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FReeper Book Club: The Debate over the Constitution, Brutus #6
A Publius/Billthedrill Essay | 21 June 2010 | Publius & Billthedrill

Posted on 06/21/2010 7:49:27 AM PDT by Publius

Brutus Opens a New Front

Up until now the anti-Federalist writers had written in general against adopting the Constitution as sent to the states for ratification, arguing for a bill of rights. Some had fired broadsides, while others had applied the surgeon’s scalpel. Brutus – most likely Judge Robert Yates of New York, a delegate to the Constitutional Convention who had walked out, and a colleague of Hamilton – opens up a new front by concentrating on taxation, attacking Hamilton in the area in which he was expert and had given the most thought.

This would prompt Hamilton to abruptly shift emphasis from defense to revenue at precisely the wrong moment for his overall effort. Federalist #29, which was to cap his thoughts on defense, was already written, but was delayed for two weeks while Hamilton hurriedly wrote seven papers to refute Brutus. To Hamilton’s dismay, Brutus had struck hard and hit the target squarely.

Brutus #6

27 December 1787

1 It is an important question whether the general government of the United States should be so framed as to absorb and swallow up the state governments, or whether on the contrary the former ought not to be confined to certain defined national objects while the latter should retain all the powers which concern the internal police of the states.

***

2 I have in my former papers offered a variety of arguments to prove that a simple free government could not be exercised over this whole continent, and that therefore we must either give up our liberties and submit to an arbitrary one, or frame a constitution on the plan of confederation.

3 Further reasons might be urged to prove this point, but it seems unnecessary because the principal advocates of the new Constitution admit of the position.

4 The question therefore between us, this being admitted, is whether or not this system is so formed as either directly to annihilate the state governments, or that in its operation it will certainly effect it.

5 If this is answered in the affirmative, then the system ought not to be adopted without such amendments as will avoid this consequence.

6 If on the contrary it can be shown that the state governments are secured in their rights to manage the internal police of the respective states, we must confine ourselves in our inquiries to the organization of the government, and the guards and provisions it contains to prevent a misuse or abuse of power.

7 To determine this question, it is requisite that we fully investigate the nature and the extent of the powers intended to be granted by this Constitution to the rulers.

***

8 In my last number, I called your attention to this subject and proved, as I think incontrovertibly, that the powers given the Legislature under the 8th Section of the 1st Article had no other limitation than the discretion of the Congress.

9 It was shown that even if the most favorable construction was given to this paragraph that the advocates for the new Constitution could wish, it will convey a power to lay and collect taxes, imposts, duties and excises according to the discretion of the Legislature, and to make all laws which they shall judge proper and necessary to carry this power into execution.

10 This, I showed, would totally destroy all the power of the state governments.

11 To confirm this, it is worth while to trace the operation of the government in some particular instances.

***

12 The general government is to be vested with authority to levy and collect taxes, duties and excises; the separate states have also power to impose taxes, duties and excises, except that they cannot lay duties on exports and imports without the consent of Congress.

13 Here then, the two governments have concurrent jurisdiction; both may lay impositions of this kind.

14 But then the general government have [added] to this power, authority to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying the foregoing power into execution.

15 Suppose then, that both governments should lay taxes, duties and excises, and it should fall so heavy on the people that they would be unable, or be so burdensome that they would refuse, to pay them both; would it not be necessary that the General Legislature should suspend the collection of the state tax?

16 It certainly would.

17 For if the people could not, or would not, pay both, they must be discharged from the tax to the state, or the tax to the general government could not be collected.

18 The conclusion, therefore, is inevitable that the respective state governments will not have the power to raise one shilling in any way but by the permission of the Congress.

19 I presume no one will pretend that the states can exercise legislative authority or administer justice among their citizens for any length of time without being able to raise a sufficiency to pay those who administer their governments.

***

20 If this be true, and if the states can raise money only by permission of the general government, it follows that the state governments will be dependent on the will of the general government for their existence.

***

21 What will render this power in Congress effectual and sure in its operation is that the government will have complete judicial and executive authority to carry all their laws into effect, which will be paramount to the judicial and executive authority of the individual states; in vain therefore will be all interference of the legislatures, courts, or magistrates of any of the states on the subject, for they will be subordinate to the general government and engaged by oath to support it, and will be constitutionally bound to submit to their decisions.

***

22 The General Legislature will be empowered to lay any tax they choose, to annex any penalties they please to the breach of their revenue laws, and to appoint as many officers as they may think proper to collect the taxes.

23 They will have authority to farm the revenues and to vest the farmer general with his subalterns, with plenary powers to collect them, in any way which to them may appear eligible.

24 And the courts of law which they will be authorized to institute will have cognizance of every case arising under the revenue laws, the conduct of all the officers employed in collecting them, and the officers of these courts will execute their judgments.

25 There is no way, therefore, of avoiding the destruction of the state governments whenever the Congress please to do it unless the people rise up and with a strong hand resist and prevent the execution of constitutional laws.

26 The fear of this will, it is presumed, restrain the general government for some time within proper bounds, but it will not be many years before they will have a revenue and force at their command which will place them above any apprehensions on that score.

***

27 How far the power to lay and collect duties and excises may operate to dissolve the state governments and oppress the people it is impossible to say.

28 It would assist us much in forming a just opinion on this head to consider the various objects to which this kind of taxes extend in European nations and the infinity of laws they have passed respecting them.

29 Perhaps, if leisure will permit, this may be essayed in some future paper.

***

30 It was observed in my last number that the power to lay and collect duties and excises would invest the Congress with authority to impose a duty and excise on every necessary and convenience of life.

31 As the principal object of the government in laying a duty or excise will be to raise money, it is obvious that they will fix on such articles as are of the most general use and consumption, because unless great quantities of the article on which the duty is laid is used, the revenue cannot be considerable.

32 We may therefore presume that the articles which will be the object of this species of taxes will be either the real necessaries of life, or if not these, such as from custom and habit are esteemed so.

33 I will single out a few of the productions of our own country which may, and probably will, be of the number.

***

34 Cider is an article that most probably will be one of those on which an excise will be laid because it is one which this country produces in great abundance, which is in very general use, is consumed in great quantities, and which may be said too not to be a real necessary of life.

35 An excise on this would raise a large sum of money in the United States.

36 How would the power to lay and collect an excise on cider, and to pass all laws proper and necessary to carry it into execution, operate in its exercise?

