U.S. Constitution, James Madison, and Founding Fathers

Dinner Topics for Monday

James Madison

from Wikipedia

madisontyrannydefineJames Madison, Jr. (March 16, 1751 (O.S. March 5)  – June 28, 1836) was an American statesman and political theorist, the fourth President of the United States (1809–1817). He is hailed as the “Father of the Constitution” for being instrumental in the drafting of the United States Constitution and as the key champion and author of the United States Bill of Rights.[1] He served as a politician much of his adult life.

After the constitution had been drafted, Madison became one of the leaders in the movement to ratify it. His collaboration with Alexander Hamilton and John Jay produced the Federalist Papers (1788). Circulated only in New York at the time, they would later be considered among the most important polemics in support of the Constitution. He was also a delegate to the Virginia constitutional ratifying convention, and was instrumental to the successful ratification effort in Virginia. Like most of his contemporaries, Madison changed his political views during his life. During the drafting and ratification of the constitution, he favored a strong national government, though later he grew to favor stronger state governments, before settling between the two extremes late in his life.

In 1789, Madison became a leader in the new House of Representatives, drafting many basic laws. He is notable for drafting the first ten amendments to the Constitution, and thus is known as the “Father of the Bill of Rights“.[4] Madison worked closely with President George Washington to organize the new federal government. Breaking with Hamilton and what became the Federalist Party in 1791, Madison and Thomas Jefferson organized what they called the Republican Party (later called by historians the Democratic-Republican Party)

As Jefferson’s Secretary of State (1801–1809), Madison supervised the Louisiana Purchase, which doubled the nation’s size. After his election to the presidency, he presided over renewed prosperity for several years. As president (1809–17), after the failure of diplomatic protests and a trade embargo against Great Britain, he led the nation into the War of 1812. He was responding to British encroachments on American honor and rights; in addition, he wanted to end the influence of the British among their Indian allies, whose resistance blocked United States settlement in the Midwest around the Great Lakes. Madison found the war to be an administrative nightmare, as the United States had neither a strong army nor financial system; as a result, he afterward supported a stronger national government and a strong military, as well as the national bank, which he had long opposed.

Father of the Constitution

constitution2The Articles of Confederation established the United States as a confederation of sovereign states with a weak central government. This arrangement did not work particularly well, and after the war was over, it was even less successful. Congress had no power to tax, and as a result was not paying the debts left over from the Revolution. Madison and other nationalists, such as Washington and Alexander Hamilton, were very concerned about this. They feared a break-up of the union and national bankruptcy.[20] The historian Gordon S. Wood has noted that many leaders such as Madison and Washington, feared more that the revolution had not fixed the social problems that had triggered it, and the excesses ascribed to the King were being seen in the state legislatures. Shays’ Rebellion is often cited as the event that forced the issue; Wood argues that many at the time saw it as only the most extreme example of democratic excess. They believed the constitution would need to do more than fix the Articles of Confederation. Like the revolution, it would need to rewrite the social compact and redefine the relationship among the states, the national government, and the people.[19]

As Madison wrote, “a crisis had arrived which was to decide whether the American experiment was to be a blessing to the world, or to blast for ever the hopes which the republican cause had inspired.”[21] Partly at Madison’s instigation, a national convention was called in 1787. Madison was crucial in persuading George Washington to attend the convention, since he knew how important the popular general would be to the adoption of a constitution. As one of the first delegates to arrive, while waiting for the convention to begin, Madison wrote what became known as the Virginia Plan. The Virginia Plan was submitted at the opening of the convention, and the work of the convention quickly became to amend the Virginia Plan and to fill in the gaps.[22][23] Though the Virginia Plan was an outline rather than a draft of a possible constitution, and though it was extensively changed during the debate (especially by John Rutledge and James Wilson in the Committee of Detail), its use at the convention led many to call Madison the “Father of the Constitution”.[24] He was only 36 years old.

During the course of the Convention, Madison spoke over two hundred times, and his fellow delegates rated him highly. For example, William Pierce wrote that “…every Person seems to acknowledge his greatness. In the management of every great question he evidently took the lead in the Convention… he always comes forward as the best informed Man of any point in debate.” Madison recorded the unofficial minutes of the convention, and these have become the only comprehensive record of what occurred. The historian Clinton Rossiter regarded Madison’s performance as “a combination of learning, experience, purpose, and imagination that not even Adams or Jefferson could have equaled.”[25] Years earlier he had pored over crates of books that Jefferson sent him from France on various forms of government. The historian Douglas Adair called Madison’s work “probably the most fruitful piece of scholarly research ever carried out by an American.”[26] Many have argued that this study helped prepare him for the convention.

Federalist Papers and ratification debates

The Constitutionsigners3 developed by the convention in Philadelphia had to be ratified. This would be done by special conventions called in each state to decide that sole question of ratification.[29] Madison was a leader in the ratification effort. He, Alexander Hamilton and John Jay wrote the Federalist Papers, a series of 85 newspaper articles published in New York to explain how the proposed Constitution would work, mainly by responding to criticisms from anti-federalists. They were also published in book form and became a virtual debater’s handbook for the supporters of the Constitution in the ratifying conventions.[30] The historian Clinton Rossiter called the Federalist Papers “the most important work in political science that ever has been written, or is likely ever to be written, in the United States.”[31] They were not scholarly arguments or impartial justifications for the constitution, but political polemics intended to assist the federalists in New York, which was the only state to have a coordinated anti-federalist movement. Madison was involved in the project mainly because he was a delegate to the lame duck Confederation Congress, which was meeting in New York.

