Beccaria: A Better Defense of the Second Amendment

It seems that every day the number of people clamoring for tighter restrictions on the right to purchase or otherwise obtain a firearm crescendos.

Of course, those familiar with the Second Amendment to the Constitution for the United States (that is the official name) would never support such tyrannical proposals, particularly those well-versed in the nearly 1,000-year history of the Anglo-American protection of the right of self-defense.

There is an urgent need for Americans to re-familiarize themselves with the wisdom of the Founding Fathers on this topic, as well as the wisdom of the words of those writers whose words inspired and informed our Founders.

One of the writers most often quoted by the Founding Generation was an Italian jurist who is widely considered one of the clearest and cleverest thinkers of the Enlightenment. It is no wonder, therefore, that he ranks as the seventh most frequently cited writer by the Founding Generation who wrote between the years of 1764 and 1805.

Today, of course, Cesare Beccaria’s name is unknown to Americans. Since the seizure of education by the Progressives and the socialists in the late 19th Century, American children have been denied the opportunity to study the books that our Founders studied, thus they were purposefully kept from being able to repair the intellectual foundation of the Constitution.

As James Madison once warned, “The advancement and diffusion of knowledge is the only guardian of true liberty.”

So, here we are. Millions of Americans advocate for proposals that are not only violations of the Second Amendment to the Constitution, but they aren’t aware of the reason that amendment was written.

Back to Beccaria.

One of the Founders most fond of Cesare Beccaria was Thomas Jefferson.

In one of his commonplace books, Jefferson copied a passage from Beccaria’s book On Crimes and Punishments. Jefferson copied the quote in Italian (the language in which Beccaria wrote the book), but an 1809 English translation of the same passage was later owned by Jefferson.

The relevant passage from Beccaria’s book reads:

A principal source of errors and injustice are false ideas of utility. For example: that legislator has false ideas of utility who considers particular more than general conveniences, who had rather command the sentiments of mankind than excite them, who dares say to reason, “Be thou a slave;” who would sacrifice a thousand real advantages to the fear of an imaginary or trifling inconvenience; who would deprive men of the use of fire for fear of their being burnt, and of water for fear of their being drowned; and who knows of no means of preventing evil but by destroying it.

The laws of this nature are those which forbid to wear arms, disarming those only who are not disposed to commit the crime which the laws mean to prevent. Can it be supposed, that those who have the courage to violate the most sacred laws of humanity, and the most important of the code, will respect the less considerable and arbitrary injunctions, the violation of which is so easy, and of so little comparative importance? Does not the execution of this law deprive the subject of that personal liberty, so dear to mankind and to the wise legislator? and does it not subject the innocent to all the disagreeable circumstances that should only fall on the guilty? It certainly makes the situation of the assaulted worse, and of the assailants better, and rather encourages than prevents murder, as it requires less courage to attack unarmed than armed persons.

What insight! What airtight logic!

Imagine how much more influential Americans who are proponents of the Second Amendment and its protection of the right to keep and bear arms could be if they knew Beccaria and could explain the principles set out in the passage above.

The logic of Beccaria’s explanation of the fallacy of believing disarmament is an effective means of reducing crime could be put to good use by people put to the task of defending their opposition to the gun grabbers in and out of government.

Finally, consider another paragraph of Beccaria’s On Crimes and Punishments. This selection sounds like it was written by someone seeing our own time, a time when powerful politicians regularly use tragedy as a pretext for tyranny.

In Chapter 40 of On Crimes and Punishments, Beccaria writes:

It is a false idea of utility, that would give to a multitude of sensible beings that symmetry and order, which inanimate matter is alone capable of receiving; to neglect the present, which are the only motives that act with force and constancy on the multitude, for the more distant, whose impressions are weak and transitory, unless increased by that strength of imagination so very uncommon among mankind. Finally, that is a false idea of utility, which, sacrificing things to names, separates the public good from that of individuals.

Now is the time for Americans to research and remember the writers that taught our Founding Fathers the lessons of history upon which they relied to establish a government of enumerated and very limited power.

As the threats to our natural rights increases, our resistance to those threats (and those who make them) should increase in direct proportion.

