Selected Works of
R. Carter Pittman
By R. Carter Pittman
at the annual meeting of the Congress of Freedom, Buena Vista Hotel, Biloxi, Miss.
ORD ACTON, one of the deepest thinkers of the 19th century, spent most of his life accumulating materials for a history of liberty. After 40 years of research and preparation, he died in 1902 leaving a mass of materials that no later historian has undertaken to complete. Fortunately he had published a few newspaper articles and essays, some of which were republished as Essays on Freedom and Power, last reprinted in 1948. The history of liberty has never been written. The story of liberty has never been told. Libertarians seem always to die young, laboring at an unfinished task. Lord Acton learned, as all serious students of liberty learn, that to learn the history of freedom you must study the history of power. It was he who coined the oft-quoted maxim, "power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely."
Liberty and power are in eternal enmity. Liberty is defensive and power is offensive. Power is an armed aggressor. Liberty stands empty-handed, in need of unselfish champions at all times. Power is alluring and inspires both fear and worldly reverence. A constable's badge tends to make tyrants of some men. A black robe makes fools of some. Those who rise to power, and in power ride rough-shod over the rights of men, seem always to stand in marble on our public squares while those who carry the torch of liberty rest in unmarked graves. Some, like Lilburne, walk at cart's tails under the lash of power. Others, like Sidney, Russell and Vane die on gibbets or at the block. Some, like Christ, wear crowns of thorns and bear crosses.
Around 30 years ago I made a study of the history of a provision of the federal Bill of Rights which, like many other maxims of liberty, first attained the dignity of constitutional status in the Declaration of Rights of Virginia, adopted on June 12, 1776, three weeks before the Declaration of Independence. If you will again pardon a personal reference I will say that it was that study that gave to me a hobby in life that still possesses me. During that study I learned not only that liberty has had no historian in America but I learned that we have robbed libertarians of all credit and conferred that credit, in most cases, upon someone who rose to some position of power in America.
Someone has said:
A people indifferent to its past will not long retain the capacity to achieve an honored history.
In his Spirit of Laws Montesquieu said:
The deterioration of every government begins with the decay of principles on which it was founded.
George Mason laid down the principles on which all American Governments were founded in the Virginia Declaration of Rights of June 12, 1776, and in the Virginia Constitution of July 5, 1776.
Paragraph 15 of his Declaration says:
On December 15, 1778, the Virginia Assembly ordered a committee, of which George Mason was a member, "to prepare" and bring in "a Bill for the More General Diffusion of Knowledge." Jefferson was not a member of that committee. Forty-three years after the event, when Jefferson was in his dotage and when all who knew better were dead, he reconstructed from a blurred memory the claim that he was the sole author of the Bill. Jefferson prepared a draft of the bill as a part of the Revisal of Virginia laws, on which he worked with Mason and three others, but the preamble was Mason's. It is the preamble that has attained fame. The most outstanding documents accredited to Jefferson, such as the Declaration of Independence, the Bill for the More General Diffusion of Knowledge and the Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom, were all amended by the pen or touched by the brain of George Mason. A comparison of the spelling, diction, punctuation and capitalization tells the story as to who wrote what part. The presentation of the all but conclusive evidence on that subject must await a more propitious time and place. This is the first time that any part of this story has been told.
My purpose in revealing here a hint as to the part played by Mason, the grand American libertarian, is to call attention to the teachings of both Mason and Jefferson in their Bill for the More General Diffusion of Knowledge. Mason was the architect and Jefferson was the apostle of American liberty. The Preamble says:
. . . experience hath shewn that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny; and . . . that the most effectual means of preventing this would be to illuminate, as far as practicable, the minds of the people . . . and . . . especially to give them knowledge of these facts, which history exhibiteth, that, possessed thereby of the experience of other ages and countries, they may be enabled to know ambition under all its shapes, and prompt to exert their natural powers to defeat its purposes; . . .
