From republicanism to tyranny: How did we lose our rights?
by Bob Livingston
This is the first of a two-part series.
If an effort is to be undertaken by Americans in which they are to reclaim their rights under natural law (rights that are being stolen from them every day by the tyrannical fascist American regime), then an understanding of what has transpired to take away those rights must first be achieved. For if one does not know how his rights were taken from him, there is no way he can adequately labor for their return.
The Founding Fathers drafted the Constitution, ostensibly, to create a vehicle to keep a check on government. It was a compact of states, and the document was ratified by the states (see Article VII). It was not ratified by the people in a mass election, but by the states one by one.
The Constitution drafted by the Founders was not intended to form a strong “national” government with heavily centralized power, but as a means to represent a group of states only on matters that concerned them all. The government was given a list of enumerated powers in Article I, Section 8. As James Madison wrote in Federalist No. 14:
In the first place, it is to be remembered, that the general government is not to be charged with the whole power of making and administering laws. Its jurisdiction is limited to certain enumerated objects, which concern all the members of the republic, but which are not to be attained by the separate provisions of any.
In Federalist No. 45 Madison wrote:
The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected. The powers reserved to the several states will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement and prosperity of the State.
The Constitution was not a document designed to restrain the people or the states, but to place restraints on the federal government the Founders were creating. This is an important distinction. It would not have been ratified if not for the promise of a bill of rights to further check the federal government. That’s because most of the Founders — particularly the Anti-Federalists — feared the Constitution wasn’t strong enough to prevent the Federal government from stealing power from the states.
To that end, the Bill of Rights established a set of restrictions on federal government. The preamble to the Bill of Rights expresses this quite plainly:
THE Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.
The first eight amendments were checks on federal power. The 9th and 10th Amendments state the Founders’ intent that all power not granted the general (Federal) government in the Constitution was reserved to the states and to the people.
The Constitution was based on Federalism, or the concept that authority for governing local matters should be left to the purview of local and state governments, and authority for big items affecting the whole (trade, war, disputes between the states, etc.) was held by the federal government and determined through representatives of the people (House of Representatives) and the states (Senate).
The Founding Fathers understood that states joining the compact voluntarily were free to leave. In fact, it was New England states, or at least Federalists from those states, who first broached the idea of leaving the United States. They called it disunion.
Timothy Pickering of Massachusetts (who was George Washington’s adjutant general during the Revolution and served as Washington’s secretary of state and secretary of war), along with his Federalist cohorts, sought to separate after Thomas Jefferson was elected president.
Pickering called separation the remedy pointed to by “the principles of our Revolution.”
“I will rather anticipate a new confederacy, exempt from the corrupt and corrupting influence of the aristocratic Democrats of the South,” wrote Pickering. “There will be a separation… [and] the black and white populations will mark the boundary.”
Senator James Hillhouse, a Revolutionary War captain who went on to serve in the second, third and fourth Congresses, said, “The Eastern States must and will dissolve the union and form a separate government.”
New England Federalists believed that Virginia was gaining too much power and would act against the interests of New England states and in the interests of Southern ones. After Jefferson’s election, Federalist Stephen Higgenson claimed the federal government “had fallen into the hands of infidel, anti-commercial, anti-New England Southerners” who would “govern and depress New England.”
Federalist John Lowell Jr. expressed state’s rights sentiments of the New England secessionists when he stated, “[I]t is our duty, our most solemn duty, to vindicate the rights, and support the interests of the states we represent.”
Their complaints mirrored those made by Southerners advocating for secession in the 1860s, including Robert E. Lee, who told General Winfield Scott, “If the union is disrupted I shall return to my native state and share the miseries of my people and save in defence will draw my sword on none.”
In 1804, Federalists began plotting their strategy to begin “disunion.” Massachusetts was to take the lead by seceding first, Pickering wrote in a letter to Theodore Lyman, followed by Connecticut, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
Their cause disintegrated when Aaron Burr failed to win the governorship of New York and Burr was then tarnished after he killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel. [i]
In the 1830s and 1840s, abolitionists, chief among them William Lloyd Garrison, called for “disunion.” The New England Anti-Slavery Convention voted in favor of secession by a margin of 250-24.
The Civil War — aka the War to Prevent Southern Secession or the war of Northern Aggression — essentially neutered the 9th and 10th Amendments. The war was not started by President Abraham Lincoln to end slavery. It was fought to reign in a “rebellion” of states who were exercising their rights as outlined in the Declaration of Independence.
Abraham Lincoln, the war’s chief prosecutor, himself said, “My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or destroy Slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also do that.” In fact, the official government name for the war is the “War of the Rebellion.”
To “save the Union,” Lincoln trampled on the rule of law. He suspended habeas corpus, ignored Supreme Court rulings, sent federal troops into state legislatures to prevent them from voting, arrested politicians, shut down opposition newspapers and held their editors without trial and signed illegal executive orders and congress-passed laws.
General William T. Sherman, the Union war criminal whose army left a vast swath of rape and pillage destruction from Tennessee, through Georgia and South Carolina — and who later engaged in genocide on the Plains Indians — wrote to Major R.M. Sawyer in a January 1864 letter that the war “Was the result of a false political doctrine that any and every people have a right to self government.” He went on to write that state’s rights, freedom of conscience and freedom of the press were “trash” that had “deluded the Southern people into the war.” Sherman was acting with the approval of his commander, Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, and therefore with the approval of the president.
The natural result of Lincoln’s actions is the empirical presidency we have today. President Barack Obama once claimed he fancied himself a modern-day Lincoln. It’s probably the only truth he’s uttered since he took office. OK: Queue the inevitable zombie commenters that will label me a racist for expressing a truth.
Following the war, New York Rev. Henry Ward Beecher went to Charleston, S.C., and gave a speech beneath a large U.S. flag. In his speech he said, “Let no man misread the meaning of this unfolding flag! It says, ‘GOVERNMENT hath returned hither.’ It proclaims in the name of vindicated government, peace and protection to loyalty; humiliations and pains to traitors. This is the flag of sovereignty. The nation, not the States, is sovereign. Restored to authority, this flag commands, not supplicates… There may be pardon [for former Confederates], but no concession… The only condition of submission is to submit!”
This was the attitude toward the South held by most of most of the Radical Republicans.
With the South vanquished and the threat of secession out of the way, Radical Republicans in Congress set out to bury self-determination under a mountain of centralizing legislation and judicial tyranny.
That led to the ratification 14th Amendment — if it was actually legally ratified — and spawned a growing tyranny of the judiciary that followed some 60 years later: what Jefferson would term “the despotism of an oligarchy” and the idea that, for the president, the ends justifies the means.
Since its passage, the 14th Amendment’s due process clause has been used by activist judges to strip the states and people of their liberty and give almost unlimited power to the general government.
Next Monday: Judicial ‘sappers and miners’ undermined the Constitutional fabric of the nation.