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A Lesson On Gun Control

By KrisAnne Hall, JD

 

What many citizens and legislators do not understand is that the federal government has no right to prevent any law-abiding citizen from owning or possessing ANY firearm.  The entire argument for gun control is built upon a false premise. The second amendment is not about self-defense from criminals.

As unpleasant as it may be for this modern society to say outloud, historically and constitutionally speaking, the right of the people to keep and bear arms has always been a right to protect yourself from those in power who want to enslave you. If America wants to engage in a real factual debate on the right to keep and bear arms, then it must be approached from the proper perspective.

The Constitution and its history is unequivocally clear on this.  Here is a little 2nd Amendment history lesson so we can defend our Rights from becoming government bestowed privileges.

Everything we need to know was explained by our founders in the years 1787-1788.  Lesson one comes from George Mason.  George Mason, along with James Madison, is referred to as the “Father of the Bill of Rights.”  Seems to me a good person to listen to when it comes to any portion of the Bill of Rights is someone who is referred to as its “Father.”  Mason first explains the REASON we are to bear arms, and guess what; it has nothing to do with hunting and skeet shooting…or fighting muggers.

“Forty years ago, when the resolution of enslaving America was formed in Great Britain, the British Parliament was advised by an artful man, (Sir William Keith) who was governor of Pennsylvania, to disarm the people; that it was the best and most effectual way to enslave them; but that they should not do it openly, but weaken them, and let them sink gradually, by totally disusing and neglecting the militia. [Here Mr. Mason quoted sundry passages to this effect.] Why should we not provide against the danger of having our militia, our real and natural strength, destroyed? The general government ought, at the same time, to have some such power. But we need not give them power to abolish our militia.” George Mason, Virginia Ratifying Convention, June 14, 1788

In the words of the “Father,” we bear arms to keep from becoming enslaved by the federal government.  But Mr. Mason doesn’t end his lesson there, he continues by making sure we know WHO the militia is and this is contrary to what most politicians profess.

“Mr. Chairman, a worthy member has asked who are the militia, if they be not the people of this country, and if we are not to be protected from the fate of the Germans, Prussians, &c., by our representation?  I ask, Who are the militia? They consist now of the whole people, except a few public officers. But I cannot say who will be the militia of the future day. If that paper on the table gets no alteration, the militia of the future day may not consist of all classes, high and low, and rich and poor…” George Mason, Virginia Ratifying Convention, June 16, 1788

So Mason explains We The People are the militia who bear arms to keep from being enslaved by the federal government AND to protect ourselves from the tyranny of OUR REPRESENTATIVES, whose dereliction leads us to suffer the same fate of foreign nations.

Lesson two comes from the great patriot Noah Webster.  Speaking on the threat of an overpowering central government, he further explains, with great clarity, the REASON our founders intended the entire citizenry be armed.

“Another source of power in government is a military force. But this, to be efficient, must be superior to any force that exists among the people, or which they can command: for otherwise this force would be annihilated, on the first exercise of acts of oppression. Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom in Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops that can be, on any pretense, raised in the United States. A military force, at the command of Congress, can execute no laws, but such as the people perceive to be just and constitutional; for they will possess the power, and jealousy will instantly inspire the inclination, to resist the execution of a law which appears to them unjust and oppressive.”  Noah Webster, An Examination into the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution, 1787

There is no interpretation need.  These instructions are written in plane English.  Why do we bear arms according to Noah Webster?

To prevent rule by a standing army;

To prevent Congress from executing unjust and unconstitutional laws;

To prevent the Federal Government from becoming unjust and oppressive;

The people bearing arms should be SUPERIOR to an army controlled by Congress.

Lesson number 3 comes from a founder referred to in pseudonym as Letter from a Federal Farmer (most likely Richard Henry Lee, writer of the Resolution Declaring Independence).  Mr. Lee explains,

“[W]hereas, to preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them; nor does it follow from this, that all promiscuously must go into actual service on every occasion. The mind that aims at a select militia must be influenced by a truly anti-republican principle; and when we see many men disposed to practice upon it, whenever they can prevail, no wonder true republicans are for carefully guarding against it.”  Letter from the Federal Farmer #18 January 25, 1788.