The Preamble then speaks of promoting "public happiness" by educating those endowed with "genius and virtue", so that they
should be rendered by liberal education worthy to receive, and able to guard the sacred deposit of the rights and liberties of their fellow citizens.
Those were to be educated under the Bill,
. . . whom nature hath fitly formed and disposed to become useful instruments for the public,
That is the very reverse of Marxist equalitarianism that is taught to school children in America today.
The body of the Bill sets forth that which Jefferson and Mason believed to be necessary to be taught to the children of America in order to make them instruments and conservators of free government. I quote a sentence:
At every one of these schools shall be taught reading, writing and common arithmetick, and the books which shall be used therein for instructing the children to read shall be such as will at the same time make them acquainted with Graecian, Roman, English and American history . . .
In the next paragraph the superintendent or "overseer" of instruction was to be a man who should be "eminent for his learning, integrity, and fidelity to the commonwealth". Before the superintendent could appoint a teacher to any school that teacher was required to "give assurance of fidelity to the commonwealth", and the superintendent might "remove him as he shall see cause."(2a)
Every grammar school was required in that bill to teach "Latin and Greek languages, English grammar, geography, and the higher part of numerical arithmetick, to wit, vulgar and decimal fractions, and the extraction of the square and cube roots."
Thus it appears that two of the greatest statesmen and libertarians the world has ever known are authority for the proposition that the way to prevent the perversion of free governments into tyranny is to educate the young people to know the experience of other ages and countries in dealing with power and to know ambition under all of its shapes. Mason and Jefferson are authority for the proposition that in order to preserve liberty from arbitrary power our children must be acquainted with human experience as recorded in Grecian, Roman, English and American history, in order that they may understand the present and the future. It was the belief of Mason and Jefferson that history, reading, writing and 'rithmetic are fundamental. It is the belief of some modern educators that our children should be exposed to sociology, recess, running and 'rastling and nothing more.
It is to the study of American liberty as established and protected by Mason, Jefferson and others that we now turn our attention for a brief moment.
The dictionary defines the word "revolution" as "a complete or marked change in something." A revolution in government may be bloodless or it may be violent and may produce rivers of blood. The British-American War began in 1775 and lasted about seven years. Some people erroneously call that the "American Revolution". The American Revolution began around 1750 and ended when the Bill of Rights was adopted on December 15, 1791. The government that our forefathers lived under before the Revolution chartered Liberty. During and since the Revolution our people have chartered governments. Prior to the Revolution liberty was the gift of government. In the Revolution the American people destroyed the usurped power of the English Government and took into their own hands the power to confer power and reserve liberty from power.
When the people of Virginia determined, before the Declaration of Independence, that George III should no longer be their King and that his ministers and the Parliament should never again make laws for them, it became necessary for them to vest certain executive and legislative powers in the hands of their representatives, or agents. There can be no "pure democracy" except in a small community, hence delegates or representatives were deputed to perform acts of government for the people. Before the people of Virginia delegated their powers to their agents they adopted a Declaration of Rights "as the basis and foundation of government". That Declaration of Rights has become the most copied and the most influential constitutional document ever penned by man. The first paragraph declared equality of freedom and independence -- not equality -- to be the basic American creed, and declared that men have certain inherent natural rights which are "unalienable" and which therefore descend unimpaired to posterity,
among which are the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.
For the first time in all history, humankind stood in their own majesty and declared in a founding charter of their own government,
That power is, by God and nature, vested in, and consequently derived from, the people; that magistrates are their trustees and servants, and at all times amenable to them.
That ringing declaration was picked up from the newspapers by Jefferson in Philadelphia and made a part of the Declaration of Independence.
The third paragraph of the Virginia Declaration declared that government is instituted for the common benefit, protection and security of the people, and that of the various modes of government that form is best "which is capable of producing the greatest degree of happiness and safety, and is most effectually secured against the danger of mal-administration." The same paragraph then declared the right of revolution against tyranny in any form of government, as follows:
. . . whenever any government shall be found inadequate or contrary to these purposes, a majority of the community hath an indubitable, inalienable and indefensible right to reform, alter or abolish it, in such manner as shall be judged most conducive to the public weal.
