Our Declaration

Friday, July 5, AD 2013

Pride and patriotism, not less than gratitude, prompt you to celebrate and to hold it in perpetual remembrance. I have said that the Declaration of Independence is the RINGBOLT to the chain of your nation’s destiny; so, indeed, I regard it. The principles contained in that instrument are saving principles. Stand by those principles, be true to them on all occasions, in all places, against all foes, and at whatever cost.

From the round top of your ship of state, dark and threatening clouds may be seen. Heavy billows, like mountains in the distance, disclose to the leeward huge forms of flinty rocks! That bolt drawn, that chain, broken, and all is lost. Cling to this day-cling to it, and to its principles, with the grasp of a storm-tossed mariner to a spar at midnight.

Frederick Douglass, July 5, 1852

An interesting video on the preservation of the Declaration.  I rather like that it is faded and worn.  The Declaration has not been hidden away as some sort of sacred totem.  Instead it is a document to be seen by all Americans, which is fitting because it is their Declaration.

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The Declaration of Independence

Thursday, July 4, AD 2013

 

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. 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.

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The Declaration of Independence: Read It!

Tuesday, July 2, AD 2013

In its main features the Declaration of Independence is a great spiritual document. It is a declaration not of material but of spiritual conceptions. Equality, liberty, popular sovereignty, the rights of man — these are not elements which we can see and touch. They are ideals. They have their source and their roots in the religious convictions. They belong to the unseen world. Unless the faith of the American people in these religious convictions is to endure, the principles of our Declaration will perish. We can not continue to enjoy the result if we neglect and abandon the cause.

Calvin Coolidge, July 5, 1926

Each year after lunch on the Fourth, clan McClarey gathers together to read out loud The Declaration of Independence.  The Declaration is not a mere historical artifact, some sort of feel good document that we salute as a patriotic symbol, and then promptly dismiss.  It is filled with ideas, some of the most truly revolutionary ideas that have ever been proclaimed on this planet, and they still remain so 237 years later.  So blow the dust off it, read it, think about it, argue about it.  That is the best way for all Americans to truly observe Independence Day.

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6 Responses to The Declaration of Independence: Read It!

  • Thank You Donald!
    Blessed INdependence Day to you and yours.

  • Civics. It is a course sorely missing in most schools.

    It is not Social Studies. It is not History. it isn’t Law or some curious combination of the three or a primer to them.

    Civics used to be a separate and independent subject and our studies in Social Studies, History, and Law at American schools do not cover the materialst that used to be studies as Civics with the depth required for Americans to exercise their rights and privileges.

    TAC comes closer to the study of Civics – through the curiously intertwined discussions – than any elementary or high school class taught in the schools I know of.

  • Too bad it is no longer law (and hasn’t been since the Constitution invalidated it in 1796).

    We need a new one.

  • The Declaration of Independence has never been invalidated. It is much more important to all Americans than any mere law, including the Constitution, could ever possibly be:

    http://the-american-catholic.com/2011/11/14/33653/

    I agree whole-heartedly with Mr. Lincoln as to the central importance of the Declaration in our on-going experiment in self-rule:

    “These communities, by their representatives in old Independence Hall, said to the whole world of men: “We hold these truths to be self evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” This was their majestic interpretation of the economy of the Universe. This was their lofty, and wise, and noble understanding of the justice of the Creator to His creatures. [Applause.] Yes, gentlemen, to all His creatures, to the whole great family of man. In their enlightened belief, nothing stamped with the Divine image and likeness was sent into the world to be trodden on, and degraded, and imbruted by its fellows. They grasped not only the whole race of man then living, but they reached forward and seized upon the farthest posterity. They erected a beacon to guide their children and their children’s children, and the countless myriads who should inhabit the earth in other ages. Wise statesmen as they were, they knew the tendency of prosperity to breed tyrants, and so they established these great self-evident truths, that when in the distant future some man, some faction, some interest, should set up the doctrine that none but rich men, or none but white men, were entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, their posterity might look up again to the Declaration of Independence and take courage to renew the battle which their fathers began—so that truth, and justice, and mercy, and all the humane and Christian virtues might not be extinguished from the land; so that no man would hereafter dare to limit and circumscribe the great principles on which the temple of liberty was being built.”

  • Modern addendum to Lincoln’s last sentence:

    “…unless it interferes with somebody’s sex life. Imbrute away if so.”

Coolidge on the Declaration

Tuesday, February 26, AD 2013

We live in an age of science and of abounding accumulation of material things. These did not create our Declaration. Our Declaration created them. The things of the spirit come first. Unless we cling to that, all our material prosperity, overwhelming though it may appear, will turn to a barren sceptre in our grasp. If we are to maintain the great heritage which has been bequeathed to us, we must be like-minded as the fathers who created it. We must not sink into a pagan materialism. We must cultivate the reverence which they had for the things that are holy. We must follow the spiritual and moral leadership which they showed. We must keep replenished, that they may glow with a more compelling flame, the altar fires before which they worshiped.

Calvin Coolidge

Calvin Coolidge was born on July 4, 1872, the only President to be born on the Fourth of July.  It is therefore fitting that he gave one of the more eloquent speeches ever given on the Declaration.  This was on the 150th anniverary of the Declaration on July 5, 1926.  Coolidge was one of the last presidents to write his own speeches, so this is pure Coolidge.  In reviewing this very thoughtful speech I can see why this nation became great and why we are going through a spirtual depression now to match our economic depression.  Time, past time, to end both.  Here is the text of Coolidge’s speech:

We meet to celebrate the birthday of America. The coming of a new life always excites our interest. Although we know in the case of the individual that it has been an infinite repetition reaching back beyond our vision, that only makes it the more wonderful. But how our interest and wonder increase when we behold the miracle of the birth of a new nation. It is to pay our tribute of reverence and respect to those who participated in such a mighty event that we annually observe the fourth day of July. Whatever may have been the impression created by the news which went out from this city on that summer day in 1776, there can be no doubt as to the estimate which is now placed upon it. At the end of 150 years the four corners of the earth unite in coming to Philadelphia as to a holy shrine in grateful acknowledgement of a service so great, which a few inspired men here rendered to humanity, that it is still the preeminent support of free government throughout the world.

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PC Declaration of Independence

Wednesday, July 4, AD 2012

About the Declaration there is a finality that is exceedingly restful. It is often asserted that the world has made a great deal of progress since 1776, that we have had new thoughts and new experiences which have given us a great advance over the people of that day, and that we may therefore very well discard their conclusions for something more modern. But that reasoning can not be applied to this great charter. If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final. No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions. If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people. Those who wish to proceed in that direction can not lay claim to progress. They are reactionary. Their ideas are not more modern, but more ancient, than those of the Revolutionary fathers.

Calvin Coolidge

 

Walter Russell Meade at his blog Via Media which I read each day, gives us an updated version of the Declaration of Independence:

The unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen Post-Colonial, Multi-Racial Societes of North America

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to strengthen the political bands which have connected them with the Global Community, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the cooperative and deferential station which a careful review of the relevant peer reviewed literature suggests is most appropriate for long term win-win outcomes, a decent and rigorously equal respect to the opinions of woman- and man- and transkind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the ever deeper union.

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3 Responses to PC Declaration of Independence

  • I fear that you’re being even more prescient than usual.
    God grant that I’ll be dead before the new Declaration is full realised.

  • Am presently reading “Ameritopia” by Mark Levin. The PC Declaration fits into the paradigm that he is writing about, and it fits where Obama is attempting to take the US today.
    Roll on November, and let every US citizen ensure the dumping of Obama and his minions.
    Happy Independence Day, and God bless America.

  • Thank you Don! God Save New Zealand!

Fortnight For Freedom Fourth of July: Catholicism and the Declaration of Independence

Wednesday, July 4, AD 2012

 

 

 

Beginning for two weeks, up to Independence Day, the Bishops are having a Fortnight For Freedom:

On April 12, the Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty of the U.S.  Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued a document, “Our First,  Most Cherished Liberty,” outlining the bishops’ concerns over threats to religious freedom, both at home and abroad. The bishops called for a “Fortnight for Freedom,” a 14-day period of prayer, education and action in support of religious freedom, from June 21-July 4.

 

Bishops in their own dioceses are encouraged to arrange special events to  highlight the importance of defending religious freedom. Catholic  institutions are encouraged to do the same, especially in cooperation  with other Christians, Jews, people of other faiths and all who wish to  defend our most cherished freedom.

 

The fourteen days from June  21—the vigil of the Feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More—to  July 4, Independence Day, are dedicated to this “fortnight for  freedom”—a great hymn of prayer for our country. Our liturgical calendar celebrates a series of great martyrs who remained faithful in the face  of persecution by political power—St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More,  St. John the Baptist, SS. Peter and Paul, and the First Martyrs of the  Church of Rome.  Culminating on Independence Day, this special period of prayer, study, catechesis, and public action would emphasize both our  Christian and American heritage of liberty. Dioceses and parishes around the country could choose a date in that period for special events that  would constitute a great national campaign of teaching and witness for  religious liberty.