Mr. Lee explains that it is our DUTY to not simply bear arms but to ALWAYS bear arms. Mr. Lee is probably rolling over in his grave at the idea that we have to ask permission of the government to carry a firearm.  How about that directive that we also must teach our children to bear arms?

Our final lessons today come from Patrick Henry.  Mr. Henry was probably one of the most passionate champion of the citizen’s duty to bear arms.  No one can break it down like Patrick Henry.

“Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect every one who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are inevitably ruined.”  Patrick Henry Virginia Ratifying Convention June 5, 1788

“Oh, sir! we should have fine times, indeed, if, to punish tyrants, it were only sufficient to assemble the people! Your arms, wherewith you could defend yourselves, are gone;…Did you ever read of any revolution in a nation, brought about by the punishment of those in power, inflicted by those who had no power at all? You read of a riot act in a country which is called one of the freest in the world, where a few neighbors can not assemble without the risk of being shot by a hired soldiery, the engines of despotism. We may see such an act in America.”  Patrick Henry Virginia Ratifying Convention June 5, 1788

Well, there you have it, an historical and truthful education on your Right to Keep and Bear Arms.  The education is easy to find and easy to read.  Why are our politicians and media talking heads bent on disseminating miseducation and lies?  Perhaps they repeat the lies because they intent on disarming the people, because they know, as our founders did, that an armed citizenry is the last line of defense against absolute tyranny.

A proper debate on one's right to keep and bear arms is NOT one that is framed in the terms of whether you can feel safe from wicked and depraved people, full of hate and mallace, who want to hurt you. You will NEVER feel safe from those people and those people will not cease to exist just because YOU are not allowed to legally own a gun. Why? Because those people do not care about laws and they will always find a way to hurt and destroy, with or without gun laws.

If society is honest and historically accurate, the only question that has any relevance to the gun control debate is,

"Do you trust those in government, now and forever in the future, to not take your life, liberty, or property through the force of government?"

If the answer to that question is "no," the gun control debate is over.

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  Government Charity: Unconstitutional & Unlawful

by KrisAnne Hall, JD

 

Americans watch our federal government spend and spend and spend.  Not only paying out tax dollar funded charity to Americans, US corporations, and foreign countries, but now even so-called conservative politicians are claiming “we” have an obligation to give tax payer dollars to non-citizens here in the United States and even in Mexico.  This out of control forced charity, government agents giving money taken from Americans by the force of government, is the very epitome of over-grown, uncontrollable, bloated government.

Maintaining the limited form of government our Constitution demands is vital to the preservation of this nation.  If we fail, the unfortunate reality will be that we will have failed to maintain the gift of the Republic that was bought for us by the sacrifice of ease, estate, pleasure, and blood of our forefathers. 

Frederic Bastiat is absolutely the most eloquent in both understanding and teaching the principles of forced charity.  In his book, The Law, he explains:

“The law has placed the collective force at the disposal of the unscrupulous who wish, without risk, to exploit the person, liberty, and property of others. It has converted plunder into a right, in order to protect plunder.”

Bastiat defines legal plunder “…if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them, and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong…if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime.”

So now that we understand that government charity is really legalized plunder in disguise, we can do something about it!  The first step to correcting a problem is understanding that you have one.  Those we elect to represent us, on the other hand, seems completely clueless.  Presidents sign outrageous spending bills making themselves participants in this plunder.  Congress is engaging in every mode of spending that can be conceived, legalizing plunder.  Both “sides” arguing over how much to tax and no one discusses the profligate spending, claiming the premise of a false philanthropy. Our founders and even their immediate successors warned that this perspective in government would subvert the very foundations, and transmute the very nature of the limited government established by the people of America

  

It will take character and resolve to make the painful and difficult decisions to preserve the Republic, so that future generations will have an opportunity to enjoy the Liberty that has been purchased for us.  As usual, the oracles of history have some lessons if we would simply listen. 

