I am currently working on a book on the Constitution entitled Constitution for the Public School Impaired. It was written in response to recent remarks by Ezra Klein that the Constitution had no place in society today. It's too hard to read.
When I started the project, it was, of course, to poke fun at that ascertion. The Constitution is as relevant today, probably more, than it ever was. The book covers the real "founding fathers," being the Pilgrams, and a history of the destruction of this sacred document.
In my studies, though, I was surprised to learn that I could learn. You can teach an old dog new tricks, so to speak. I learned about the Articles of Association---our first attempt to reason with the King of England. It was a fascinating study which I chose to share as a sort of teaser for the book. This is the first draft of this Chapter, so it may change in the final review. However, we can recognize some of the first concepts of some of the essential Bill of Rights from this document.
The Founding Documents
Now that we have covered a bit of the history, let us consider the documents of the people you know as the founding fathers. I thought, originally, to simply produce them without commentary and add the commentary later. I decided against that. Not only would the book be bigger and more costly, I think it better that focus our thoughts on the matter at hand as we reach each individual item.
Before we get to the Constitution, I believe it necessary to cover the other founding documents. It might give us a perspective on the thinking that went into it’s writing. Along the way we will hear from the founding fathers in their own words. We will also quote from A View of the Constitution of the United States of America written by William Rawle. We will also view more of the Andrew Young book, The Government Class Book.
Some have said that the Constitution is an enactment clause of the Declaration of Independence. They mean, by that, the Declaration of Independence actually laid out the complaints against the natural rights of the citizens of the United States by the crown. The Constitution was meant to be referred to as a means of asserting those rights by every citizen. The problem is, you have to study those rights and that is not to be found in most schools systems.
So as the hipsters of today say, let’s break it down.
Not all new information that I discover pleases me. It is hard for me to describe the feeling, however, when I learn something completely new. Especially when it pertains to something I am writing.
When my eyes caught the words Articles of Association, my first reaction was, huh? While I was taught the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution in my school daze(3), I had heard of the Articles of Confederation (That they were bad, of course), but never had to study them. I never remember hearing about any Articles of Association. There are those of you out there, of course, who are shaking their heads and thinking I had to memorize the Articles of Association in the fourth grade. What school did YOU go to?
Whether you are like me or the fourth grader, it would do to learn what they were about or revisit them—as the case may be—on our journey to discover what the Constitution is all about. If Abraham Lincoln thought that they were important enough to mention, it seems logical that we should take a look at them.
According to the US Constitution Online web site(4), the Articles of Association were the first complaint to the King George in response to the Coercive Acts, known as the Intolerable Acts in the colonies, which were passed in March of 1774. The Intolerable Acts included the Boston Port Act, the Massachusetts Government Act, the Quartering Act, and the Administration of Justice Act. They were designed to punish the Massachusetts colony for defying British policies and in particular for a little party they held on December 16, 1773. Today they are derided as terrorists. (5)
“The Boston Port Act closed the port of Boston to trade; the Massachusetts Government Act significantly changed the colony's charter and forbade town meetings; the Quartering Act required colonists to house British soldiers on demand; and the Impartial Administration of Justice Act removed British officials from the jurisdiction of Massachusetts courts. Another act, the Quebec Act, established Roman Catholicism and a new system of government in the newly acquired colony of Quebec, and played on widespread distrust and even hatred of the Catholic Church,” the article states.
In that paragraph, we can probably see the formative stages of the First (freedom of Religion clause), Third and Tenth Amendment.
Some interesting observations at this point. If that paragraph is correct, it lends credence to the premise that separation of Church and State is a myth. The crown established a Catholic government in Quebec purely as a perceived threat to the colonies. The King had his own “religion” in the Anglican Church which forced the Pilgrims to flee in the first place. It seems to me that the argument that the Freedom of Religion clause in the First Amendment was meant only to prevent the federal government from forming a State religion takes on new meaning when viewed under those circumstances. It was not meant to allow the federal government and the ACLU to dictate when and where a person could read their Bible or place a copy of the Ten Commandments. In fact, it was meant to prevent them from doing any such thing.