Every one of those principles and many of the words themselves went into the preamble to the Declaration of Independence. Pennsylvania was the first state to copy those doctrines into her Declaration of Rights. She copied almost verbatim. Then state after state followed suit until at last every state in the Union as well as the federal government, and numerous free nations of the world, embodied those principles in their founding charters. Thus the cardinal principle of the American Revolution, declared by the pen of Mason and echoed by the pen of Jefferson, was that liberty is the gift of God -- not governments -- and that the natural rights that men enjoy are held by the leave of no man or men, and that those who exercise the powers of government, do so by leave of the people and are "the trustees and servants of the people, always amenable to them."
All of the American constitutions put into effect, as far as possible, paragraph III of the Virginia Constitution of July, 1776, which provided:
The legislative, executive and judiciary departments shall be separate and distinct so that neither exercise the powers properly belonging to the others; nor shall any person exercise the powers of more than one of them at the same time, . . .
That was the embryo of separation of powers for the preservation of liberty under law in all of America.
The United States Constitution went further than any of the preceding state constitutions on that score, because it was to be more severely limited than the state governments. Madison pointed out in The Federalist that those in the Constitutional Convention of 1787 put their trust not in the maxim of separation, but in the fact of separation. Constitutional barriers were erected to fence in and also to fence out. The legislative powers catalogued in the constitution itself, and no others, were delegated, by Article I, not to the government of the United States, but to the Congress, so that neither the executive nor the judiciary should ever claim the right or power to make laws. Never again in America should the decrees of a federal ruler or the decisions of a federal court become "the law of the land."
The power to execute the laws, to be enacted by Congress, and a few other carefully defined executive powers were delegated in Article II, not to the government of the United States, but to the President, or to the President with the advice and consent of the Senate. Never in America should such a power be exercised by one who could make or judge federal law. The power to make law or to judge law was carefully withheld from him.
The judicial power of the United States, to be exercised only in specific "cases and controversies", was vested not in the Congress, not in the President, not in the government or the United States and not even in judges. That dangerous, and severely limited judicial power was vested by Article III in "courts," whose
judges . . . shall hold their offices during good behavior, and shall . . . receive for their services, a compensation, which shall not be diminished during their continuance in office.
By Article III a jury was made as much a part of a federal criminal "court" as a judge. The same article of the Constitution that vests the judicial power in "courts" with independent judges also vests judicial power over crimes in "courts" with independent juries. A federal court for the trial of crimes is just as legal without a judge on the bench as it is without a jury in the box. It takes both an emancipated judge and an impartial jury, acting in the same case, to take from any man his life or liberty or property in any criminal proceeding in a federal court. The fact that it is actually done every day by alphabetical tools of power seated in Washington, D. C., without a jury, does not establish the right -- it merely proves the depravity of those who take an oath to support the Constitution in order to take office, and who then sanction subversion of the Constitution, while in office. It merely proves that mankind stands forever in need of prayer -- prayer to be delivered "from evil" and the "temptation" to "trespass."
Every great constitutional document from Magna Charta to the Federal Bill of Rights reaffirmed the right of the people to be tried by impartial juries of their peers. A principal cause of the Puritan Revolution and the Glorious Revolution in England, and of the American Revolution was that those in power had poisoned the streams of justice.
The Declaration of Independence indicted George III because "he has made judges dependent upon his will alone for the tenure of their offices and the amount and payment of their salaries."
Yet another more serious count in the indictment was that George III had assented to acts of pretended legislation in England
for depriving us in many cases of the benefit of trial by jury.
History teaches that essential justice may be obtained between man and man under almost any judicial system. The stream of justice runs clear in Russia in cases between private parties. It is in cases between governments and men where helpless people must cry for impartial judges and impartial juries, both in Russia and in America.
The very first step toward despotism is to establish courts that can be rigged by those in power to effectuate their will and policies which they always affirm to be "best for the country".
