History Facts: Compare and Contrast American Revolution to French Revolution

History Facts:

Compare and Contrast American Revolution to French Revolution

Bastille-Day-Getty-Fr-revolutionBastille Day: Revolutionary Zeal Turns to Tyranny in France

Jarrett Stepman

The euphoria experienced by those who believed they had finally shattered monarchical tyranny and aristocratic privilege was only matched by the horror of the following ‘Reign of Terror.’

2015 was also the 200th anniversary of Napoleon’s final defeat, when the combined armies or Prussia and Great Britain vanquished the French Army at Waterloo, Belgium and put an end to the Corsican’s time as a head of state. It effectively concluded the French Republic’s brief experiment in liberty. Beyond the bloody battlefield and the confrontation between great powers, there is a great deal to learn from the life and downfall of Napoleon and the short-lived French First Republic—especially in relation to the success of George Washington’s over two-century old American republic.

A Tale of Two Nations

C.A. Davidson

keyCharles Dickens’ powerful novel, A Tale of Two Cities, is set during the French Revolution, involving characters in the cities of London and Paris. This moving tale gives one pause to consider a tale of two nations—the differences between the French Revolution and the American Revolution.

americanrevolutionOnly a few years before the French Revolution, colonial America had rebelled, not against poverty, but against the increasingly tyrannical rule of the British. In America, it was men of property and education, not the poor, who rebelled. For liberty, they invested their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. Ironically, it was the French nobility who stepped in with naval support and saved the American Revolution from the brink of failure.

The purpose of the American Revolution was to change the ruling laws, not to kill the king. Many colonists, including Benjamin Franklin, had close ties with England. Franklin was the leader in trying all possible avenues of diplomacy; revolution was the last resort. George Washington scrupulously avoided abusing military power by consistently deferring to the directives of the civilian government, and he always put the needs of his men before his own. He refused to be king. Noble of character he was; greedy and power-hungry he was not. American leaders did all they could to avoid anarchy. They sought the help of God in their endeavor, and received miraculous help when it was needed.

The French Revolution, on the other hand, appears to have been driven by vengeance and hatred. Without a doubt, terrible injustices existed, as vividly depicted by Dickens and in Victor Hugo’s magnificent novel, Les Miserables. The French peasants were at a great disadvantage, because their poverty seemed insurmountable, and they lacked education and money; therefore they had no power to exercise influence on their oppressors. It is unfortunate that they resorted to terror. The mass murder of innocents resembled the ethnic cleansing of evil regimes in the twentieth century.

The French revolutionary participants were certainly godless. The mindless killing thoroughly disqualified them from any divine assistance. By killing the upper class, and their families, and their servants, and anyone remotely related, they also purged the society of education, law, culture, and other refinements necessary to civilized society.  Only anarchy resulted from their efforts. The old oppressors were merely replaced by a new tyrannical regime, more brutal than ever. It was bad enough that some even looked to figures like Napoleon to save them, but that really didn’t work well, either.

constitutionThe Americans went on to create a Constitution that is a model of liberty for the rest of the world. This Constitution provides maximum freedom, limited power in the national government, and the majority of the power to the states and people. The success of the nation has been in proportion to the degree of fiscal responsibility and law-abiding character manifest by the elected government officials. Because America was free, she became prosperous. Like many other European countries, France learned the best governing principles from the United States Constitution, only after long years of struggle.

Copyright 2011 © by Christine Davidson

faith-and-freedomWhy Young Adults need to know about Judeo-Christian Heritage and Freedom of Religion

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History Facts, William Blackstone, and Law of God

History Facts, William Blackstone, and Law of God

Dinner Topics for Wednesday

William Blackstone Quotes

keyMan, considered as a creature, must necessarily be subject to the laws of his Creator. It is binding over all the globe in all countries, and at all times: no human laws are of any validity, if contrary to this. ~Blackstone

The doctrines thus delivered we call the revealed or divine law, and they are to be found only in the Holy Scriptures. These precepts, when revealed … tend in all their consequences to man’s felicity [happiness]. (Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England. 1:29-60, 64)

