Constitutional Powers:The Founders vs. the ProgressivesBy Wesley CambronNov. 2011 Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Thomas Paine, George Whitefield, George Mason, Benjamin Franklin and Samuel Adams; those seven names are among those vital fifty six men whom founded our great country, the United States of America. After a long, costly and intense war against not just imperial England, but at the time the world??™s main source of tyranny, for the freedom of a budding country, revolutionary and extraordinary documents were written– the Declaration of Independence, written and ratified in 1776, and the Constitution for the United States of America, created in 1787.
Both documents are drastically important, yet feverishly debated over. The Constitution is to grant the power over the nation. The question remains: to whom Even back in its conception, battle lines were drawn for a strong, powerful and central government led by the federal government and the elite privileged (those supporters were led by Alexander Hamilton and the Federalist party) and those whom wanted a limited and weak federal government in which the power is to the people and the states (those supporters were led by Patrick Henry and his Anti-Federalist party). Both sides wanted freedom; they just couldn??™t agree exactly how to obtain it.
The Framers of the Constitution were reminded how desperate the new country needed a working government in the form of Shay??™s Rebellion of 1786. Dan Shay and his neighbors revolted against the elites of the city in frustration of foreclosure. While in Paris, Thomas Jefferson wrote in a letter after hearing about Shay??™s Rebellion in which he wrote ???A little rebellion now and then is good thing… The tree of liberty must be refreshed time to time by the blood of patriots and tyrants.??? (Davis, 1990, pg.
110) Due to the revolt, it was clear to the Framers that a national government was truly needed to protect its citizens; whether it is an act of war or protest. In the year 1796 Thomas Jefferson and James Madison (Yes, a Federalist during the creation of the Constitution), formed the Democratic Republican party in response to the Federalist??™ wish to expand the government. The Democratic Republicans, later shorted to just Republicans and then changed during Andrew Jackson??™s presidency to the Democratic Party, wanted the government to be much smaller and the freedom of the people to be maximized. Whether it was truly a political counter to the growing two party system or a personal, yet public, challenge between rivals Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton is still unknown (Davis, 1990, pg. 138).
As time progressed and the thoughts of tyranny began to dwindle, America entered a new war. Unlike the previous wars such as the War of 1812, the Spanish-Indian War or the Revolutionary War, this battle was contested between Americans and themselves. New ideas were coming to the minds of the Americans. One thing remained the same- their strength of faith. Religious interest and even excitement were seen almost everywhere, both in the old and newer parts of the country; and every such movement offered some means of studying or illustrating the development of national character.
Even the promise of paradise couldn??™t stop some dissent of humanity and cry for more civil liberties. As the Constitution returned to the central debates, a new subject emerged. Relying on the cry that ???all men are created equal??? many new Americans, forcibly from the North, wished to abolish slavery. To abolish slavery would have changed the landscape of America in ideally every way.
A key way would be the end of the South. However, the reason for their end isn??™t because a freed man is considered a full person in voting rights, it just had to do with money. Slavery was a form of profit to the plantations that they worked for. The plantation owners didn??™t pay the slaves, so they could easily just pocket the money they would have spent on an employee. The bigger the plantation they owned, the more slaves they would need. The more slaves they own, the more product they could produce and more production meant more profit.
It??™s not a far stretch to think that the emancipation of slaves would create corporate turmoil in the South. With the addition of more industry, it would have been the financial end of the South if they have not annexed back into the Union. Not all Southerners thought of slaves as just profit making farm machines.
Some treated them with respect, much like the Confederate president Jefferson Davis. According to the Civil War fan site, www.CivilWar.Bluegrass.Net, by 1849 Daviss slave population had grown to 72. One of them later recalled, “We had good grub and good clothes and nobody worked hard.” The slave children loved Davis; upon returning from trips, he often brought them gifts.
Davis treated all his slaves with paternal respect and consideration, but he showed his trust in one certain slave, Pemberton, by having him act as overseer to the other slaves. Slave problems were dealt with in-house by a slave court in which Daviss slaves made up the jury and decided the punishments. If a slave were sentenced to be whipped, Davis stepped in and commuted the sentence to extra labor or a warning. One could wonder why Jefferson Davis, the so-called ???treasonous president of the Confederacy???, would be so fatherly to slaves. If you take in account the fact that he outlived all his sons, and eventually the Confederate States, he could see his slaves as his own children. So the Union pressed to end slavery. Whether it is for everyone to be free and create a utopia of equal rights or simply to just win the war, they knew that slavery must end. Much like Jefferson Davis, many Southerners and a small amount of Northerners thought the slaves wouldn??™t be able to appreciate such a freedom.