One jury may give an unjust verdict, but since jurors are drawn at random from the body of the people, unjust verdicts cannot become a habit. Occasionally we still hear an accused put himself "on the country." That means that he puts his case and fate in the hands of a jury. Jurors were justly known to the common law as "the country." A jury represents country -- not government. A jury judges facts with the feelings of men who must live under government -- not with the impatience and passion of those who seek to administer government as if they own it.
The current effort of the Eisenhower administration to go "modern" and destroy jury trials and set up servile tribunals is as old as tyranny itself. The argument of Assistant Attorney General Warren Olney III for the Administration on April 5th in Washington, D. C., reads as if torn from the note book of Charles I in 1631.
When the Stuart Kings determined to turn their arbitrary wills into law, the first thing they did was to by-pass juries and establish tribunals whose judges were dependent upon the smiles of the crown both as to tenure and as to pay. Those the least familiar with American history should know that it was the tyrannical tribunals of the Stuart Kings that brought about the first settlement of the American continent by the English people.
In 1631 Charles I announced that it was both necessary and proper that he have vigorous and expanded civil and religious rights commissions at his disposal "in the interest of good government and to avoid delays," saying further:
For two decades before 1641 our forefathers, by the thousands, sailed to America in their little leaky tubs because of the civil rights commissions and the religious rights commissions that were created or expanded by the Stuart Kings to implement the "divine rights" and royal will of Charles I. Soon after the Long Parliament was called into session those engines of tyranny were abolished and the old English system of jury trials was restored. That awful story is told in the Grand Remonstrance, adopted by the same Long Parliament a little later on December 1, 1641. I never cease to wonder why that story hasn't been copied into just one American history book! Let me read a part of that story:
The High Commission grew to such excess of sharpness and severity as was not less than the Romanish Inquisition . . . The Bishops and their courts . . . were . . . eager in the country . . . and . . . were . . . no less grievous in respect of the generality and multiplicity of vexations, which . . . did impoverish many thousands.
Then the Remonstrance goes on in paragraph 54 to reveal that those Civil and Religious Rights Commissions did "so afflict and trouble others that great numbers in their miseries departed out of the kingdom, some into New England and other parts of America, others into Holland, where they have transported their manufacturers of cloth . . ."(4)
Every effort to establish despotism in America prior to the American Revolution was done through servile tribunals, exercising judicial power, without the intervention of impartial juries, and under the control of those who wielded the power of government.
Governor Slaughter of New York used such a commission in 1691 to try and execute Leisler and Milborne.(6) It was such a tribunal that was hand-picked and specially commissioned to try witches in Massachusetts in 1692.(7) It was such a tribunal as was commissioned by Governor Cosby of New York in 1733 as a "court of exchequer" with an "equity side" for the purpose of by-passing a jury in order that the Governor himself might win a civil suit against a citizen involving a few thousand dollars.(8) Cosby justified his new court to the English Board of Trade on the ground that "it gave dispatch to business which the King's suits require." Such a commission was handpicked and instructed by Lt. Gov. Clarke of New York in 1741 to try and execute 29 Negroes and three whites, to effectuate an executive policy.(9)
It was just such a tribunal that was specially commissioned by Governor Martin of North Carolina in 1773 to try many and to execute ten on the frontiers because they protested against and armed themselves to ward off a corrupt government of men that had been imposed upon them without their consent or the consent of their representatives. Writs of Assistance issuing without cause shown and condemnations by Vice Admiralty courts without juries were fresh in the minds of the framers of the Constitution.
Is it any wonder that the framers determined that never again in America should lives or liberties or property be taken from the people, in the name of government, except by the verdict of a jury and the judgment of a judge emancipated from control by the President, the Congress, Karl Marx or Karl Gunnar Myrdal? The framers would have been stunned if they had dreamed that some day a packed Supreme Court bench would "refuse to turn back the clock" to fundamental principles so as to turn up the clock to Myrdal, whose book, An American Dilemma, is now Corpus Juris Tertius in federal pseudo-socio law that displaces constitutional law.