Those rights, then, which God and nature have established, and are therefore called natural rights, such as are life and liberty, need not the aid of human laws to be more effectually invested in every man than they are: neither do they receive any additional strength when declared by the municipal laws to be inviolable. On the contrary, no human legislature has power to abridge or destroy them, unless the owner shall himself the owner shall himself commit some act that amounts to a forfeiture. (Blackstone: Commentaries on the Laws of England)

Laws for human nature had been revealed by God, whereas the laws of the universe (natural law) must be learned through scientific investigation. (Commentaries, p.64) Blackstone stated that “upon these two foundations, the law of nature and the law of revelation, depend all human laws …” (Ibid., p.65)

“Free men have arms; slaves do not.”
William Blackstone

“The liberty of the press is indeed essential to the nature of a free state: but this consists in laying no previous restraints upon publications, and not in freedom from censure for criminal matter when published. Every freeman has an undoubted right to lay what sentiments he pleases before the public: to forbid this, is to destroy the freedom of the press: but if he publishes what is improper, mischievous, or illegal, he must take the consequence of his own temerity.”
William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England, Volume 4: A Facsimile of the First Edition of 1765-1769

 

William Blackstone

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Blackstone_from_NPGSir William Blackstone KC SL (10 July 1723 – 14 February 1780) was an English jurist, judge and Tory politician of the eighteenth century. He is most noted for writing the Commentaries on the Laws of England. Born into a middle-class family in London, Blackstone was educated at Charterhouse School before matriculating at Pembroke College, Oxford in 1738. After switching to and completing a Bachelor of Civil Law degree, he was made a Fellow of All Souls, Oxford on 2 November 1743, admitted to Middle Temple, and called to the Bar there in 1746. Following a slow start to his career as a barrister, Blackstone became heavily involved in university administration, becoming accountant, treasurer and bursar on 28 November 1746 and Senior Bursar in 1750. Blackstone is considered responsible for completing the Codrington Library and Warton Building, and simplifying the complex accounting system used by the college. On 3 July 1753 he formally gave up his practice as a barrister and instead embarked on a series of lectures on English law, the first of their kind. These were massively successful, earning him a total of £60,000 in 2014 terms, and led to the publication of An Analysis of the Laws of England in 1756, which repeatedly sold out and was used to preface his later works.

On 20 October 1758 Blackstone was confirmed as the first Vinerian Professor of English Law, immediately embarking on another series of lectures and publishing a similarly successful second treatise, titled A Discourse on the Study of the Law. With his growing fame, Blackstone successfully returned to the bar and maintained a good practice, also securing election as Tory Member of Parliament for the rotten borough of Hindon on 30 March 1761. In February 1766 he published the first volume of Commentaries on the Laws of England, considered his magnum opus—the completed work earned Blackstone £1,648,000 in 2014 terms. After repeated failures, he successfully gained appointment to the judiciary as a Justice of the Court of King’s Bench on 16 February 1770, leaving to replace Edward Clive as a Justice of the Common Pleas on 25 June. He remained in this position until his death, on 14 February 1780.

Blackstone’s legacy and main work of note is his Commentaries. Designed to provide a complete overview of English law, the four-volume treatise was repeatedly republished in 1770, 1773, 1774, 1775, 1778 and in a posthumous edition in 1783. Reprints of the first edition, intended for practical use rather than antiquary interest, were published until the 1870s in England and Wales, and a working version by Henry John Stephen, first published in 1841, was reprinted until after the Second World War. Legal education in England had stalled; Blackstone’s work gave the law “at least a veneer of scholarly respectability”.[1] William Searle Holdsworth, one of Blackstone’s successors as Vinerian Professor, argued that “If the Commentaries had not been written when they were written, I think it very doubtful that [the United States], and other English speaking countries would have so universally adopted the common law.”[2] In the United States, the Commentaries influenced John Marshall, James Wilson, John Jay, John Adams, James Kent and Abraham Lincoln, and remain frequently cited in Supreme Court decisions.