If Virginia, the most populous state at the time, did not ratify the Constitution, the new national government would likely not succeed. When the Virginia convention began, the constitution had not yet been ratified by the required nine states. New York, the second largest state and a bastion of anti-federalism, would likely not ratify it if Virginia rejected the constitution, and Virginia’s exclusion from the new government would disqualify George Washington from being the first president.[32] Virginia delegates believed that Washington’s election as the first president was an implicit condition for their acceptance of the new constitution and the new government. Without Virginia, a new convention might have been held and a new constitution written in a much more polarized atmosphere, since the constitution did not specify what would happen if it was only partially ratified. The states might have joined in regional confederacies or allied with Spain, France or Britain, which still had North American colonies.[33] Arguably the most prominent anti-federalist, the powerful orator Patrick Henry was a delegate and had a following second only to Washington (who was not a delegate). Most delegates believed that most Virginians opposed the constitution.[32] Initially Madison did not want to stand for election to the Virginia ratifying convention, but was persuaded to do so because the situation looked so bad. His role at the convention was likely critical to Virginia’s ratification, and thus to the success of the constitution generally.[32]

Father of the Bill of Rights

Though the idea for a bill of rights had been suggested at the end of the constitutional convention, the delegates wanted to go home and thought the suggestion unnecessary. The omission of a bill of rights became the main argument of the anti-federalists against the constitution. Though no state conditioned ratification of the constitution on a bill of rights, several states came close, and the issue almost prevented the constitution from being ratified. Some anti-federalists continued to fight the issue after the constitution had been ratified, and threatened the entire nation with another constitutional convention. This would likely be far more partisan than the first had been. Madison objected to a specific bill of rights[41] for several reasons: he thought it was unnecessary, since it purported to protect against powers that the federal government had not been granted; that it was dangerous, since enumeration of some rights might be taken to imply the absence of other rights; and that at the state level, bills of rights had proven to be useless paper barriers against government powers.[4]

Read more about James Madison

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US Constitution Series 15: Free Market and Business Economy

US Constitution Series 15: Free market Business Economy

 

keyThe practical application of this book review of Skousen’s educated wisdom is to leverage “We, The People’s” knowledge of the Constitution, to expose ignorance, anarchy and tyranny, and hold the government accountable.

 

From The 5,000 Year Leap—A Miracle that Changed the World

By W. Cleon Skousen

ThomasJeffersonThe Highest Level of Prosperity Occurs when there is a Free-market Business Economy and a Minimum of Government Regulations

The Founding Fathers built the political and social structure based on natural law, and were looking for a foundation for economics. In 1776 Adam Smith published a set of five books called The Wealth of Nations.

Thomas Jefferson wrote: “In political economy, I think Smith’s Wealth of Nations is the best book extant.”

 

 

adamsmithwlthofnationsAdam Smith’s Free-enterprise Economics Tried First in America

Adam Smith’s formula includes the following:

   1. Specialized production—let each person or corporation of persons do what they do best.

    2. Exchange of goods takes place in a free-market environment without governmental interference in production, prices, or wages.

3. The free market provides the needs of the people on the basis of supply and demand, with no government-imposed monopolies.

4. Prices are regulated by competition on the basis of supply and demand.

5. Profits are looked upon as the means by which production of goods and services is made worthwhile.

6. Competition is looked upon as the means by which quality is improved, quantity is increased, and prices are reduced.

 

free-enterprise-capitalismThe Four Laws of Economic Freedom

Prosperity also depends on a climate of wholesome stimulation protected by law. There are four laws of economic freedom which a nation must maintain if its people are to prosper at the maximum level.

1. The Freedom to try.

2. The Freedom to buy.

3. The Freedom to sell.

4. The Freedom to fail.

 

The Role of Government in Economics

The Founding Fathers agreed with Adam Smith that the greatest threat to economic prosperity is the arbitrary intervention of the government into the economic affairs of private business and the buying public.

Historically, this has usually involved fixing prices, fixing wages, controlling production, controlling distribution, granting monopolies, or subsidizing certain products.

 

The government is supposed to prevent:

  1. ILLEGAL FORCE in the market place to compel purchase or sale of products.
  2. FRAUD in misrepresenting the quality, location, or ownership of the item being sold or bought.
  3. MONOPOLY which eliminates competition and results in restraint of trade.
  4. DEBAUCHERY of cultural standards and moral fiber society by commercial exploitation of vice—pornography, obscenity, drugs, liquor, prostitution, or commercial gambling.

 

NOTE: Today, the government is supposed to PREVENT all of the above abuses. Instead, it is guilty of the very things it is supposed to prevent. ~C.D.

After 1900 Adam Smith Got Lost in the Shuffle

At this time a new Populist movement in which certain agriculture and labor groups were demanding that the government get involved in the redistribution of the wealth. People began clamoring for a “new system” would involve extensive government regulation if not outright expropriation of major industries and natural resources.

It was in this climate that Adam Smith and the free-market economy fell out of favor. Collectivism, socialism, government ownership of industry, subsidy of the farmers, and a whole spectrum of similar ideas were permeating the country when World War I broke out. (Skousen, 182-183)

By the 1920s, the debunking of the Founding Fathers was in full swing. The ideas of Adam Smith were considered archaic.

barrymarxAdam Smith Out, Karl Marx In

Now, in colleges everywhere, professors are defending Marx, and trashing liberty. The Left continues to gin up hatred for the private sector, the internet, health care, and anyone or anything that preserves our liberty.

 

US Constitution Series 14: Property is Key to Liberty

https://dinnertopics.wordpress.com/2015/02/16/us-constitution-series-14-property-is-key-to-liberty/

George Washington Facts, Character Education

Dinner Topics for Monday

Glenn Beck: Being George Washington, Part 2

George WashingtonkeyWithout the high regard that the French had for Washington, would they ever have agreed to fund the effort? And, if they hadn’t, what might have become of the revolution? It’s hard to say, but it goes to show you just how much character matters. In the end, it might not have been Washington’s leadership, intelligence, or military skills that actually won the war—it might have been his honor. It’s something so simple, yet so many people today dismiss it was outmoded or unnecessary. ~Glenn Beck, Being George Washington, p.79

Character Education was important to George Washington; he worked hard on it himself.

Try this award-winning Epic Stories for Character Education in “Byte-size” Dinner Topics. Keep our precious Judeo-Christian traditions alive! It’s as easy as eating dinner.