 

We here at The American Catholic are participating in the Fortnight For Freedom with special blog posts on each day.  This is the final of these blog posts and is written by commenter Greg Mockeridge.

 

 

John Adams foresaw the all pomp with which we celebrate the 4th of July, but the date he gave for that was not the 4th but the 2nd. The reason he gave the 2nd was that independence was voted on and decided by the Continental Congress on the 2nd. What took place on the 4th was that final draft of the Declaration of Independence, after about a hundred revisions to Thomas Jefferson’s original draft, was approved.

 

It is actually more fitting that we celebrate independence on 4th as opposed to the 2nd because it isn’t merely independence we celebrate, but the ideas, principles, and truths this country was founded on. Fidelity to these very ideas really enable Americans to be Patriots as opposed to merely Nationalists. Just as one cannot be a good Catholic without a concerted effort to know and understand what it is he gives his assent of faith to, one cannot be a true American Patriot unless he likewise makes an effort to understand our heritage as Americans. No other U.S. founding document expresses these truths better than the Declaration of Independence. If more Americans became better acquainted with the Declaration, there would not be so much confusion regarding the Constitution.

 

Our Catholic faith not only does not relieve us of this patriotic duty, it actually reinforces it. An 1884 statement of the American bishops said it this way:

 

 

Teach your children to take a special interest in the history of our country. We consider the and laws as a work of special Providence, its framers “building wiser than they knew,” the Almighty’s hand guiding them….As we establishment of our country’s independence, the shaping of its liberties desire therefore that the history of the United States should be carefully taught in all our Catholic schools, and have directed that it should be specially dwelt upon in the education of the young ecclesiastical students in our preparatory seminaries; so also we desire that it form a favorite part of the home library and home reading.

A document from the Second Vatican Council “Pastoral Constitution of the Church in the Modern World” better known by its Latin title Gaudium et Spes says: “Citizens should cultivate a generous and loyal spirit of patriotism… “(#75)

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6 Responses to Fortnight For Freedom Fourth of July: Catholicism and the Declaration of Independence

  • “But they knew, as the testimony of human experience down through the ages gives witness to, that peace cannot be had at the price of acquiescence to tyranny.”

    Something the bishops are discovering today, but I doubt they even realize why. The “modern” bishops “acquiesced” to the Democrat Party – over abortion. The bishops of “old” taught it was a sin against the 5th commandment to deny a person their human rights, and “particularly so in joining an organization that promoted it.” That can be found stated in the 1958 version of Life In Christ – Instructions In The Catholic Faith – 15 years before Roe v Wade.

    The Democrat Party is an “organization” and they have as part of their stated platform, support for and promotion of Row v Wade, which denies a person their “right to life.” The Democrat Party is also the main reason, if not the sole reason, abortion on demand remains the law of the land. In the 1995 updated of Life In Christ, the bishops minced the Church teaching that denying a person their “human rights” is a sin against the 5th commandment by narrowing their focus to strictly “prejudice,” and illustrating that by using examples of only the “Nazi Party and the KKK.” No mention of the Democrat Party and their denial of human rights.

    The Democrat Party of the United States is responsible for the deaths of more innocent human beings than the Nazi Party of Germany, the KKK of the south, and for that matter the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, combined. And the bishops give the Democrat Party a pass about joining such an “organization” being a sin. Why?

  • It looks like at least part of this article was lifted from a chain email that contained some false information: http://www.snopes.com/history/american/pricepaid.asp.

  • “It looks like at least part of this article was lifted from a chain email that contained some false information: http://www.snopes.com/history/american/pricepaid.asp.”

    Actually, I got that part from a speech Rush Limbaugh’s father (Rush H. Limaugh Jr. Rush is actually Rush H. LImbaugh III) used to give in Limbaugh’s hometown Cape, Girardieu. MO. Rush printed the transcript in his letter years ago.

    “Something the bishops are discovering today, but I doubt they even realize why. The “modern” bishops “acquiesced” to the Democrat Party – over abortion.”

    The curve is till a bit too steep for most of our bishops at this point. I would go so far as to say that until they realize and are willing to own up for just what they have done to bring this about, all this “Fortnight for Freedom” business, as needed as it is, will amount to nothing more than a dog and pony show. When it comes to issues outside their competence where Catholic teaching allows a diversity of viewpoints like capital punishment, illegal immigration, they need to start acting like pastors and not like left-wing ideologues. Untill they do, their credibility to defend religious liberty will be zero minus ten.

    However, there is at least some hope. I was watching some of the USCCB General Assembly on EWTN a few weeks ago and after one of Bp Blaire’s presentations Bp Papracki of Springfield, ILL commented that “We [meaning the bishops] do not yet have the humlity to speak on matters outside our competence.” Understatement of the year that was cause for good cheer.

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Fortnight For Freedom Day Six: Freedom is not a “Worship Word”

Tuesday, June 26, AD 2012

 

Beginning for two weeks, up to Independence Day, the Bishops are having a Fortnight For Freedom:

On April 12, the Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty of the U.S.  Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued a document, “Our First,  Most Cherished Liberty,” outlining the bishops’ concerns over threats to religious freedom, both at home and abroad. The bishops called for a “Fortnight for Freedom,” a 14-day period of prayer, education and action in support of religious freedom, from June 21-July 4.

 

Bishops in their own dioceses are encouraged to arrange special events to  highlight the importance of defending religious freedom. Catholic  institutions are encouraged to do the same, especially in cooperation  with other Christians, Jews, people of other faiths and all who wish to  defend our most cherished freedom.

 

The fourteen days from June  21—the vigil of the Feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More—to  July 4, Independence Day, are dedicated to this “fortnight for  freedom”—a great hymn of prayer for our country. Our liturgical calendar celebrates a series of great martyrs who remained faithful in the face  of persecution by political power—St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More,  St. John the Baptist, SS. Peter and Paul, and the First Martyrs of the  Church of Rome.  Culminating on Independence Day, this special period of prayer, study, catechesis, and public action would emphasize both our  Christian and American heritage of liberty. Dioceses and parishes around the country could choose a date in that period for special events that  would constitute a great national campaign of teaching and witness for  religious liberty.

 

We here at The American Catholic are participating in the Fortnight For Freedom with special blog posts on each day.  This is the sixth of these blog posts.

Long time readers of this blog will not be surprised to see that I have managed to work a Star Trek episode into one of the Fortnight For Freedom posts!

One of the “alternate Earth” episodes that became fairly common as the original Star Trek series proceeded, as explained by Hodgkin’s Law of Parallel Planetary Development, and stringent episode budgets,  the Omega Glory episode in the video clip at the beginning of this post featured an Earth where a cataclysmic war had driven the Americans, the Yangs, out of their cities and into primitive warbands.  Chinese Communists, the Kohms, settled in America.  Their technology was a few steps higher than the Yangs.  The Yangs had been waging a war for generations to drive the Kohms from their land, and the episode coincided with the Yangs taking the last of “the Kohm places”.

Over the generations, the Yangs had forgotten almost all of their history and what little knowledge remained was restricted to priests and chieftains.

“Cloud William: Freedom?

James T. Kirk: Spock.

Spock: Yes, I heard, Captain.

Cloud William: It is a worship word, Yang worship. You will not speak it.

James T. Kirk: Well, well, well. It is… our worship word, too.

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Fortnight For Freedom Day Five: Why Celebrate the Fourth?

Monday, June 25, AD 2012

 

 

 

 

Beginning for two weeks, up to Independence Day, the Bishops are having a Fortnight For Freedom:

On April 12, the Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty of the U.S.  Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued a document, “Our First,  Most Cherished Liberty,” outlining the bishops’ concerns over threats to religious freedom, both at home and abroad. The bishops called for a “Fortnight for Freedom,” a 14-day period of prayer, education and action in support of religious freedom, from June 21-July 4.

 

Bishops in their own dioceses are encouraged to arrange special events to  highlight the importance of defending religious freedom. Catholic  institutions are encouraged to do the same, especially in cooperation  with other Christians, Jews, people of other faiths and all who wish to  defend our most cherished freedom.

 

The fourteen days from June  21—the vigil of the Feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More—to  July 4, Independence Day, are dedicated to this “fortnight for  freedom”—a great hymn of prayer for our country. Our liturgical calendar celebrates a series of great martyrs who remained faithful in the face  of persecution by political power—St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More,  St. John the Baptist, SS. Peter and Paul, and the First Martyrs of the  Church of Rome.  Culminating on Independence Day, this special period of prayer, study, catechesis, and public action would emphasize both our  Christian and American heritage of liberty. Dioceses and parishes around the country could choose a date in that period for special events that  would constitute a great national campaign of teaching and witness for  religious liberty.