Aristotle Predicted 2020

The study of history is the best medicine for a troubled mind for in history you have a record of the infinite variety of human experience plainly set out for all to see; and in that record you can find for yourself and your country both examples and warnings; fine things to take as models, base things, rotten through and through, to avoid.

Livy, History of Rome

Some time in the 4th Century B.C., the Greek philosopher Aristotle (his name means “complete perfection in Ancient Greek) wrote a book aimed at inquiring into what it was that could keep the community — the polis — peaceful and functioning well and to the benefit of the citizens of the community. Aristotle’s guidebook to good governance is known as Politics.

Book 5 of Politics reads as if it were written for our day. Aristotle begins that section of his essay by reciting what happens when people in the polis begin to “stir up factions” with the intent of overthrowing the established order by using “party strife” to “change parts of the constitution.” The purported goal of these “revolutionaries,” Aristotle wrote is a “desire for equality.”

Sound familiar?

These fractious factions believe that “as they are equal to others in one thing, they should be equal in all things,” including control over property owned by others. The people trying to abolish the constitution, Aristotle warned, would not stop until they were given and “unequal share of all things,” due to their perceived unequal treatment in other times and in other areas.

Sound familiar?

What is the motivation of these adversaries of the constitution and order, Aristotle asks rhetorically. His answer might surprise you: “feelings.”

The “spirit of feelings,” Aristotle writes, grips those seeking to overturn the constitution and to seize control over the property of others.

“Those that desire this ‘equality’ stir up party strife because they feel that even though they are the equals of those that have more, they are not treated equally,” Aristotle explains. “We have said that those who feel they ought to be greater than others start party conflict because of the state of their feelings.”

Sound familiar?

Next, the great Greek philosopher reveals, the goal of these agitators is “to get gain and honor by creating conflict and partisan fighting to prevent themselves and their friends from experiencing any dishonor or loss.”

Sound familiar?

After igniting these fires of faction, those organizing the disturbances continuing following their feelings because “they resent others unjustly getting a larger share than them.” If the uproar and the conflagrations don’t deliver the power they are seeking, then the instigators will resort to “election intrigue.”

Sound familiar?

Now, so you don’t misunderstand Aristotle’s insightful understanding of the political situation that creates the sort of cultural cacophony we’re experiencing today, he does point out that many of those who support these insurgents are motivated to migrate to that camp by the “insolence and greed shown by men in office.” This greed of the politicians leads them to “prey on private property and raid the common treasury.” The men in power then use their “excessive predominance” to hand out benefits and honors to themselves and their friends, and to begin secretly setting up a tyranny on the ruins of the constitution.

Sound familiar?

With the de facto establishment of the despotic government, the tyrants use their extraordinary power to “gradually and little by little without being noticed” destroy the “peace and wealth of the middle class.”

Sound familiar?

In one of the last pushes for complete control over the polis and its property, the tyrants and the terrorists join forces to strengthen their stranglehold on the polis. They squeeze the middle class out of any political influence by siphoning its wealth and gaining control over its property. The cabal’s single policy is the perpetuation of its own power and the prevention of others from ever diminishing their dominance or growing powerful enough to challenge its hegemony.

Sound familiar?

The last act of the despotic drama is the construction of a political program, each plank of which is a part of a larger platform supporting the strongmen in their positions of absolute power.

Much to our benefit, in Book V Aristotle identifies the weapons in the autocratic arsenal, giving us a 2,300-year heads up, plenty of time to build the barricades between the liberty of our own polis and the tyrants that have through all ages of time have with laser focus fought to demolish them.

What follows is the list of policies published in Politics by Aristotle. With this advanced warning, it is hoped that we may, as Livy counseled, use history to avoid falling prey to those people and programs that are “rotten through and through.” 

Those of you with ears to hear, may you hear: there is a way to avoid the complete ruin of our republic.

This is Aristotle’s slate of statist tactics.