37 It might be necessary in order to collect the excise on cider to grant to one man in each county an exclusive right of building and keeping cider mills, and oblige him to give bonds and security for payment of the excise; or if this was not done, it might be necessary to license the mills which are to make this liquor and to take from them security to account for the excise; or if otherwise a great number of officers must be employed to take account of the cider made and to collect the duties on it.

***

38 Porter, ale and all kinds of malt liquors are articles that would probably be subject also to an excise.

39 It would be necessary in order to collect such an excise to regulate the manufactory of these that the quantity made might be ascertained, or otherwise security could not be had for the payment of the excise.

40 Every brewery must then be licensed and officers appointed to take account of its product and to secure the payment of the duty or excise before it is sold.

41 Many other articles might be named which would be objects of this species of taxation, but I refrain from enumerating them.

42 It will probably be said by those who advocate this system that the observations already made on this head are calculated only to inflame the minds of the people with the apprehension of dangers merely imaginary.

43 That there is not the least reason to apprehend the General Legislature will exercise their power in this manner.

44 To this I would only say that these kinds of taxes exist in Great Britain and are severely felt.

45 The excise on cider and perry was imposed in that nation a few years ago, and it is in the memory of every one who read the history of the transaction what great tumults it occasioned.

***

46 This power, exercised without limitation, will introduce itself into every comer of the city and country:

47 To all these different classes of people and in all these circumstances in which it will attend them, the language in which it will address them will be give! give!

***

48 A power that has such latitude, which reaches every person in the community in every conceivable circumstance and lays hold of every species of property they possess and which has no bounds set to it but the discretion of those who exercise it: I say such a power must necessarily from its very nature swallow up all the power of the state governments.

***

49 I shall add but one other observation on this head which is this: it appears to me a solecism for two men or bodies of men to have unlimited power respecting the same object.

50 It contradicts the scripture maxim which [says] “no man can serve two masters,” the one power or the other must prevail, or else they will destroy each other, and neither of them effect their purpose.

51 It may be compared to two mechanic powers acting upon the same body in opposite directions; the consequence would be, if the powers were equal, the body would remain in a state of rest, or if the force of the one was superior to that of the other, the stronger would prevail and overcome the resistance of the weaker.

***

52 But it is said by some of the advocates of this system, “that the idea that Congress can levy taxes at pleasure is false and the suggestion wholly unsupported; that the preamble to the Constitution is declaratory of the purposes of the Union, and the assumption of any power not necessary to establish justice, etc., to provide for the common defense, etc. will be unconstitutional. Besides, in the very clause which gives the power of levying duties and taxes, the purposes to which the money shall be appropriated are specified, namely, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare.” 1

53 I would ask those who reason thus to define what ideas are included under the terms “to provide for the common defense and general welfare”?

54 Are these terms definite, and will they be understood in the same manner and to apply to the same cases by every one?

55 No one will pretend they will.

56 It will then be matter of opinion what tends to the general welfare, and the Congress will be the only judges in the matter.

57 To provide for the general welfare is an abstract proposition which mankind differ in the explanation of, as much as they do on any political or moral proposition that can be proposed; the most opposite measures may be pursued by different parties, and both may profess that they have in view the general welfare; and both sides may be honest in their professions, or both may have sinister views.

58 Those who advocate this new Constitution declare they are influenced by a regard to the general welfare; those who oppose it declare they are moved by the same principle; and I have no doubt but a number on both sides are honest in their professions; and yet nothing is more certain than this: that to adopt this Constitution, and not to adopt it, cannot both of them be promotive of the general welfare.

***

59 It is as absurd to say that the power of Congress is limited by these general expressions, “to provide for the common safety and general welfare,” as it would be to say that it would be limited had the Constitution said they should have power to lay taxes, etc., at will and pleasure.

60 Were this authority given, it might be said that under it the Legislature could not do injustice or pursue any measures but such as were calculated to promote the public good and happiness.

61 For every man, rulers as well as others, are bound by the immutable laws of God and reason always to will what is right.

62 It is certainly right and fit that the governors of every people should provide for the common defense and general welfare; every government, therefore, in the world, even the greatest despot, is limited in the exercise of his power.

63 But however just this reasoning may be, it would be found in practice a most pitiful restriction.

64 The government would always say their measures were designed and calculated to promote the public good, and there being no judge between them and the people, the rulers themselves must, and would always, judge for themselves.

***

65 There are others of the favorers of this system who admit that the power of the Congress under it with respect to revenue will exist without limitation, and contend that so it ought to be.

***

66 It is said, “The power to raise armies, to build and equip fleets, and to provide for their support ought to exist without limitation because it is impossible to foresee, or to define, the extent and variety of national exigencies or the correspondent extent and variety of the means which may be necessary to satisfy them.”

***

67 This, it is said, “is one of those truths which, to correct and unprejudiced minds, carries its own evidence along with it. It rests upon axioms as simple as they are universal: the means ought to be proportioned to the end; the person, from whose agency the attainment of any end is expected, ought to possess the means by which it is to be attained." 2

***

68 This same writer insinuates that the opponents to the plan promulgated by the Convention manifests a want of candor in objecting to the extent of the powers proposed to be vested in this government, because he asserts with an air of confidence that the powers ought to be unlimited as to the object to which they extend, and that this position, if not self-evident, is at least clearly demonstrated by the foregoing mode of reasoning.

69 But with submission to this author’s better judgment, I humbly conceive his reasoning will appear upon examination more specious than solid.

70 The means, says the gentleman, ought to be proportioned to the end; admit the proposition to be true, it is then necessary to inquire what is the end of the government of the United States in order to draw any just conclusions from it.

71 Is this end simply to preserve the general government and to provide for the common defense and general welfare of the union only?

72 Certainly not: for beside this, the state governments are to be supported and provision made for the managing such of their internal concerns as are allotted to them.

73 It is admitted, “that the circumstances of our country are such as to demand a compound instead of a simple, a confederate, instead of a sole government,” that the objects of each ought to be pointed out, and that each ought to possess ample authority to execute the powers committed to them.

74 The government then, being complex in its nature, the end it has in view is so also, and it is as necessary that the state governments should possess the means to attain the ends expected from them as for the general government.

75 Neither the general government nor the state governments ought to be vested with all the powers proper to be exercised for promoting the ends of government.

76 The powers are divided between them: certain ends are to be attained by the one, and other certain ends by the other, and these taken together include all the ends of good government.

77 This being the case, the conclusion follows that each should be furnished with the means to attain the ends to which they are designed.

***

78 To apply this reasoning to the case of revenue, the general government is charged with the care of providing for the payment of the debts of the United States, supporting the general government and providing for the defense of the Union.