 

We here at The American Catholic are participating in the Fortnight For Freedom with special blog posts on each day.  This is the fifth of these blog posts.

Why do we observe Independence Day on the Fourth of July each year?  Is it merely a historical commemoration, or is it because the lightning words of the Declaration of Independence still have meaning and relevance today?  This is not a new issue.  In the debate over slavery which embroiled this nation a century and a half ago, the phrase “all men are created equal” from the Declaration was argued and fought over.  On June 26, 1857, Abraham Lincoln, in response to the Supreme Court decision in Dred Scott v. Sandford, contended in a speech in Springfield, Illinois, that the phrase “all men are created equal” applied to blacks as well as whites:

Chief Justice Taney, in his opinion in the Dred Scott case, admits that the language of the Declaration is broad enough to include the whole human family, but he and Judge Douglas argue that the authors of that instrument did not intend to include negroes, by the fact that they did not at once, actually place them on an equality with the whites. Now this grave argument comes to just nothing at all, by the other fact, that they did not at once, or ever afterwards, actually place all white people on an equality with one or another. And this is the staple argument of both the Chief Justice and the Senator, for doing this obvious violence to the plain unmistakable language of the Declaration. I think the authors of that notable instrument intended to include all men, but they did not intend to declare all men equal in all respects. They did not mean to say all were equal in color, size, intellect, moral developments, or social capacity. They defined with tolerable distinctness, in what respects they did consider all men created equal—equal in “certain inalienable rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” This they said, and this meant. They did not mean to assert the obvious untruth, that all were then actually enjoying that equality, nor yet, that they were about to confer it immediately upon them. In fact they had no power to confer such a boon. They meant simply to declare the right, so that the enforcement of it might follow as fast as circumstances should permit. They meant to set up a standard maxim for free society, which should be familiar to all, and revered by all; constantly looked to, constantly labored for, and even though never perfectly attained, constantly approximated, and thereby constantly spreading and deepening its influence, and augmenting the happiness and value of life to all people of all colors everywhere. The assertion that “all men are created equal” was of no practical use in effecting our separation from Great Britain; and it was placed in the Declaration, nor for that, but for future use. Its authors meant it to be, thank God, it is now proving itself, a stumbling block to those who in after times might seek to turn a free people back into the hateful paths of despotism. They knew the proneness of prosperity to breed tyrants, and they meant when such should re-appear in this fair land and commence their vocation they should find left for them at least one hard nut to crack.

I have now briefly expressed my view of the meaning and objects of that part of the Declaration of Independence which declares that “all men are created equal.”

Now let us hear Judge Douglas’ view of the same subject, as I find it in the printed report of his late speech. Here it is:

“No man can vindicate the character, motives and conduct of the signers of the Declaration of Independence except upon the hypothesis that they referred to the white race alone, and not to the African, when they declared all men to have been created equal—that they were speaking of British subjects on this continent being equal to British subjects born and residing in Great Britain—that they were entitled to the same inalienable rights, and among them were enumerated life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The Declaration was adopted for the purpose of justifying the colonists in the eyes of the civilized world in withdrawing their allegiance from the British crown, and dissolving their connection with the mother country.”

My good friends, read that carefully over some leisure hour, and ponder well upon it—see what a mere wreck—mangled ruin—it makes of our once glorious Declaration.

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17 Responses to Fortnight For Freedom Day Five: Why Celebrate the Fourth?

  • “And now I appeal to all—to Democrats as well as others,—are you really willing that the Declaration shall be thus frittered away?”

    Democrats are the same today, except in dehumanizing the black man, they dehumanize the human baby. Other than that, nothing has changed since 1857.

  • Previously, I had not seen the connection.

    Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address” (GA) likely is “America’s definitive speech.”

    Mr. Prothero cites Garry Wills’ 1992 book, Lincoln at Gettysburg.

    Lincoln, ” . . . performed one of the most daring acts of open-air sleight of hand ever witnessed by the unsuspecting.” Wills contends that in the GA, Lincoln “traced” America’s birth not to the “godless” Constitution but to the Declaration and its God-bestowed, unalienable rights. Apparently, Wills’ and Prothero think that changed America.

    Seems Obama et al are re-bestowing America’s essence to the “godless” Constitution. And, tons of liberals calling themselves Catholics are blindly aiding and abetting.

    See Stephen Prothero in the June 23, 2012 Wall Street Journal, page C10.

  • Just saying.

    I think the most important aspect of the Gettysburg Address is Lincoln “said it all” in 272 words.

  • One of Lincoln’s cleverest ways of attempting to fudge the Constitution’s explicit and no-nonsense restrictions on his power was to appeal to the Declaration, as if it had some kind of legal, philosophical, or moral weight beyond its immediate purpose.

    His use of it to defend the unconstitutional interference with a legal, constitutional practice in the states was extremely adroit, but as with so much of what he did as President, set an awful precedent for his successors, who would not necessarily find the same benign meaning in “equality” as Lincoln did.

    Once you depart from the Constitution, even if by appealing to the Declaration, you depart from the rule of law.

  • The Constitution governs the courts Tom. The Declaration is the foundation of the American experiment in self-government. Lincoln’s pro-slavery foes were absolutely wrong in attempting to justify their ongoing subjugation of fellow human beings by claiming that the words of Mr. Jefferson did not apply to blacks as well as whites. That Mr. Jefferson clearly intended this is established beyond question by the following section of his original draft of the Declaration:

    “[H]e [the king of Britain] has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating it’s most sacred rights of life & liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating & carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither. this piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the CHRISTIAN king of Great Britain. determined to keep open a market where MEN should be bought & sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable commerce: and that this assemblage of horrors might want no fact of distinguished die, he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of which he has deprived them, by murdering the people upon whom he also obtruded them; thus paying off former crimes committed against the liberties of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of another.”

    Lincoln was right and his pro-slavery opponents were deeply, tragically wrong in their attempt to read slaves out of the Declaration. Contrary to your statement, Lincoln did not appeal to the Declaration as a grant of authority to abolish slavery, but he did appeal to the Declaration as evidence of what a crime slavery was against the inalienable rights of man, and that is what his pro-slavery opponents could not tolerate.

  • Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865). Political Debates Between Lincoln and Douglas. 1897. Fourth Joint Debate at Charleston Mr. Lincoln’s Speech (September 18, 1858):

    LADIES AND GENTLEMEN: It will be very difficult for an audience so large as this to hear distinctly what a speaker says, and consequently it is important that as profound silence be preserved as possible.
    While I was at the hotel to-day, an elderly gentleman called upon me to know whether I was really in favor of producing perfect equality between the negroes and white people. While I had not proposed to myself on this occasion to say much on that subject, yet as the question was asked me, I thought I would occupy perhaps five minutes in saying something in regard to it.
    I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races, that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.

  • Yep, Joe because the Democrat Stephen Douglas was using race baiting against Lincoln, just as Democrats use race baiting today. Douglas knew, as Lincoln knew, that due to the virulent racism of the day, that most white voters were repelled at the idea of negro equality, and that is why Douglas used such charges against Lincoln, and why Lincoln sought to repel them. However Lincoln never wavered as to the fundamental crime of slavery:

    “He [Senator Stephen A. Douglas] finds Republicans insisting that the Declaration of Independence includes all men, black as well as white…he boldly denies that it includes negroes at all, and proceeds to argue gravely that all who contend it does, do so only because they want to vote, eat, and sleep, and marry with negroes! Now I protest against that counterfeit logic which concludes that, because I do not want a black woman for a slave I must necessarily want her for a wife. I need not have her for either, I can just leave her alone. In some respects she certainly is not my equal; but in her natural right to eat the bread she earns with her own hands with asking leave of any one else, she is my equal, and the equal of all others.”

    Here is what black abolitionist Frederick A. Douglass had to say in summing up Abraham Lincoln:

    “I have said that President Lincoln was a white man, and shared the prejudices common to his countrymen towards the colored race. Looking back to his times and to the condition of his country, we are compelled to admit that this unfriendly feeling on his part may be safely set down as one element of his wonderful success in organizing the loyal American people for the tremendous conflict before them, and bringing them safely through that conflict. His great mission was to accomplish two things: first, to save his country from dismemberment and ruin; and, second, to free his country from the great crime of slavery. To do one or the other, or both, he must have the earnest sympathy and the powerful cooperation of his loyal fellow-countrymen. Without this primary and essential condition to success his efforts must have been vain and utterly fruitless. Had he put the abolition of slavery before the salvation of the Union, he would have inevitably driven from him a powerful class of the American people and rendered resistance to rebellion impossible. Viewed from the genuine abolition ground, Mr. Lincoln seemed tardy, cold, dull, and indifferent; but measuring him by the sentiment of his country, a sentiment he was bound as a statesman to consult, he was swift, zealous, radical, and determined.