  1. Ostracize outstanding men
  2. Embarrass the virtuous people
  3. Prohibit eating together at public places
  4. Prohibit the meetings of clubs
  5. Close schools
  6. Keep close watch over anything in the society which could lead the people to develop confidence of pride.
  7. Close down any venues where people could gather to discuss or debate politics.
  8. Do whatever necessary to make it difficult for people to get to know each other.
  9. Keep the people who live in the cities constantly under the surveillance of the government.
  10. Never allow the government to be uninformed about any conversations or actions of citizens.
  11. Keep spies among the people or keep them under surveillance so that people become afraid to speak openly.
  12. Cause friends to quarrel with each other.
  13. Create class warfare.
  14. Keep the people divided into groups and pit those groups against each other.
  15. Make sure the people are not able to employ private security forces, requiring them to accept the government’s police forces as their only law enforcement.
  16. Keep the people occupied with the daily demands of living so that they will not have time to think about uniting to oppose the tyrant.
  17. Keep the people always working, but never able to increase their wealth.
  18. Tax the people heavily so as to be able to reduce a man to poverty within five years.
  19. Stir up war so that the people are compelled to demonstrate loyalty to the state and to need a strong leader to guide them through the war.
  20. As a tyrant, show that you distrust your friends and that you are in charge and they depend on you for their power.
  21. Flatter the lower classes of people.
  22. Make friends with foreign leaders.
  23. Tear down anyone who is perceived as being superior to the tyrant.
  24. Be rude and vengeful to anyone  who displays an independent and free spirit or who refuses to recognize the tyrants’ usurped supremacy.

Sound familiar?

Kamala Harris Natural Born Citizen

Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, has chosen California Senator Kamala Harris to be his running mate. 

While such a story may seem somewhat unremarkable, the particulars of the two people involved in this political decision make the story more problematic than it appears on its face.

Joe Biden suffers from what many reckon are substantial setbacks in his cognitive capacity and his advanced is undeniable, placing Kamala Harris in a more likely than usual position to assume the office of president.

That likelihood is made more meaningful given that Harris herself has made a run at the Democratic Party’s nomination that her now-ticket mate has all but wrapped up.

So, while in most election years the specific constitutional qualifications of the vice-presidential nominee may be of no more than academic interest, but in light of Biden’s decreasing awareness and increasing age Harris’s constitutional eligibility for the presidency is of urgent import.

Put simply, Kamala Harris is constitutionally ineligible to be president of the United States because she is not a natural born citizen, as required by Article II (and, by reference, the 12th Amendment) of the U.S. Constitution.

While born in the United States — Oakland, California — at the time of her birth, Kamala Harris’s father was a citizen of Jamaica and her mother was a citizen of India. This makes Kamala Harris a native-born American — thus eligible to serve as a U.S. senator — but she is not a natural born citizen, the higher standard set for those occupying the office of president.

What follows is a historically detailed and constitutionally precise analysis of why the Framers of the U.S. Constitution raised the required citizenship bar for those elected president of the United States. I know it’s a bit lengthy, but stay with me. Preventing constitutionally unqualified candidates from usurping power is of critical concern to every American and every man and woman whose life and liberty could be taken by the person with his — or her — finger on the button.

The Constitution does not define natural born citizenship, neither have Supreme Court and Congress. The term “natural born citizen” comes from the English concept of “natural born subject,” which came from Calvin’s Case, a 1608 decision.

Natural born subjects were those who owed allegiance to the king at birth under the “law of nature.” The court concluded that under natural law, certain people owed duties to the king, and were entitled to his protection, even in the absence of a law passed by Parliament.

Let’s explore the possible sources and appropriate interpretations of the “natural born citizen” qualification.

At the time of the drafting of the Constitution, a person born subject to the British Crown could hold “double allegiance,” a concept similar to “dual citizenship” as understood today.

Our own Founding Fathers, nearly every one of whom was born in some outpost of the British Empire, feared the damage that could come from such divided loyalty. They instituted the “natural born citizen” qualification in order to avoid what Gouverneur Morris described during the Constitutional Convention as “the danger of admitting strangers into our public councils.”

As famed jurist of the early republic St. George Tucker, a contemporary of Morris, explained:

That provision in the constitution which requires that the president shall be a native-born citizen (unless he were a citizen of the United States when the constitution was adopted) is a happy means of security against foreign influence, which, wherever it is capable of being exerted, is to be dreaded more than the plague. The admission of foreigners into our councils, consequently, cannot be too much guarded against; their total exclusion from a station to which foreign nations have been accustomed to attach ideas of sovereign power, sacredness of character, and hereditary right, is a measure of the most consummate policy and wisdom.

