Starting in 1767, in response to the Townshend Acts, John Dickinson, often referred to as “the Penman of the Revolution” wrote a series of 12 essays known as “Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania.”
In his first, he spent time discussing the last of the acts, the New York Restraining Act, which was punishment for the Assembly of New York, suspending its legislative powers for failing to fully comply with orders from the crown. He wrote:
If the parliament may lawfully deprive New York of any of her rights, it may deprive any, or all the other colonies of their rights; and nothing can possibly so much encourage such attempts, as a mutual inattention to the interests of each other. To divide, and thus to destroy, is the first political maxim in attacking those, who are powerful by their union.
He continued to say that, in essence, the rightful response at that moment would have been for other assemblies to have passed a non-binding resolution informing parliament that the act was a violation of rights and that it should be repealed.
Why? His answer came through clearly in his signature, where he wrote the Latin phrase, Concordia res parvae crescunt.
Small things grow great by concord.
Clearly, the Penman of the Revolution was right – and small things did grow great in the coming years.
In many ways, today’s federal government has suspended the legislative power of state assemblies by assuming control over powers not delegated to it by the Constitution. In recent years, this country has seen small things grow great once again – the simple introduction of non-binding resolutions affirming the 10th amendment has grown into a movement…
The Tenth Amendment Center is a national think tank that works to preserve and protect the principles of strictly limited government through information, education, and activism. The center serves as a forum for the study and exploration of state and individual sovereignty issues, focusing primarily on the decentralization of federal government power as required by the Constitution.
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