Federal Government Out of Control 

Apparently, things began to go awry for the federal government rather early on.  An expansion of Congressional power through the forced construction of the General Welfare clause is one of the chief culprits.  A great example of this can be found in the Congressional arguments surrounding the Cod Fishery Bill of 1792, a bill to subsidize the Cod Fishing industry.  In this, James Madison, the Father of our Constitution & 4th President, defines the proper nature of government to a House wanting to unconstitutionally expand its power and reach. 

Not an Indefinite Government but a Limited Government 

Madison says,

“I, sir, have always conceived -- I believe those who proposed the Constitution conceived -- it is still more fully known, and more material to observe, that those who ratified the Constitution conceived -- that this is not an indefinite government, deriving its powers from the general terms prefixed to the specified powers -- but a limited government, tied down to the specified powers, which explain and define the general terms.” 

General Welfare Does Not Mean Generally Everything 

Yes, we are supposed to have a limited and defined federal government.  Madison was very simply explaining that the clause “common defense and general welfare” was not meant to expand the power of the government beyond its limitations, but to describe the purpose of the power delegated within strict confinement of those boundaries.  In other words, this clause does not name a power; it simply describes the purpose for the powers named.  Then with amazing foresight, Madison explains the consequence of allowing the federal government to turn these “clauses” into defined powers: 

If Congress can employ money indefinitely to the general welfare, and are the sole and supreme judges of the general welfare, they may take the care of religion into their Own hands; they may appoint teachers in every state, county, and parish, and pay them out of their public treasury; they may take into their own hands the education of children, establishing in like manner schools throughout the Union; they may assume the provision for the poor; they may undertake the regulation of all roads other than post-roads; in short, everything, from the highest object of state legislation down to the most minute object of police, would be thrown under the power of Congress; for every object I have mentioned would admit of the application of money, and might be called, if Congress pleased, provisions for the general welfare.” 

Limitless Spending Changes the Very Nature of the Republic 

Madison, in describing the consequences of this forced construction of the Constitution, prophesies for our day. 

“…I venture to declare it as my opinion, that, were the power of Congress to be established in the latitude contended for, it would subvert the very foundations, and transmute the very nature of the limited government established by the people of America.” 

Government Charity Dangerous Precedent 

Yet, America did not listen. In 1831, Congress once again attempts to reconstruct its powers through the artifice of “charity.”  This time, the argument is about supplying wood for the Poor of Georgetown.  The Mayor of Georgetown sent a letter to the House of Representatives asking for relief of the poor of that city and soliciting the House to grant a donation of some wood in the vaults of the capitol for their use.  This sparked a forgotten, yet a very relevant debate for this day. 

Congress Cannot Give Public Property For Charity 

The first to speak up was Congressman James Polk (D-TN), the future 11th President of the United States. In showing a moral character and commitment to the Constitution that is rarely seen today, Polk said he knew it would be viewed as being ungracious to oppose a resolution in behalf of the suffering poor of this District, or any other. However, he went on to oppose the resolution of the House to offer this support as “the precedent of appropriating the public funds for such a purpose was a bad one."  He reasoned that if they allowed this seemingly small act of charity, then “every winter, when the snow fell, or the Potomac was frozen, applications would be made to Congress, and members would be engaged in the dignified object of buying and stowing wood, to give to the poor District of Columbia.”  

Polk opposed this spending on principle, as the House “had not the power to make the donation requested.” And what began with Georgetown would blossom into dependency throughout the nation. It was not the amount he objected to, but that the “representatives came to legislate on great concerns of the nation, not to give away the public property.” He made a final plea to the House, with their vote, to “put a check” on legislative power.  

The next to argue was James Blair, Congressman from South Carolina.  Blair gets right to the point; that it is not in the power of Congress to give out donations from the public treasury for the purposes of charity. He correctly reasons: 

“If so, it would have power also to vote millions of the public money to feed and clothe the suffering poor. The House had no right to give away the public money for any such purpose; and if gentlemen were disposed to be liberal, let them be liberal out of their own money.” 

