Sunday, September 23, 2007

Our Dysfunctional Republic Part 2

Part II

Pre-Revolution Colonial History

To understand what has gone wrong with our country, and our government we must first understand how our republic was supposed to be governed. It is essential that we understand the reasons that our existing form of government came about. That means looking back to the history of this country.

While parts of America had been colonized previously it wasn't until the arrival of the pilgrims at Plymouth Rock that a mass emigration of Europeans began in earnest. Many of these immigrants left their homelands to escape political or religious oppression. Some came to seek opportunities that were denied them at home. Whatever their reasons, they all faced serious challenges and hardships to create a new life here in this land called America.

As their numbers grew, and they faced and overcame many difficulties, the settlers spread out and formed the first thirteen colonies of the United States. While these settlers came here seeking freedom from oppression, they were not entirely free. The English crown still considered them citizens of Britain. The settlers still had to deal with the fact that England was their lawful sovereign.

Being that England ruled over them, they imposed many laws upon the colonies, while denying them representation in Parliament. Among these acts where the Navigation Acts of 1696. These Acts limited all colonial trade to English built vessels. In 1750 Parliament passed the Iron Act, which restricted the growth of the iron industry in the colonies. In 1764 the Parliament passed the Currency Act which prohibited the colonists from issuing any legal tender paper money. In 1765 the Stamp Act was passed by the Parliament which imposed the first direct tax upon the American colonies, payable directly to England. Under the Stamp Act, all printed materials were to be taxed, including; newspapers, pamphlets, legal documents, almanacs, and even playing cards. Also in 1765, Parliament passed the Quartering Act, which required colonists to house British troops and supply them with food. In 1766 Parliament repealed the Stamp Act and passed the Declaratory Act, stating that the British government had total power to legislate any laws governing the colonies. In 1774 Parliament enacted a series of Coercive Acts which virtually ended all form of self-rule by the colonies.

It is interesting to note that if you look a modern history book, the term 'taxation without representation' is mentioned often as the reasoning behind the Revolutionary War and the Declaration of Independence.

Yet, if you read the autobiography of Benjamin Franklin you find something entirely different. In 1757 Franklin went to London, where he would stay for many years. It was during this time that the colonies began issuing Colonial Scrip. Colonial scrip was debt free fiat paper money created by our government for the payment of debts public and private.

During his time in London, Franklin was asked by the bank of England how Franklin could account for colonies newfound wealth, Franklin exclaimed, “That is simple. In the colonies we issue our own money. It is called colonial scrip. We issue it in proper proportion to the demands of trade and industry to make the products pass easily from the producers to the consumers. In this manner, creating for ourselves our own paper money, we control its purchasing power, and we have no interest to pay to no one.”

It was at this time that the Parliament passed the currency act of 1764, prohibiting colonial officials from issuing their own money, ordering them to pay future taxes in gold or silver coins.

In his autobiography Franklin states that, “In one year, the conditions were so reversed that the era of prosperity ended, and a depression set in, to such an extent that the streets of the Colonies were filled with the unemployed.”

He also makes the assertion that, “The Colonies would gladly have borne a little tax on tea and other matters had it not been that England had taken away from the Colonies their own money, which created unemployment and dissatisfaction. The inability of the colonists to get power to issue their own money permanently out of the hands of George III and the international bankers was the PRIME reason for the revolutionary war.”

Whatever the reasons, the colonies had had enough of British rule. In 1775, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, a provincial congress was held in which John Hancock and Joseph Warren began preparations for war. It was at this time that Patrick Henry delivered a very moving speech in which he said,

"Sir, we have done everything that could be done to avert the storm which is now coming on. We have petitioned; we have remonstrated; we have supplicated; we have prostrated ourselves before the throne, and have implored its interposition to arrest the tyrannical hands of the ministry and Parliament.

Our petitions have been slighted; our remonstrances have produced additional violence and insult; our supplications have been disregarded; and we have been spurned, with contempt, from the foot of the throne. In vain, after these things, may we indulge the fond hope of peace and reconciliation. There is no longer any room for hope.

If we wish to be free -- if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for which we have been so long contending -- if we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle in which we have been so long engaged, and which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon until the glorious object of our contest shall be obtained, we must fight! I repeat it, sir, we must fight! An appeal to arms and to the God of Hosts is all that is left us!

They tell us, sir, that we are weak -- unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house? Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance, by lying supinely on our backs, and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot?

Sir, we are not weak, if we make a proper use of the means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. Three millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us.

The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, sir, we have no election. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged! Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston! The war is inevitable -- and let it come! I repeat it, sir, let it come!

It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, "Peace! Peace!" -- but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!"

On April 19, 1775 about 70 armed Massachusetts militiamen stood face to face with a British advance guard. A single shot, 'heard around the world' was fired which was the beginning of the American Revolution. One last attempt at peace was attempted in July when the Continental Congress adopted the Olive Branch Petition, to try and achieve a reconciliation with Britain. King George refused to even look at it. All hopes for peace were gone, the colonies now had to fight for their liberty or remain servants to the British Crown.

On July 6, 1775 the Continental Congress issued a Declaration on the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms, in which they detail their reasons for fighting the British. They resolve to '...die free men rather than live as slaves."

One year later, on July the Continental Congress formally adapts the Declaration of Independence, written by Thomas Jefferson. In my humble opinion, the opening of the Declaration of Independence is the most eloquent piece of literature ever written by man. In it, Jefferson states,

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

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

The colonies had just declared themselves independent of England, shots had been fired. There was no turning back, all their bridges had been burned. Their only choice was to fight for the freedoms that they held so dear, and which were so clearly stated in the Declaration of Independence. be continued

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