Read more about William Blackstone

 

Constitution Series 19: Founding Principles of America, Limited Government

US Constitution Series 19

Founding Principles of America: Limited Government

 

NOTE: The slavery issue was an example of abuse of power by the states. Some of the states were also engaging in religious persecution. It was necessary for the federal government to guarantee unalienable rights to all Americans, not just a powerful few. After the Civil War, the 14th amendment was passed to remedy that. Now, the pendulum of power has swung violently in the other direction, with the federal government abusing our freedom of religion, speech, and many other constitutional rights. ~C.D.

Limited Government

Only limited and carefully defined powers should be delegated to government, all others being retained in the people

signers3No principle was emphasized more vigorously during the Constitutional Convention than the necessity of limiting the authority of the federal government. …the Founders were determined to bind down its administrators with legal chains codified in the Constitution.

It will be recalled that one of the reasons many of the states would not adopt the original draft of the Constitution was that they feared the encroachments of the federal government on the rights of the states and the people. The first ten amendments were therefore added to include the ancient, unalienable rights of Anglo-Saxon freemen so there could be no question as to the strictly limited authority the people were conferring on their central government. Notice how carefully the Ninth and Tenth Amendments are worded:

 

The Ninth Amendment

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

The Tenth Amendment

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

The people felt that the hedging up of federal authority was absolutely essential because of their experience with corrupt and abusive governments in the past. (Skousen, 223-224)

Alexander Hamilton

alexanderhamiltonThere is, in the nature of sovereign power, an impatience of control that disposes those who are invested with the exercise of it to look with an evil eye upon all external attempts to restrain or direct its operations . . .This tendency is not difficult to be accounted for. It has its origin in the love of power. Power controlled or abridged is almost always the rival and enemy of that power by which it is controlled or abridged.

Original Balance between Federal Government and States

The separation of powers between the states and the federal government was designed to reinforce the principles of limited government. The federal government was supreme in all matters relating to its responsibility [such as national defense], but it was specifically restricted from invading the independence and sovereign authority reserved to the States. The Founders felt that unless this principle of dual sovereignty was carefully perpetuated, the healthy independence of each would deteriorate and eventually one or the other would become totally dominant.

Alexander Hamilton

This balance between the national and state governments. . .is of utmost importance. It forms a double security to the people. If one encroaches on their rights, they will find a powerful protection in the other. Indeed, they will both be prevented from overpassing their constitutional limits, by certain rivalship which will ever subsist between them.

Where Power Rivals Power

The Founders felt that by having a wholesome balance between the federal and state governments, the people would have recourse to one of the other in case of usurpation or abuse by either.

 

Why the Founders would have frowned on the 17th Amendment

constitution2But would the states be able to protect themselves from the might of the federal government if the Congress began legislating against states’ rights? Originally, the states could protect themselves because U.S. Senators were appointed by the state legislatures, and the Senate could veto any legislation by the House of Representatives which they considered a threat to the rights of the individual states. Unfortunately, the protection of states’ rights by this means was completely wiped out by the passage of the Seventeenth Amendment in 1913.

That amendment provided that Senators would thenceforth be elected by popular ballot rather than appointed by the state legislatures. This meant the sates as sovereign commonwealths had lost their representation on the federal level, and their Senators would be subject to the same popular pressures during an election campaign as those which confront the members of the House of Representatives.

Since that time, there has been no veto power which the states could exercise against the Congress in those cases where a federal statute was deemed in violation of states’ rights. The Senators who used to be beholden to their state legislatures for their conduct in Washington are now beholden to the popular electorate. Federal funds appropriated for a state are generally a source of popular acclaim, and Senators, like Congressmen, usually hasten to get them approved.