Fortify your family with the Judeo-Christian Heritage HERE

 

Character Matters

Without the high regard that the French had for Washington, would they ever have agreed to fund the effort? And, if they hadn’t, what might have become of the revolution? It’s hard to say, but it goes to show you just how much character matters. In the end, it might not have been Washington’s leadership, intelligence, or military skills that actually won the war—it might have been his honor. It’s something so simple, yet so many people today dismiss it was outmoded or unnecessary. ~Glenn Beck, Being George Washington, p.79

Everything that we do in life—every battle that we fight and every mountain that we climb, no matter how many times that we may fall—may be for no other purpose than to prepare us for that moment when we are called upon to make a difference in this world.

In fact, every decision that we make, even those that seem small and perhaps irrelevant—perhaps especially those that seem small and irrelevant—may be moving us toward that moment when we can change a life for the better.

We may only get one chance to make a difference. But there is no doubt that such a moment in each of our lives is going to come.

The only question that really matters is, Will we be ready for it? ~Glenn Beck, Being George Washington, p.177

Compromise … But Not Your Principles

My point is that you should never surrender your core principles. Never—ever—never. But don’t try to get 100 percent of what you want from an ally, while giving up zero percent.

And don’t expect to get everything you want this instant; this is going to be a long fight. It won’t be decided in the next election. It may not be decided ever. The key is to continually push the needle in your direction and lay the foundation for the next group of people to push it a bit further. ~Glenn Beck, Being George Washington, p.212

Judeo-Christian Religion and the Founders

When the Continental Congress learned of the British surrender to Washington at Yorktown, representatives walked together to a Philadelphia church and prayed. Nearly a thousand other people joined America’s leaders in worship around the city. In fact, Congress recommended that the entire nation might want to observe a day of “public thanksgiving and prayer” to celebrate the victory.

How times have changed. Can you imagine if Congress declared a national day of prayer after a military victory these days? The ACLU would file a lawsuit before you could say “God bless you.” On the tenth anniversary of 9/11, New York’s Mayor Bloomberg even banned all clergy from the Ground Zero ceremonies. ~Glenn Beck, Being George Washington, p.152

In this situation of this Assembly, groping as it were in the dark to find political truth, and scarce able to distinguish it when presented to us, how has it happened, Sir, that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of lights to illuminate our understandings?

I therefore beg leave to move, that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the Clergy of the City be requested to officiate in that service. ~Benjamin Franklin to Constitutional Convention (The motion did not pass, because the group did not have funds to pay the clergy.)

Leadership

The Rules of Civility let Washington display poise in the small moments and thus gravitas in the big ones. He applied these prescriptions to everyday life and they became second nature. The lesson for us is that leadership and vision don’t exist in a vacuum—or spring to life all at once. They must be practiced, and they can grow within you until they become a part of you. ~Glenn Beck, Being George Washington, p.243

Morality

Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, relation and morality are indispensable supports … And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle. ~George Washington, farewell address

Slavery

No section on the Constitution is complete without revisiting the topic of slavery. It’s become accepted fact that the Founders believed that blacks were worth only “three-fifths” of a human. That, however, is simply wrong.

The “three-fifths” clause was really about the census and, consequently, state representation in Congress. Slave populations in the southern states were huge at that time. If slaves were counted on a one-for-one basis then southern states would have far larger populations, and therefore, far more federal representation than the northern ones. As a result, slavery would have been nearly impossible to abolish.

Some revisionists would have you believe that those slaves were not going to be counted at all and that the three-fifths clause actually gave the southern states more power than they otherwise would have. (This allegation is, I think, supposed to “prove” just how racist and hateful our Founders really were.) But think about that logically: would the South really have been that willing to give up so much federal representation right off the bat? Of course not—they would have fought to have slaves counted as full people along with everyone else. The three-fifths compromise was just that, a compromise. It appeased the South, got the Constitution ratified, and paved the way for slavery to eventually end. ~Glenn Beck, Being George Washington, p.210

Dinner Talk

1. Why is it important, even vital, that a leader be accountable to a Being (Judeo-Christian) higher than himself?

2. Select a politician in today’s society who has made corrupt choices. Compare him or her to the standard of George Washington’s character, and discuss how the choices of the corrupt politician are affecting our nation.

3. Why is the study of history important?

Character Education was important to George Washington; he worked hard on it himself.

 

 

George Washington Character, Book Review

Dinner Topics for Monday

Character Education was important to George Washington; he worked hard on it himself.

keyBeing George Washington by Glenn Beck is an insightful treatment of the life and service of this magnificent Founding Father. But also Beck gives a “character education” approach. He suggests how we can all use George Washington as a standard for our own good character development, and to prepare ourselves to make a difference. Truly inspirational. Following are highlights, but if you read the entire book with your family, you will treat them to an empowering character education experience.~C. A. Davidson

georgew_beingPart 1

Cultivating Character

No People can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand, which conducts the Affairs of men more than the People of the United States. ~George Washington, first inaugural address

The Great Author, Revealed

Revisionist historians have tried to diminish Washington’s faith in God, but it is clearly evident in his writings. Washington learned very much from his father, who (as the legend goes) once taught young George a lesson using cabbage seeds. He arranged them in such a way that they spelled “George.” When they began to grow, he showed them to his son and explained to him that they just grew that way by happenstance. When George correctly rejected that premise, suspecting it was his Dad who arranged them, he told George to look around at how perfectly everything else was placed. The trees. The grass. The water. The hills. The sky.

Was it mere coincidence, or was it part of a grand plan?

Washington immediately knew the answer. ~Glenn Beck, Being George Washington, p.41

The Great Protector

A thousand enemy soldiers were captured, killed, or wounded in battle. But the toll on the rebels’ side was not nearly as dramatic. Washington lost two soldiers, and five others were injured. That’s it. It’s no wonder he believed so fervently in the Invisible Hand.