The very source of the “natural born citizen” standard is known to us today. The Swiss jurist Emer de Vattel defined that term in his seminal book The Law of Nations, published in 1758 and, according to Benjamin Franklin, “had been continually in the hands of the members of our Congress.” 

Book I, Chapter 19, Section 212 of The Law of Nations reads:

[N]atural-born citizens, are those born in the country, of parents who are citizens. As the society cannot exist and perpetuate itself otherwise than by the children of the citizens, those children naturally follow the condition of their fathers, and succeed to all their rights. The society is supposed to desire this, in consequence of what it owes to its own preservation; and it is presumed, as matter of course, that each citizen, on entering into society, reserves to his children the right of becoming members of it. The country of the fathers is therefore that of the children; and these become true citizens merely by their tacit consent. We shall soon see, whether, on their coming to the years of discretion, they may renounce their right, and what they owe to the society in which they were born. I say, that, in order to be of the country, it is necessary that a person be born of a father who is a citizen; for if he is born there of a foreigner, it will be only the place of his birth, and not his country.

De Vattel’s definition of “natural born citizen” and the benefits derived from distinguishing between “natural born citizens” and “citizens” was well known to our Founding Fathers and, in fact, the very name of that high standard was copied verbatim by them into Article II of the U.S. Constitution wherein the qualifications for President of the United States are set out.

That such a qualification was universally agreed to by the delegates at the Constitutional Convention of 1787 one need only look to the record of that convention and note that the requirement that the president by a “natural born citizen” was mentioned only twice and was agreed to “nem con,” a contraction of a Latin legal phrase meaning, “without opposition.”

In fact, as indicated in early records of the naturalization process, men applying for American citizenship were required to make two renunciations of all fealty to foreign powers before swearing allegiance to the Republic of the United States.

As a matter of fact, the possibility of any legal acceptance of divided allegiance was explicitly rejected in a report issued by the House of Representatives in 1874:

The United States have not recognized a ‘double allegiance.’ By our law a citizen is bound to be ‘true and faithful’ alone to our government.

The practical effect of that proclamation is that in order to be a “natural born citizen” of the United States, one would have to be free from a competing claim for allegiance from another nation.

That such a schizophrenic situation was not only anticipated but accepted by His Majesty’s government during the time of the American founding can be inferred from the impressment of American sailors into the service of the Crown. During the War for Independence, British ships would block American ships from sailing and then the seamen on the British vessels would board the American ships and force the Americans to serve the side of the Empire.

The insistence on the part of the British that anyone born within the realm was a British subject regardless of any voluntary severance thereof and subsequent vow of allegiance to another prince was a significant factor in the hostilities known as the War of 1812. 

Finally, in this regard, the British required no process of naturalization as such. Simply being born within the dominions of the monarchy of Great Britain was sufficient to endow one with the rights and privileges granted to any British subject. Nothing such a person did later in life (including becoming a citizen of another country) would ever alter his status as subject.

Obviously, in the United States that concept is neither the law now, nor was it the law at the time of the founding. Quite the opposite, in fact.

One of the scholars frequently cited in articles on the subject of the definition of “natural born citizen” is Temple University law professor Peter Spiro.

Spiro often cites the 14th Amendment to the Constitution as further evidence that although born outside the U.S. to a foreign father, recent presidential candidates — including Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio — fit the 14th Amendment’s definition of a natural born citizen. 

The relevant clause of the 14th Amendment reads:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and the States wherein they reside.

The principal architect of the citizenship clause of the 14th Amendment was Michigan Senator Jacob Merritt Howard, a Republican representing Detroit. 

Senator Howard crafted much of the language that was eventually ratified as part of the 14th Amendment.

During the debates that embroiled the Senate in the years following the Civil War, Senator Howard insisted that the qualifying phrase “subject to the jurisdiction thereof” be inserted into Section 1 of the 14th Amendment being considered by his colleagues. In the speech with which he proposed the alteration, Howard declared:

This amendment which I have offered is simply declaratory of what I regard as the law of the land already, that every person born within the limits of the United States, and subject to their jurisdiction, is by virtue of natural law and national law a citizen of the United States. This will not, of course, include persons born in the United States who are foreigners, aliens, [or] who belong to the families of ambassadors or foreign ministers accredited to the Government of the United States, but will include every other class of persons.