Sometime in the not-too-distant future, the people may want to take another look at the present trend and consider the advantages of returning to the Founders’ policy of having state legislatures in the United States Senate. It might give us another generation of Senators like Daniel Webster, John Calhoun, and Henry Clay. (Skousen, 225-227

NEXT—

Founding Principles of America 20: Efficiency and Dispatch require Government to operate according to the will of the majority, but Constitutional provisions must be made to protect the rights of the minority

[Once again, the Constitution has been skewed. Despite the voice of the majority of people and states on traditional marriage, a small, very loud minority is intimidating the majority. Because of this, #20 will be combined with #21]

Founding Principles of America 21: Strong Local Self-Government

Founding Principles of America 18: Unalienable Rights of Constitution Protected by Written Records of History

 

Constitution Series 18: Rights from God protected by Constitution, Records of History

Constitution Series 18:

Rights from God protected by Constitution, Records of History

Founding Principles of America:

28 Great Ideas that changed the world

5000leapThe practical application of this book review of Skousen educated wisdom is to leverage “We, The People’s” knowledge to easily 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

US Constitution Series 18

Our Unalienable Rights from God are Best Protected by Written Records of History

keyoldThey had had many wars and serious contentions, and had fallen by the sword from time to time; and their language had become corrupted; and they had brought no records with them; and they denied the being of their Creator. ~Omni 1:17

 

No written records, no history

The one weakness of the Anglo-Saxon common law was that it was unwritten. Since its principles were known among the whole people, they seemed indifferent to the necessity of writing them down.

“Until the Anglo-Saxon conversion to Christianity it was unwritten and like all customary law was considered immutable. “ (Lovell, English Constitutional and Legal History, 7)

magna-cartaHowever, the Norman Conquest taught the Anglo-Saxons in England a bitter lesson. Many of their most treasured rights disappeared in a flood of blood and vindictive oppression. In fact, these rights were retained very slowly over a period of centuries and gradually they were written down. In A.D. 1215, during a national crisis, the sword was virtually put to the throat of King John in order to compel him to sign the Magna Charta, setting forth the traditional rights of freemen.

During that same century the “Model Parliament” came into being, which compelled the King to acknowledge the principle of no taxation without representation.

Through the centuries, the British have tried to manage their political affairs with no written constitution and have merely relied upon these fragmentary statures as a constitutional reference source. These proved helpful to the American Founders, but they felt that the structure of government should be codified in a more permanent, comprehensive form.

It will be appreciated, therefore, that the tradition of written constitutions in modern times is not of English origin but is entirely American, both in principle and practice.

Mayflower-compact-hero2-ABeginnings of a Written Constitution in America

The first written charter in America was in 1620, when the Mayflower Compact came into being. Later the charter concept evolved into a more comprehensive type of constitution when Thomas Hooker and his associates adopted the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut in 1639. It is interesting that the Connecticut charter makes no reference to the Crown or the British Government as the source of its authority. (Skousen, 217-218)

American Constitution Represents Wisdom of Many

signers3Montesquieu pointed out that when it comes to legislating (which includes the setting up of constitutions), the writing of the statute or charter is “oftentimes better regulated by many than by a single person.” In harmony with this same sentiment, the American Founding Fathers considered it wise to “legislate” their constitution by filtering it through the wisdom and experiences of many delegates assembled in a convention rather than leaving it to the genius of some individual.

It is always difficult to operate through a committee, a group, or a convention as the Founding Fathers did. Nevertheless, the history of the convention demonstrates that the final product was far stronger than any individual could have written it. Time has also proven the tremendous advantage of having a completely written document for reference purposes rather than relying upon tradition and a few scattered statutes as the fundamental law of the land. (Skousen 220-221)

Why Young Adults need to know about Judeo-Christian Heritage and Freedom of Religion

NEXT—

Principle 19: Only Limited Powers should be delegated to Government; all others being Retained in the People

 

 

US Constitution Series 17: Checks and Balances in the Constitution Prevent Abuse of Power

 Checks and Balances in the Constitution Prevent Abuse of Power

 