The list goes on and on, and while many say all of it was simply coincidence or luck, Washington himself did not believe that, writing to his brother: “I now exist and appear in the land of the living by the miraculous care of Providence, that protected me beyond all human expectation; I had 4 Bullets through my Coat and two horses shot under me, and yet escaped unhurt.” ~Glenn Beck, Being George Washington, p.42

Washington believed, for very good reason, that God—the Invisible Hand, as he often called Him—oversaw their mission, and that uncovering Arnold’s plot was nothing less than providential. In a message to “the treason has been timely discovered to prevent the fatal misfortune. The providential train of circumstances which led to it affords the most convincing proof that the liberties of America are the object of divine protection.” ~Glenn Beck, Being George Washington, p.108

In sheer desperation, Cornwallis attempted to lead an evacuation across the York River in whatever small boats he could muster. Apparently, God did not intend to let them go so easily, as a violent storm appeared out of nowhere. In a rush of ferocious wind and rain, the small British boats were swept downstream.

About the same time as the white flag was being raised in Yorktown, the proud British fleet finally sailed out of the New York harbor, the repairs to their ships from damage inflicted in the Chesapeake having taken almost two weeks longer than expected.

The fleet arrived at Yorktown a week too late. ~Glenn Beck, Being George Washington, p.140

The power and goodness of the Almighty were strongly manifested in the events of our late glorius revolution; and his kind interposition in our behalf has been no less visible in the establishment of our present equal government. In war he directed the sword; and in peace he has ruled in our councils. My agency in both has been guided by the best intentions, and a sense of the duty which I owe my country. ~George Washington to the Hebrew congregations

Character Education

I know that getting a formal education in political science or economics is wonderful, but I can also confidently tell you that a formal education can also mean polically motivated teachers and a lot of closed-minded thinking. After all, how many professors do you know that will teach kids Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman, or Thomas Sowell: nom many. Sometimes educating yourself is not only a necessity but a blessing. It allows you to explore ideas in a way professors like to inhibit with their preconceived ideological notions. As the columnist Heather MacDonald recently pointed out, in the past academic year at Bowdoin College, “a student interested in American history courses could have taken ‘Black Women in Atlantic New Orleans,’ ‘Women in American History, 1600-1900,’ or ‘Lawn Boy Meets Valley Girl: Gender and the Suburbs,’ but if he wanted a course in American political history, the colonial and revolutionary periods, or the Civil War, he would have been out of luck.”

America allowed the Founders to test ideas that were considered radical elsewhere. They were allowed to think freely without worry of repercussion. Though highly educated in classical texts, most of the Founders were not weighed down by conventional thinking or pseudoscience and gender studies. That was a blessing.

Washington remained self-conscious about his lace of a formal education his entire life. Ironically, it was this fact that drove his intellectual curiosity and ensured that he would always be overly prepared for any debate. ~Glenn Beck, Being George Washington, p.203

Rules of Civility

Some of the Rules of Civility that Washington copied as a young boy.

  • “Associate yourself with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for ‘tis better to be alone than in bad company.”
  • “Let your conversation be without malice or envy. And in all causes of passion admit reason to govern.”
  • “When you speak of God and his attributes, let it be seriously and with reverence.”
  • “Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called conscience.”

~Glenn Beck, Being George Washington, p.245

 

Next, part 2

George Washington Facts, Quotations

Dinner Topics for George Washington’s Birthday

Heritage Foundation:

George Washington Deserves His Own Day, Not Presidents Day

georgewashingtonQuotations

It is impossible to rightly govern a nation without God and the Bible.
~George Washington

Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master. ~George Washington

Happiness and moral duty are inseparably connected. ~George Washington

2nd Amendment

Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples’ liberty’s teeth.

~George Washington

The very atmosphere of firearms anywhere and everywhere restrains evil interference – they deserve a place of honor with all that’s good. ~George Washington

Morality

Let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Reason

and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle. ~George Washington

The time is near at hand which must determine whether Americans are to be free men or slaves.

~George Washington

Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire, called conscience.

~George Washington

Experience teaches us that it is much easier to prevent an enemy from posting themselves than it is to dislodge them after they have got possession. ~George Washington

The marvel of all history is the patience with which men and women submit to burdens unnecessarily laid upon them by their governments. ~George Washington

Truth will ultimately prevail where there is pains to bring it to light. ~George Washington

I hope I shall possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an honest man. ~George Washington

 

US Constitution Series 14: Property is Key to Liberty

Dinner Topics for Wednesday

Life and Liberty are Secure Only so Long as the Right to Property is Secure

keyUnder English common law, a most unique significance was attached to the unalienable right of possessing, developing, and disposing of property. Land and the products of the earth were considered a gift of God which were to be cultivated, beautified, and brought under dominion.

From The 5,000 Year Leap—A Miracle that Changed the World

By W. Cleon Skousen

US Constitution Series 14: Property is Key to Liberty

Development of the Earth Mostly by Private Endeavor

wealthprivatesector

Without private “rights” in developed or improved property, it would be perfectly lawful for a lazy, covetous neighbor to move in as soon as the improvements were completed and take possession of the fruits of his industrious neighbor. And even the covetous neighbor would not be secure, because someone stronger than he could take it away from him. (Skousen, 170)

Without Property Rights, Four Things Would Occur

  1. One experience like the above would tend to completely destroy the incentive of an industrious person to develop and improve any more property.
  2. The industrious individual would also be deprived of the fruits of his labor.
  3. Marauding bands would even be tempted to go about the country confiscating by force and violence the good things which others had frugally and painstakingly provided.
  4. Mankind would be impelled to remain on a bare-subsistence level of hand-to-mouth survival because the accumulation of anything would invite attack. (Skousen, 171)

John Locke: A Person’s Property Is a Projection of Life Itself

johnlockeThe “labor” of his body and the “work” of his hands, we may say, are properly his.