The second point is that Boston Port Act was a government attempt to interfere with free trade. Does it make sense that the Massachusetts colony would sign on to a document that would require the federal government to ensure that one State does not interfere with the free trade of another? Or a document that allows the federal government to stifle free trade in legal goods or totally control the various industries of the United States? Hold that thought. We’ll come back to it.
I present, now, those Articles of Association with emphasis by myself. I have bolded the text of the passages and emphasized with italics important points.
Journals of the Continental Congress - The Articles of Association; October 20, 1774
We, his majesty's most loyal subjects, the delegates of the several colonies of New-Hampshire, Massachusetts-Bay, Rhode-Island, Connecticut, New-York, New-Jersey, Pennsylvania, the three lower counties of Newcastle, Kent and Sussex on Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North-Carolina, and South-Carolina, deputed to represent them in a continental Congress, held in the city of Philadelphia, on the 5th day of September, 1774, avowing our allegiance to his majesty, our affection and regard for our fellow-subjects in Great-Britain and elsewhere, affected with the deepest anxiety, and most alarming apprehensions, at those grievances and distresses, with which his Majesty's American subjects are oppressed; and having taken under our most serious deliberation, the state of the whole continent, find, that the present unhappy situation of our affairs is occasioned by a ruinous system of colony administration, adopted by the British ministry about the year 1763, evidently calculated for enslaving these colonies, and, with them, the British Empire. In prosecution of which system, various acts of parliament have been passed, for raising a revenue in America, for depriving the American subjects, in many instances, of the constitutional trial by jury, exposing their lives to danger, by directing a new and illegal trial beyond the seas, for crimes alleged to have been committed in America: And in prosecution of the same system, several late, cruel, and oppressive acts have been passed, respecting the town of Boston and the Massachusetts-Bay, and also an act for extending the province of Quebec, so as to border on the western frontiers of these colonies, establishing an arbitrary government therein, and discouraging the settlement of British subjects in that wide extended country; thus, by the influence of civil principles and ancient prejudices, to dispose the inhabitants to act with hostility against the free Protestant colonies, whenever a wicked ministry shall chuse so to direct them.
Notice, right away, that the delegates still refer to themselves as the colonies. This document is simply a boycott message, not a demand for separation. I felt it, also, important to highlight the fact that the delegates thought that the whole idea of the Catholic government of Quebec was meant the intimidate the Protestant beliefs of the colonies. To whit, the freedom to worship the Christian God according to their own conscience.
We can, also, see that the colonist suggest that these heinous acts could even serve to slave the British Empire itself. This is, of course, a conspiracy theory. It could not possible happen here. I find it interesting that the British Isles are working hard on the plan laid out by their native son, George Orwell.
Notice, now, the three emphasized complaints in this paragraph.
Raising revenue is, of course, taxes. They were under the protection of the Crown, after all, through the service of the Department of England Security. It does not seem unreasonable to pay for the government to keep us “safe,” does it?
Review the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution. The second and third complaint seem to be intertwined in this amendment.
The second complaint refers to the denial of the constitutional right to jury trial. This could not happen today, right? Especially in the United States! In fact, many States have been working to deny the trial by jury for sometime. Right now there are several State and federal “crimes” that can be heard by the sitting judge only.
Remember that each territory mentioned in this passage were autonomous. They made their own laws, but the basic natural rights were the same throughout. Now Big Brother overseas made laws and sent in the army to arrest people to be taken back to England for trial.
The Sixth Amendment tells us, in part, “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed; which district shall have been previously ascertained by law,...”
Let us take the recent highlighted events that happened in Arizona on January 8, 2011 that caused vitriolic attacks by those on the so-called left. On that date, Arizona Representative Gabrielle Giffords was severely wounded and six others died as a result of a mentally deranged Democrat shooting them with a Glock 18. The first violation of the Sixth Amendment was that the federal court tried the case when the event occurred in Arizona. The district that was previously ascertained by law was the County of Pima. He is in prison waiting for the U.S. Attorney’s office to file charges March 9th. That is over a week away as of this writing. There are plenty of witnesses, so I do not see why it is taking so long to “file charges.”
What should have happened is that Arizona should have charged him with six-counts of murder, tried him, executed him and turned the body over to the federal government to do whatever they wanted to do with him.
