… I am quickly approaching sixty years of age; June 28th to be exact. As someone who is soon to become an official senior citizen, I have seen 11 Presidents come and go. I don’t remember Eisenhower; I was too young at the time, I do remember Kennedy, or at least the Cuban Missile Crisis and his assassination and how the nation mourned his passing.
One thing about him I did not know, until later that is, is that in 1962 he hosted a dinner at the White House for 49 winners of the Nobel Prize. Nobel Prize winners are supposed to be leaders in their respective fields who have made great breakthroughs in areas such as world peace, science, or literature. So I can imagine that having 49 Nobel Prize winners in your presence at one time would be pretty awe inspiring; even for a President of the United States.
Yet did you know that President Kennedy, in an address to these Nobel Prize winners, stated the following, “I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered together at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.” I don’t know about you, but as it pertains to intellect and accomplishments I think that is probably the highest praise a person could ever get.
I don’t think people actually realize what a vast treasure trove of information is at their fingertips if they would only do a web search for the writings of Thomas Jefferson. Just out of curiosity I just did a quick Google search on the writings of Thomas Jefferson and it came back with 1.6 million responses. So there is absolutely no excuse for anyone who wants to know what the man President Kennedy praised so highly thought about things like our rights; the purpose for government, and what we can/should do when our government becomes tyrannical; or even what tyrannical means for that matter.
There is an old saying that goes something like this, “If you want the truth, get it straight from the horse’s mouth.” What this means is that if you want to get the facts, go to the person who said something, or was there when an event happened. In our legal system 2nd and 3rd hand testimony is often not allowed; being considered hearsay. So why is it that people are content to take what amounts to be hearsay a hundred times removed from the actual events as the truth? What I’m referring to is the founding of our country and the establishment of our system of government. Why is it that they trust scholars, or publishers who lived hundreds of years after our country was founded to tell them the truth about the events they write about, yet shun the writings of those men who actually participated in those events?
Are you aware that in 1969 the Supreme Court held, “The values of the Framers of the Constitution must be applied in any case construing the Constitution. Inferences from the text and history of the Constitution should be given great weight in discerning the original understanding and in determining the intentions of those who ratified the constitution. The precedent value of cases and commentators tends to increase, therefore, in proportion to their proximity to the adoption of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, or any other amendments.” (Source: Powell v. McCormack)
What that means is that the closer you get to the time the actual drafting and ratifying of our Constitution you get, the closer you get to the truth. However, there is a quote by a man named Samuel Johnson which states, “Mankind have a great aversion to intellectual labor; but even supposing knowledge to be easily attainable, more people would be content to be ignorant than would take even a little trouble to acquire it.” I agree with that sentiment wholeheartedly. I think people are content to live in a bubble of ignorance; or at least a bubble of false truths which have been propagated upon them by those proclaiming to be educators.
Yet being the public service minded kind of guy that I am, I feel it is my duty to try and provide you with the truth so you don’t have to waste a precious moment of your time looking for it. Now whether or not you read or accept that truth is entirely up to you; as the old saying goes, “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.” Well I can bring the truth to you, but I can’t make you think; that’s on you.
If I were able to provide a grad for our educational system, I would give it a big fat ‘F’ – at least in regards to how truthfully and how thoroughly they cover civics and history. The average graduate coming out of our high schools these days is effectively unaware of the history and system of government of their own country; which is quite sad if you ask me.
In 1788 Noah Webster, father of the American dictionary, wrote, “But every child in America should be acquainted with his own country. He should read books that furnish him with ideas that will be useful to him in life and practice. As soon as he opens his lips, he should rehearse the history of his own country; he should lisp the praise of liberty, and of those illustrious heroes and statesmen, who have wrought a revolution in her favor.
A selection of essays, respecting the settlement and geography of America; the history of the late revolution and of the most remarkable characters and events that distinguished it, and a compendium of the principles of the federal and provincial governments, should be the principal school book in the United States. These are interesting objects to every man; they call home the minds of youth and fix them upon the interests of their own country, and they assist in forming attachments to it, as well as in enlarging the understanding.”
James Madison is often referred to as the Father of our Constitution. If that is, in fact, the case, then Thomas Jefferson may very well be the Father of our country, as it was for the words contained within his Declaration of Independence that those who joined the Continental Army fought. I don’t know about you, but it would seem like common sense to know what those men fought for so we would not revert back to the same kind of tyranny that they risked so much to free themselves from. But then again, I have found that common sense isn’t so common these days.
When I read the Declaration of Independence two things happen. First I get kind of choked up at the eloquence and truths contained in the opening paragraphs of Jefferson’s masterpiece. Secondly, I become angry because I see how we, due to our ignorance and apathy, are allowing our government to become far worse than the one our Founders fought a war to free themselves from.
I have quoted, time and time again, from the Declaration of Independence; so many times that you should have it memorized by now. So instead of repeating myself, I will take what Jefferson wrote and reduce it to simple bullet statements to summarize the principles America was founded upon.
First, is that all men are created equal. Now by that I don’t believe Jefferson meant that all men are born into equal positions in life, only that they are equal as to their capability to enjoy Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. While some may argue that due to the fact that slavery existed at the time Jefferson was a hypocrite. I’ll bet you didn’t know that in his original draft Jefferson condemned slavery; laying it at the feet of the King of England. I’ll bet you also didn’t know that Jefferson was among the first to seek to end the importation of slaves into Virginia. Your politically correct history books don’t teach you that, but those are truths you can look up on your own if you feel inclined to do so.
Next Jefferson states that our rights come from our Creator. If our rights come from our Creator, or God if you will, then how can any man, or group of men, seek to limit them without committing a crime against God Himself? And how can a people claim to be God-fearing, yet sit back and allow those rights to be stripped away from them?