79 To obtain these ends, they should be furnished with means.

80 But does it thence follow that they should command all the revenues of the United States?

81 Most certainly it does not!

82 For if so, it will follow that no means will be left to attain other ends as necessary to the happiness of the country as those committed to their care.

83 The individual states have debts to discharge, their legislatures and executives are to be supported, and provision is to be made for the administration of justice in the respective states.

84 For these objects the general government has no authority to provide, nor is it proper it should.

85 It is clear then that the states should have the command of such revenues as to answer the ends they have to obtain.

86 To say, “that the circumstances that endanger the safety of nations are infinite,” and from hence to infer that all the sources of revenue in the states should be yielded to the general government is not conclusive reasoning, for the Congress are authorized only to control in general concerns and not regulate local and internal ones, and these are as essentially requisite to be provided for as those.

87 The peace and happiness of a community is as intimately connected with the prudent direction of their domestic affairs and the due administration of justice among themselves, as with a competent provision for their defense against foreign invaders, and indeed more so.

***

88 Upon the whole, I conceive that there cannot be a clearer position than this: that the state governments ought to have an uncontrollable power to raise a revenue adequate to the exigencies of their governments, and, I presume, no such power is left them by this Constitution.

***

[1] Vide “An Examination into the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution”, printed in Philadelphia, page 34.
[2] Vide Federalist #23.

Brutus’ Critique

Suddenly the battleground shifts, and Hamilton, who has been steadily advancing on the solid basis of a federal government capable of defending itself, finds himself outflanked by the furious charge of Brutus from another direction entirely. The accusation is a familiar one: that the powers granted by the proposed Constitution will allow, even impel, the federal government to marginalize and absorb those of the states. But the basis on which this will happen is not, in Brutus’ opinion, military, but the simple fact that both levels of government will be competing for a single source of revenue, and that the structure of the Constitution will favor the federal government by making it the sole judge of the proper distribution of both powers and revenue. But the root issue is whether the new federal government will annihilate the state governments.

5 If this is answered in the affirmative, then the system ought not to be adopted without such amendments as will avoid this consequence.

6 If on the contrary it can be shown that the state governments are secured in their rights to manage the internal police of the respective states, we must confine ourselves in our inquiries to the organization of the government, and the guards and provisions it contains to prevent a misuse or abuse of power.

Brutus cites out one of his previous essays to the effect that the powers proposed to be given to Congress admit of no controlling authority other than that of Congress itself (8). The modern reader is reminded that the principle of judicial review by the Supreme Court was yet to be established. The image Brutus is conjuring is one of a body of men tempted by both power and money, and answerable to none but themselves. At 15 he suggests that this could result in a people overtaxed by both state and federal governments, and that the federal government would address this case by simply suspending the collection of state taxes. At 16 he goes on to state it a certainty, and at 20 he says that it means that the very existence of state governments would be dependent on the good will of the federal.

Yet the reader observes some two centuries hence that the state governments are still robust enough to tax their respective citizens heartily; not, to be sure, to the degree that the federal government does, but not inconsiderably either. This suggests that the issue was actually less one of two equivalent government entities competing for a single teat, but a case of subordination in which both suck amounts commensurate with their respective strengths. Brutus’ concern is that the milk might run dry before both are sated.

He next suggests that Congress will have the authority to enact tax-farming (23), a practice instituted among the Romans and repeated by the Macedonian Greeks, the Seljuk and Ottoman Turks, and as of the writing, in France as well. Brutus’ sudden reference to “farmer general” is a direct translation of fermiers généraux, the French name for that group of tax collectors who helped bankrupt France. The concept is simple: certain favorites pay central authority tax money from their own pockets and are granted an unlimited license to collect it themselves from the citizens from whom it is nominally due – with whatever degree of profit that authority may allow. It is a recognition that government is most effective on a local basis; it is also fantastically prone to abuse. It is, however, what we might term today a boundary case, and Brutus admits it.

27 How far the power to lay and collect duties and excises may operate to dissolve the state governments and oppress the people it is impossible to say.

28 It would assist us much in forming a just opinion on this head to consider the various objects to which this kind of taxes extend in European nations and the infinity of laws they have passed respecting them.

It would also point to the results they might achieve, one of which was Louis XVI losing his head at the guillotine for that abuse, some five years after the publication of Brutus’ piece. Brutus would have considered it grim confirmation of a malign principle.

Where might this taxation might be pointed in the United States? Everywhere, Brutus thunders, from ladies at their toilette to gentlemen in their kitchen, in bedchambers and studies, in merchants’ storehouses and mechanics’ shops, in farm and cottage, “and finally, it will light upon the head of every person in the United States.” (46) Few modern Americans could find fault with this summation; it is, if anything, an understatement. The advent of the income tax, a form of direct taxation, flew counter even to Hamilton’s recommendations (Federalist #21).

The reader might be tempted to smile at the specific examples Brutus cites prior to this dire prediction – cider (34), porter, ale and malt liquors (38) – these are all alcoholic beverages, and taxing them at the mill or brewery (37, 40) is a startlingly accurate prediction of Prohibition policies that continue to this day. From Brutus’ point of view it is as if a government so dastardly as to tax alcoholic beverages were scarcely to be imagined. Yet one was to do so only four years later, and not in jest, in the form of a tax on whiskey levied by the sitting Secretary of the Treasury, none other than Alexander Hamilton himself. It was to result three years afterward in that brief and fascinating episode in American history known as the Whiskey Rebellion, more of which will come in a later piece.

Yates the judge surfaces in Brutus’ next point – that a Congress limited to “promoting the General Welfare” as mentioned in the Preamble of the Constitution, was in fact limited not at all.

54 Are these terms definite, and will they be understood in the same manner and to apply to the same cases by every one?

They are, in fact, impossibly vague, and might be used to justify any action Congress might undertake (56, 58, 60), and that in fact, the only check on such expansion of powers would be the very Congress that undertook them (64).

The reader is then treated to a refutation of Hamilton’s own words, as direct a confrontation as has been seen thus far within the columns of the New York newspapers that published the Federalist. These are not specific on the topic of taxation but apply instead to the overall set of powers to be granted to the federal government, or more specifically, to the philosophy behind their granting.

66 It is said, “The power to raise armies, to build and equip fleets, and to provide for their support ought to exist without limitation because it is impossible to foresee, or to define, the extent and variety of national exigencies or the correspondent extent and variety of the means which may be necessary to satisfy them.”

69 But with submission to this author’s better judgment, I humbly conceive his reasoning will appear upon examination more specious than solid.