To obtain redress of these grievances, which threaten destruction to the lives, liberty, and property of his majesty's subjects, in North-America, we are of opinion, that a non-importation, non-consumption, and non-exportation agreement, faithfully adhered to, will prove the most speedy, effectual, and peaceable measure: And, therefore, we do, for ourselves, and the inhabitants of the several colonies, whom we represent, firmly agree and associate, under the sacred ties of virtue, honour and love of our country, as follows:
The very first line of this passage brings up a topic of genuine interest to us. In English law, this was called a Petition of right. It was a petition to the crown seeking redress for injury, compensation for damages or restoration of property. Notice that the Congress is attempting to obtain redress of the aforementioned grievances threatening to destroy the lives, liberty and the property of his majesty’s subjects. Seems to me that I’ve heard this somewhere before. Ah, yes. The First Amendment.
A quick review of the First Amendment will show that Congress is forbidden to abridge the right to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. It seems that we have two “big” words here to understand: abridge and redress.
The third definition for “abridge” in my ancient tome suits our purpose here. To deprive; to cut off; followed by of; as; to abridge one of his rights or enjoyment. Thus, we see that Congress is not allowed to deprive or cut off one of his rights under the First Amendment.
Redress is a noun which means “1. To put or set right, as a wrong; to repair, as an injury; to relieve from, as a burden; to remedy, to compensate. 2. To set right again; to amend; to restore.”
We all know what a written petition is. That is the document that you signed to turn over to the principal to have cheeseburgers serve one or two extra times during the calendar month. Those types of petitions have as much effect on the school board as the ones that you “sign” on the Internet have in Congress. The difference is that when you sign some online petitions, you get emails from Ann Coulter asking for supplementary funds for whatever the particular cause is. Yet she seems never to be at home when I call for a date and never returns my calls.(6)
The word petition comes from the Latin petitio, petitionis which is from the root words petere or petitus which means to seek, ask, make for or attack We know that one definition is a formal written request. The first definition in my dictionary is, “An entreaty, supplication, or prayer; a solemn or formal supplication, as one addressed to the Supreme Being, or to a superior in rank or power; also, a particular request or article among several in a prayer.” For those of you concerned with Separation of Church and State, fear not. Prayer in the context that we are using it does not mean to the one true God. It means entreating to a superior authority, ie, the government. In fact, the fourth definition is, “In law, a formal written request addressed to a court for judicial action upon a certain matter; as, a petition in bankruptcy.”
The bottom line is that we can see that the Congress cannot deprive you of your right to receive compensation for damages that the government has done to you or set right some action that violates your Constitutional rights. Yet they have. For example, the The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act (NCVIA) of 1986 (42 U.S.C. §§ 300aa-1 to 300aa-34) was put in place to prevent you from suing if you or one of your family members were injured from flu vaccines.
But they could not do it alone. They conspired with the “justice” system to evoke something called sovereign immunity. Never heard of it? This is, basically, a common law in which the sovereign, or State, cannot be sued because it cannot commit a legal wrong.(7)
The founding fathers must have thought that the government might commit a legal wrong somewhere down the line. Like, say, killing Edward J. Nevin in San Francisco conducting biological warfare tests with the bacterium Serratia marcescens. Seems to me that the founding gathers got a little sick of sovereign immunity. That was why they picked up their guns and that is why they made sure it was a part of the Bill of Rights.
1. That from and after the first day of December next, we will not import, into British America, from Great-Britain or Ireland, any goods, wares, or merchandise whatsoever, or from any other place, any such goods, wares, or merchandise, as shall have been exported from Great-Britain or Ireland; nor will we, after that day, import any East-India tea from any part of the world; nor any molasses, syrups, paneles, coffee, or pimento, from the British plantations or from Dominica; nor wines from Madeira, or the Western Islands; nor foreign indigo.
2. We will neither import nor purchase, any slave imported after the first day of December next; after which time, we will wholly discontinue the slave trade, and will neither be concerned in it ourselves, nor will we hire our vessels, nor sell our commodities or manufactures to those who are concerned in it.
So as of December 1, 1774, the slave trade was abolished in the United States. Yet it continued. I do not understand the actions of the founding fathers, here. Note that this is only the trading of slaves, not slavery itself. I do know that it was strong southern Democrats that kept slavery and the slave trade going. Seems that has been retained in their collective psyche today.