Liberty is never protected by men alone. It is protected by institutions. Constitutions constitute. The framers of the Constitution constituted institutions for the purpose of preserving liberty, and conferred only such powers on their agents of government as was necessary for the clearly defined objectives set forth in specific provisions of the Constitution. These objectives stated in the preamble are:
The preamble neither confers nor limits power. It neither defines nor proportions liberty. In the Richmond ratifying convention of 1788 George Mason, while fighting for his Bill of Rights, said of the clause, "To promote the general welfare,"(10)
I wish a clause in the Constitution with respect to all powers which are not granted, which states that they are retained by the states. Otherwise the power of providing for the general welfare may be perverted to its destruction.
That clause that Mason begged for went in as the 10th Amendment in order that the new government should never claim the right to promote itself above the rights of the states or the rights of the people under the guise of promoting "the general welfare" of the people.
Let us now briefly consider the Bill of Rights in the scheme of liberty. The Constitutional Convention adjourned on September 17, 1787, without a Declaration of Rights "to secure the blessings of liberty". George Mason refused to sign for that reason and published to the world his Objections to the Constitution. The first six words were: "There is no Declaration of Rights". On his return from the Convention he was almost mobbed in the Town of Alexandria, Virginia. Fairfax County turned against him for the first time in 40 years.
Three other Virginia counties asked him to represent them in the Virginia Convention and he chose Stafford. It was Mason who wrote the amendments proposed by Virginia, New York, North Carolina and Rhode Island. Each of the first ten Amendments was taken in whole or in part from those prepared by Mason.(11) During the battle over the Bill of Rights it was insisted that no Bill of Rights was needed because no power was delegated to the federal government to do wrong. It was contended that the people would always be represented in Congress by virtuous men; that there would always be a virtuous President and virtuous judges. Patrick Henry's reply was the grand understatement. At best, he said,
Virtue will slumber.
After a bitter struggle, the Bill of Rights became a part of the federal Constitution on December 15, 1791. Each provision of the federal Bill of Rights protects us from state power. All of them are catalogues of that which governments may not do to us. Each provision of the Bill of Rights is a little fox-hole of liberty ground into the hard cold face of history by helpless men to shield their naked bodies from the lash of power. Or, as I have said in another place: "They are the distilled essence of history's bitter fruits, gathered in her Gardens of Gethsemane."
Eternal vigilance is not the only price of liberty. The price of Anglo-Saxon liberty is blood. We have buried our sons, the flower of our youth, on every continent of the earth during the last 40 years. The slogan and the motto that has always driven them "over the top" from Lexington to Iwo Jima has been "Freedom" and "Liberty". But in our misguided zeal "to make the world safe for democracy," we have made it safe for communism and tyranny. In order to preserve liberty, we must know its history. We must analyze it, find its roots and fight to retain it. The arithmetician proves his multiplication by division, and his subtraction by addition. Those who love liberty and want to preserve it should carefully observe the methods used to suppress it by those who hate freedom. Every liberty catalogued in the Federal Bill of Rights could be the subject of a long historical commentary showing that each in its turn has been attacked and suppressed by those who have wanted to exercise unrestrained power.
Liberty of communication is one of the first liberties that despots seek to destroy. Tyranny learns nothing new, but it gives new names to old things. Aolian tells the story in Variae Historiae, Book 14, p. 22, about the ancient tyrant named Tryzus who learned that he could not bend the people to his will by his iron hand without suppressing freedom of communications, so Tryzus, in the plenitude of his despotic will made a decree to prohibit talking "in order to prevent dangerous conspiracies and combinations among the people". The people obeyed and resorted to communicating by gestures. Tryzus made another edict to prohibit gestures. The helpless people again obeyed, but it happened that some great misfortune touched all of the people so deeply that many of them cried. Those symptoms of their deep emotions were likewise communicated from one to another, so Tryzus at last made a law to prohibit crying in the market place. At long last something told the people that the right to sigh and the right to cry are inherent rights held from God by an indefensible tenure, so with faith in God and a prayer on their lips, they killed Tryzus.