This is the case for powers granted both to state and federal governments, objects Brutus, not simply to the federal (76), and in fact applies with perfect validity to either so long as both their objectives and limitations, their separate spheres of activity and influence, are clearly delineated. It is also the case for the respective abilities to procure revenue through taxation (80, 83). With the latter Brutus has come full circle, closing with the admonition that the states as well as the federal government ought to have “uncontrollable” power to raise revenue, and that the proposed Constitution protects only the federal government’s privileges in this arena.

Brutus has struck Hamilton to the quick in this piece, and the latter will scramble to refute its specifics in the ensuing days. To his own readers the specter of a federal government successively starving and then gobbling up its state counterparts would have seemed the more alarming of his dire predictions. To the modern reader, whose income taxes to both federal and state governments are due the very same day, that point must seem less important than the taxes themselves, which have in the two centuries to follow mushroomed to a level that make Brutus’ darkest mutterings seem like the promise of a tax-free utopia.

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TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Free Republic
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1 posted on 06/21/2010 7:49:29 AM PDT by Publius
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To: 14themunny; 21stCenturion; 300magnum; A Strict Constructionist; abigail2; AdvisorB; Aggie Mama; ...
Ping! The thread has been posted.

Earlier threads:

FReeper Book Club: The Debate over the Constitution
5 Oct 1787, Centinel #1
6 Oct 1787, James Wilson’s Speech at the State House
8 Oct 1787, Federal Farmer #1
9 Oct 1787, Federal Farmer #2
18 Oct 1787, Brutus #1
22 Oct 1787, John DeWitt #1
27 Oct 1787, John DeWitt #2
27 Oct 1787, Federalist #1
31 Oct 1787, Federalist #2
3 Nov 1787, Federalist #3
5 Nov 1787, John DeWitt #3
7 Nov 1787, Federalist #4
10 Nov 1787, Federalist #5
14 Nov 1787, Federalist #6
15 Nov 1787, Federalist #7
20 Nov 1787, Federalist #8
21 Nov 1787, Federalist #9
23 Nov 1787, Federalist #10
24 Nov 1787, Federalist #11
27 Nov 1787, Federalist #12
27 Nov 1787, Cato #5
28 Nov 1787, Federalist #13
29 Nov 1787, Brutus #4
30 Nov 1787, Federalist #14
1 Dec 1787, Federalist #15
4 Dec 1787, Federalist #16
5 Dec 1787, Federalist #17
7 Dec 1787, Federalist #18
8 Dec 1787, Federalist #19
11 Dec 1787, Federalist #20
12 Dec 1787, Federalist #21
14 Dec 1787, Federalist #22
18 Dec 1787, Federalist #23
18 Dec 1787, Address of the Pennsylvania Minority
19 Dec 1787, Federalist #24
21 Dec 1787, Federalist #25
22 Dec 1787, Federalist #26
25 Dec 1787, Federalist #27
26 Dec 1787, Federalist #28

2 posted on 06/21/2010 7:50:56 AM PDT by Publius (Unless the Constitution is followed, it is simply a piece of paper.)
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To: Publius
I have, in my former papers, offered a variety of arguments to prove, that a simple free government could not be exercised over this whole continent, and that therefore we must either give up our liberties and submit to an arbitrary one, or frame a constitution on the plan of confederation.

Our Framers relied heavily on the political philosophers Montesquieu, Blackstone, Locke. Montesquieu and Blackstone wrote extensively on the division of powers as necessary to the preservation of liberty. That is why the Articles of Anarchy could not be improved, for to give thirteen members of Congress legislative, executive and judicial authority along with powers of enforcement which would be the very definition of tyranny.

3 posted on 06/21/2010 7:56:29 AM PDT by Jacquerie (Obama snoozed, oil oozed - Howie Carr)
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To: Publius
Hayek makes the distinction of the two separate traditions of liberty:
Though freedom is not a state of nature but an artifact of civilization, it did not arise from design. The institutions of freedom, like everything freedom has created, were not established because people foresaw the benefits they would bring. But, once its advantages were recognized, men began to perfect and extend the reign of freedom and, for that purpose, to inquire how a free society worked. This development of a theory of liberty took place mainly in the eighteenth century. It began in two countries, England and France. The first of these knew liberty; the second did not.

As a result, we have had to the present day two different traditions in the theory of liberty: one empirical and unsystematic, the other speculative and rationalistic –the first based on an interpretation of traditions and institutions which had spontaneously grown up and were but imperfectly understood, the second aiming at the construction of a utopia, which has often been tried but never successfully. Nevertheless, it has been the rationalistic, plausible, and apparently logical argument of the French tradition, with its flattering assumptions about the unlimited powers of human reason, that has progressively gained influence, while the less articulate and less explicit tradition of English freedom has been on the decline.

This distinction is obscured by the fact that what we have called the “French tradition” of liberty arose largely from an attempt to interpret British institutions and that the conceptions which other countries formed of British institutions were based mainly on their descriptions by French writers. The two traditions became finally confused when they merged in the liberal movement of the nineteenth century and when even leading British liberals drew as much on the French as on the British tradition. It was, in the end, the victory of the Benthamite Philosophical Radicals over the Whigs in England that concealed the fundamental difference which in more recent years has reappeared as the conflict between liberal democracy and “social” or totalitarian democracy.

This difference was better understood a hundred years ago than it is today. In the year of the European revolutions in which the two traditions merged, the contract between “Anglican” and “Gallican” liberty was still clearly described by an eminent German-American political philosopher. “Gallican Liberty,” wrote Francis Lieber in 1848, “is sought in the government, and according to an Anglican point of view, it is looked for in the wrong place, where it cannot be found. Necessary consequences of the Gallican view are, that the French look for the highest degree of political civilization in organization, that is, in the highest degree of interference by public power. The question whether this interference be despotism or liberty is decided solely by the fact who interferes, and for the benefit of which class the interference takes place, while according to the Anglican view this interference would always be either absolutism or aristocracy, and the present dictatorship of the ouvriers would appear to us an uncompromising aristocracy of the ouvriers.”

Since this was written, the French tradition has everywhere progressively displaced the English. To disentangle the two traditions it is necessary to look at the relatively pure forms in which they appeared in the eighteenth century.