How could a person “born in the United States” be simultaneously a citizen and a “foreigner” or “alien” if the mere fact of nativity settled the question of citizenship?

Another legislator commenting at the time of the ratification of the 14th Amendment, Representative John Bingham, provided the following clarification of the meaning behind the “subject to the jurisdiction thereof” clause:

Every human being born within the United States of parents not owing allegiance to any foreign sovereignty is, in the language of your Constitution itself, a natural born citizen.

While similar questions have been raised regarding the Article II eligibility of Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) who ran for president in 2000 and in 2008, and Mitt Romney, who ran in 2008 and 2012, the case of those two men is distinct from that of Kamala Harris.

Both McCain, who was born in the Panama Canal Zone to an American father serving overseas in the military, and Romney, whose father was born in Mexico to American parents, pass constitutional muster.

However, although not necessarily in the way claimed by Professor Spiro, when applied to the case of Senator Kamala Harris, the principles of constitutional law and interpretation set forth above call into question her eligibility for president. 

So, to conclude, there is no reasonable or legal doubt that at the time of her birth (regardless of the location), Harris’s father was not an American citizen — and thus, should she assume the office of the president, the president would be the child of a person with legal allegiance to a foreign sovereignty and so would not conform to the accepted legal, constitutional, and historical definition of “natural born citizen,” thus Kamala Harris cannot serve as vice-president.

“THESE ARE THE TIMES THAT TRY MEN’S SOULS”

“These are the times that try men’s souls.” 

That’s how Thomas Paine described the cold and critical December of 1776 as the American Continental Army retreated back across the Delaware River, believing the dream of American independence from Great Britain would never come true and that all the hardships and sacrifices for freedom would be wasted.

Paine, realizing that the cause of liberty was at a crisis point from which it might not be able to return, wrote a pamphlet for the purpose of giving hope to the weary and worried American soldiers and to the families depending on them to protect their lives, liberty, and property from a tyrannical central government bent on denying them their God-given rights.

Friends, I believe we live in similar times. Every day we witness the growth of government and its tyrannical attempt to control every aspect of our lives, to rob of us of our property, and to confine our liberty into boundaries they define.

We, as with our patriot forefathers, have a difficult decision to make: do we accept defeat, consoling ourselves with the thought that we gave it our best, but our enemy was too strong, and we were outnumbered, or do we carry on in the cause of liberty, regardless of the odds?

Just as Thomas Paine’s timely words gave hope to the desperate and diseased soldiers in General Washington’s army, I believe there is hope for us in our trying times, too.

Our hope is history.

In his History of Rome, Livy wrote:

“The study of history is the best medicine for a troubled mind for in history you have a record of the infinite variety of human experience plainly set out for all to see; and in that record you can find for yourself and your country both examples and warnings; fine things to take as models, base things, rotten through and through, to avoid.”

I am here to offer the healing of history to troubled minds living in trying times.

The last several years of teaching these history classes to homeschool families and public school families anxious to have their children learn the lessons they weren’t being taught in school have proven that these until now untold stories from history have the power to heal troubled minds and strengthen them for the fight for freedom we face today.

Thomas Paine understood this when he wrote:

“What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated.”

If you believe that so many of our present problems are made worse by an ignorance of true history, and if you want to change that and help to prepare a generation of young Americans ready to reject the lies told by the enemies of liberty, then I ask you, friends, to support this effort by donating what ever amount you’re able.

If I can raise enough money to put lessons about this “celestial article” in the homes of interested families, I know we can train up a generation of American young men and women with the knowledge they need to restore the virtue, vigilance, and view of liberty that will keep our country free. If these young people are once again able to read what our Founders read, they might do what our Founders did: throw off the chains of tyranny and restore liberty to our people!

Thank you for your support.

Should We Declare Independence Again?

July 2, 1776. Delegates from 12 of the 13 colonies represented in the Second Continental Congress voted to formally “dissolve the political bands” that bound them to Great Britain.

Just 24 hours before that historic vote, the severing of those ties was in doubt.

On Monday, July 1, Congress resolved itself into a committee of the whole to continue debating the resolution for independence proposed nearly a month before by Virginia representative Richard Henry Lee.