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

By W. Cleon Skousen

A System of Checks and Balances Should Be Adopted to Prevent the Abuse of Power

Failure to use Checks and Balances effectively Causing Problems Today

Just how difficult this task turned out to be is demonstrated in a number of problems which have arisen in our own day. The failure to use the checks and balances effectively has allowed the judiciary to create new laws (called judicial legislation) by pretending to be merely interpreting the old ones. Failure to use the checks and balances has also allowed the President to make thousands of new laws, instead of Congress, by issuing executive orders. It has allowed the federal government to invade the reserved rights of the states on a massive scale. It has allowed the legislature to impose taxes on the people never contemplated by the Founders of the Constitution. (Skousen, 207-208)

 

Checks and Balances in the Constitution

A number of procedures were tried in various states to protect the will of the people, but they were montesquieumostly ineffective. The American Founding Fathers were impressed by the concept of checks and balances set forth by Charles Montesquieu. They eventually achieved a system of checks and balances far more complex than those envisioned by Montesquieu. These included the following provisions:

  1. The House of Representatives serves as a check on the Senate since no statute can become law without the approval of the House.
  2. At the same time the Senate (representing the legislatures of the states before the 17th Amendment) serves as a check on the House of Representatives since no statute can become law without its approval.
  3. A President can restrain both the House and the Senate by using his veto to send back any bill not meeting with his approval.
  4. The Congress has, on the other hand, a check on the President by being able to pass a bill over the President’s veto with a two-thirds majority of each house.
  5. The legislature also has a further check on the President through its power of discrimination in appropriating funds for the operation of the executive branch.
  6. The President must have the approval of the Senate in filling important offices of the executive branch.
  7. The President must also have the approval of the Senate before any treaties with foreign nations can go into effect.
  8. The Congress has the authority to conduct investigations of the executive branch to determine whether or not funds are being properly expended and the laws enforced.
  9. constitutionThe President has a certain amount of political influence on the legislature by letting it be known that he will not support the reelection of those who oppose his program.
  10. The executive branch also has a further check on the Congress by using its discretionary powers in establishing military bases, building dams, improving navigable rivers, and building interstate highways so as to favor those areas from which the President feels he is getting support by their representatives.
  11. The judiciary has a check on the legislature through its authority to review all laws and determine their constitutionality.
  12. The Congress, on the other hand, has a restraining power over the judiciary by having the constitutional authority to restrict the extent of its jurisdiction.
  13. The Congress also has the power to impeach any of the judges who are guilty of treason, high crimes, or misdemeanors.
  14. The President also has a check on the judiciary by having the power to nominate new judges subject to the approval of the Senate.
  15. The Congress has further restraining power over the judiciary by having control of appropriations for the operation of the federal court system.
  16. The Congress is able to initiate amendments to the Constitution which, if approved by three-fourths of the states, could seriously affect the operation of both the executive and judicial branches.
  17. The Congress, by joint resolution, can terminate certain powers granted to the President (such as war powers) without his consent.
  18. The people have a check on their Congressmen every two years; on their President every four years; and on their Senators every six years. (Skousen, 211-213)

 

George Washington on the Importance of Preserving the Founders’ Checks and Balances System

George WashingtonThe spirit of encroachment tends to consolidate the powers of all the departments in one and thus to create, whatever the form of government, a real despotism. A just estimate of that love of power and proneness to abuse it which predominates in the human heart is sufficient to satisfy us of the truth of this position.

The necessity of reciprocal checks in the exercise of political power, by dividing and distributing it into different depositories and constituting each the guardian of the public weal against invasions by the others, has been evinced by experiments ancient and modern, some of them in our country and under our own eyes.

To preserve them must be as necessary as to institute them.

If, in the opinion of the people, the distribution or modification of the constitutional powers be in any particular wrong, let it be corrected by an amendment in the way which the Constitution designates. But let there be no change by usurpation; for though this, in one instance, may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed.

The Founders’ Device for “Peaceful” Self-Repair

signers3During nearly two centuries that the Constitution has been in operation, it has carried the nation through a series of traumatic crises. Not the least of these have been those occasions when some branch of government became arrogantly officious in the administration of its assigned task or flagrantly violated the restrictions which the Constitution placed upon it. As President Washington indicated, there is a tendency for some of this to occur continually, as is the case in our own day, but when it reaches a point of genuine crisis there is built-in Constitutional machinery to take care of it.