What we have called the “British Tradition” was made explicit mainly by a group of Scottish moral philosophers led by David Hume, Adam Smith and Adam Ferguson, seconded by their English contemporaries Josiah Tucker, Edmund Burke and William Paley, and drawing largely on a tradition rooted in the jurisprudence of the common law. Opposed to them was the tradition of the French Enlightenment, deeply imbued with Cartesian rationalism: the Encyclopedists and Rousseau, the Physiocrats and Condorcet, are their best know representatives. Of course, the division does not fully coincide with national boundaries. Frenchmen, like Montesquieu and, later, Benjamin Constant and, above all, Alexis de Tocqueville are probably nearer to what we have called the “British” than to the “French” tradition. And in Thomas Hobbes, Britain as provided at least on eve of the founders of rationalist tradition, not to speak of a whole generation of enthusiasts for the French Revolution, like Godwin, Priestly, Price, and Paine, who (like Jefferson after his stay in France) belong entirely to it.

2. Though these two groups are now commonly lumped together as ancestors of modern liberalism, there is hardly a greater contrast imaginable than that between their respective conceptions of the evolution and functioning of a social order and the role played in it by liberty. The difference is directly traceable to the predominance of an essentially empiricist view of the world in England and a rationalist approach in France. The main contrast in the practical conclusions to which these approaches led has recently been put, as follows: “One finds the essence of freedom in spontaneity and the absence of coercion, the other believes it to be realized only in the pursuit and attainment of an absolute collective purpose”, and “one stands for organic, slow, half-conscious growth, the other for doctrinaire deliberativeness; one for trail and error procedure, the other for an enforced solely valid pattern.” It is the second view, as J. L. Talmon has shown in an important book from which this description is taken, that has become the origin of totalitarian democracy.

The sweeping success of the political doctrines that stem from the French tradition is probably due to their great appeal to human pride and ambition. But we must not forget that the political conclusions of the two schools derive from the different conceptions of how society works. In this respect, the British philosophers laid the foundations of a profound and essentially valid theory, while the rationalist school was simply and completely wrong.

Historians, lawyers and political scientists have always confused the rationalistic and centralizing aspects of the French tradition for our own.

Our people have had two hundred years for the rationalistic thinking to take hold and subvert the empirical evolved form of liberty. The tried and true of the local state has been subverted to the "logical" or the concept most conforming to a rationalistic ideology. The answers under the rationalistic solution have pointed to utility, uniformity and centralization.

We have done a poor job in understanding what we have inherited -- by definition satisfying the very need for conservative thought.

4 posted on 06/21/2010 8:38:31 AM PDT by KC Burke
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To: KC Burke

Excellent point.


5 posted on 06/21/2010 8:51:03 AM PDT by Publius (Unless the Constitution is followed, it is simply a piece of paper.)
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To: Publius

Brutus’ primary concerns center around the state governments, their prerogatives and power, not the goal of government, “to provide for the common defense and general welfare” of the people. The Framers did not originate this term. It was common in the states’ colonial charters and constitutions written in 1776-77.


6 posted on 06/21/2010 9:08:21 AM PDT by Jacquerie (Great Nations are born Stoic and die Epicurean)
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To: Publius
Brutus was also arguing in a time when despite the word “revolution” being applied to the War for Independence it was a revolution averted, not made (hat-tip to R. Kirk).

We had colonies and local governments that had persisted for four to six generations without the active day to day participation of a central government. We rebelled when that changed in the 1740 to 1770 era as Parliament went to take money in a more organized manner from the colonies. While we cited abstract terms in justifying that rebellion, we did not re-make our society and governmental institutions in that rebellion — we didn't have a Francophile rationalistic revolution remaking all of society.

We had a diverse and participatory group of Republics with citizens steeped in almost two hundred years of electing their own local authorites and functionaries. The simply wanted to continue that and keep common law and local custom and convention.

As we formed a national government, we added aspects to a written Constitution to protect those freedoms we had enjoyed that precipitated the separation. It was a practical document not a philosophic tract. The distinction of what was being protected was well understood at the time and little understood today.

7 posted on 06/21/2010 9:14:42 AM PDT by KC Burke
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To: KC Burke
That Hayek insight is absolutely superb, and thanks for taking the trouble to post it. Yes, that's exactly where the two traditions diverted, and it's where Edmund Burke fits in - the Gallic tradition is clean, sharply defined, theory-heavy. Mechanical, if I might offer my own description, where the English tradition under Burke might be described as organic. That tradition of liberty just grew that way and not always for the reasons intended.

One might even extend this state-centric Gallic tradition of liberty to include Marxism, a rather paradoxical but perfectly understandable development. Marx, after all, was convinced that his system was the sole route to human actualization, "liberty" grossly redefined in a collective sense (and only to be enjoyed by his Chosen People, the proletariat), but to him the only liberty that mattered. In the English tradition this is obvious and arrant nonsense; in the Gallic, that isn't as obvious. Just a couple of random thoughts.

8 posted on 06/21/2010 10:36:03 AM PDT by Billthedrill
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To: KC Burke

...oh, and I should have said “British”, not “English”, rather an embarrassing lapse inasmuch as Burke was an Irishman... ;-)


9 posted on 06/21/2010 10:39:20 AM PDT by Billthedrill
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To: Billthedrill

Even United Kingdom would more accurately cite the Scots thinkers that predated many of the other parts of the land.

That entire Chapter of the Constitution of Liberty was something I felt so strong about that I posted it by hand typing it into a thread cut up in sections across 130 posts back in 2003 when we used to discuss such things more commonly.

I just looked back and you hadn’t posted on that thread and it might interest you to see the conservative v. libertarian angle that tpaine and others goaded me into while finding the four followup posts where the entire chapter is put on the thread.

Go:
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/836099/posts


10 posted on 06/21/2010 11:19:57 AM PDT by KC Burke
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To: Publius

FR running low all day bump for later


11 posted on 06/21/2010 3:54:23 PM PDT by Huck (Q: How can you tell a party is in the majority? A: They're complaining about the fillibuster.)
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To: Publius
46 This power, exercised without limitation, will introduce itself into every comer of the city and country

So it will wait upon ladies at their toilette, accompany them to the ball, the play and the assembly, church, every home, cellar, kitchen, bedroom, all of a man's drinks, a constant companion to all, upon every head. . . . Sheesh.

A common tactic of the demagogue is to whip the populace into a froth over imaginary evils. Yates was a skilled lawyer and NY Supreme Court judge. He knew exactly what he was doing.

“Let the smaller colonies have equal money and equal men and then let them have an equal vote . . . If they have an equal vote without bearing equal burdens, a confederation upon such an iniquitous base will never last long.” Ben Franklin

12 posted on 06/21/2010 4:18:22 PM PDT by Jacquerie (It is happening here.)
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To: Jacquerie
So it will wait upon ladies at their toilette

You are aware that the federal government regulates toilets, right?