    Though Mr. Lincoln shared the prejudices of his white fellow-countrymen against the Negro, it is hardly necessary to say that in his heart of hearts he loathed and hated slavery. The man who could say, “Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war shall soon pass away, yet if God wills it continue till all the wealth piled by two hundred years of bondage shall have been wasted, and each drop of blood drawn by the lash shall have been paid for by one drawn by the sword, the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether,” gives all needed proof of his feeling on the subject of slavery. He was willing, while the South was loyal, that it should have its pound of flesh, because he thought that it was so nominated in the bond; but farther than this no earthly power could make him go.”

  • Don, parse it any way you want but can you imagine Abe defending those comments on Meet the Press? Or any modern candidate for political office trying to walk that back or weasel himself out of it? It doesn’t matter what Douglass said or anyone else. It’s Lincoln words, forever carved in history, that testify to his core white supremacist views notwithstanding other comments that sought to soften them.

  • Joe you accuse Lincoln by the standards of our time. In his time he was attacked as an advocate of racial equality, and considering that he came out for negroes having the vote before his death, perhaps justly attacked. Lincoln was able to call a well-established institution of his day, slavery, a crime, something that most of his contemporaries failed to ever do. Of course, considering your sympathies for the Confederacy, and the historically illiterate scribblings of neo-Confederate crank Dilorenzo, I find your attacking Lincoln as a racist completely risible.

  • “Standards of our time.” I believe the laws of God, Nature and the Constitution are immutable and are to be used for all times. I have no “sympathies” for the Confederacy per se, only what I believe is a greater understanding and appreciation for the root causes of the Civil War, which have been all too simplified by some historians.

    I am a “Yankee” at heart and also do not rely on DiLorenzo or anyone else to do my thinking. His “Hamilton’s Curse” was a tough read and, unlike his Lincoln books, less persuasive in its thesis.

    I think it’s important, although we disagree on Lincoln’s place in history, to examine whether Presidents including Obama are shredding the Constitution as I think Lincoln did.

    As long as you a quoting a black man, this is from African-American historian and scholar Lerone Bennett, Jr., and his book, “Forced into Glory: Abraham Lincoln’s White Dream.” —

    “Lincoln is theology, not historiology. He is a faith, he is a church, he is a religion, and he has his own priests and acolytes, most of whom have a vested interest in [him] and who are passionately opposed to anybody telling the truth about him.”

  • His use of it to defend the unconstitutional interference with a legal, constitutional practice in the states was extremely adroit, but as with so much of what he did as President, set an awful precedent for his successors, who would not necessarily find the same benign meaning in “equality” as Lincoln did.

    Lincoln may have appealed to the Declaration rhetorically from time to time, but he relied on the Constitution to justify his actions as president. By the way time, what “unconstitutional interference” with a “legal, constitutional, practice” did Lincoln perpetrate? Lincoln, at no time before the outbreak of hostilities, ever inferred that the federal government could interfere with slavery within the states. It was only after the outbreak of the civil war (and 18 months after hostilities commenced) that Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, a completely legitimate wartime measure.

    So it’s time for you to get specific. What unconstitutional action did Lincoln take as president? No generalities, please.

    . It’s Lincoln words, forever carved in history, that testify to his core white supremacist views notwithstanding other comments that sought to soften them.

    Later on I am going to post my review of David Barton’s book on Thomas Jefferson. One of the things that Barton does that is so infuriating is to quote a line here or there without examining the broader context of Jefferson’s political thought. This is the same thing that you’re doing here. It’s a pretty shabby form of historical research.

    Edited to add: Actually, the historical revisionism with regards to Jefferson and Lincoln run in opposite directions. With respect to Jefferson, his defenders point to the occasional line here or there and ignore the rather voluminous amount of his writing that was repugnantly racist even for his day. As for Lincoln, his detractors like to point to this passage here or there to paint Lincoln as an unrepentant bigot, while ignoring the vast literature that shows he had much more progressive views on race matters.

  • “Lincoln is theology, not historiology. He is a faith, he is a church, he is a religion, and he has his own priests and acolytes, most of whom have a vested interest in [him] and who are passionately opposed to anybody telling the truth about him.”

    Historical figures often do have acolytes who cannot see their faults. That being said, that doesn’t mean that the historical revisionism has any ounce of credibility. People like you often spout about Lincoln “shredding the constitution” without offering a shred of evidence. It’s time to do a little original research yourself, so I put the question to you that I put to Tom McKenna. Please cite specifically the unconstitutional actions that Lincoln engaged in. And don’t cite some miserable pseudo-historian like DiLorenzo.

  • As long as you a quoting a black man, this is from African-American historian and scholar Lerone Bennett, Jr., and his book, “Forced into Glory: Abraham Lincoln’s White Dream.”

    As a historian Bennett made Dilorenzo look scholarly. From a review of his tome by James McPherson:

    “But Bennett gets more wrong than he gets right. The book suffers from crucial flaws. Least important are the factual errors, for there are not many. But those that do occur make Lincoln look worse than he was. While a congressman from 1847 to 1849, Bennett asserts, Lincoln claimed to have voted 40 times against the Wilmot Proviso to ban slavery from the territories acquired from Mexico. In fact, Lincoln claimed to have voted 40 times for the Proviso (an exaggeration, but he did support it on every vote).

    More significant are distortions in interpretation. After the Sioux uprising in Minnesota that killed hundreds of white settlers in 1862, Lincoln ”approved one of the largest mass executions in military history,” the hanging of 38 Indians. True enough. But the military court had sentenced 303 Sioux to death. Despite great pressure, unmentioned by Bennett, to approve these verdicts, Lincoln pardoned or commuted the sentences of 265 defendants — by far the largest act of executive clemency in American history.

    Selective quotation also produces distortion by omission. Citing a letter Lincoln wrote to the abolitionist Owen Lovejoy in 1855, Bennett maintains that Lincoln ”did not openly oppose the anti-immigrant Know-Nothing Party,” because in his district, as Lincoln explained, ”they are mostly my old political and personal friends.” Bennett fails to note that in the rest of the letter Lincoln stated that he had already broken with these former Whig associates and anticipated the ”painful necessity of my taking an open stand against them. Of their principles I think little better than I do of those of the slavery extensionists. Indeed I do not perceive how any one professing to be sensitive to the wrongs of the negroes, can join in a league to degrade a class of white men.”

    Bennett never acknowledges that Lincoln was ”sensitive to the wrongs of the Negroes.” Abundant evidence of such sensitivity is conspicuously missing from the book. Also missing is any appreciation of Lincoln’s stand against the expansion of slavery. Because the Constitution prohibited interference with slavery in states where it existed, Lincoln and other Republicans focused on the question of slavery in the territories, where they insisted that Congress had the constitutional power to ban it. In his famous House Divided speech of 1858, Lincoln said that Republicans intended to ”arrest the further spread” of slavery and thus place the institution ”in course of ultimate extinction.”

    No reader who accepts Bennett’s ”unimpeachable fact” that ”Lincoln supported the enslavement of the four million slaves” will be able to understand why seven slave states seceded in response to Lincoln’s election. Bennett quotes from a letter that Lincoln wrote in December 1860 to Alexander Stephens (who later became vice president of the Confederacy), whom Lincoln had known when they both served in Congress a dozen years earlier. ”Do the people of the South really entertain fears that a Republican administration would, directly, or indirectly, interfere with their slaves?” Lincoln asked Stephens. ”There is no cause for such fears.” So why did the South secede? Readers might have gotten part of the answer, and a different understanding of Lincoln, from a portion of this letter that Bennett did not quote: ”I suppose, however, this does not meet the case. You think slavery is right and ought to be extended; while we think it is wrong and ought to be restricted. That I suppose is the rub.”

    It was indeed the rub, but we wouldn’t know it from this book. The South seceded because a man who believed slavery was wrong and was pledged, in his own words, to its ”restriction” and ”ultimate extinction” had, for the first time, been elected president. The war that followed secession prompted Lincoln’s decision in 1862 to issue an Emancipation Proclamation. Yet Bennett declares that Lincoln deserves no credit for freeing the slaves. The president was, he writes, a reluctant Emancipator who was ”forced into glory” by escaping slaves, abolitionists and Congressional Republicans who passed the second Confiscation Act in July 1862, freeing the slaves of persons ”engaged in rebellion against the United States.” This was the real Emancipation proclamation, insists Bennett. Lincoln’s proclamation was a mere afterthought.