He that is nourished by the acorns he picked up under an oak, or the apples he gathered from the trees in the wood, has certainly appropriated them to himself. Nobody can deny but the nourishment is his. And it is plain, if the [work of] first gathering made them not his, nothing else could. (Locke, Second Essay Concerning Civil Government, pp.30-31)

Property Rights Sacred?

It is important to recognize that the common law does not make property sacred, but only the right which someone has acquired in that property.

It is not the right of property which is protected, but the right to property. Property, per se, has no rights; but the individual—the man—has three great rights, equally sacred from arbitrary interference: the right to his LIFE, the right to his LIBERTY, the right to his PROPERTY. . . .The three rights are so bound together as to be essentially one right. To give him all that makes his life worth living. To give him his liberty but take from him the property which is the fruit and badge of his liberty, is to still leave him a slave. ~ Justice George Sutherland of the U.S. Supreme Court, January 21, 1921)

lincolnAbraham Lincoln:

Property is the fruit of labor. Property is desirable, is a positive good in the world. That some should be rich shows that others may become rich and hence is just encouragement to industry and enterprise. Let not him who is houseless pull down the house of another, but let him work diligently to build one for himself, thus by example assuring that his own shall be safe from violence. . . .I take it that it is best for all to leave each man free to acquire property as fast as he can. Some will get wealthy. I don’t believe in a law to prevent a man from getting rich; it would do more harm than good.

Primary Purpose of Government Is to Protect Property

The early American colonists had much to say about property and property rights because it was a critical issue leading to the Revolutionary War. The effort of the Crown to take their property through various kinds of taxation without their consent (either individually or through their representatives) was denounced as a violation of the English constitution and English common law. (Skousen, 174)

johnadams2Property Rights Essential to Liberty

John Adams

The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. PROPERTY MUST BE SECURED OR LIBERTY CANNOT EXIST. (emphasis added)

Should Government Take from the “Haves” and Give to the “Have Nots”?

As we have pointed out earlier, one of the worst sins of government, according to the Founders, was the exercise of its coercive taxing powers to take property from one group and give it to another. In our own day, when the government has imposed a [multi-trillion]dollar budget on the American people with about one half being “transfer payments” from the tax-paying public to the wards of the government, (Skousen, 174-5) James Madison has this to say:

Government is instituted to protect property of every sort. . . .This being the end of government, that alone is not a just government, … nor is property secure under it, where the property which a man has in his personal safety and personal liberty is violated by arbitrary seizures of one class of citizens for the service of the rest.

wealthredistribute1Redistribution of the Wealth Unconstitutional

No man would become a member of a community in which he could not enjoy the fruits of his honest labor and industry. The legislature, therefore, had no authority to make an act divesting one citizen of his freehold, and vesting it in another, without a just compensation. It [such action] is contrary to the principles of social alliance in every free government; and … It is contrary to the letter and spirit of the Constitution. ~The Supreme Court

Property Rights: the Foundation of All Civilizations

Declaration of Independence and American FlagIf history could prove and teach us anything, it would be the private ownership of the means of production as a necessary requisite of civilization and material well-being. All civilizations have up to now been based on private property. Only nations committed to the principle of private property have risen above penury and produced science, art, and literature. There is no experience to show that any other social system could provide mankind with any of the achievements of civilization. ~Ludwig von Mises

Caring for the Poor without Violating Property Rights

After 1936 (the Butler case), the Supreme Court began arbitrarily permit the distribution of federal bounties as a demonstration of “concern” for the poor and the needy. (Skousen, 175)

[T]he nagging question still remains. If it corrupts a society for the government to take care of the poor by violating the principle of property rights, who will take care of the poor? The answer of those who built America seems to be: “Anybody but the federal government.”

Americans have never tolerated the suffering and starvation which have plagued the rest of the world, but until the present generation help was given almost exclusively by the private sector or on the community or state level. (Skousen, 176-177)

The friendliness and charity of our countrymen can always be relied upon to relieve their fellow-citizens in misfortune. ~Grover Cleveland

This has been repeatedly and quite lately demonstrated. Federal aid in such cases encourages the expectation of paternal care on the part of the Government and weakens the sturdiness of our national character, while it prevents the indulgence among our people of that kindly sentiment and conduct which strengthens the bonds of a common brotherhood. ~Grover Cleveland

NEXT:

US Constitution Series 15: The Highest Level of Prosperity Occurs when there is a Free-market Economy and a Minimum of Government Regulations

 

US Constitution Series 13: American Safety from Human Corruption

 

 

History Facts: What the Constitution Really says about race and Slavery

History Facts:

What the Constitution Really says about race and Slavery

David Azarrad

Daily Signal, Heritage Foundation

keyIn no way can the Constitution be said to be pro-slavery. The principles of natural right undergirding it are resolutely anti-slavery. Its language conveys disapproval of slavery. Contrary to a popular misconception, the Constitution also does not say that only white males who owned property could vote.

lincoln-statueOne hundred and fifty years ago this month, the 13th Amendment officially was ratified, and with it, slavery finally was abolished in America. The New York World hailed it as “one of the most important reforms ever accomplished by voluntary human agency.”

The newspaper said the amendment “takes out of politics, and consigns to history, an institution incongruous to our political system, inconsistent with justice and repugnant to the humane sentiments fostered by Christian civilization.”

With the passage of the 13th Amendment—which states that “[n]either slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction”—the central contradiction at the heart of the Founding was resolved.

constitution1Eighty-nine years after the Declaration of Independence had proclaimed all men to be free and equal, race-based chattel slavery would be no more in the United States.

While all today recognize this momentous accomplishment, many remain confused about the status of slavery under the original Constitution. Textbooks and history books routinely dismiss the Constitution as racist and pro-slavery. The New York Times, among others, continues to casually assert that the Constitution affirmed African-Americans to be worth only three-fifths of a human being.

Ironically, many Americans who are resolutely opposed to racism unwittingly agree with Chief Justice Roger Taney’s claim in Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857) that the Founders’ Constitution regarded blacks as “so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect, and that the negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit.” In this view, the worst Supreme Court case decision in American history was actually correctly decided.