Polk then moved the floor for the following substitute, by way of amendment:

“That the Sergeant-at-arms be required to deduct from the compensation of the members of this House on day’s pay, and deliver said sum to the Mayor of Georgetown, to be applied to purchase fuel for the paupers of that town: Provided, nevertheless, that such deduction shall be made from the compensation of such members only as vote in favor of the resolution.” 

I believe our representatives could learn several lessons from this: 

1.      The money collected from the people is NOT revenue but PUBLIC PROPERTY. 

2.      In spending public property Congress is limited by the proper confines of the Constitution, not ones established through forced construction. 

3.      Personal moral integrity could inhibit Congress from violating points 1 and 2. 

Let ours be the generation that listens from the framers and their experience.  Let ours be the generation that avoids what others called the inevitable demise of a Republican government.  Let ours be the generation that can claim the victory of Liberty for our future generations. 

Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to Thomas Cooper in 1802, made this observation he based upon history:

“… if we can but prevent the government from wasting the labours of the people, under the pretence of taking care of them, they must become happy.”

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States Ignoring History, Wisdom & the Uniform Rule of Naturalization

By KrisAnne Hall, JD

An non-citizen alien has been appointed to California government and has become the poster child for WHY our founders delegated to Congress the power to create a Uniform Rule of Naturalization.  Other States are allowing non-citizen aliens to vote, run for office, and utilize 

Ironically, there was a discussion during the ratification of our Constitution on why it was necessary to establish a Uniform Rule of Naturalization.  Once again, a disregard for the Constitution and its intent has America experiencing a crisis that our founders sought to prevent.

Prior to our current Constitution, under the Articles of Confederation, each State was left to determine, independently, the terms of citizenship. James Madison, Father of the Constitution, wrote in Federalist 42;

"The dissimilarity in the rules of naturalization, has long been remarked as a fault in our system..."

Madison goes on to describe the condition of confusion thrust upon all the States because of a lack of standard for the benefits of citizenship.  For example, one State would establish a very lax standard for citizenship where another State would establish a very strict standard.  This disparity created chaos when people would travel or move from one State to another.  Madison asks the question, what would happen if a person who is banned from citizenship in one State, obtains citizenship from another State and then demands the benefits of citizenship from that State from which they were originally banned?

"An alien, therefore, legally incapacitated for certain rights in the latter, may, by previous residence only in the former, elude his incapacity;"

Madison then explains to avoid these consequences both "embarrassing" and  "potentially very serious" our Constitution delegated the authority to Congress to establish a uniform rule to obtain the benefits of citizenship.

Liz Mateo, claiming those benefits of citizenship through the State of California, is not a citizen by the terms established through the Constitution by law.  Mateo has lived her life experiencing the benefits of that citizenship she does not legally hold. She got a doctorate level of education from Santa Clara University School of Law.  When she graduated, she was not grateful for these benefits, however, she declared, “[E]verything is dedicated to Oaxaca, Mexico!! to that land that I miss so much.”

In addition to her education, Mateo has now been appointed to serve within the California State government.  As a new member of California's representative government, one of her chief concerns is that illegal aliens are "under represented" in American government. Mateo clearly has a great deal of confusion about the terms of citizenship established by law. One can only imagine the chaos that would ensue if Mateo were to leave California and expect to experience these same benefits in a State that is actually complying with the terms of citizenship created through the Constitution. As Madison supposed, what will also be the more "serious consequences” when people like Mateo continue to expect the benefits of citizenship while remaining ignorant and even hostile to the Constitution itself?  And what will be the "serious consequences" in all of America if we continue to ignore these historical truths by allowing States like California violate the supreme law of the land?

The governors of every other States must immediately take a stand against this violation of the Constitution.  Each State should issue resolutions of condemnation and sanctions against California until they come into compliance with the terms of the Constitution.  The people must demand that the federal executive branch continue to enforce the Uniform Rule of Naturalization, even in California.  If California refuses to come into compliance with the Constitution the other States need to have a serious discussion amongst each other and Congress regarding the ability of California to remain a part of the Union.