    And because Lincoln’s proclamation exempted the border slave states, as well as portions of the Confederacy already controlled by Northern troops (Tennessee and parts of Virginia and Louisiana), Lincoln freed slaves where he had no power to do so and left in bondage all those in areas where he did have power, Bennett asserts. Moreover, Lincoln’s exemptions actually re-

    enslaved a half-million blacks freed by the Confiscation Act.

    All parts of this interpretation are wrong, and the re-enslavement thesis is absurd. First of all, the Confiscation Act freed only the slaves of ”traitors” whom a federal court determined, case by case, to have engaged in rebellion. As James G. Randall, the foremost expert on Civil War constitutional issues, wrote, ”It is hard to see by what process any particular slaves could have legally established that freedom which the second Confiscation Act ‘declared.’ ”Contrary to Bennett, no slave who had achieved freedom in areas exempted from Lincoln’s proclamation was ”re-enslaved.”

    The Emancipation Proclamation, moreover, was based on the president’s war powers as commander in chief to seize enemy property (i.e. slaves) being used to wage war against the United States. Since Union-controlled exempted areas were not at war with the United States, Lincoln had no constitutional power over slavery in those areas.

    Finally, the old canard that the Emancipation Proclamation freed not a single slave, repeated by Bennett, could not be more wrong. From Jan. 1, 1863, freedom would march southward with the Union Army, which became an army of liberation. Once the war was over, the proclamation would cease to have any legal force. That is why Lincoln endorsed a constitutional amendment to abolish slavery, and won re-election on that platform in 1864.

    Bennett’s Lincoln is not only a reluctant convert to Emancipation; he is also an unwavering opponent of equal citizenship for the freed slaves, beholden as he is to his ”dream” of an all-white America. But in what turned out to be his last public speech, on April 11, 1865, Lincoln signaled that he would support the right to vote for freed slaves who were literate or had served in the Union armed forces. Bennett condemns this endorsement as an ”invidious distinction” (because white voters would not face such requirements) of a piece with Lincoln’s commitment to white supremacy. At least one listener to Lincoln’s speech did not agree. ”That means nigger citizenship,” muttered John Wilkes Booth. ”Now by God, I’ll put him through. That is the last speech he will ever make.””

    http://www.nytimes.com/2000/08/27/books/lincoln-the-devil.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm

  • so I put the question to you that I put to Tom McKenna. Please cite specifically the unconstitutional actions that Lincoln engaged in. And don’t cite some miserable pseudo-historian like DiLorenzo.

    I believe Gottfried Dietze had a menu of complaints about Lincon’s acts in the early months of 1861 listed in America’s Political Dilemma. I have forgotten them, of course. I believe one concerned appropriations. (He was a non-miserable political theorist).

  • Once again, as usual, I am outnumbered and outgunned here by the Lincoln apologists. I don’t shrink from a fair fight, but further discussion would take us far off-topic and take up much to much preciously bandwidth, which is something Don does not like.

    Let us all realize we have different “bliks” that form the basis of our world views and beliefs. I hereby retreat gracefully without conceding a bit.

  • I will not to beat a dead horse.

    Aside from Abraham using the God and the DoI to shelve the godless US Constitution, using his example to advance religious liberty may be unhelpful.

    Point of information. John Tyler, the tenth US President, was a delegate in the conference that could not avoid the war. He was elected a Virginia Representative in the CSA Congress. He died before it convened. That makes Tyler the only US President to die on foreign soil.

  • “Aside from Abraham using the God and the DoI to shelve the godless US Constitution, using his example to advance religious liberty may be unhelpful.”

    Except of course that Lincoln used neither to shelve the Constitution, but rather preserved it and the nation for future generations.

    Tyler still has living grandkids, amazingly enough.

The Pre-history of the Declaration of Independence

Wednesday, May 9, AD 2012

A guest post from Almost Chosen People commenter Fabio Paolo Barbieri.

To be honest, this post ought to be made on July 4; but if I waited that long, I would probably have forgotten all about it by then. I have repeatedly said that I regard the Declaration of Independence as just one step below the Sacred Scriptures, and its central statement – “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their creator with certain [and] inalienable rights; that among these rights are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness…” – as words to live and die by.
However, while these words last for ever, there is a danger that the rest of the sentiments of the Declaration – a work very much of its time, after all, intended to bring about action and change then and there – can be misunderstood when not only the circumstances, not even the laws, but the very meaning of words have changed. The danger, in particular, is that our ignorance of the meaning of facts, laws and terms of language in the eighteenth century should give King George more credit than he deserves, and make the Founders, in spite of the nobility of their ideals, sound rather more sophistical in their political arguments than they actually were. In point of fact, once things are understood in their own contemporary colours, it will be seen that the case of Jefferson and Congress was literally unanswerable, because it was based on established law.
First and foremost, the meaning of the word colony has changed in the last two hundred years. To us, a colony is a distant territory ruled and administered from a distance, for whose governance it is the mother country – or colonial overlord – that is responsible. But that is by no means what a colony was in Jefferson’s time. In effect, imperial oversight and direct rule only became the norm after the shock of the great Indian war of 1858. The British government concluded, rightly or wrongly, that it had been caused by the maladministration of the East India Company, the private body that ruled India; and decided, even more arguably, that the answer was to dispossess the Company altogether and make the governance of India its own direct responsibility. This is in general the default reaction of the London government down the century to any crisis – take control from Westminster. But that the enormous Indian colony, much larger than the Thirteen Colonies had ever been, could have been administered until 1858 by a private corporation ought to show that direct control from the central government was, to say the least, not the universal rule of colonial governance.
In actual fact, the law and legal precedent under which the American colonies organized themselves has a surprisingly long prehistory. It begins with the huge legal difficulties experienced through the middle ages by the merchants who came from the Christian West to trade with the Muslim powers of Mediterranean Asia and Africa. To trade was indispensable to both parties, but neither would allow its citizens to be under the power of the other. A practice evolved – independently, to the best of my knowledge, from the temporary formation of crusader kingdoms that imported Western feudal law to Palestine, Syria and Anatolia – whereby Western merchants, mostly Italian, would settle closely together in single areas of Eastern harbour and trading cities, often a single street separated from the rest. These quarters were legally treated like independent Italian city states – their chief magistrates being called Consuls – even when they only amounted to a few families living in a Muslim and Eastern Christian sea of people. They were responsible for their own administration and justice, in so far as it didn’t clash with the larger government. At the same time they were regarded as colonies of the European mother countries from which the merchants came. I am not quite clear how this link worked in practice, but an offence made against a colony in Aleppo or Gaza would be felt as an act of war against the mother country. The largest number of these merchant settlements were Italian, but there were also quite a few from France, Aragon, and so on, and the principles on which they were based were universally understood in Europe.
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3 Responses to The Pre-history of the Declaration of Independence

  • “To be honest, this post ought to be made on July 4; but if I waited that long, I would probably have forgotten all about it by then. I have repeatedly said that I regard the Declaration of Independence as just one step below the Sacred Scriptures, and its central statement”
    I appreciate this in depth understanding of the life and times of our Declaration of Independence, which was also written before its ratification by the colonies on July 4th. And even after The Declaration of Independence, there were many colonists who remained faithful to the King, they were called Tories. Among them was Benedict Arnold and Benjamin Franklin’s son, with whom he had no contact after the war for independence.
    There is so much to which I want to respond in this post. Initially the following comment was written this morning in response to: Cutting off Planned Parenthood is about “ideology”… Our tax dollars may not be used to deconstruct our Declaration of Independence. In the very same manner, elected officials who are compensated by public tax dollars may not use their public service to deconstruct our Declaration of Independence.

    The office of president of the United States of America, any and all publicly held offices may not be used to deconstruct the Declaration of Independence, in the same manner as citizen’s tax dollars cannot be used to deconstruct the Declaration of Independence. It states that: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”
    Within The Declaration of Independence are inscribed our founding principles, the sacred truths which inform man’s freedom and government’s duties toward the sovereign person who constitutes government. These sacred truths are later specifically enumerated and defined in The Constitution for the United States of America, upon which sacred truths the newly elected public officials will swear an oath to God to uphold.
    For too long our government officials have supplanted our founding principles with the Universal Declaration on Human Rights of the United Nations which states that “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.” which redefines man as having no rational, immortal soul endowed with unalienable rights by “their Creator” but by the state at being born free because the state says so.
    “Government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take everything you have”. Thomas Jefferson. “Let us remind our public servants that they work for us. That we, the taxpayers, are their employers.” (Rev.) Stanislao Esposito. And that our public servants are not authorized by the sovereign persons who are citizens to redefine the human person or his unalienable rights. Mary De Voe

  • Thank you for a very interesting post.

    George III was also Prince-Elector (Kurfürst) of Brunswick-Lüneburg and of the Imperial territories of Bremen-Verden, Hadeln, Lauenburg and Bentheim. The British Parliament never even tried to interfere with these: they were governed through the German Chancery at St James’s Palace, which was never considered part of the British government.