In some parts of America today people are not permitted to speak, to sigh or to cry in the "market place". If they do they are dragged in shackles and chains before some tyrant in black robes who makes a shambles of constitutional liberty and desecrates the very provision of the Constitution that makes provisions for his daily bread. Some of the victims are made mad and put in padded cells. It is hoped that those who tailor-make laws, to forbid freedom of speech and freedom of association, may profit by the example of Tryzus.
Tyrants lay hold of the religion of the people to control or suppress it. They deny the right peacably to assemble and to petition for redress of grievances. The first paragraph of the federal Bill of Rights says that "Congress shall make no laws" respecting religion, abridging the freedom of the press, of speech or the freedom to sigh and cry, or the right of the people to peaceably assemble and petition the government for a redress of grievances. That Amendment doesn't say that "the President shall make no law" respecting those things, it doesn't say "the Supreme Court shall make no law" respecting them. Every one of those rights is predicated upon the proposition that only the Congress can make a law; that there can be no tailor-made laws in America, whether made by President Truman or by Judge Taylor.
The First Amendment doesn't say that those rights are given to the people. It says the people never gave them away. That Amendment is based upon the proposition that freedom of religion, freedom to speak, to write and to sigh and to cry, to assemble and to pray for deliverance from grievances, are the gift of God -- not governments -- and that they are held by the leave of no man and no government on earth. If government can give a right it can take it away or it can license the exercise of it. The efforts of time-serving politicians in Washington in 1957, to make the federal government the repository of the rights of men is a brazen denial of the verities contained in the Bill of Rights. If virtuous people ever learn to block-vote, the last one of those men will "be reduced to a private station, and returned into that body from which they were taken" as Paragraph 5 of the Virginia Declaration of Rights says they should be.
The Second Amendment, like the First, grants no rights but affirms that self-defense is the first law of nature and declares that "a well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed." There again the right preserved existed before government and is the gift of God -- not government.
No free government can long stand if the people themselves have not the means of preserving it. Despotism must be unhealthy and tyrants should have a short life-expectancy. "Disarm the people!" is always the feverish cry of tyrants. That explains why the British Redcoats were on a mission to deprive the colonists of arms and ammunition on the occasion of the battle of Lexington. That explains why Governor Dunmore of Virginia, about the same time, took the powder from the armory in Williamsburg and put it aboard a British ship. That explains the Second Amendment. That explains why we say that "the price of Anglo-Saxon Liberty is blood."
Despots have often quartered their soldiers in the home of the people without their consent. The Third Amendment prevents that.
Despotic governments habitually ransack the cottages and castles of the people and take their papers and effects, without cause shown, in order to find excuses to destroy the friends of liberty. That is what the Suart Kings did to Algernon Sidney, to John Lilburne, to Sir Henry Vane, to Lord William Russell and what George III did to hundreds of American colonists just before the American Revolution. The Fourth Amendment forbids that.
Despots habitually by-pass grand juries and try people on "informations" or bogus and unevaluated "charges." If they can't make the "charges" stick the first time they try again. Then they torture, beat and starve to compel a friendless and helpless accused to accuse and incriminate himself in order that they may conveniently take from him his life, his liberty or his property by tailor-made laws without due process of any constitutional law. The Fifth Amendment forbids that.
Those who would impose their despotic will upon the people bring them to trial before civil or religious rights commissions such as the Star Chamber and High Commission and other engines of tyranny of the Stuart Kings run by servile tools of power, without the intervention of impartial juries, so that rulers may dictate the results with absolute certainty. Article III of the Constitution guarantees a jury in "the trial of all crimes", but the Sixth Amendment goes further and guarantees "an impartial jury" of the State and District in which the act shall have been committed in all "criminal prosecutions" including "criminal contempt". It requires further that the accused be fully informed of the "charges" against him, be confronted with the witnesses against him, and that he have compulsory process for obtaining his own witnesses and the benefit of counsel.