States like California are not just ignoring the Constitution, they are also ignoring the history and wisdom used to write the Constitution.  Their blatant disregard is thrusting America into the embarrassment and chaos our founders actively sought to prevent.

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How the Constitution Ended Slavery

By KrisAnne Hall, JD

While defending the Constitution I am met often with two questions:  1) If the founders were so great and the Constitution such a great document, why did it preserve slavery?  2) Why did the Constitution treat black people as 3/5th a person?  To understand the truth, we start with some basics…

Slavery was an imposition placed upon the colonists by Great Britain.  Col. George Mason describes this source and its problem during the Federal Convention (22 Aug. 1787):

“This infernal traffic originated in the avarice of British Merchants.  The British Govt. constantly checked the attempts of Virginia to put a stop to it.”

This created an addiction to this labor in many States.  Judge Pendleton observed during the Debate in South Carolina House of Representatives (1788) “that only three States, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina, allowed the importation of negroes.  Virginia had a clause in her Constitution for this purpose, and Maryland, he believed, even before the war, prohibited them.”

However, James Madison also pointed out during the Debate in the Virginia Ratifying Convention (15 June 1788) that there were even “a few slaves in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut: these states would, probably, oppose any attempts to annihilate” slavery.

How could the States overcome their differences on this subject and agree on enough to form a Union? The drafters of the Constitution had an advantage, they knew a few things to be absolutely true and these things would provide the solution to their dilemma.

The drafters of the Constitution knew their history, they had studied governments and how people interact in society throughout history and they knew the principles of Liberty.  They KNEW that they could not plow new fields overnight; they understood that they could not reform society with one move.  But they KNEW they were forming a REPUBLIC and NOT a democracy.

A democracy is mob rule; it is tyranny in public form.  Jefferson said, “173 despots would surely be as oppressive as one.”  With a democracy, the majority of the people would always oppress the minority.  Liberty would never prosper and grow.  The force of the majority would always keep the minority in servitude.  By creating a republican government, they were able to provide minorities with a society-changing voice.  This voice would ensure not only the survival of Liberty but also its expansion.

In order for a Republic to function properly, there must be proper representation.  If there is a way to manipulate the number of representatives allotted to a State, then that would be another avenue for one party to seize the power of another.  Representation was to be established through population and controlled through the popular vote.  Incorporating the slave population in order to determine the number of representatives was causing some states to cry foul.

The slave owners wanted to classify slaves as “property” to avoid the application of rights to them as “persons,” but wanted to also classify them as “persons” for establishing representative power in Congress.  The objection was, the States with greater slave populations would get greater representation, but since only “freemen” could vote, greater representation would be consolidated into fewer people. The large slave owners would almost assuredly control the vote in the State and have greater representation and control in Congress. This skewed representation could delay the desired end to slavery significantly.

The drafters’ solution to this dilemma was the 3/5th Compromise which, along with article 1 section 9, would help to further the of end slavery.  The 3/5th Compromise did not, as popular education teaches, count each slave as 3/5th of a person, it deprived Slave States 2/5th of their representation in Congress!  This created a powerful incentive to end of slavery legislatively.  Slave States would have a reduced representative power in Congress and the Free States would have an increased representative power.  This would not only ensure that the Slave States could not over power the Free States in Congress, but also would act as an incentive for the people of the Slave States to demand their government free the slaves to obtain the full potential of their representative power.  The 3/5th Compromise did not make "black men 3/5th of person," but ensured that the true power to end slavery would come through the will of the people over their government.  Former slave and famous abolitionist Frederick Douglass made this very point in 1860 in a speech in Glasgow, Scotland:

"I answer — It is a downright disability laid upon the slaveholding States; one which deprives those States of two-fifths of their natural basis of representation. A black man in a free State is worth just two-fifths more than a black man in a slave State, as a basis of political power under the Constitution. Therefore, instead of encouraging slavery, the Constitution encourages freedom by giving an increase of "two-fifths" of political power to free over slave States. So much for the three-fifths clause; taking it at is worst, it still leans to freedom, not slavery; for, be it remembered that the Constitution nowhere forbids a coloured man to vote."