John Dickinson of Pennsylvania rose and spoke eloquently — although ultimately not persuasively — in favor of pursuing peaceful attempts to reconcile with the crown.

John Adams spoke next. Refuting Dickinson’s call for calm, he reminded his colleagues of the convincing case for an unqualified declaration of independence.

When the speeches ended, delegates cast their votes; each colony cast one vote, regardless of the number of delegates present at the proceeding. Pennsylvania’s representatives were specifically instructed to oppose any call for separation from England and they voted accordingly. South Carolina joined Pennsylvania, voting no on the Lee resolutions.

New York’s delegation was also forbidden by their colonial government from voting in favor of independence, so New York abstained.

Tiny Delaware’s delegation was split — one representative in favor of independence (Thomas McKean) and one opposed (George Read) — so no vote was recorded for that colony.

The delegations of the remaining nine colonies approved the declaration of independence.

Dissolving the committee of the whole, the resolution would now be put before the Congress for a binding vote.

Edward Rutledge of South Carolina, although personally opposed to passage of Lee’s resolution calling for independence, believed that the colonies should present a unified front in the fight for freedom from British tyranny.

Accordingly, he moved that the formal vote be postponed until Tuesday, July 2.

As the next day’s business got underway, representatives were surprised and pleased to hear that South Carolina had reversed her position and would vote yes on the declaration of independence. Next, the Pennsylvania contingent reported that John Dickinson and Robert Morris would demur, allowing their colleagues from Pennsylvania to vote 3-2 in favor of the resolution.

The third remarkable reversal occurred when Caesar Rodney rode in to town, tipping the Delaware delegation’s vote in favor of independence.

Upon calling the roll, the final vote on the Lee resolution declaring final and formal independence of the American colonies from Great Britain was 12 to none with one abstention: New York.

Although our independence is celebrated on July 4 (the day the final wording of the Declaration was approved by Congress and sent to the printer), the vote on July 2 and the timely swings in favor of the resolution and the revolution that happened on that day are truly historic and worthy of mention. This is particularly so in light of recent revelations regarding the scope of the tyranny of a president whose behavior is demonstrably monarchical.

The “long train of abuses” of which our forefathers accused Britain’s crown were enumerated in the Declaration of Independence. This historic indictment of King George III was penned principally by Thomas Jefferson and was laid out in a manner both methodical and lyrical. It stood on the rooftops and exposed for the all the world to hear the despotic measures levied against the American colonies by the government of Great Britain.

As our own modern government blows by the milestones on the road toward absolutism, the specific examples of the abuses of power cited in the Declaration of Independence may prove prophetic and may help to enlighten 21st-century Americans. Once we rehearse the reasons that compelled our Founders to sever ties to England, perhaps we, too, will redouble our efforts to restore liberty and the constitutional boundaries of government.

To this end, several organizations have been founded that seek to cause the drafting of a second document that would declare our independence from a federal authority that has grown unwieldy, unaccountable, and unchecked in its exercise of unconstitutional power.

One such group, for example, states on its website that “the actions of our government have created a moral and Constitutional crisis that demands a response from the people.”

Another party echoes that sentiment, proclaiming that present-day Americans “have patiently suffered mounting government outrages against us — lies, corruption, legal plunder and terror. We have waited in despair for reforms and redress, but the outrages have only gotten worse. We can now wait no longer. The fundamental rights of ‘We the People’ must be restored now.”

What of these claims? That the federal government has behaved unconstitutionally is beyond debate. Equally, few would sensibly argue that the borders of freedom have not been invaded repeatedly by bureaucratic regulations masquerading as laws.

Every president since 9/11 has overseen the weaponization of the executive branch, deploying the NSA, the IRS, the EPA, and other agencies to destroy the God-given rights of life, liberty, and property.

But the threshold question when one ponders the necessity of a second Declaration of Independence is, have these actions risen to a level that our Founding Fathers believed justified the dissolution of “the political bands” that bound them to the government of Great Britain?

To illuminate the matter a bit, one might consider the following three charges against George III contained in the original Declaration of Independence and the accompanying contemporary examples of similarly suspect suppressions of America’s God-given liberty as committed by her own leaders.

1. “He has refused to Assent to Laws”

Jefferson accused King George III of ignoring the constitution of Great Britain by taking from the American colonists the right to be represented in the legislature and by imposing his autocratic will on all who would not accede to the decrees made in the name of controlling the empire.