    Even today, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man are not technically part of the United Kingdom. The Channel Islands were part of the Duchy of Normandy, before the Norman Conquest of England in 1066 and the Bishopric of Sodor (Suðreyjar) and Man was originally a suffragan see of the Archbishopric of Trondheim, in Norway.

    The colonies of the East India Company were usually known as “factories,” a factor being a mercantile agent.

    Under the system known as Capitulations, both Britain and France had consular courts, exercising jurisdiction over their own subjects in Egypt and the Ottoman Empire, until 1914. I believe a similar system obtained in the treaty ports in China.

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour: Thank you, too, for a very interesting post.

The Declaration of Independence as Law

Monday, November 14, AD 2011

Debates sometimes arise as to whether the Declaration of Independence is law. The Declaration isn’t law as a law saying go on green and stop on red is, although it is set forth under the United States Code.  It is much more important than that.  It is one of the essential building blocks of what we as a people believe.  It has been held to be such in numerous decisions of the United States Supreme Court and I cite one of them below:

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5 Responses to The Declaration of Independence as Law

  • Somewhere in the US Constitution it says something about bon homme Whomever will be deprived “life, liberty or property” without “due process.”

    The rub: Central planners, collectivists, control economists invented brave, new definitions of “due process”, as in you have what you have if the regime allows . . .

    Seems some liberal genius’ (e.g., the #OccupyWallStreet crowd) idea of “greater good” trumps “life, liberty, happiness.”

    There just ain’t enough bullets.

  • Nah, I think I’ll pass on using the Declaration as an adjunct Constitution, since it was not intended as a governing document, not received as such, and much mischief ensues when courts begin parsing out philosophical statements such as “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

    Courts need to stick to interpreting legislation according to the plain meaning of the law, the orginal intent of the drafters, and if, and only if, necessary, examining whether a given law is in accord with the Constitution, again, according to its plain meaning and original understanding.

    There’s been enough trouble keeping judges to these simple principles. Inviting them to look to an extra-legal source like the Declaration is to invite even more of the same.

  • As a matter of judicial interpretation Tom, I would agree with you. If I were a legislator however, the Declaration would be one of my guiding stars in carrying out my duties.

  • I also agree with Tom, and would note that Don makes an insightful distinction, and one I admit I never considered. Good on you both.

  • Ditto Mike on dittoing Don and Tom.

Were the Founders Hypocrites?

Monday, November 7, AD 2011

In the 19th century it became fashionable among pro-slavery advocates to deride the idea that the Declaration of Independence’s ringing assertion that “All men are created equal” applied to blacks.

In the Dred Scott decision the majority of the Supreme Court stated that it was a simple historical fact that blacks were not included:

The general words above quoted would seem to embrace the whole human family, and if they were used in a similar instrument at this day would be so understood. But it is too clear for dispute that the enslaved African race were not intended to be included, and formed no part of the people who framed and adopted this declaration, for if the language, as understood in that day, would embrace them, the conduct of the distinguished men who framed the Declaration of Independence would have been utterly and flagrantly inconsistent with the principles they asserted, and instead of the sympathy of mankind to which they so confidently appealed, they would have deserved and received universal rebuke and reprobation.

Yet the men who framed this declaration were great men — high in literary acquirements, high in their sense of honor, and incapable of asserting principles inconsistent with those on which they were acting. They perfectly understood the meaning of the language they used, and how it would be understood by others, and they knew that it would not in any part of the civilized world be supposed to embrace the negro race, which, by common consent, had been excluded from civilized Governments and the family of nations, and doomed to slavery. They spoke and acted according to the then established doctrines and principles, and in the ordinary language of the day, and no one misunderstood them. The unhappy black race were separated from the white by indelible marks, and laws long before established, and were never thought of or spoken of except as property, and when the claims of the owner or the profit of the trader were supposed to need protection.

Interestingly enough, John C. Calhoun, statesman and chief political theorist in defense of slavery, disagreed with this line of pro-slavery argument.  While lamenting the inclusion of the “All men are created equal” phrase in the Declaration, he had no doubt that it was intended to apply to blacks:

They have been made vastly more so by the dangerous error I have attempted to expose, that all men are born free and equal, as if those high qualities belonged to man without effort to acquire them, and to all equally alike, regardless of their intellectual and moral condition. The attempt to carry into practice this, the most dangerous of all political error, and to bestow on all, without regard to their fitness either to acquire or maintain liberty, that unbounded and individual liberty supposed to belong to man in the hypothetical and misnamed state of nature, has done more to retard the cause of liberty and civilization, and is doing more at present, than all other causes combined. While it is powerful to pull down governments, it is still more powerful to prevent their construction on proper principles. It is the leading cause among those…which have been overthrown, threatening thereby the quarter of the globe most advanced in progress and civilization with hopeless anarchy, to be followed by military despotism. Nor are we exempt from its disorganizing effects. We now begin to experience the danger of admitting so great an error to have a place in the declaration of our independence. For a long time it lay dormant; but in the process of time it began to germinate, and produce its poisonous fruits. It had strong hold on the mind of Mr. Jefferson, the author of that document, which caused him to take an utterly false view of the subordinate relation of the black to the white race in the South; and to hold, in consequence, that the former, though utterly unqualified to possess liberty, were as fully entitled to both liberty and equality as the latter; and that to deprive them of it was unjust and immoral. To this error, his proposition to exclude slavery from the territory northwest of the Ohio may be traced, and to that of the ordinance of ’87, and through it the deep and dangerous agitation which now threatens to ingulf, and will certainly ingulf, if not speedily settled, our political institutions, and involve the country in countless woes.

Abraham Lincoln rose in defense of the Founders and the Declaration.  Lincoln has attained such a folksy image in American folklore that we lose sight of how incisive a mind he possessed.  It was on full display in this passage from a speech that he gave on June 26, 1857 on the Dred Scott decision:

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Was the Declaration of Independence Legal?

Wednesday, October 19, AD 2011

American and British lawyers squared off recently in a discussion over whether the Declaration of Independence was legal. The BBC reports as follows:

On Tuesday night, while Republican candidates in Nevada were debating such American issues as nuclear waste disposal and the immigration status of Mitt Romney’s gardener, American and British lawyers in Philadelphia were taking on a far more fundamental topic.

Namely, just what did Thomas Jefferson think he was doing?

Some background: during the hot and sweltering summer of 1776, members of the second Continental Congress travelled to Philadelphia to discuss their frustration with royal rule.

By 4 July, America’s founding fathers approved a simple document penned by Jefferson that enumerated their grievances and announced themselves a sovereign nation.

Called the Declaration of Independence, it was a blow for freedom, a call to war, and the founding of a new empire.

It was also totally illegitimate and illegal.

At least, that was what lawyers from the UK argued during a debate at Philadelphia’s Ben Franklin Hall.

(The rest of the article can be read here.)

It strikes me that this misses a crucial distinction: The Declaration was essentially an announcement that if certain demands were not met, the colonists would fight a war for their independence. Such things are not intended to be legal. No sane country is going to provide legal basis for its sub-regions to secede at will — and as the British lawyers point out further on in the article, the US certainly didn’t give it’s Southern half that right under Lincoln. Instead, the colonists were making a last ditch appeal and (more realistically) an appeal for public and international sympathy as they prepared to fight a war of independence. If the British had won, the signers would probably have been hung as traitors. Given that they won, they are considered to be founders of the republic.

Rather than trying to put forward some theory under which the document was legal within the context of the British Empire, it seems to me that the correct answer is that the Declaration was legal by right of conquest — an aged yet still apt concept. This also, of course, answers the question of the why the South was not allowed to secede: Because they lost the Civil War.

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19 Responses to Was the Declaration of Independence Legal?

  • Of course it was legal! We won! The pettifogging nonsense of this approach to the Declaration illustrates one of the absurdities of our present time: the treatment as legal questions of things which clearly are not legal questions. I think this is done because too many people are uncomfortable making moral arguments, but quite comfortable telling other people what to do if a legal case, no matter how strained, can be made.

    English history had been replete with rebellions and revolutions, some of which succeeded and some of which had not. The sides in those contests always attempted to make the case that their cause was moral and just, the same sort of case Mr. Jefferson made in the Declaration. To attempt to address this as a legal question is to completely miss the point. Darn lawyers, they have much to answer for! 🙂

  • I did think it was nicely clever of the American lawyers to cite the “Glorious Revolution” as creating a precedent for overthrowing the legitimate government:

    “The English had used their own Declaration of Rights to depose James II and these acts were deemed completely lawful and justified,” they say in their summary.

    But that’s really just another variant on the “because we won” justification.