The second constitutional mechanism to end slavery was the sunset provision incorporated into the Constitution, Article 1 Section 9, a provision that would provide the means to end slavery in 1808 by putting an end to the importation of slaves once and for all.

"The migration or importation of such persons as any of the States now existing shall think fit to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a tax or duty may be imposed on such importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each person;"

The framers understood that the end of the slave trade would bring about the end of slavery.  Stop the flow of slaves and the trade that George Mason called "diabolical" and "disgraceful" and Patrick Henry called "a lamentable evil" would be extirpated.  They believed the abolition of the slave trade equaled the abolition of slavery as a whole.

“Men, at that time, both in England and in America, looked upon the slave trade as the life of slavery. The abolition of the slave trade was supposed to be the certain death of slavery. Cut off the stream, and the pond will dry up, was the common notion at the time.” – Frederick Doglass

The final guarantee to the end of slavery our drafters secured came through the ratification of the Constitution. If these Slave States refused to join the Union, the trade of slaves on the American Continent, and by the very neighbors of the Union could go on forever.  However, if the Slave States wanted to be part of the Union, if they wanted to participate in the benefits of the Union, they would have to agree to all the provisions that would disadvantage the use of slaves and ultimately destroy the trade altogether.

Justice James Iredell stated during the Debate in North Carolina Ratifying Convention (26 July 1788):

“It was the wish of a great majority of the Convention to put an end [to slavery] immediately; but the states of South Carolina and Georgia would not agree to it. Consider, then, what would be the difference between our present situation in this respect, if we do not agree to the Constitution, and what it will be if we do agree to it. If we do not agree to it, do we remedy the evil? No, sir, we do not. For if the Constitution be not adopted, it will be in the power of every state to continue it forever. They may or may not abolish it, at their discretion. But if we adopt the Constitution, the trade must cease after twenty years, if Congress declare so, whether particular states please so or not; surely, then, we can gain by it. This was the utmost that could be obtained. I heartily wish more could have been done. But as it is, this government is nobly distinguished above others by that very provision. Where is there another country in which such a restriction prevails? We, therefore, sir, set an example of humanity, by providing for the abolition of this inhuman traffic, though at a distant period.”

The framers knew that by creating the union they would ensure the survival of Liberty, without the Union establishing a government on the principles that “all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Right” would likely fail.  James Madison spoke of this fear during the 1788 Ratifying Convention:

“Great as the evil is, a dismemberment of the Union would be worse.  If those States should disunite from the other States for not indulging them in the temporary continuance of this traffic, they might solicit and obtain aid from foreign powers.”

The drafters of the Constitution also understood through the establishment of the Republic they would guarantee the minority populations a society changing voice. They believed through compromise they had done everything that they could have possibly done end the institution of slavery and the power of slave owners and still create a union.  They were also persuaded through a study of their own history that if Liberty is given the proper fertile ground, it always prospers and grows.  They were convinced that Liberty was contagious!

Roger Sherman, a delegate from Connecticut to the Federal Convention (22 Aug. 1787) observed

that the abolition of slavery seemed to be going on in the U.S. & that the good sense of the several States would probably by degrees compleat (sic) it.” 

Oliver Elsworth, also a representative from Connecticut very confidently stated, “Slavery in time will not be a speck on our country.  Provision is already made in Connecticut for abolishing it.   And the abolition has already taken place in Massachusetts.”

An additional insurance for the cultivation of Liberty was established through the Amendment process. The framers believed that as society matured in Liberty, the people would be more capable of self-governance and need less government.  They wanted to ensure that as Liberty grew, it could also be protected through peaceful modification of the Constitution.  By offering the Amendment process, the expansions of Liberty could become permanent.  The Amendment process prevents the Constitution’s interpretation to be based upon the whim of the current culture.  Without the process of permanently amending the Constitution, the people of this nation would be subject to temporary interpretations.  The prevailing party or culture would beget a conservative interpretation today, a liberal interpretation tomorrow, a socialist interpretation the next… subjecting the people to an ever-vacillating standard and leaving the people never really knowing the security of their rights.