As previously mentioned, these fundamental rights are, Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. You know, Ben Franklin is purported to have said, “Our constitution gives you the right to pursue happiness, you have to catch it yourself.” People today mistakenly believe that it is the purpose of government to ensure that everyone is equally happy and equal in status and position in life. What Jefferson meant, at least what I believe he meant based upon other things he said, is that people should be free to pursue happiness without the aid or interference of government; but that the obtaining of that happiness rests solely upon those who seek it.
For instance, in a letter to Joseph Milligan, Jefferson states, “To take from one, because it is thought his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers, have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, the guarantee to everyone the free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it.”
Then, in a letter to M.L. Hommande, Jefferson wrote, “The policy of the American government is to leave their citizens free, neither restraining nor aiding them in their pursuits.” I think those two quotes prove beyond a doubt what Jefferson meant when he said we are entitled to the right to pursue happiness; it wasn’t a guarantee of happiness, only the right to be free to seek it on our own without the help or hindrance of others.
The next point Jefferson brings up is that governments are instituted to secure these rights. I think that point should be self-explanatory, but to ensure that it is understood I will provide further clarification. In his Lectures on Law, James Wilson writes, “Government … should be formed to secure and enlarge the exercise of the natural rights of its members; and every government which has not this in view as its principal object is not a government of the legitimate kind.” Therefore a legitimate government is one in which the rights of the governed are protected by the laws passed by government. On the flip side, an illegitimate government is one which, by the passing of laws, undermines or restricts the rights of those it governs.
The final point Jefferson makes in his opening statement is that whenever any government fails to serve the purpose for which it was intended it is not only the right, it is the DUTY of the people to alter or abolish it and institute a government that will secure those rights for them.
Jefferson then goes on to say, “The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.” He then proceeds to list the offenses committed by the King of England which led the Colonists to sever the ties which bound them to him.
This is where I would like to divert from what Jefferson said and created my own list of grievances, or offenses if you will, which our government today is guilty of. Maybe then you will see why I can no longer, in good conscience, support this government in any form; regardless of whether it is predominantly Republican or Democrat.
So here are just a few of the offenses I would include if I were to re-write the Declaration of Independence to fit modern times; and for clarification, when I say IT I am referring to the federal government:
-It has erected a multitude of agencies and sent swarms of agents to harass, fine, imprison and kill those who violate the laws it passes.
– It has disregarded the law which governs how much power it will exercise on our behalf; taking upon itself the ability to grant itself new powers which exceed its legitimate authority.
– It sent armies into those States who sought only to exercise their right to withdraw from a voluntary union of States; thereby placing its will as being superior to the will of those who created it.
– It has erected a multitude of courts that seek not to provide justice to the people, but to enforce the laws passed by government.
– It has given the power to coin and regulate our nation’s currency to a privately owned banking cartel that uses that power for their own selfish interests.
– It has erected and maintained standing armies; not for the defense of America from foreign invaders, but for the expansion of empire and the protection of American business interests.
– It has accumulated a massive and unsustainable debt which is beyond the ability of the American taxpayer to ever pay off.
– It has meddled in the internal affairs of other nations, going so far as orchestrating coups to topple leaders who were not friendly towards American business interests.
– It has violate the right of the people to retreat into their homes and be free from its prying eyes and ears without a warrant being issued providing due cause.
– It has passed laws which limit the right of the people to keep and bear arms, yet at the same time the very arms the people are restricted from owning are carried by agents of the government in the enforcement of their laws.
– It has taken control of lands exceeding those specified by the Constitution for the maintenance of forts and naval yards and an area ten square miles for the seat of government.
– It has fined, prosecuted, and murdered those who sought to limit its authority to those specifically enumerated by the Constitution, or simply sought to live their lives free of its interference.
And these are just a few of the offenses our government is guilty of. After stating the offenses which led our Founders to seek a separation from England, Jefferson states “In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.”
I don’t know how many of you have ever written a President, or your representative in Congress, but having done so I can guarantee you that 9 times out of 10 you will be lucky if you get a form letter in response. I once sent the exact same letter to the President, the Attorney General, my representatives in Congress, and to every member of the Supreme Court on the issue of gun control. The only response I got was from Justice Stephen Bryer, and all he said was thank you for your well thought out letter. None of them every justified our government’s stance on gun control and how it violates the 2nd Amendment.
I would say that my humble petitions have been ignored. I would also say that a government that ignores the limits imposed upon it and routinely violates the rights of those it governs is unfit to exist. There is a saying in Latin which states, “Qui tacet conserntiret” meaning, your silence implies your consent. I would take that a step further, by your participating in choosing those who would hold the various positions of power within our government, you are consenting to whatever laws it passes.
Our nation was founded by those who resisted tyranny, not by those who consented to it, or by those who participated in choosing who would tyrannize them. As Lysander Spooner so effectively said, “A man is no less a slave because he is allowed to choose a new master once in a term of years.”
Either your government, (for I refuse to call it mine anymore) chooses to obey the law which governs its actions and seeks to secure and enlarge the exercise of the natural rights of its members, or it doesn’t. Either our government is of a legitimate kind or it isn’t. Either you consent to being a slave to government or you recognize that you are a slave and you begin resisting the laws that enslave you.
~ The Author ~
Neal Ross, Student of history, politics, patriot and staunch supporter of the 2nd Amendment. Send all comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you liked Neal’s latest column, maybe you’ll like to pick up your copy of ROSS: Unmasked – An Angry American Speaks Out – and stay tuned – Neal has a new, greatly expanded book coming soon dealing with the harsh truths about the so-called American Civil War of 1861-1865. Life continues to expand for this prolific writer and guardian of TRUE American history.