The argument that the Constitution is racist suffers from one fatal flaw: the concept of race does not exist in the Constitution.

Such arguments have unsettling implications for the health of our republic. They teach citizens to despise their founding charter and to be ashamed of their country’s origins. They make the Constitution an object of contempt rather than reverence. And they foster alienation and resentment among African-American citizens by excluding them from our Constitution.

The received wisdom in this case is wrong. If we turn to the actual text of the Constitution and the debates that gave rise to it, a different picture emerges. The case for a racist, pro-slavery Constitution collapses under closer scrutiny.

Race and the Constitution

The argument that the Constitution is racist suffers from one fatal flaw: the concept of race does not exist in the Constitution. Nowhere in the Constitution—or in the Declaration of Independence, for that matter—are human beings classified according to race, skin color, or ethnicity (nor, one should add, sex, religion, or any other of the left’s favored groupings). Our founding principles are colorblind (although our history, regrettably, has not been).

The Constitution speaks of people, citizens, persons, other persons (a euphemism for slaves) and Indians not taxed (in which case, it is their tax-exempt status, and not their skin color, that matters). The first references to “race” and “color” occur in the 15th Amendment’s guarantee of the right to vote, ratified in 1870.

The infamous three-fifths clause, which more nonsense has been written than any other clause, does not declare that a black person is worth 60 percent of a white person. It says that for purposes of determining the number of representatives for each state in the House (and direct taxes), the government would count only three-fifths of the slaves, and not all of them, as the Southern states, who wanted to gain more seats, had insisted. The 60,000 or so free blacks in the North and the South were counted on par with whites.

Contrary to a popular misconception, the Constitution also does not say that only white males who owned property could vote. The Constitution defers to the states to determine who shall be eligible to vote (Article I, Section 2, Clause 1). It is a little known fact of American history that black citizens were voting in perhaps as many as 10 states at the time of the founding (the precise number is unclear, but only Georgia, South Carolina, and Virginia explicitly restricted suffrage to whites).

Slavery and the Constitution

Not only does the Constitution not mention blacks or whites, but it also doesn’t mention slaves or slavery. Throughout the document, slaves are referred to as persons to underscore their humanity. As James Madison remarked during the constitutional convention, it was “wrong to admit in the Constitution the idea that there could be property in men.”

The Constitution refers to slaves using three different formulations: “other persons” (Article I, Section 2, Clause 3), “such persons as any of the states now existing shall think proper to admit” (Article I, Section 9, Clause 1), and a “person held to service or labor in one state, under the laws thereof” (Article IV, Section 2, Clause 3).

Although these circumlocutions may not have done much to improve the lot of slaves, they are important, as they denied constitutional legitimacy to the institution of slavery. The practice remained legal, but slaveholders could not invoke the supreme law of the land to defend its legitimacy. These formulations make clear that slavery is a state institution that is tolerated—but not sanctioned—by the national government and the Constitution.

Reading the original Constitution, a visitor from a foreign land would simply have no way of knowing that race-based slavery existed in America. As Abraham Lincoln would later explain:

Thus, the thing is hid away, in the Constitution, just as an afflicted man hides away a wen or a cancer, which he dares not cut out at once, lest he bleed to death.

Frederick Douglass (1818-1895), former slave and abolitionist broke whites' stereotypes about African Americans in the decades prior to the U.S. Civil War. His literary and oratorical excellence, and his dignified bearing, converted many to support the abolition of slavery in the United States. 1855 portrait. (Newscom TagID: evhistorypix007462.jpg) [Photo via Newscom]

Frederick Douglass (1818-1895), former slave and abolitionist broke whites’ stereotypes about African Americans in the decades prior to the U.S. Civil War. His literary and oratorical excellence, and his dignified bearing, converted many to support the abolition of slavery in the United States. 1855 portrait. (Newscom TagID: evhistorypix007462.jpg) [Photo via Newscom]

One could go even further and argue, as Frederick Douglass did in the lead-up to the Civil War, that none of the clauses of the Constitution should be interpreted as applying to slaves. The “language of the law must be construed strictly in favor of justice and liberty,” he argued.

Because the Constitution does not explicitly recognize slavery and does not therefore admit that slaves were property, all the protections it affords to persons could be applied to slaves. “Anyone of these provisions in the hands of abolition statesmen, and backed up by a right moral sentiment, would put an end to slavery in America,” Douglass concluded.

Those who want to see what a racist and pro-slavery Constitution would look like should turn to the Confederate Constitution of 1861. Though it largely mimics the Constitution, it is replete with references to “the institution of negro slavery,” “negroes of the African race,” and “negro slaves.” It specifically forbids the Confederate Congress from passing any “law denying or impairing the right of property in negro slaves.”

Contrary to a popular misconception, the Constitution also does not say that only white males who owned property could vote.

One can readily imagine any number of clauses that could have been added to our Constitution to enshrine slavery. The manumission of slaves could have been prohibited. A national right to bring one’s slaves to any state could have been recognized. Congress could have been barred from interfering in any way with the transatlantic slave trade.

It is true that the Constitution of 1787 failed to abolish slavery. The constitutional convention was convened not to free the slaves, but to amend the Articles of Confederation. The slave-holding states would have never consented to a new Constitution that struck a blow at their peculiar institution. The Constitution did, however, empower Congress to prevent its spread and set it on a course of extinction, while leaving the states free to abolish it within their own territory at any time.

Regrettably, early Congresses did not pursue a consistent anti-slavery policy. This, however, is not an indictment of the Constitution itself. As Frederick Douglass explained: “A chart is one thing, the course of a vessel is another. The Constitution may be right, the government wrong.”

Congress and the Slave Trade

ThomasJeffersonIn his original draft of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson called the African slave trade an “execrable commerce” and an affront “against human nature itself.” Because of a concession to slave-holding interests, the Constitution stipulates that it may not be abolished “prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight” (Article I, Section 9, Clause 1).