It is unquestionable that slavery was detested by many at the formation of our Constitution; only revisionists are served by denying this truth.  But the formation of the union was essential to the preservation of Liberty and the end of slavery.   Without the union these independent, sovereign States would be able to continue the practice of slavery without any national consequence.  The Constitution did not preserve slavery, it was crafted to be a weapon wielded for slavery’s demise.

It is to be hoped, that by expressing a national disapprobation of this trade, we may destroy it, and save ourselves from reproaches, and our posterity the imbecility ever attendant on a country filled with slaves.  James Madison, Import Duty on Slaves, House of Representatives  13 May 1789

It is true that members of Congress, Presidents, and Supreme Court Justices have all failed to meet the standards established by the drafters of the Constitution.  But the failings of America are because of the failings of people, and not because the standard set by the Constitution failed America. As Frederick Douglass asked in his defense of the Constitution, “Shall we condemn the righteous law because wicked men twist it to the support of wickedness? 

Frederick Douglass gives a most conclusive summary to the argument. Only by twisting the document’s words and ignoring the truth can we assign a pro-slavery character to the Constitution and miss its role in setting the stage for the abolition of slavery.

 “This, I undertake to say, as the conclusion of the whole matter, that the constitutionality of slavery can be made out only by disregarding the plain and common-sense reading of the Constitution itself; by discrediting and casting away as worthless the most beneficent rules of legal interpretation; by ruling the Negro outside of these beneficent rules; by claiming that the Constitution does not mean what it says, and that it says what it does not mean; by disregarding the written Constitution, and interpreting it in the light of a secret understanding. It is in this mean, contemptible, and underhand method that the American Constitution is pressed into the service of slavery. They go everywhere else for proof that the Constitution declares that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law; it secures to every man the right of trial by jury, the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus — the great writ that put an end to slavery and slave-hunting in England — and it secures to every State a republican form of government. Anyone of these provisions in the hands of abolition statesmen, and backed up by a right moral sentiment, would put an end to slavery in America.”

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Principles & Purpose of the Natural Born Citizen Limitation

by KrisAnne Hall, JD

 

Our Founders established the criteria of Natural Born Citizen upon our President for a very important reason. Natural Born Citizen meant, to our framers, a child born of two parents who were citizens of the United States at the time of the birth of that child.  If you are not sure of this, or perhaps disagree, please read this article based upon fact & history before you go on: https://goo.gl/sFkKUm

A person who is born of just one parent who is a citizen of the United States is a citizen by birth, but not Natural Born Citizen.  Someone cannot hold or have held dual citizenship with a foreign country and be a Natural Born Citizen.  The fact that we are confused by this qualification, or perhaps even wish to alter this qualification, must be because we do not understand WHY this qualification was established in the first place.  So, before we take a stand either way, we must consider the reasons why this qualification was established by the framers of the American Constitution.

The whole reason the president must be a Natural Born Citizen is because our framers had a history full of foreign kings imposing foreign law and foreign favor upon the people and they knew how dangerous foreign influence was to Liberty.  George Washington spent a great bit of effort trying to drive this understanding home in his Farewell Address of 1796:

“Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence (I conjure you to believe me, fellow-citizens) the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake, since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government.”

Washington knew from his history the real dangers of foreign influence.  Part of Washington’s British Constitution was a document called the Grand Remonstrance of King Charles 1,with a Letter in His Hands1641 in which the people of Great Britain listed many grievances against their King, Charles I.  They indicated that these grievance were indicative of a larger design to overturn and undermine Liberty of the people and the Law of the Land.  One of the grievances illustrates how foreign influence and foreign law have contributed to that destruction of Liberty:

“Such Councillors and Courtiers as for private ends have engaged themselves to further the interests of some foreign princes or states to the prejudice of His Majesty and the State at home.”