The Seventh Amendment guarantees the right of trial by jury in civil cases, where the case involves as much as twenty dollars and one cent.
Excessive bail and excessive fines and cruel and unjust punishments have always been imposed or inflicted upon helpless people by men in power. The Eight Amendment ended forever, in the federal domain, that horrid fragment of feudal despotism. Its recurrence in the case of the Clinton martyrs has shocked the sensibilities of all freedom-loving people everywhere, and has earned the hollow praise of every communist dedicated to the destruction of American liberty and the creation of a shattered Bill of Rights.
Both in and after the Constitutional Convention those who opposed a Bill of Rights argued that if they enumerated the rights of men in the Constitution, such enumeration would be construed so as to deny or disparage other natural rights retained by the people, not enumerated in the Constitution. The Ninth Amendment ended that specious argument. Those who favored a Bill of Rights, knowing that power feeds upon itself and tends to increase as a malignant growth, feared that those in power would find an excuse to assert that the new government was a consolidated government able "to promote the general welfare" without limits. In order to quiet the people the Tenth Amendment was made to say:
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.
We have seen that both the parent, Virginia Bill of Rights, and the off-spring, the Declaration of Independence, begin with the declaration that governments are instituted among men, not to give rights but to secure rights; that the people hold their rights by tenure from God, and that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. Like those founding documents, the federal Bill of Rights ends with the proposition that rulers are the servants and trustees of the people; that constitutions constitute their powers-of-attorney, and that the exercise of powers not granted by the people is usurpation.
The Tenth Amendment seizes the heavy hand of power to shield the rights of states and the people. A consolidated government centered in one capitol city is the only kind of government in the world in which despotism flourishes. Speaking over the radio on March 2, 1930, Franklin D. Roosevelt said: "To bring about government by oligarchy, masquerading as democracy, it is fundamentally essential that practically all authority and control be centralized in our Federal Government. . . . The individual sovereignty of our states must first be destroyed."
Recently Senator Talmadge of Georgia called attention to the fact that in 1949 a university president wrote a letter to a House Education Subcommittee studying the question of federal aid to education:
I would flatly oppose any grant by the Federal Government to all states in the Union for educational purposes. Such a policy would . . . completely decry and defeat the watchful economy that comes through local supervision over local expenditures of local revenues . . .
Those were the words of Dwight D. Eisenhower, president of Columbia University -- the same Dwight Eisenhower who, as President of the United States, is urging the enactment of the same program of federal aid for education which eight years ago he opposed.
In 1930 Roosevelt was out of power. In 1949 Eisenhower was out of power. Remember what Lord Acton said:
Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely!
"Boss" Tweed said: "The way to have power is to take it." That is how power accumulates in Washington, D. C.
The federal government is now completing the destruction of state sovereignty. "Oligarchy, masquerading as democracy" is here. The revolution is a fact accomplished. It was simple and bloodless. All that was necessary was that good men die or retire from judicial benches and that they be replaced by bad men -- men who would unhesitatingly take an oath "to support the Constitution", and who would then break that oath to follow Marx and Myrdal, as "modern authority" and sneer at the ageless works and "horse and buggy" wisdom of Mason, Jefferson, Madison and Marshall. Men who refuse to "turn back the clock" to 1890 or 1896(13) in order to glean eternal verities from recent history, can hardly be expected to go back to the "outdated" principles, precepts and commands of the Ten Commandments, the Lord's Prayer, the Sermon on the Mount, the Constitution of 1787, or the Bill of Rights of 1791.
In the "horse and buggy days" Justices of the Supreme Court were appointed "with the advice and consent of the Senate". In recent years they have frequently been appointed with the advice and consent of Communist-fronters.