Many thought of what Benjamin Franklin wrote some hundred years earlier: ??? The unhappy man, who has long been treated as a brute animal, too frequently sinks beneath the common standards of the human species. The galling chains, that bind his body, do also fetter his intellectual faculties, and impair the social affections of his heart. Accustomed to move like a mere machine, by the will of a master, reflection is suspended; he has not the power of choice; and reason and conscience has but little influence over his conduct, because he is chiefly governed by the passion of fear. He is poor and friendless; perhaps worn out by extreme labor, age and disease. Under such circumstances, freedom may often prove a misfortune to himself and a prejudicial to society. (Franklin, 1987, pg. 1155) The aftermath of the Civil War was astounding. That war was the bloodiest war ever contested on American soil.
The changes were that the liberties of the people were rewarded graciously. All men were now equal. However, because of the South, the post-war United States had to increase the powers of the federal government; much to the joy of the long gone Alexander Hamilton and the last remaining Federalist Party members.
Still, the power and size of the government was only starting to grow. Lincoln, with his suspension of habeas corpus, and Johnson were city mayors compared to what was just on the horizon: The Progressives. It was at the turn of the 20th Century when they came to power in the United States. The Civil War saw bloody battles, disgusting war crimes, torn families and even the suspension of habeas corpus. The aftermath, however, was when the government expanded outside the confines of the Constitution. The Progressive Movement was mighty. In 1890, after many replacements by the government, the Native Americans got sick of being subjected to abuse.
After generations of inward fighting, the remaining Native Americans called for a spiritual ritual called The Ghost Dance, a way they believed to communicate to their ancestors. Concerned that the ceremony would cause the tribes to unite, the federal government sent in local police to arrest the tribe leaders and break up the gathering (Burt, 2004, Page 30). As a result of that busting, Chief Sitting Bull was shot and killed, sparking a huge rift in trust between the Native American people and the federal government. Why would a government send in the police to break up a peaceful ritual That breaks the First Amendment.
As citizens, they had the right to peacefully assemble and a right to have their own religion. Both of those rights were violated on that eventful day. Yet when looking at the papers, the American public was led to believe that no rights were trampled on and that the Native Americans were savages who needed to be put in their place. A similar practice was done in 1930s Germany. In just under 200 years, the young country of America has changed in every form. The landscape, ideally and literally, would be unrecognizable to the Founders. The small, rural town and commercial economy favored by Thomas Jefferson had transformed the nation to largely driven by an urban, industrial economy (Burt, 2004, page 135,). How else did the government continue its power grab and expansion outside the Constitution They did it by breaking the laws of the Constitution– again.
This time in the form of theft, or as they label it, ???taxation???: The Income Tax, or the ever popular 16th Amendment. The use of ???popular??? is meant for humor because not only was the income tax unpopular (both when it was introduced in 1866 and again in 1913), it shouldn??™t be legal. The Constitution clearly states that to ratify an amendment, three-fourths of all the states have to vote for it. Constitutionalist run website, www.
GiveMeLiberty.Org, states that the ratification required by at least 36 states — three-fourths of the 48 states then in existence — has to be identical to the amendment passed by Congress. A Constitutional historian cites federal documents affirming that for state approval to be acceptable, neither words nor punctuation can be changed. And the states may not violate their own state constitutions in ratifying the amendment.
Eight states (Rhode Island, Utah, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Kentucky, Florida, Virginia and Pennsylvania) did not approve or ratify the amendment. Texas and Louisiana were forbidden by their own state constitutions to empower the federal government to tax. Vermont and Massachusetts rejected the amendment with a recorded vote count, and only later declared it passed without a recorded vote after the amendment was declared ratified by Knox. Tennessee, Ohio, Mississippi, California and Washington violated their state constitutions in their ratification procedures. Minnesota did not send any copy of its resolution to Knox, let alone a signed and sealed one, as required. And Oklahoma, Georgia and Illinois made unacceptable changes in wording.