In the meantime, Congress could discourage the importation of slaves from abroad by imposing a duty “not exceeding 10 dollars on each person” (Article I, Section 9, Clause 1). Although early Congresses considered such measures, they were never enacted.

Early Congresses did, however, regulate the transatlantic slave trade, pursuant to their power “to regulate commerce with foreign nations” (Article I, Section 8, Clause 3). In 1794, 1800, and 1803, statutes were passed that severely restricted American participation in it. No American shipyard could be used to build ships that would engage in the slave trade, nor could any ship sailing from an American port traffic in slaves abroad. Americans were also prohibited from investing in the slave trade.

Finally, on the very first day on which it was constitutionally permissible to do so—Jan. 1, 1808—the slave trade was abolished by law.

The law, which President Thomas Jefferson signed, stipulated stiff penalties for any American convicted of participating in the slave trade: up to $10,000 in fines and five to 10 years in prison. In 1823, a new law was passed that punished slave-trading with death.

Congress and the Expansion of Slavery

Banning the importation of slaves would not by itself put an end to slavery in the United States. Slavery would grow naturally even if no new slaves were brought into the country.

Although Congress could not prevent this, it could prevent slavery from spreading geographically to the territories from which new states would eventually be created.

Congress has the power “to dispose of and make all needful rules and regulations respecting the territory or other property belonging to the United States” (Article IV, Section 3, Clause 2), to forbid the migration of slaves into the new territories (Article I, Section 9, Clause 1), and to stipulate conditions for statehood (Article IV, Section 3, Clause 2).

In no way could the Constitution be said to be pro-slavery. The principles of natural right undergirding it are resolutely anti-slavery. Its language conveys disapproval of slavery.

Regrettably, early Congresses did not prevent the spread of slavery. Between 1798 and 1822, Congress enacted 10 territorial acts. Only half excluded slavery.

As a result, seven slaveholding states and five free states were admitted into the union. The seeds of what Abraham Lincoln would later call the crisis of the house divided were sown.

Slavery in the Existing States

As for the existing slaveholding states that had ratified the Constitution, what could Congress do to restrict the growth of slavery within their borders? Here Congress had more limited options. After 1808, “the migration” of slaves across state lines could have been prohibited (Article I, Section 9, Clause 1). This was never done.

In principle, slavery could have been taxed out of existence. However, the requirement that direct taxes be apportioned among the states made it impossible to exclusively target slaveholders. A capitation or head tax, for example, even though it would have been more costly for Southerners, would also impose a heavy burden on Northerners.

While one could perhaps have circumvented the apportionment requirement by calling for an indirect tax on slaves—as Sen. Charles Sumner, R-Mass., would later do during the Civil War—such arguments were not made in the early republic.

There was one clause in the original Constitution that required cooperation with slaveholders and protected the institution of slavery. Slaves who escaped to freedom were to “be delivered up” to their masters (Article IV, Section 2, Clause 3). The motion to include a fugitive slave clause at the constitutional convention passed unanimously and without debate. This would seem to indicate that all knew it would be futile to try to oppose such a measure.

James Madison

James Madison

The debate instead focused on the wording. Whereas the original draft had referred to a “person legally held to service or labor in one state,” the final version instead refers to a “person held to service or labor in one state, under the laws thereof.” This change, Madison explains in his notes, was to comply “with the wish of some who thought the term legal equivocal,” as it gave the impression “that slavery was legal in a moral view,” rather than merely permissible under the law.

This remark by Madison captures the Constitution’s stance vis-à-vis slavery: permissible, but not moral. Legal, but not legitimate.

In no way can the Constitution be said to be pro-slavery. The principles of natural right undergirding it are resolutely anti-slavery. Its language conveys disapproval of slavery. And it contains within it several provisions that could have been and were at times used to prevent the spread of slavery.

This may not make it an anti-slavery Constitution. But even before the 13th Amendment, it was a Constitution that, if placed in the right hands, could be made to serve the cause of freedom.

 

http://dailysignal.com/2015/12/28/what-the-constitution-really-says-about-race-and-slavery/

America’s Founding Fathers: Robert Morris

Dinner Topics for Monday

America’s Founding Fathers: Robert Morris (financier)

keyoldLet not that which I have appointed be polluted by mine enemies, by the consent of those who call themselves after my name. ~Doctrine and Covenants 101:97

This man, like the other Founding Fathers, sacrificed all to build this great nation. How can we even think of letting our beloved nation be destroyed by enemies of God and freedom? ~C.D

Robert_MorrisRobert Morris, Jr. (January 20, 1734 – May 8, 1806), a Founding Father of the United States, was a Liverpool-born American merchant who financed the American Revolution and signed the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the United States Constitution. He was elected to the Pennsylvania Assembly, became the Chairman of the Pennsylvania Committee of Safety, and was chosen as a delegate to the Second Continental Congress, where he served as chairman of the “Secret Committee of Trade” and as a member of the Committee of Correspondence.

From 1781 to 1784, he served as the powerful Superintendent of Finance, managing the economy of the fledgling United States. As the central civilian in the government, Morris was, next to General George Washington, “the most powerful man in America.”[1] His successful administration led to the sobriquet, “Financier of the Revolution.” At the same time he was Agent of Marine, a position he took without pay, and from which he controlled the Continental Navy.

He was one of Pennsylvania’s original pair of US senators, serving from 1789 to 1795. He invested a considerable portion of his fortune in land shortly before the Panic of 1796–1797, which led to his bankruptcy in 1798, and he spent several years in debtors’ prison, until Congress passed a bankruptcy act to release him. After he left prison in 1801, he lived a quiet, private life in a modest home in Philadelphia until his death in 1806

Conflict with Britain

The Stamp Act of 1765–1766 was a tax on all legal documents. The merchants banded together to end what they saw as an unconstitutional tax. Morris began his public career in 1765 by serving on a local committee of merchants organized to protest the Stamp Act. He mediated between a mass meeting of protesters and the Stamp Tax collector, whose house they threatened to pull down “brick by brick” unless the collector did not carry out his job. Morris remained loyal to Britain, but he believed that the new laws constituted taxation without representation and violated the colonists’ rights as British citizens. In the end, Britain lifted the stamp tax.