  • I had deleted my order post because Don said basically the same thing, only better. I still think the DoI and the War of Independence are a bit different. The founders knew what they were doing was illegal by English law, but the DoI was only meant to be a “legal” document in that it was a formal notice from one political body to another, even if the former was illicit. They were making a case on based on natural law and morality (which even the Church recognizes a difference between legal and lawful.

    It could be judged that their demands were or were not justified or even that their grounds weren’t sufficiently rooted in necessity (there have been a lot worse occasions of injustice by rulers before and since). It could be argued that even if just, the harm caused would outweigh the benefit. Aside from being grateful for having born in this time and place as a Catholic looking back I tend to sympathize with the founders’ cause. I don’t necessarily think they were as terribly oppressed as they acted, but I appreciate that they were quite unique in that they were full British subjects, but in some ways were being exploited, and were having whatever benefits from their status being eroded. I view it as justified because:

    1.) they did NOT really overthrow the king (think of the evil in France).

    2.) They were subjects of George, but that’s all they had in common with the English. They had their own culture and society by that time and the common good would be best served if they governed themselves.

    3.) We always ask if they were justified in declaring their independence, but it can just as easily be asked if George was justified maintaining such an empire – especially since it was capable of being self-sufficient. [I actually enjoy thinking about this last one. It seems the most antagonist people to the founders usually rail on about the evils of jingoism. The irony escapes them.]

  • I swear, I get sloppier and sloppier in my writing by the day. I really need to proofread before hitting the send button. Sorry for my horrible grammar and typos.

  • Of course, the American revolutionists stood in a different relationship vis-a-vis England than the South did to the Federal Union: The Colonies were just that: politically subordinate units of the empire of England.

    The individual states, on the other hand, were sovereign prior to entering into the federal union. Having ceded only so much sovereignty as they deemed needful to effectuate the purposes of a federal union, they retained all other aspects of sovereignty, and did not become mere colonies of the federal government.

    Moreover, the federal Constitution, which is one of only expressly enumerated powers, did not include the power forcibly to compel membership in what was designed to be a voluntary union of sovereign states.

    That the federal government militarily conquered the seceding states does not establish the principle that there is no right to withdraw from the Union, it merely establishes that the north was militarily more powerful than the south.

  • The patriots contended that their legislatures stood in relationship to the King in each colony as Parliament stood in relationship to the King in the United Kingdom. The fact that they were living in their colonies did not abrogate in the slightest their traditional rights. When the King attempted to rule them against their wishes, and paid not the slightest heed to their legislatures, they revolted, as did the majority of Parliament in similar circumstances in 1642.

    In regard to the Civil War, the states had no political existence except as part of the United States. They went straight one day from being colonies to being states, a fact that was recognized by Great Britain at the conclusion of the American Revolution when there was one peace treaty signed rather than 13. The Articles of Confederation, approved by each of the states during the Revolution, spoke of perpetual union. The Union pre-dates the Constitution and dates from the Declaration. A new nation was then created, not a mere temporary alliance. The states of the Confederacy had no right to withdraw from the Union without the consent of the people of the Union as a whole. A majority of the people of the United States opposed secession, and their wishes were brought to fruition through the successful outcome of the Civil War.

  • The individual states, on the other hand, were sovereign prior to entering into the federal union.

    Would point out that 35 of the 50 states were artifacts of Congress.

  • In regard to the Civil War, the states had no political existence except as part of the United States. They went straight one day from being colonies to being states

    Well, for the original 13 perhaps, but Texas was its own sovereign state prior to joining the union. Also, would that mean if the EU signed some treaty with a hypothetical Arab state to end a war of conquest over Europe, that the individual european countries are not sovereign states? Not an expert on the EU, but it seems that would not be correct. Perhaps the EU charter (or whatever it’s called) has some sort of exit clause.

  • Regardless, there are few debates that could be as academic as whether the DoI was legal or not. Might may not necessarily make right, but it often makes rights (that is, obligations or conditions that can be enforced).

  • The states had to ratify the Constitution; if they were not independently sovereign, it would be a useless exercize to engage in ratification, which necessarily implies the choice of NOT ratifying, and hence, remaining outside the union.

    The Articles of Confederation, likewise, implicitly by their consensual nature recognized the primordial sovereignty of the states.

    I’m not aware that nationwide polling was conducted to establish that most Americans wanted enforced union. Certainly the majority of southerners did not, realizing that it is indeed not much of a union that has to be imposed by the slaughter of 600,000 souls.

  • The Articles of Confederation and the Constitution were governing instruments for the pre-existing Union Tom, they did not create the Union. In regard to the South, I would assume that almost all Black slaves and free Blacks were against the experiment in Rebellion to continue to hold them in bondage. Every state in the Confederacy, except for South Carolina, eventually raised white regiments to fight for the Union. Kentucky and Maryland elected legislatures that were strongly Unionist. Delaware was completely Unionist in the War. Even in the slave holding states taken as a whole I doubt if a solid majority existed for secession. Add in almost all the people of the North except for some renegade Copperheads, and the people of the Union were clearly opposed to secession. Of course this is why secessionists did not simply go to Congress in 1861 and raise the issue of secession there for the whole country to debate and vote on.

  • Although George III was technically still head of the executive, Britain by the 1770s had Cabinet government. A hundred years previously Charles II had responded to the jibe that “he never said a foolish thing, nor ever did a wise one” by remarking “true, since my words are my own, and my actions are my ministers’ “. It is worth remembering that George was the first of the Hanoverians to enjoy genuine popularity. Unlike his grandfather and great-grandfather he ‘gloried in the name of Briton’ and referred to Hanover as a ‘despicable electorate’. Nor did he lack the common touch, and his interest in agricultural improvement earned him the sobriquet ‘Farmer George’. It was the high-handedness of the Westminster parliament, rather than that of the King, which precpitated the revolt (this is not to say that the King was without influence, but the relationship of Crown, ministers and parliament had changed greatly since 1642).

    A Declaration of Independence is an act of defiance, a manifesto and a call to arms. As such it is bound to be illegal in the strict sense of the word. Had England succeeded in bringing the rebellious colonists to heel, it would still have stood as a symbol of nationhood. In 1916 Pearse proclaimed the Irish Republic from the General Post Office in Dublin at the start of the Easter Rising. Lacking public support and with no chance of foreign intervention, the rebellion was doomed to failure, and the leaders knew it. As a devout Catholic and a lawyer Pearse would also have known that it contravened the ‘just war’ principle. In the event the rising was crushed in six days. But the 1916 Declaration is the key document in the emergence of Ireland as an independent nation.

  • .

    “As such it is bound to be illegal in the strict sense of the word.”

    “A rebellion is always legal in the first person, such as “our rebellion.” It is only in the third person – “their rebellion” – that it becomes illegal.” Ben Franklin, 1776

  • Who cares if anyone from Great Britain thinks the Declaration of Independence was illegal?

    Was England’s centuries-old occupation of and its suppression of the Catholic Church throughout the British Isles legal just because might made right?

    Was England’s privateers who harassed Spanish shipping legal? Not to Spain, it wasn’t.

    England has a lot to answer for in its own history without judging that of the US – including establishing slavery in its colonies who told King George to take a flying leap.

  • Obama has been cow-towing to most leaders throughout the world.

    Surely, he could go cap in hand to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and humbly submit himself and the Unired States of America to British suzerainty, and all the citizens of the USA would happily join hands and sing “God Save the Queen” and “Rule Brittania” and go Morris Dancing.

    Imagine the money you’d save on not having presidential elections?

    And best of all, you could all be called British subjects along with the Canucks and Aussies and Kiwis.
    Now wouldn’t that just make for a wonderful world 🙂

  • Don, I think the Texans toyed with the idea of joining the British Empire but were cold-shouldered by Palmerston. To reverse your scenario, when the UK joined the then Common Market some wag suggested it might be better to apply to become the 51st state and have the Duke of Edinburgh run for President. Unlike continental Europe the USA has a legal system based on Common Law and we speak (almost) the same language.

    Penguins Fan, you certainly have a point; there are good laws and bad laws, and just when we thought the bad ones had all been repealed, a raft of equality laws, badly drafted and threatening both freedom of speech and freedom of conscience is being foisted upon us. Privateering was legally dubious even in the 16th century, but the Elizabethan government did not recognize the Treaty of Tordesillas which established a Spanish-Portuguese monopoly in the New World. Drake could never be sure that on his return from a voyage of plunder he would not be executed as a pirate, but then as now money talks.

    A few lawyers holding an academic discussion is hardly going to change the balance of power. The general tenor of your remarks about English history betrays a strange inferiority complex which I have noticed before and which is very unusual in a superpower. Don’t forget that England was a Catholic country for a thousand years (the evidence is all around us) and no serious historians now buy into the Whig interpretation of the protestant ‘Reformation’. Say what you like about the British Empire, but its most enduring legacy remains the United States of America.