13 posted on 06/21/2010 6:35:13 PM PDT by Huck (Q: How can you tell a party is in the majority? A: They're complaining about the fillibuster.)
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To: Publius

Brutus makes some decent points, but he makes them more effectively later. His best arguments are irrefutable. Like his critique here of the flabby language of the Constitution.


14 posted on 06/21/2010 6:36:17 PM PDT by Huck (Q: How can you tell a party is in the majority? A: They're complaining about the fillibuster.)
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To: Huck

You are aware that the Constitution of 1787 did not, right?

Here’s another. “What will render this power in Congress effectual and sure in its operation is, that the government will have complete judicial and executive authority to carry all their laws into effect”

A government that cannot enforce the law is not a government, a fact demonstrated perfectly by the Articles of Anarchy.


15 posted on 06/22/2010 2:22:48 AM PDT by Jacquerie (Welcome to the soft tyranny.)
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To: Huck
The Constitution wasn't turned on it's head for almost 150 years.

For flab, look to the Articles of Anarchy, which were ignored from the moment they were ratified.

16 posted on 06/22/2010 2:29:01 AM PDT by Jacquerie (Welcome to the soft tyranny.)
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To: Huck

I don’t think the “flabby language” of the Constitution is as much a problem as the fact it has been ignored.

One example: Congress has the authority (AND RESPONSIBILITY!!!!) to declare war, when necessary.
That item by itself would insure that for us to go to war, a good percentage of the population/states were in agreement.
Now war is just a whim of the President.

Another example: We went off the gold standard
Well, what would have happened if the Federal Government wanted taxes, but there was almost no gold left in the population? Would the people suffer? Would the states suffer? Both, no doubt.

So the one thing preventing the Federal government from growing uncontrollably was money measured in gold.

How to get around it? One of the things the Federal government is prohibited of doing, “Bills of credit”
Paper money.


17 posted on 06/22/2010 2:52:30 AM PDT by djf
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To: Jacquerie
Hmm, note to self.

Where is the usual outrage over the “provide for the common Defense and general Welfare” clause?

18 posted on 06/22/2010 5:52:37 AM PDT by Jacquerie (Welcome to tyranny.)
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To: djf
I don't see any REQUIREMENT in the Constitution that war be declared. It doesn't say Congress shall declare war or No war may be fought except those having been declared by a majority of both houses, etc. It just says they have the power to declare war.

The Congress has voted on "authorizations to use force", which everyone has understood to be war bills empowering the president as commander in chief. It's still done with consent of the Congress, and usually, when the country is being whooped up for war, the senators and congressmen vote red white and blue overwhelmingly.

19 posted on 06/22/2010 7:03:56 AM PDT by Huck (Q: How can you tell a party is in the majority? A: They're complaining about the fillibuster.)
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To: Jacquerie

The Articles are definitely quaint. Charming to think that this loose confederation was able to defeat the British empire. Heady days.


20 posted on 06/22/2010 7:06:18 AM PDT by Huck (Q: How can you tell a party is in the majority? A: They're complaining about the deficit.)
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To: Jacquerie
The quote continues...

" in vain therefore will be all interference of the legislatures, courts, or magistrates of any of the states on the subject; for they will be subordinate to the general government, and engaged by oath to support it, and will be constitutionally bound to submit to their decisions."

This is why I say the 10th amendment is a dead letter, and the states whooping it up with resolutions are wasting their time.

21 posted on 06/22/2010 7:08:36 AM PDT by Huck (Q: How can you tell a party is in the minority? A: They're complaining about the deficit.)
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To: djf
One of the things the Federal government is prohibited of doing, “Bills of credit”

The STATES are prohibited from emiting bills of credit, not the national government.

22 posted on 06/22/2010 7:12:36 AM PDT by Huck (Q: How can you tell a party is in the minority? A: They're complaining about the deficit.)
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To: Jacquerie
For flab, look to the Articles of Anarchy, which were ignored from the moment they were ratified.

If anything, one would say the Articles of Confederation were ultra-lean. And the Constitution is ultra-flabby. Perhaps there was/is a middle ground in there somewhere.

23 posted on 06/22/2010 7:14:56 AM PDT by Huck (Q: How can you tell a party is in the minority? A: They're complaining about the deficit.)
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To: KC Burke
Appropos of your Hayek:

The American spirit has fled from hence: it has gone to regions where it has never been expected; it has gone to the people of France, in search of a splendid government — a strong, energetic government. Shall we imitate the example of those nations who have gone from a simple to a splendid government? Are those nations more worthy of our imitation? What can make an adequate satisfaction to them for the loss they have suffered in attaining such a government — for the loss of their liberty? If we admit this consolidated government, it will be because we like a great, splendid one. Some way or other we must be a great and mighty empire; we must have an army, and a navy, and a number of things.

When the American spirit was in its youth, the language of America was different: liberty, sir, was then the primary object. We are descended from a people whose government was founded on liberty: our glorious forefathers of Great Britain made liberty the foundation of every thing. That country is become a great, mighty, and splendid nation; not because their government is strong and energetic, but, sir, because liberty is its direct end and foundation. We drew the spirit of liberty from our British ancestors: by that spirit we have triumphed over every difficulty.

But now, sir, the American spirit, assisted by the ropes and chains of consolidation, is about to convert this country into a powerful and mighty empire. If you make the citizens of this country agree to become the subjects of one great consolidated empire of America, your government will not have sufficient energy to keep them together. Such a government is incompatible with the genius of republicanism. There will be no checks, no real balances, in this government. What can avail your specious, imaginary balances, your rope-dancing, chain-rattling, ridiculous ideal checks and contrivances? But, sir, we are not feared by foreigners; we do not make nations tremble. Would this constitute happiness, or secure liberty? I trust, sir, our political hemisphere will ever direct their operations to the security of those objects.

Patrick Henry, June 5th, 1788


24 posted on 06/22/2010 7:24:19 AM PDT by Huck (Q: How can you tell a party is in the minority? A: They're complaining about the deficit.)
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To: Jacquerie
You are aware that the Constitution of 1787 did not, right?

It was properly understood at the time where the national powers would lead:

They [the judicial] will be able to extend the limits of the general government gradually, and by insensible degrees, and to accommodate themselves to the temper of the people. Their decisions on the meaning of the constitution will commonly take place in cases which arise between individuals, with which the public will not be generally acquainted. One adjudication will form a precedent to the next, and this to a following one. These cases will immediately affect individuals only, so that a series of determinations will probably take place before even the people will be informed of them. In the meantime all the art and address of those who wish for the change will be employed to make converts to their opinion.