After Britain passed the Tea Tax, the tea ship Polly reached the lower Delaware Bay. Philadelphia ordered the bay pilots not to bring it to port. Morris was a warden of the port at that time. Captain Ayers brought the Polly into port by following another ship up the bay which set off a protest. At least 20% of the population filled the street as Ayers was escorted to the State House. A meeting with Ayers and the port wardens, including Morris, was held. Ayers agreed to leave Philadelphia without delivering any taxed tea.

Financed the war

american-ships-rev-warMorris personally paid £10,000 to pay the Continental troops under Washington. This helped to keep the Army together just before the battle of Princeton. He subsequently paid from his own funds the troops via “Morris notes” to continue Washington’s ability to wage war as the US currency had no value.[citation needed]

In March 1778 Morris signed the Articles of Confederation as a representative of Pennsylvania.[citation needed]

During the war, privateers seized the cargo of English ships. Morris owned an interest in many of the privateers and his firm helped sell the English spoils as they came into port. In addition to owning ships that carried cargo to Cuba, France, and Spain, he was engaged in profiteering. He wrote a friend that his firm had had over 250 ships during the war and so came out “about even.” He had lost one of the largest private navies in the world during the War, but he never asked for reimbursement from the new government. Morris also personally supplied the funding for eighty percent of all bullets fired during the war and almost seventy five percent of all other expenses for the fledgling government, though he also never asked to be reimbursed for these expenses. He used his remaining money to buy shares in a variety of ships that waged an economic war on Britain. During this period he acted as a commercial agent for John Holker, a French national who was one of many military contractors who dealt with the French and American forces.[citation needed]

During this time Thomas Paine, Henry Laurens, and others criticized him and his firm for alleged war profiteering. In 1779, a congressional committee acquitted Morris and his firm on charges of engaging in improper financial transactions, but his reputation was damaged after this incident.[citation needed]

Immediately after serving in the Congress, Morris served two more terms in the state legislature, from 1778 to 1781. While he was in the Pennsylvania Assembly, Morris worked on the constitution and legislation to restore checks and balances, and to overturn the religious test laws. These had excluded from voting 40% of the state’s citizens, including Quakers, Jews, and Mennonites.[citation needed]

On October 4, 1779, an angry mob, who supported the “Constitutionalist” faction in opposition to Morris and his allies, tried to chase James Wilson from his home in Philadelphia. The mob was in the process of aiming a cannon at Wilson’s home when the First City Troop came to his rescue. Five men were killed in the battle of “Fort Wilson.” Constitutionalists in Pennsylvania ran off their political opposites and confiscated their property. James Wilson went on to argue against slavery, defend Haym Solomon from fraud, sign the Constitution, and become a Supreme Court justice.[citation needed]

flag1Morris and his allies supplied the majority of war materials to the troops when the state failed to act. Pennsylvania went bankrupt in 1780 due to Constitutionalist policies which mandated state-controlled markets and self-imposed embargoes. Ultimately the state called on Morris to restore the economy. He did so by opening the ports to trade, and allowing the market to set the value of goods and the currency.[citation needed]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Morris_%28financier%29

 

Benjamin Franklin: America’s Greatest Diplomat

Book review: The Real Benjamin Franklin

By Andrew M. Allison and the National Center for Constitutional Studies

Dinner Topics for Monday

key“Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God.” ~Benjamin Franklin

225px-BenFranklin2At sixteen, he was the youngest printer in America. He often wrote under pen names, making  quotations that are powerfully relevant today.

Freedom of speech (this was written under the name of Silence Dogood)

Without freedom of thought there can be no such thing as wisdom, and no such thing as public liberty without freedom of speech, which is the right of every man as far as by it he does not hurt or control the right of another; and this is the only check it ought to suffer, and the only bounds it ought to know.

This sacred privilege is so essential to free governments that the security of property and the freedom of speech always go together; and in those wretched countries where a man cannot call his tongue his own, he can scarce call anything else his own. Whoever would over throw the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech. . .

A renowned scientist and inventor. His kite experiment proved lightning was electricity. Inventions included lightning rod, Franklin stove, bifocals, flexible catheter, daylight savings time.

Pride

There is perhaps no one of our natural passions so hard to subdue as pride. Disguise it, struggle with it, beat it down, stifle it, mortify it as much as one pleases, it is still alive and will every now and then peep out and show itself. . .Even if I could conceive that I had completely overcome it, I should probably be proud of my humility.  P. 61

I never was without some religious principles. I never doubted, for instance, the existence of Deity, that he made the world and governed it by his providence; that the most acceptable service of God was the doing good to man; that our souls are immortal; and that all crime will be punished and virtue rewarded either her e or hereafter. P.62

He wrote short maxims with the youth in mind.

Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.

Would you live with ease, do what you ought and not what you please.

Keep thy shop, and thy shop will keep thee.

A penny saved is a penny earned.

He that lieth down with dogs shall rise up with fleas.

Keep your eyes wide open before marriage, half shut afterwards.

Three may keep a secret if two of them are dead.

God helps them that help themselves.

Experience keeps a dear school, yet fools will learn in no other.

The used key is always bright.

A stitch in time saves nine.

He that falls in love with himself will have no rivals.

Franklin taught himself several languages—French, Italian, Spanish, Latin, and German—chiefly to enable him to increase his knowledge by reading various important works that had not yet been translated into English. He also learned to play the harp, violin, and the guitar (later he would add an unusual instrument of his own design, the “armonica”).

Franklin served on a committee with John Adams and Thomas Jefferson to draw up a proposal for the Great Seal of the United States, for which he suggested a motto that Jefferson later used on his own seal: “Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God.” P. 205

 

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