Rights afforded all Englishmen since the days of the Magna Carta were summarily stripped from Americans and their ability to nullify such actions through the appeal to local governments was denied by the abolition of those colonial councils.

In our own day, we have witnessed an unsettling de facto repeal of the Bill of Rights and the protections it affords. Most recently, the rescission of the Fourth Amendment has been in the news.

For years, the NSA has conducted dragnet surveillance of the phone records of millions of Americans. What’s more, in collusion with the country’s largest cyber-corporations, they monitor in real time the online activity of all Americans. There is not a single electronic communication that isn’t watched, recorded, and archived by the federal government.

While this level of totalitarianism was unknown to our colonial ancestors, they toiled for years under their own yoke of government oppression of liberty before finally throwing it off and declaring their independence from the oppressors.

2. “He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance”

So prevalent in today’s society are examples of this complaint taken from Jefferson’s indictment of the crown that it almost needs no recitation of modern re-enactments.

The IRS, to give but one example, admits that it targeted for investigation conservative groups who applied for tax-exempt status. Here’s a summary of the scandal as written by The New American’s Thomas Eddlem:

While despotic, the IRS’s abuses are mere annoyances when compared to the tyrannical tormenting of property owners perpetrated by armies of agents carrying out the unconstitutional and unlawful edicts of executive branch bureaucracies whose regulatory regime is nearly impregnable and inhumane.

Consider the case of an 80 year old U.S. Navy veteran from Montana. Here is the story as told by Dan Daru:

Were British officers ever so swarming as American bureaucrats?

3. “depriving us in many cases of the benefits of Trial by Jury”

Since 2011, both houses of the Congress of the United States have passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), a bill that gave (and continues to give) the president of the United States the absolute power to arrest and detain citizens without their being informed of any criminal charges, without a trial on the merits of those charges, and without a scintilla of the due process safeguards guaranteed by the Constitution.

When asked if an American citizen indefinitely detained under the NDAA would be deprived of the right to counsel guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) responded:

These provisions of the NDAA have a lot in common with other abuses enumerated in the Declaration of Independence, namely that of “waging war against us” and the use of the military to “complete the works of death, desolation, and tyranny.”

These are only a few of the examples that could be provided of ways in which our government has ceased being our servant of the people and has become our cruel master.

We are witnesses of the words of Thomas Jefferson:

What Will We Declare?

Friends, this day in 1776 is the day we celebrate the secession of – eventually – 13 already-existing republics from an empire that had grown ever more despotic and injurious to the natural rights of the people of those 13 countries. Ambassadors from 11 of those 13 countries voted to unite in a Declaration of independence, wherein their common complaints were set forth for all to see. The form of that declaration was one familiar to the gathered representatives as it had been established by accepted historical precedent.
Today, there are 50 states, each of which is populated by a citizenry whose rights are oppressed in a degree of despotism George III could not have conjured up in his most monarchical and maddened fantasy. Yet, the citizens of those erstwhile republics do next to nothing to break the bands of tyranny hanging heavily on their necks.
That is our choice and, I believe, we will answer to Almighty God and His Son, Jesus Christ, for our unmanly disregard and dissolution of the liberty vouchsafed for us first by our earthly fathers and most certainly and surely by our Heavenly Father’s gift of His Only Begotten Son. Surely for our stupor and sacrifice of that blood-bought freedom we will be held accountable.
I won’t tell you not to celebrate the anniversary of July 4, 1776; it was an inspiring day in the history of our ancestors. I will say, however, that to celebrate that day and to proclaim our freedom is a most grave and galling insult to the men and women whose lives, fortunes, and sacred honor were on that day and for decades thereafter placed willingly on the altar of freedom. We draw nigh unto freedom with our lips while our hearts and habits are far from it. Our Independence Day celebrations are whited sepulchers, displaying freedom without, while containing nothing but the bleached and rotted bones of ignorance and indifference within.
May we repent. May we awake and arouse our faculties in the difficult and divine disgorgement of our liberty from the hands of tyrants and their sycophantic servants. May we be our fathers’ children and once again refuse to crouch down and meekly lick the hands that feed us.
Amen and amen.