(Some of the above states also made such changes, in addition to their other unacceptable procedures.) Take 48 states, deduct these 21, and you have proper ratification by only 27 states — less than the required 36. Even with the Supremacy Clause, the states could not reach the golden 36 states to ratify the income tax! The Ninth Amendment gives us the right, among other rights, to property.
Income is arguably property; it is yours because you earned it. Yet the federal government demands a certain percentage, plainly breaking the laws set by the Constitution. Taxation, in this case, is both theft and extortion.
The government was momentarily stalled in its attempt to expand. That moment which also sparked a raging inferno of employment, revenue and innovation came at 2:30 in the morning of August 3rd, 1923. The White House website says that the moment was when Calvin Coolidge was sworn in at candlelight by his father, a public notary. The years 1923 to 1929 were commonly called the Roaring 20s.
Flappers, fridges, cars and good times were all the rage during that era, and it was led by new president ???Silent Cal??? Calvin Coolidge. Although he was the strong and silent type, to the point where he won a bet during a dinner party where he spoke only two words, he regularly spoke to the American public from his radio broadcasts. He called for tax cuts four out of his six years in office, lowered the debt by $6 Billion, and the unemployment was a low 3%, these stats of course from Calvin Coolidge??™s website.
Silent Cal was a strong believer in American power; he refuse to join the League of Nations or to recognize the Soviet Union. Shortly after Coolidge left office the economy took a terrible hit, a depression. It not only hit America, but the entire world. The depression led to Hitler??™s rise in Germany, Mussolini in Italy and even Franklin Roosevelt in America. All three leaders are connected with their similar ways of leading; propaganda, creating new constitutions and even breaking previous constitutions.
The New Deal called for universal health care and other ???rights??? that were not human rights, but civil goods. You can buy health insurance, college education and even a house. You cannot, however, buy life or liberty. Franklin Roosevelt held the press with an iron grip to where most Americans didn??™t have a clue about his sickness.
Roosevelt also broke the taboo of three terms as president, although at the time not a solid amendment but still an honored wish from George Washington.Sometimes, however, the government breaks the laws of the Constitution and makes it sound good. Just look in the early 1950s with McCarthyism. McCarthyism was when Congress, led by Senator Joe McCarthy, went after private and public citizens for being affiliated with the Soviet Union.
They threw citizens in jail without a trial, blacklisted certain entertainers including the fan favorite Charlie Chaplin. Arthur Miller of PBS says that most entertainers remained blacklisted for life, despite how entertaining they were or if found innocent. Denial of a trial of your peers, denied earning a living and even removal of passports! The general public encouraged the crusade because it made them feel safe from the Red Scare.
However, popular or not, the government broke the laws of the Constitution. Benjamin Franklin said that ???those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither???. McCarthyism returned in a different form decades later. Under the administration of George W. Bush the federal government approved the PATRIOT ACT.
It gave the federal government, as if it already didn??™t have the power to, the power to wiretap random citizens and listen in on their private conversations without a warrant. Like Joe McCarthy did with the Red Scare, Bush shielded himself with the terrorist attack on 9/11 for why he approved such a law. Many groups, partially from the left, called it racial profiling.
Other groups called it what it was, infringement on the privacy of the American public! Islamic, Christian, Jewish, Atheist, it doesn??™t matter, the federal government must have a warrant to invade your privacy, no matter who says it??™s for the public safety! The federal government didn??™t stop there. The following administration, under the inexperienced Barack Obama, issued a large hit to the liberty of the American people. Obama and his New Progressive movement approved ???Obamacare???, the second attempt to nationalize health care; the first under FDR??™s administration.
It forces Americans to take government controlled insurance, else they would be taxed heavily, force companies to cover their part time employees and, as Alex Jones run website www.InfoWars.Net states, in Section 163 even give the government power to look into anyone??™s personal bank account and if they earn too much, according to the government, they will be garnished! Once again the federal government adopts a mob mentality. The government has expanded so much it is almost comical. What is not funny are the results it has produced. Over the span of 200 years and 44 presidents the Constitutional powers have not only shifted but been ignored, trampled and disrespected.
Thomas Jefferson was the last president who actually ruled within the confines of the Constitution to the preverbal ???T???. Other presidents have come close but not nearly as much as Jefferson and others weren??™t even close in preserving liberty. Next year there will be a presidential election and many on the right are looking for their knight in shining armor. If they were smart the GOP would look for another Calvin Coolidge with Thomas Jefferson intelligence and Ronald Regan charisma.