This, from a different Brutus essay, is a pretty fair description of national accrual of power through the judicial branch. There are other excesses, but the critique of the judicial branch is damning and accurate. It's a fatal flaw.

25 posted on 06/22/2010 7:35:31 AM PDT by Huck (Q: How can you tell a party is in the minority? A: They're complaining about the deficit.)
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To: Huck

The awful Articles were ratified in the closing months of the war.

We won in spite of the Articles.

If the Articles were so great, why did Virginia resort to a dictator?


26 posted on 06/22/2010 8:04:59 AM PDT by Jacquerie (Welcome to tyranny.)
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To: Huck

Article II of Articles of Anarchy:

“Each state retains its sovereignty . . . and right which is not by this Confederation expressly delegated to the United States, in Congress assembled.”

You should better understand that which you defend.


27 posted on 06/22/2010 8:08:25 AM PDT by Jacquerie
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To: Huck
If anything, one would say the Articles of Confederation were ultra-lean.

You gotta be kidding! Compare Article III of the Constitution to the following mess of Article IX in the Articles of Anarchy:

The United States in Congress assembled shall also be the last resort on appeal in all disputes and differences now subsisting or that hereafter may arise between two or more States concerning boundary, jurisdiction or any other causes whatever; which authority shall always be exercised in the manner following. Whenever the legislative or executive authority or lawful agent of any State in controversy with another shall present a petition to Congress stating the matter in question and praying for a hearing, notice thereof shall be given by order of Congress to the legislative or executive authority of the other State in controversy, and a day assigned for the appearance of the parties by their lawful agents, who shall then be directed to appoint by joint consent, commissioners or judges to constitute a court for hearing and determining the matter in question: but if they cannot agree, Congress shall name three persons out of each of the United States, and from the list of such persons each party shall alternately strike out one, the petitioners beginning, until the number shall be reduced to thirteen; and from that number not less than seven, nor more than nine names as Congress shall direct, shall in the presence of Congress be drawn out by lot, and the persons whose names shall be so drawn or any five of them, shall be commissioners or judges, to hear and finally determine the controversy, so always as a major part of the judges who shall hear the cause shall agree in the determination: and if either party shall neglect to attend at the day appointed, without showing reasons, which Congress shall judge sufficient, or being present shall refuse to strike, the Congress shall proceed to nominate three persons out of each State, and the secretary of Congress shall strike in behalf of such party absent or refusing; and the judgement and sentence of the court to be appointed, in the manner before prescribed, shall be final and conclusive; and if any of the parties shall refuse to submit to the authority of such court, or to appear or defend their claim or cause, the court shall nevertheless proceed to pronounce sentence, or judgement, which shall in like manner be final and decisive, the judgement or sentence and other proceedings being in either case transmitted to Congress, and lodged among the acts of Congress for the security of the parties concerned: provided that every commissioner, before he sits in judgement, shall take an oath to be administered by one of the judges of the supreme or superior court of the State, where the cause shall be tried, 'well and truly to hear and determine the matter in question, according to the best of his judgement, without favor, affection or hope of reward': provided also, that no State shall be deprived of territory for the benefit of the United States.

All controversies concerning the private right of soil claimed under different grants of two or more States, whose jurisdictions as they may respect such lands, and the States which passed such grants are adjusted, the said grants or either of them being at the same time claimed to have originated antecedent to such settlement of jurisdiction, shall on the petition of either party to the Congress of the United States, be finally determined as near as may be in the same manner as is before presecribed for deciding disputes respecting territorial jurisdiction between different States.

28 posted on 06/22/2010 8:15:31 AM PDT by Jacquerie (For man, when separated from law and justice, is the worst of all animals - Aristotle)
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To: Huck
There are other excesses, but the critique of the judicial branch is damning and accurate.

The Constitution of 1787 died in the 1930s. It was killed by FDR and his Congresses.

That is why Aristotle, Montesquieu and our Framers pounded on the need for a virtuous citizenry in a constitutional republic.

29 posted on 06/22/2010 8:27:17 AM PDT by Jacquerie (Virtue may be defined as the love of the laws and of our country - Montesquieu)
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To: Jacquerie
pounded on the need for a virtuous citizenry

And if pounding for one made it manifest, we'd have one. Meanwhile back in the real world...

30 posted on 06/22/2010 8:38:23 AM PDT by Huck (Q: How can you tell a party is in the minority? A: They're complaining about the deficit.)
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To: Huck

Your Henry quote at #24 seems to be in accord with Hayek’s view from the vantage point of history.

I am not a familiar with Henry’s attitude after ratification had occured and Washington was elected. I know he didn’t live a lot longer, but what was his attitude toward Washington upon taking office?


31 posted on 06/22/2010 12:16:37 PM PDT by KC Burke
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To: KC Burke; Huck
Once the Constitution was ratified, Henry endorsed it.

During Washington's years in office, he migrated over to the Federalist Party and reversed his earlier stances. He opposed the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions as seditious.

He had a complete change of heart after the debate was over.

32 posted on 06/22/2010 12:41:25 PM PDT by Publius (Unless the Constitution is followed, it is simply a piece of paper.)
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To: Publius
He was right about the VA and KY resolutions. They don't square with the Constitution. He was right that VA was headed for civil war, that challenging national supremacy would lead to civil war and that the states would be worse off as a result.

He warned that civil war was threatened because Virginia, "had quitted the sphere in which she had been placed by the Constitution, and, in daring to pronounce upon the validity of federal laws, had gone out of her jurisdiction in a manner not warranted by any authority, and in the highest degree alarming to every considerate man; that such opposition, on the part of Virginia, to the acts of the general government, must beget their enforcement by military power; that this would probably produce civil war, civil war foreign alliances, and that foreign alliances must necessarily end in subjugation to the powers called in."

We know he was correct. The VA and KY resolutions led to Calhounism, which led to war.

33 posted on 06/22/2010 12:51:17 PM PDT by Huck (Q: How can you tell a party is in the minority? A: They're complaining about the deficit.)
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To: Publius

It’s actually comical to see Madison scurrying around, trying to undo what he and his federalist buddies had done. Henry could well have said, “I tried to warn you. This is what the Constitution creates. You can’t undo it now. And now you want to invite the wrath of the national government on VA? No thanks. He was correct.