Other Countries lack Means of Peaceful Self-Repair

By way of contrast, we have scores of nations which claim to have copied the United States Constitution, but which failed to incorporate adequate checks and balances. In those countries, the only remedy, when elected presidents have suspended the constitution and used the army to stay in power, has been to resort to machine guns and bombs to oust the usurper. This occurs time after time. What the Founders wished to achieve in the Constitution of 1787 was machinery for the peaceful means of self-repair when the system went out of balance.

 

The Blessing of Domestic Tranquility

church-1Some of us have had to travel or live in nations during a time of turmoil and revolution. Even one such experience will usually convince the most skeptical activist that there is nothing to be gained and a great deal to be lost by resorting to violence to bring about political change. Once a constitution has been established and the machinery developed for remedy or repair by peaceful means, this is the most intelligent and satisfactory route to pursue. It requires more patience, but given time, the results are more certain.

To solve problems by peaceful means was the primary purpose of the United States Constitution.

(Skousen, 214-215)

NEXT: 18th Principle—The Unalienable Rights of the People are most likely to be Preserved if the Principles of Government are Set Forth in a Written Constitution

US Constitution Series 16: Our Government has 3 Parts—Law, President, and Courts

 

 

 

US Constitution Series 16: Our Government has 3 Parts—Law, President, and Courts

Dinner Topics for Wednesday

US Constitution Series 16: Three Separate Branches of Government—Legislative, Executive, and Judicial

John Adams Pushes Separation-of-Powers Doctrine: Law, President, and Courts

3-branches-govtIn 1776, when it first became apparent that the American people would have to set up their own government, John Adams practically stood alone in advocating a government built on a separation of powers. Even before the Declaration of Independence he was advocating a new national government with three separate departments but found himself severely criticized for such a revolutionary idea. (Skousen, 198)

John Adams Studies the “Divine Science” of Good Government

It is interesting that John Adams should have been the first among the Founding Fathers to capture the vision of Montesquieu in setting up a self-repairing national government under the separation-of-powers doctrine. As we pointed out earlier, he looked upon politics as a “divine science,” and determined to devote his life to its study. (Skousen, 199)

John Adams Writes Separation of Powers into a the Massachusetts Constitution

[I]n spite of all the opposition John Adams encountered, he did succeed, almost single-handedly, in getting his state to adopt a constitution based on separation of powers. (Skousen, 201)

 

The Modern Apostle of the Divine Science of Good Government Unappreciated for a Century

johnadams2In later years, Adams was successful in getting his ideas incorporated in the U.S. Constitution, but he was never able to gain a genuine acceptance of himself. Even though he was elected the first Vice President of the United States and the second President, he very shortly disappeared into history with scarcely a ripple. A hundred years after the founding of the country, neither Washington nor Massachusetts had erected any kind of monument to John Adams. It was only as scholars began digging into the origins of American constitutionalism that John Adams suddenly loomed up into proper perspective. Even he suspected there would be very few who would remember what he had attempted to accomplish. (Skousen, 201)

 

A Constitution for 300 Million Freemen

Nevertheless his political precepts of the “divine science” of government caught on. Even Pennsylvania revised its constitution to include the separation of powers principle, and Benjamin Franklin, one of the last to be converted, finally acknowledged that the Constitution of the United States with its separation of powers was as perfect as man could be expected to produce. He urged all of the members of the Convention to sign it so that it would have unanimous support.

John Adams said it was his aspiration “to see rising in America an empire of liberty, and the prospect of two or three hundred millions of freemen, without one noble or one king among them.” (Koch, The American Enlightenment, p. 191)

NEXT—

Principle 17: A System of Checks and Balances to Prevent the Abuse of Power

US Constitution Series 15: Government, Liberty, and Business Economy

 

 

 

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

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, 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