It should be remembered that the average citizen did not own slaves in the south whether from fiscal reasons or personal conscience. The owners of slaves were the rich plantation owners who were usually the ones called upon to serve in Congress. Another trait that seems to taken the modern nation by storm.
The modern generation of Democrat stands by their affirmative action program, though. The rich want everyone in slavery equally.
3. As a non-consumption agreement, strictly adhered to, will be an effectual security for the observation of the non-importation, we, as above, solemnly agree and associate, that from this day, we will not purchase or use any tea, imported on account of the East-India company, or any on which a duty bath been or shall be paid; and from and after the first day of March next, we will not purchase or use any East-India tea whatever; nor will we, nor shall any person for or under us, purchase or use any of those goods, wares, or merchandise, we have agreed not to import, which we shall know, or have cause to suspect, were imported after the first day of December, except such as come under the rules and directions of the tenth article hereafter mentioned.
4. The earnest desire we have not to injure our fellow-subjects in Great-Britain, Ireland, or the West-Indies, induces us to suspend a non-exportation, until the tenth day of September, 1775; at which time, if the said acts and parts of acts of the British parliament herein after mentioned, are not repealed, we will not directly or indirectly, export any merchandise or commodity whatsoever to Great-Britain, Ireland, or the West-Indies, except rice to Europe.
5. Such as our merchants, and use the British and Irish trade, will give orders, as soon as possible, to their factors, agents and correspondents, in Great-Britain and Ireland, not to ship any goods to them, on any pretence whatsoever, as they cannot be received in America; and if any merchant, residing in Great-Britain or Ireland, shall directly or indirectly ship any goods, wares or merchandize, for America, in order to break the said non-importation agreement, or in any manner contravene the same, on such unworthy conduct being well attested, it ought to be made public; and, on the same being so done, we will not, from thenceforth, have any commercial connexion with such merchant.
6. That such as are owners of vessels will give positive orders to their captains, or masters, not to receive on board their vessels any goods prohibited by the said non-importation agreement, on pain of immediate dismission from their service.
7. We will use our utmost endeavours to improve the breed of sheep, and increase their number to the greatest extent; and to that end, we will kill them as seldom as may be, especially those of the most profitable kind; nor will we export any to the West-Indies or elsewhere; and those of us, who are or may become overstocked with, or can conveniently spare any sheep, will dispose of them to our neighbours, especially to the poorer sort, on moderate terms.
8. We will, in our several stations, encourage frugality, economy, and industry, and promote agriculture, arts and the manufactures of this country, especially that of wool; and will discountenance and discourage every species of extravagance and dissipation, especially all horse-racing, and all kinds of games, cock fighting, exhibitions of shews, plays, and other expensive diversions and entertainments; and on the death of any relation or friend, none of us, or any of our families will go into any further mourning-dress, than a black crepe or ribbon on the arm or hat, for gentlemen, and a black ribbon and necklace for ladies, and we will discontinue the giving of gloves and scarves at funerals.
Refer to Article 1, Section 8, Clause 8 of the Constitution. “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors (that’s me) and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings (this book) and Discoveries;” The highlighted section above could have been the genus for this item in the Constitution.
9. Such as are venders of goods or merchandize will not take advantage of the scarcity of goods, that may be occasioned by this association, but will sell the same at the rates we have been respectively accustomed to do, for twelve months last past. —And if any vender of goods or merchandise shall sell such goods on higher terms, or shall, in any manner, or by any device whatsoever, violate or depart from this agreement, no person ought, nor will any of us deal with any such person, or his or her factor or agent, at any time thereafter, for any commodity whatever.
10. In case any merchant, trader, or other person, shall import any goods or merchandize, after the first day of December, and before the first day of February next, the same ought forthwith, at the election of the owner, to be either re-shipped or delivered up to the committee of the country or town, wherein they shall be imported, to be stored at the risque of the importer, until the non-importation agreement shall cease, or be sold under the direction of the committee aforesaid; and in the last-mentioned case, the owner or owners of such goods shall be reimbursed out of the sales, the first cost and charges, the profit, if any, to be applied towards relieving and employing such poor inhabitants of the town of Boston, as are immediate sufferers by the Boston port-bill; and a particular account of all goods so returned, stored, or sold, to be inserted in the public papers; and if any goods or merchandizes shall be imported after the said first day of February, the same ought forthwith to be sent back again, without breaking any of the packages thereof.