34 posted on 06/22/2010 12:59:16 PM PDT by Huck (Q: How can you tell a party is in the minority? A: They're complaining about the deficit.)
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To: Jacquerie

?


35 posted on 06/22/2010 1:18:54 PM PDT by definitelynotaliberal (My respect and admiration for Cmdr. McCain are inversely proportion to my opinion of Sen. McCain.)
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To: definitelynotaliberal
On 6 June 1788, at the Virginia ratifying convention, Governor Randolph gave a wonderful speech in support of the Constitution [Union]. A portion:

“I will close this catalogue of the evils of the dissolution of the Union by recalling to your mind what passed in the year 1781. Such was the situation of our affairs then, that the power of dictator was given to the commander-in-chief, to save us from destruction. This shows the situation of the country to have been such as to make it ready to embrace an actual dictator. At some future period, will not our distresses impel us to do what the Dutch have done — throw all power into the hands of a stadtholder?”

VA dumped representative government and appointed a dictator to deal with Cornwallis and Tarleton ravishing the state in 1781. The governor was given dictatorial powers. Of what service were the newly ratified Articles? Oh, and Patrick Henry was offered the dictatorship. He was such a strong supporter of the Articles, he refused. That is understandable since no one believes their baby is ugly. Henry put his ideology ahead protecting the lives of his people. See http://www.newrivernotes.com/va/varev8.htm

36 posted on 06/22/2010 1:54:42 PM PDT by Jacquerie (Virtue may be defined as the love of the laws and of our country - Montesquieu)
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To: Huck

I wish I had been at the VA ratifying convention on 2 June to see Patrick Henry get slapped down.

He contested the legitimacy of the Constitutional convention. It got nowhere. He was politely told to sit down and shut up.


37 posted on 06/22/2010 2:04:08 PM PDT by Jacquerie (We should therefore make the best use of what has been already discovered - Aristotle)
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To: Jacquerie

Thank you.


38 posted on 06/22/2010 2:22:21 PM PDT by definitelynotaliberal (My respect and admiration for Cmdr. McCain are inversely proportion to my opinion of Sen. McCain.)
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To: Jacquerie

Of course he was correct on that as well.


39 posted on 06/22/2010 2:30:47 PM PDT by Huck (Q: How can you tell a party is in the minority? A: They're complaining about the deficit.)
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To: Jacquerie

Of course he was correct on that as well.


40 posted on 06/22/2010 2:30:58 PM PDT by Huck (Q: How can you tell a party is in the minority? A: They're complaining about the deficit.)
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To: Jacquerie
The Constitution of 1787 died in the 1930s. It was killed by FDR and his Congresses.

That may be true but the illness was incubated but the likes of Alexander Hamilton and John Marshal and was given a tremendous boost by Abraham Lincoln. Woodrow Wilson and FDR merely administered the coup de gras.

41 posted on 06/22/2010 2:38:14 PM PDT by Bigun ("It is difficult to free fools from the chains they revere." Voltaire)
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To: Huck

Of course, the adults at the convention disagreed.


42 posted on 06/22/2010 2:47:01 PM PDT by Jacquerie (We should therefore make the best use of what has been already discovered - Aristotle)
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To: Publius

Excessive taxation...what an idea.


43 posted on 06/22/2010 2:55:17 PM PDT by TASMANIANRED (Liberals are educated above their level of intelligence.. Thanks Sr. Angelica)
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To: Huck
Here is another Henry goodie, from 9 June 1788.

“In making a dictator, we followed the example of the most glorious, magnanimous, and skillful nations. In great dangers, this power has been given. Rome had furnished us with an illustrious example. America found a person for that trust: she looked to Virginia for him. We gave a dictatorial power to hands that used it gloriously; and which were rendered more glorious by surrendering it up.”

If alive today, the attorney Henry would make a terrific ambulance chaser.

44 posted on 06/22/2010 2:59:04 PM PDT by Jacquerie (Nothing which is contrary to nature is good - Aristotle)
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To: Jacquerie; Huck

Patrick Henry’s two speeches at the Virginia Ratifying Convention will be covered by us around Christmas. It will receive the same respectful treatment as the Federalist and other anti-Federalist writers.


45 posted on 06/22/2010 3:18:12 PM PDT by Publius (Unless the Constitution is followed, it is simply a piece of paper.)
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To: djf
One of the things the Federal government is prohibited of doing, “Bills of credit” Paper money.

Actaully, only the States are prohibited from issuing bills of credit, or from making paper money legal tender. (Article I, section 10). Congress is not barred from doing either (see Article I, section 8, cl. 5).

46 posted on 06/22/2010 3:31:23 PM PDT by Lurking Libertarian (Non sub homine, sed sub Deo et lege)
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To: Huck

The conceptual necessity of virtue in the citizenry of a constitutional republic is foreign to you.


47 posted on 06/22/2010 4:15:04 PM PDT by Jacquerie (It is not slavery for men to live according to the rule of a constitution, it is their salvation.)
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To: Jacquerie
conceptual necessity

As opposed to...reality.

48 posted on 06/22/2010 6:25:45 PM PDT by Huck (Q: How can you tell a party is in the minority? A: They're complaining about the deficit.)
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To: Publius
most likely Judge Robert Yates of New York

Thanks for the qualifier, by the way. It's the only accurate way to put it--no one knows with 100% certainty. I happen to think it was someone else.

49 posted on 06/22/2010 6:27:19 PM PDT by Huck (Q: How can you tell a party is in the minority? A: They're complaining about the deficit.)
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To: Jacquerie
a simple free government could not be exercised over this whole continent, and that therefore we must either give up our liberties and submit to an arbitrary one, or frame a constitution on the plan of confederation.

You like to hector me a lot about what MY plan would be, as if that's relevant to a critique of the Constitution. I believe this statement of Brutus' to be true---that some form of confederation ought to have remained in place.

You say the Constitution is the end-all, be-all---the best mankind will EVER do, right there, on that paper, conceived in Philadelphia, 1787. I say it's possible to create something better. Maybe it will never happen. But it's possible.

There are some OBVIOUS errors, which should be removed. Other problems are more complicated, but we know the current system doesn't work, e.g., the federal judiciary. Not just that it doesn't work, but that it creates much constitutional mischief. A better article 3. Specific mention of "secession", a rule one way or the other. Express delegation only. No house. Only a congress, representing the states. States hold the right of recall at any time. THEY determine the mode of their elections. etc

50 posted on 06/22/2010 6:39:13 PM PDT by Huck (Q: How can you tell a party is in the minority? A: They're complaining about the deficit.)
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