In another part of the British Constitution, this time the English Bill of Rights of 1689, the people of Great Britain actually require an oath of their King and his council to shun all foreign influence:

“And I do declare that no foreign prince, person, prelate, state or potentate hath or ought to have any jurisdiction, power, superiority, pre-eminence or authority, ecclesiastical or spiritual, within this realm. So help me God.”

Protecting the United States from foreign influence was very prominent in the minds of our framers, especially in the office of president.  At the time of the creation of the Constitution by the States there were no Natural Born Citizens so an exception was made until that qualification could be met.  Article 2 section 1 clause 5 reads:

“No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President;”

The exception to the Natural Born Citizen requirement was that the President must be a “Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution.”  Joseph Story in his “Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833” explains that this was to ensure that people who were “Patriots of the Revolution” could be considered for this office.

“This permission of a naturalized citizen to become president is an exception from the great fundamental policy of all governments, to exclude foreign influence from their executive councils and duties. It was doubtless introduced (for it has now become by lapse of time merely nominal, and will soon become wholly extinct) out of respect to those distinguished revolutionary patriots, who were born in a foreign land, and yet had entitled themselves to high honours in their adopted country.”

This is an important distinction that helps us understand WHY the Natural Born Citizen requirement is a must.  The President is the commander in chief of the military.  Our framers knew from their history that it would be extremely dangerous to allow someone of foreign influence to exercise power over our military.  Founder, John Jay wrote a letter to George Washington on July 25, 1787, expressing this very point.

“Permit me to hint, whether it would not be wise & seasonable to provide a strong check to the admission of Foreigners into the administration of our national Government, and to declare expressly that the Command in chief of the American army shall not be given to, nor devolved on, any but a natural born Citizen.”

The commander in chief could have no fractionalized loyalty.  The commander in chief must be loyal to the United States, first and only.  Prior to being a Natural Born Citizen, the candidate for president would have proven that loyalty by having been a “distinguished revolutionary patriot.”  Once time established the availability of Natural Born Citizen candidates, that unbroken loyalty would be proven in party by the fact that both parents were citizens of the United States and establishing that the candidate would have been raised in a home with loyalty only to the United States.

When a child is raised in a home where one or both parents are citizens of a foreign country, then that child will naturally be raised with an attachment to that foreign militarycountry out of love for that parent.  Our framers knew that in time of military crisis, our commander in chief must be free from all attachments and bias with a foreign country and mattered not if that bias was for or against the foreign country.  The president must not hesitate or haste in matters of war.  He must only act upon the best interest of the United States, free from internal conflict.  George Washington explains this fact in his Farewell Address:

“Excessive partiality for one foreign nation and excessive dislike of another cause those whom they actuate to see danger only on one side, and serve to veil and even second the arts of influence on the other.”

Alexander Hamilton gives another perspective upon the Natural Born Citizen requirement.  He postulates why a foreign country might actually want to actually raise up someone to become president of the United States and the inherent danger in that possibility:

“Nothing was more to be desired than that every practicable obstacle should be opposed to cabal, intrigue, and corruption. These most deadly adversaries of republican government might naturally have been expected to make their approaches from more than one querter, but chiefly from the desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils. How could they better gratify this, than by raising a creature of their own to the chief magistracy of the Union?”

Just as the birth of a child on US soil does not create citizenship in the parent, the birthplace of the child does not establish the status of Natural Born Citizen.  Throughout history citizenship has been based upon the criteria of the parents.  It has not been linked to the child.  This criteria of Natural Born Citizen does not deviate from that norm.

In summary, the entire reason for establishing the criteria for a president to be a Natural Born Citizen was to help to eliminate any possibility that the commander in chief of the military be influenced by love or hate of a foreign nation.  Because of this well established and historically justified reason, we should think very long and hard before we consider altering or diluting this established requirement through modern interpretation or modern court opinions.  Our framers did what they did on purpose and with a purpose.  We only endanger our Liberty when we assume they didn’t know what they were doing, and our advanced intellect means we can disregard their reasons for our own personal preferences.  We would do well to learn from this history, instead of dooming ourselves to repeat history’s mistakes.

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