassed when an extra-marital affair became public, Hamilton resigned his Cabinet position in 1795 and returned to the practice of law in New York. He kept his hand in politics and was a powerful influence on the Cabinet of President Adams (1797–1801). Hamilton’s opposition to Adams’ re-election helped cause his defeat in the 1800 election. When in the same contest, Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr tied for the presidency in the electoral college, Hamilton helped defeat Burr, whom he found unprincipled, and to elect Jefferson despite philosophical differences.

After failing to support Adams, the Federalist Party candidate, Hamilton lost some of his national prominence within the party. Vice President Burr later ran for governor in New York state, but Hamilton’s influence in his home state was strong enough to again prevent a Burr victory. Taking offense at some of Hamilton’s comments, Burr challenged him to a duel and mortally wounded Hamilton, who died the next day.

Constitution and The Federalist Papers

In 1787, Hamilton served as assemblyman from New York County in the New York State Legislature and was the first delegate chosen to the Constitutional Convention. Even though Hamilton had been a leader in calling for a new Constitutional Convention, his direct influence at the Convention itself was quite limited. Governor George Clinton‘s faction in the New York legislature had chosen New York’s other two delegates, John Lansing and Robert Yates, and both of them opposed Hamilton’s goal of a strong national government. Thus, whenever the other two members of the New York delegation were present, they decided New York’s vote; and when they left the convention in protest, Hamilton remained but with no vote, since two representatives were required for any state to cast a vote.

Alexander Hamilton

Legacy

Hamilton’s interpretations of the Constitution set forth in the Federalist Papers remain highly influential, as seen in scholarly studies and court decisions.[144]

From his first days as a cabinet member Hamilton set a precedent by formulating federal programs, writing them as reports, pushing for their approval by arguing for them in person on the floor of the United States Congress, and then implementing them. Hamilton and the other Cabinet members were vital to Washington, as there was no executive branch under the Articles of Confederation, and the Cabinet itself is unmentioned in the Constitution that succeeded it.

Read more:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Hamilton

Champion of Liberty: Thomas Sowell Quotes

Champion of Liberty:

Thomas Sowell Quotes

Eleven Great Thomas Sowell Quotes

Jerome Hudson

Legendary economist, author, and social theorist Dr. Thomas Sowell submitted his final column Tuesday after 25 years in syndication.

thomassowell“Even the best things come to an end. After enjoying a quarter of a century of writing this column for Creators Syndicate, I have decided to stop. Age 86 is well past the usual retirement age, so the question is not why I am quitting, but why I kept at it so long,” Dr. Sowell wrote.

For more than fifty years, Dr. Sowell has published books and journals on race, economics, cultures around the world, and government policy. He has inspired generations of conservative activists with his humor and ability to condense complex matters into relatable lessons learns.

A self-proclaimed Marxist in his twenties, Sowell served in the United States Marine Corps. (during the Korean War). He earned his bachelor’s degree from Harvard University, his masters from Columbia University, and his Ph.D from the University of Chicago. It was at the University of Chicago, under the tutelage of Milton Friedman, and after his short stint as an economic analyst at the U.S. Department of Labor, where Dr. Sowell lost faith in government institutions’ ability to effectuate positive outcomes in society.

Dr. Sowell has taught economics at Cornell University and UCLA and has been a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University since 1980.

Dr. Sowell’s books, columns, and photography can be found at his website tsowell.com. Below are a handful of the most influential quotes from America’s great living philosopher.

1. The Welfare State:

welfare-stateThe blacks in the West Indies had all sorts of experiences growing their own food, selling the surplus in the market, and, in fact, being responsible for budgeting what they had. Black [slaves] in the United States were deliberately kept from having that. Dependence was seen as the key to holding the slaves down. It’s ironic that that same principle comes up in the welfare state 100 years later.

The black family survived centuries of slavery and generations of Jim Crow, but it has disintegrated in the wake of the liberals’ expansion of the welfare state.

2.  A Legacy of Liberalism:

liberal-compassion-thomas-sowellNearly a hundred years of the supposed “legacy of slavery” found most black children being raised in two-parent families in 1960. But thirty years after the liberal welfare state found the great majority of black children being raised by a single parent.

The murder rate among blacks in 1960 was one-half of what it became 20 years later, after a legacy of liberals’ law enforcement policies. Public housing projects in the first half of the 20th century were clean, safe places, where people slept outside on hot summer nights, when they were too poor to afford air conditioning. That was before admissions standards for public housing projects were lowered or abandoned, in the euphoria of liberal non-judgmental notions. And it was before the toxic message of victimhood was spread by liberals.…

If we are to go by evidence of social retrogression, liberals have wreaked more havoc on blacks than the supposed “legacy of slavery” they talk about.

3. The Failure of Government Bureaucracy: A Personal Odyssey:

bureaucratscautionsignIn the summer of 1959, as in the summer of 1957, I worked as a clerk-typist in the headquarters of the U.S. Public Health Service in Washington. The people I worked for were very nice and I grew to like them.

One day, a man had a heart attack at around 5 PM, on the sidewalk outside the Public Health Service. He was taken inside to the nurse’s room, where he was asked if he was a government employee. If he were, he would have been eligible to be taken to a medical facility there. Unfortunately, he was not, so a phone call was made to a local hospital to send an ambulance. By the time this ambulance made its way through miles of Washington rush-hour traffic, the man was dead.

He died waiting for a doctor, in a building full of doctors.

Nothing so dramatized for me the nature of a bureaucracy and its emphasis on procedures, rather than results.

4. The Conservative Vision Versus the Liberal Vision:

Liberal believe that the real problem with the world is that the institutions are wrong. If the institutions were right; there’s nothing in human nature that would cause us to be unhappy, it’s the fact that we have the wrong institutions.”

Conservatives believe man is flawed from day one. There are no solutions; there are only tradeoffs. Whatever you do to deal with one of man’s flaws, it creates another problem. But that you try to get the best tradeoff you can get. And that’s all you can hope for.

5.  Three Questions to Destroy Liberal Arguments:

There a three questions that I think would destroy most of the arguments on the left. The first is, “Compared to what?” The second is, “At what cost?” And the third is, “What hard evidence do you have?”

6. The Age of Complaining Classes: The Thomas Sowell Reader:

This is the age of the complaining classes, whether they are lawyers, community activists, radical feminists, race hustlers or other squeaking wheels looking for oil. … No society ever thrived because it had a large and growing class of parasites living off those who produce.

media2-lies7. Diversity:

The next time some academics tell you how important diversity is, ask how many Republicans there are in their sociology department.

8. Taxes:

Our tax system penalizes those who are producing wealth in order to subsidize those who are only consuming it.

9. Fake News:

The current hysteria over “fake news” — including hysteria by people who have done more than their own fair share of faking news — shows the continuing efforts of the political left to stifle free speech in the country at large, as they already have on academic campuses.

  1. Immigration Reform:

Immigration laws are the only laws that are discussed in terms of how to help people who break them. One of the big problems that those who are pushing “comprehensive immigration reform” want solved is how to help people who came here illegally and are now “living in the shadows” as a result.

What about embezzlers or burglars who are “living in the shadows” in fear that someone will discover their crimes? Why not “reform” the laws against embezzlement or burglary so that such people can also come out of the shadows?

11. Multiculturalism:

multi-culturalism-quoteWhat “multiculturalism” boils down to is that you can praise any culture in the world except Western culture – and you cannot blame any culture in the world except Western culture.

 

Eleven Great Thomas Sowell Quotes