by Michael Gaddy, ©2016

(Jan. 24, 2016) — An in-depth study of our founding era produces quite a few questions. Those among our founders who sought a very limited central government which would be in place simply to protect those Natural Rights as granted by our Creator and as mentioned in the Declaration of Independence, saw the States as being the sovereign in the relationship between each of them and that central government. This was also a tenet of the Declaration of Independence as seen in the last paragraph:

“We, therefore, the representatives Of the United States of America, in General Congress, assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states; …”

It should be plain from this wording and a cursory knowledge of history that on July 4, 1776 the colonies declared themselves to be “free and independent states.” The Articles of Confederation were not ratified until March 1, 1781. The Constitution which was ratified in 1788, some seven years later, was achieved by the States operating free and independently in seceding from the Articles of Confederation which claimed to be perpetual. Obviously, the AoC were not perpetual. This was not an accomplishment of the people acting in aggregate, nor did the central government create the States as would later be claimed by Daniel Webster, Joseph Story, Abraham Lincoln, and others.

Among our founders, such as Patrick Henry, Robert Yates, John Lansing, Luther Martin and others saw the States as being the sovereign in their relationship with the central government and believed that central government should only be empowered to exert its influence on the States and not the people. This is an extremely important point and is too often forgotten in the political world. In other words, if the central government wanted to accomplish anything it would be required to call upon the States to assist in those requests. The central government was not intended to have the power to enforce any laws or regulations directly on the people. The central government, not being the sovereign, would have to call on the free and independent States in order to implement any form of legislation, collect taxes, etc.

It is absolutely ludicrous to believe after fighting a long war to secure their independence, the States and the people would then simply relinquish the liberty they had won back to another form of government not that different from the one they had just sacrificed, bled and died to defeat.

So, when, one might ask, did the central government assume powers it was never intended to have? Possibly the first overt action was taken by George Washington, encouraged by Alexander Hamilton, when a standing army was formed to put down the Whiskey Rebellion. Washington and Hamilton put together an army, larger and better equipped than the Continental Army Washington had so recently commanded in the Revolution in order to stop a tax revolt in Western Pennsylvania. Here we see evidence that central governments are more interested in the collection of revenue than they are freedoms of the individual. And that has changed how in the past 225 years?

Washington and Hamilton, just a few short years after ratification and the beginning of a new government under the U.S. Constitution, blatantly violated several provisions of that Constitution in order to facilitate the collection of revenue by the central government. Washington and Hamilton had both been active in the creation of the constitution they were now violating and according to the constitution they both signed, participating in an act of treason.

Thousands of people in Western Pennsylvania had marched on Pittsburgh in protest of what they believed to be an illegal tax on whiskey. Thomas Mifflin was the governor of Pennsylvania, a hero of the American Revolution and a signatory to the Constitution. At no time did governor Mifflin request assistance from the central government nor did the legislature of the State of Pennsylvania. Consequently, this was a violation of Article IV Section IV of the Constitution. Both Jefferson and Madison were critical of this invasion of a State with federal forces with Madison claiming Hamilton and Washington acted to “establish the principle that a standing army was necessary for enforcing the laws.” 

During the Convention of 1787, the points of Article IV, Section IV had been debated in detail. Luther Martin of Maryland argued, “the consent of the State ought to precede the introduction of any extraneous force whatever.” Elbridge Gerry and George Mason’s arguments led to a provision that the central government could not invade a State with a standing army to put down any “domestic violence” unless the elected members of that State requested such intervention. Hamilton had argued the same point in Federalist 21 stating the States had nothing to fear from the central government. With Washington and Hamilton ignoring provisions of a Constitution which both had been involved in creating, one must question again their motivated efforts to secede from the restrictions on government found in the Articles of Confederation.

I contend that Washington, Hamilton, and the thousands of armed men who followed them into Pennsylvania were guilty of treason. Article III Section III: “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or adhering to their Enemies, giving them aid and comfort.” Had they been so charged, perhaps one of the greatest crimes of this country, the military invasion of the South by Abraham Lincoln, might never have occurred. Here, the very hard lesson of ignoring acts in violation of our Constitution and Bill of Rights for political expediency rears its ugly head very early in our history.

Ironically, in late April of 2014, an historically ignorant worshiper of the god called central government by the name of Jamie Stiehm, writing for US News, complete with caricatures, cited Washington and Hamilton’s actions as justification for the raid on Cliven Bundy’s ranch in Nevada earlier that month, advocating government forces burn Bundy’s home. She referred to the federal sheriff’s actions as “Obama’s Whiskey Rebellion.” I’m sure this historically ignorant woman who wears central government idolatry like a comfortable pair of shoes is endorsing similar actions against Cliven’s son Ammon in Oregon.

In the Virginia Ratification Convention, Anti-federalist Patrick Henry predicted the efforts of the “federal sheriffs” in collecting revenue and enforcing unconstitutional laws which was exactly what occurred with Washington and Hamilton in the Whiskey Rebellion.

The federal sheriff may commit what oppression, make what distresses, he pleases, and ruin you with impunity; for how are you to tie his hands? Have you any sufficiently decided means of preventing him from sucking your blood by speculations, commissions, and fees? Thus thousands of your people will be most shamefully robbed …” (Emphasis mine)

John Marshall stated in opposition to Patrick Henry’s prediction the following. Judge for yourself who was ultimately correct.

“[According to Henry] … officers of the government will be screened from merited punishment by the federal judiciary. The federal sheriff, says he, will go into a poor man’s house and beat him, or abuse his family and the federal courts will protect him. Does any gentleman believe this? Is it necessary that the officers will commit a trespass on the property or persons with those of whom they are to transact business? Will such great insults on the people… be allowable? Were a law made to authorize them it would be void.”

Read the rest here.

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