  • The Texans were never serious about joining the Empire John. They feinted towards England in order to overcome anti-annexation sentiment in Congress that had been blocking their admission, and the stratagem worked.

  • Donald,

    Count on Ben Franklin to sum it up pithily.

    Don the Kiwi,

    But then we wouldn’t get to come in late to every war…

  • Although we would still be oversexed, hopefully overpaid, and over there no doubt! 🙂

    “Fowler: Pushy Americans, always showing up late for every war. Overpaid, oversexed, and over here.”

July 2, 1776: The Vote

Friday, July 1, AD 2011

From the musical 1776, a heavily dramatized version of the vote to declare American independence on July 2, 1776.  The scene is effective but historically false.   James Wilson did not dither about his vote, but was a firm vote for independence, having ascertained that his Pennsylvania constituents were in favor of independence.  There was no conflict over slavery, Jefferson and Adams having already agreed to remove from the Declaration the attack on the King for promoting the slave trade.  Caesar Rodney did make a dramatic ride to Congress of 80 miles in order to break a deadlock in the Delaware delegation over independence, but he was not dying and would live until June 26, 1784, witnessing the triumph of America in the Revolutionary War.

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One Response to July 2, 1776: The Vote

  • The movie 1776 is among my favorites, but as you note it unfortunately does not do justice to James Wilson. He was a well respected legal scholar, a leading figure at our Constitutional Convention, and one of original justices of the US Supreme Court; and notably a supporter of American independence. Thanks for an interesting article.

Lincoln and the Declaration of Independence

Thursday, June 30, AD 2011

In a speech given on August 17, 1858 in Lewistown, Illinois, in the midst of the Stephen-Douglas debates, Abraham Lincoln celebrated the Declaration as a beacon of freedom:

The Declaration of Independence was formed by the representatives of American liberty from thirteen States of the confederacy—twelve of which were slaveholding communities. We need not discuss the way or the reason of their becoming slaveholding communities. It is sufficient for our purpose that all of them greatly deplored the evil and that they placed a provision in the Constitution which they supposed would gradually remove the disease by cutting off its source. This was the abolition of the slave trade. So general was conviction—the public determination—to abolish the African slave trade, that the provision which I have referred to as being placed in the Constitution, declared that it should not be abolished prior to the year 1808. A constitutional provision was necessary to prevent the people, through Congress, from putting a stop to the traffic immediately at the close of the war.

Now, if slavery had been a good thing, would the Fathers of the Republic have taken a step calculated to diminish its beneficent influences among themselves, and snatch the boon wholly from their posterity? These communities, by their representatives in old Independence Hall, said to the whole world of men: “We hold these truths to be self evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” This was their majestic interpretation of the economy of the Universe. This was their lofty, and wise, and noble understanding of the justice of the Creator to His creatures. Yes, gentlemen, to all His creatures, to the whole great family of man.

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Preserving the Declaration

Tuesday, June 28, AD 2011

A fascinating little video on preserving the Declaration of Independence. 

It is of course very important that the physical document be preserved.  However, it is much more important that the spirit of the document be preserved.  On the Fourth of July we do not merely engage in ancestor worship.  The principles of the American Revolution, immortally set forth in the Declaration, are just as important today as they were then, and almost as controversial. 

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

1.  God given rights.

2.  Government deriving its just powers from the consent of the governed.

3.  A right of revolution when Government becomes destructive of God given unalienable rights.

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  • One of the myths about the Declaration is that it was adopted and signed July 4, 1776 by all members of the Continental Congress. Actually July 4 was the day the draft was voted on and on that day not all the delegates had approved it and there were no signers at all.

    One state, New York, did not even vote on it until July 9. The actual signing was even more gradual and it is quite misleading to speak of the “56 original signers of the Declaration of Independence.” By August 6 most of those whose names are on the document had signed, but at least six signatures were attached later. One signer, Thomas McKean, did not attach his name until 1781!

    Some of those who signed were not even in Congress when the Declaration was adopted, and some who voted for it in Congress never did get around to signing it. Robert R. Livingston was one of the committee of five who helped frame it; he voted for it, but he never signed it. The other members of the committee included Thomas Jefferson, who performed the actual writing, but his version was revised by Ben Franklin, John Adams and Jefferson himself before it went to Congress, which then did some editing of is own, winding up with a terser version than the expanded, wonderful language crafted by Jefferson, et al, which sets forth the theory of this new country’s government and the justification for the break in the light of the specific grievances that its people had endured.

    All of this sausage-making, of course, does not detract from the final product, which, as Don suggests, a magnificent Declaration.

    However, in the interest of historical accuracy, all those July 4 celebrations are a tad early and should really be held sometime in August. 😆

    Source: The Dictionary of Mislnformation by Tom Burnam

  • July 4 is good as any other date in regard to the Declaration process Joe and better than most. It has been hallowed by tradition and Thomas Jefferson and John Adams both died on the fiftieth anniversary of the Fourth, a highly unusual coincidence to say the least.

    This video has John Adams correcting the misunderstanding that the Declaration was signed on the Fourth:

  • The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade with shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.

    ~ John Adams

  • One of many predictions about the future that the ever certain John Adams got wrong! 🙂

  • Well, he appears to have gotten everything else right other than the date right. The only thing he left out was the barbecue ribs, burgers, hot dogs, and beer.

    😉

  • On the Fourth of July we do not merely engage in ancestor worship.

    So you’re saying on the Fourth we do engage in ancestor worship (but not just that)? 😛

    Reading Joe Green’s post, my first thought was “Someone needs to link to that clip of Adams correcting Reubens,” but Don beat me to it! 😀

  • I admit I hadn’t watched the clip before posting. Happy Fourth, everyone! 🙂

  • “On the Fourth of July we do not merely engage in ancestor worship.”

    Ah, the limitations of the English language, or the limitations of my ability to wield it! 🙂

  • Ack! I meant “Trumball” when I wrote “Rebuens”! 😳 As Mr. Adams pointed out, the latter is definitely not the former. 😉

  • *”Reubens”! Again with the bad spelling!

  • That video clip of Barney Fife is priceless. I used to love the Andy Griffiths Show.

    Must confess, that is the first time I have read the Declaration of Independence right through.

    But there is another, and more important connection in my family to the 4th. July. It is the birthday of my youngest very beautiful grandaughter who turns 6 on Monday –
    Oh, but I have always said she is our American connection, and will teach her the Declaration of Independence. 😉 😉

  • Happy Birthday on the Fourth to your granddaughter Don! I am glad that you will teach her about the Declaration of Independence. The Founding Fathers did not intend the truths contained therein for Americans alone.

    Don Knotts was a true comedic genius and Barney Fife was his greatest creation.

    Part of my Fourth of July film viewing will be Beneath Hill 60 if it comes in the mail in time. What more American way to celebrate the Fourth than by watching a film about Aussie sappers on the Western Front in World War I!

  • May be a bit off-topic, but in the patriotic spirit, may I respectfully recommend that everyone read “Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand, as well as “Devil at My Heels,” by Louis Zamperini, a still-living member of America’s Greatest Generation. Inspiring beyond words. A story of courage, resilience and, most of all, faith. (Don, a highly linkable topic some day.)

  • This is an OT, but please, please pray for my brother-in-law.

    He has had a persistent, dry cough for a month now and it is not improving with antibiotics. I am deeply frightened (as is my sister, a RN) because he sounds exactly like my mother did when she was diagnosed with lung cancer. He is 60 years old – and you have not met a kinder more generous man.

    His CT scan was scheduled for today. I have not yet heard back from my sister. I have said so many Hail Marys in the past 4 days or so.

    150 people got laid off from my place of employment today. My job was saved; I was scared that I would lose it. However, I’d gladly trade my job for my brother-in-law’s good heath if I could. Nevertheless, I pray for those who got laid off. I saw many crying people today. It was awful. And nobody will be screaming in Madison for them.

  • The Declaration was not meant to be shut up in books, forgotten, or worshiped as some sort of priceless heirloom. It was meant to be read, thought about and argued about.

    In that same vein, far be it for me to disparage Barney Fife’s effort with the Preamble to the Constitution, but the following link has to be the best exposition of it in the known universe – and I think Fred Steiner wrote the music accomanying it!

  • Well done Jonathan! Kirk the Canadian explaining the Preamble to us has been touched on before by me:

    http://the-american-catholic.com/2009/06/30/the-omega-glory/

    I have always found it as the most moving passage in the original Trek.

Happy Independence Day! (A Roundup)

Sunday, July 4, AD 2010

Happy Independence Day, folks! — Here is a roundup of some choice reads as we commemorate the birth of our nation:

Following are two books which I heartily recommend for some engaging historical reading of the American Revolution and our founding fathers.

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