In 1682 William Penn recorded truth eternal, in the Frame of Government of Pennsylvania, when he said:
Any government is free to the people under it (whatever be the frame) where the laws rule, and the people are a party to those laws, and more than this is tyranny, oligarchy, or confusion . . . a loose and depraved people (which is the question) love laws and an administration like themselves. That, therefore, which makes a good constitution, must keep it, viz.: men of wisdom and virtue, qualities, that because they descend not with worldly inheritances, must be carefully propagated by a virtuous education of youth; . . . "(Emphasis by William Penn.)(14)
A few years ago H. L. Mencken recorded in his Notebooks several profound observations. They were published only last year under the title Minority Report. At page 172, he said:
The only guarantee of the Bill of Rights which continues to have any force and effect is the one prohibiting quartering troops on citizens in time of peace. All the rest have been disposed of by judicial interpretation and legislative whittling. Probably the worst thing that has happened in America in my time is the decay of confidence in the courts. No one can be sure any more that in a given case they will uphold the plainest mandate of the Constitution. On the contrary, everyone begins to be more or less convinced in advance that they won't. Judges are chosen not because they know the Constitution and are in favor of it, but precisely because they appear to be against it.
Those quotations from Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Tweed, Penn and Mencken are fitting
Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Vol. 2, p. 526.
2a. By way of contrast, on April 9, 1956, the Supreme Court of the United States reversed a New York court in the case of Slochower vs. Board of Education, and required the City of New York to restore to employment and to pay Slochower, a school teacher, several thousand dollars back salary because the authorities of New York had discharged him for hiding his disloyalty to his country and his depravity behind the 5th Amendment. Now "fidelity to the commonwealth" is "reactionary," and those who receive invitations to speak on some university campuses and who receive their "honorary degrees" are those whose "fidelity" is to some other country except their own.
4. 52, 53, 54, 55 and 127 Grand Remonstrance Gardner, Constitutional Documents of the Puritan Revolution, page 214 et seq. NOTE: Bishops, with few exceptions, have always been on the side of power. Bishop Laud of the High Commission has his counterparts in England and America today.
5. Jameson, Narratives of The Insurrections, 15, et seq., 38-41; 97 (1876) 124, 125; 2 Farrand 46. Of Berkeley even Charles II said: "That old fool has hanged more men in that naked country than I have done for the murther of my father." Jameson, p. 40.
11. The original draft of Mason's Bill of Rights in his handwriting is among the Mason Papers in the Library of Congress. It was first identified as the original by the writer in 1955. See Pittman, "The Fifth Amendment: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow," American Bar Association Journal, Vol. 42, p, 509 (June 1956).
The Virginia Declaration of Rights, originally written by George Mason in May, 1776, and proposed by the Report of the Official Committee on June 1, 1776, contained eighteen paragraphs. The official draft adopted on June 12 contained sixteen paragraphs. The Committee draft was published in the Virginia Gazette of June 1.
The first line of the first paragraph of the Committee draft, so widely copied in America and France, was: "That all men are born equally free and independent." The first line of the first paragraph, as revised in the official draft, was: "That all men are by nature equally free and independent."
The official draft was virtually unknown beyond the limits of Virginia for fifty years after its adoption. The Committee draft was the one copied elsewhere. It was the one translated into French and published in France by Franklin first in 1778 and in several editions thereafter. The official draft was never published in a bound book with other American Constitutions until it appeared in an obscure Winchester, Virginia, edition in 1811.
School children are taught to recite from the Declaration of Independence. They think they know who wrote it. There is not one high school or college student out of each hundred in America who knows who wrote a single provision of the Bill of Rights. The percentage of college professors who can recite any provision of the Bill of Rights, except a part of the 5th Amendment, is extremely low. About ninety percent of college graduates in America think that our Bill of Rights was written by Jefferson. If they have ever been told who wrote it, they were either misinformed or they have forgotten.
Much of the Constitution and all of the Bill of Rights were originally written by history minded laymen. They are therefore in simple language, easily understood.
This speech was transcribed and published in the Summit Sun, Biloxi, Miss.
It was subsequently reprinted as "A Supplement to the August 1957 Education News Service."