11. That a committee be chosen in every county, city, and town, by those who are qualified to vote for representatives in the legislature, whose business it shall be attentively to observe the conduct of all persons touching this association; and when it shall be made to appear, to the satisfaction of a majority of any such committee, that any person within the limits of their appointment has violated this association, that such majority do forthwith cause the truth of the case to be published in the gazette; to the end, that all such foes to the rights of British-America may be publicly known, and universally contemned as the enemies of American liberty; and thenceforth we respectively will break off all dealings with him or her.
12. That the committee of correspondence, in the respective colonies, do frequently inspect the entries of their customhouses, and inform each other, from time to time, of the true state thereof, and of every other material circumstance that may occur relative to this association.
13. That all manufactures of this country be sold at reasonable prices, so—that no undue advantage be taken of a future scarcity of goods.
14. And we do further agree and resolve that we will have no trade, commerce, dealings or intercourse whatsoever, with any colony or province, in North-America, which shall not accede to, or which shall hereafter violate this association, but will hold them as unworthy of the rights of freemen, and as inimical to the liberties of their country.
And we do solemnly bind ourselves and our constituents, under the ties aforesaid, to adhere to this association, until such parts of the several acts of parliament passed since the close of the last war, as impose or continue duties on tea, wine, molasses, syrups paneles, coffee, sugar, pimento, indigo, foreign paper, glass, and painters' colours, imported into America, and extend the powers of the admiralty courts beyond their ancient limits, deprive the American subject of trial by jury, authorize the judge's certificate to indemnify the prosecutor from damages, that he might otherwise be liable to from a trial by his peers, require oppressive security from a claimant of ships or goods seized, before he shall be allowed to defend his property, are repealed.—And until that part of the act of the 12 G. 3. ch. 24, entitled “An act for the better securing his majesty's dock-yards magazines, ships, ammunition, and stores,” by which any persons charged with committing any of the offenses therein described, in America, may be tried in any shire or county within the realm, is repealed-and until the four acts, passed the last session of parliament, viz. that for stopping the port and blocking up the harbour of Boston-that for altering the charter and government of the Massachusetts-Bay-and that which is entitled "An act for the better administration of justice, &c.“—and that "for extending the limits of Quebec, &c.” are repealed. And we recommend it to the provincial conventions, and to the committees in the respective colonies, to establish such farther regulations as they may think proper, for carrying into execution this association.
The foregoing association being determined upon by the Congress, was ordered to be subscribed by the several members thereof; and thereupon, we have hereunto set our respective names accordingly.
IN CONGRESS, PHILADELPHIA, October 20, 1774.
Signed, PEYTON RANDOLPH, President.
After reviewing this document, I understand why the slave trade clause was eventually rebuked. As you read it, you will find that if merchants or States proceeded to violate this “boycott,” the only penalty was the others that agreed to it would refuse to do business with them. In reality, this was a non-binding resolution.
We can see, however, that it contains some thoughts that might have gone into the writing of other documents. We will certainly see this to be true of the next document.
1. Source: Journals of the Continental Congress 1774-1779, Edited from the original records in the Library of Congress by Worthington Chauncey Ford; Chief, Division of Manuscripts. Washington, DC : Government Printing Office, 1905. (The Avalon Project: http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/contcong_10-20-74.asp)'
2. Thanks to Stanley Klos of the Declaration of Independence organization. He wrote an excellent article on the Declaration at http://www.thedeclarationofindependence.org/. I recommend you check it out so that I don’t have to type the whole danged thing here!
2. Thanks to Stanley Klos of the Declaration of Independence organization. He wrote an excellent article on the Declaration at http://www.thedeclarationofindependence.org/. I recommend you check it out so that I don’t have to type the whole danged thing here!3. Yes, I know. But daze is an intentional pun. As in I was usually in a daze at school. Does everything I do necessarily have to be brilliant?
5. In case you have not established the fact, I refer to what has come to be known as the Boston Tea Party.
6. This is, of course, a joke. Ann has returned every call that I have made to her.