Book Review: Reclaiming the American Revolution

After lying dormant for the better part of 150 years, nullification has been gaining momentum in recent years.  My own awareness of nullification, the idea that the states have the constitutional right to block federal enforcement of unconstitutional acts, was originally almost wholly due to the work of historian Thomas Woods, who literally wrote the book on Nullification in 2010.  As great as that book was, Woods’s work was preceded by six years by another author who offered the first book-length treatment of nullification in a century.

This was William Watkins’ 2004 book, Reclaiming the American Revolution.  Watkins, an attorney who specializes in constitutional law, opens his book by taking the reader through the events that led to the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions of 1798, authored by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison respectively.  These resolutions were a response to the Alien and Sedition Acts, a series of unconstitutional laws passed earlier in 1798.

After laying out the historical background for these laws, including the so-called Quasi-War with France, Watkins discusses some of the ways that they were used to shut down opposition to President John Adams and his Federalist party.  The most notable instance of prosecution under the Acts was that of Benjamin Franklin Bache who, besides being the grandson of Benjamin Franklin, was also a journalist who used his newspaper to criticize the Federalists.  Bache’s tragic story begins with his arrest for violating the Sedition Act and subsequent death from yellow fever while awaiting trial.  Other stories of prosecution under the Acts, while not as tragic, are equally as troubling in their violations of the First and Tenth Amendments.

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Myth-Busting: The “Roman Condominium” Myth

Much of my scholarly research is designed to set the historical record straight—essentially myth-busting.

For reasons I’ll explain another time, most legal writers are terrible historians. They tend to cherry-pick history to promote a case, and when there aren’t enough historical facts, they sometimes make them up.

My efforts to correct the record are best known in the realm of constitutional law, but my first big project of the kind was actually about condominiums.

In the 1960s, ‘70s, and ‘80s, legal writers were uncritically repeating the story that the ancient Romans invented condominiums, or at least used them widely. This story made no sense at all: Ancient writers don’t mention condominiums, and Roman law actually prohibited schemes whereby one person owned airspace above another person. (The word “condominium,” meaning “co-ownership,” is Latin, but it is of relatively modern, not Roman, coinage.)

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Understanding The 10th Amendment

The “winners” write the history, and always in favor of their side of the “argument”.

Government’s job is to “control” the people. Control takes power and power comes at a price: the people’s liberty. In a nutshell, government power  stands as the enemy of liberty. And when it comes to the war between power and liberty, power generally triumphs.

Government wins.

And government writes our history.

Most people allow the government to educate their children and that means they learn the approved government version of history. Sadly, it is totally corrupt. Few Americans realize it and can’t, or wont, correct the mistake.

I will try to help correct a piece of the disinformation surrounding the 10th Amendment and put it all into the correct perspective for you.

We’ve  watched government trample on the  Constitution throughout most of our recent history. We do not have to look very far to see examples. President Bush’s Administration created the The Patriot Act, anything but patriotic. Throughout his terms in office, Bush completely disregarded what the Constitution said and wielded the arms of war with wanton disregard.

President Obama continues in the same vein with more anti-constitutional measures. When Congress does not do what Obama wants he creates Executive Orders with the force of law. Effectively legislating from the White House and overstepping his constitutional boundaries without any regard to the laws our country.

Our Constitution is a document designed to LIMIT the power of the federal government. It enumerates the exact duties, responsibilities and powers of each branch of the federal government. In other words, the federal government ONLY has the powers over things that are specifically spelled out in the Constitution. ALL OTHER POWERS are reserved for the states and people. This is succinctly spelled out in the 10th Amendment.

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

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Bill Proposed To Keep Federal Hands Off Alabama-Produced Firearms

There has been a growing number of states recently looking to pass laws that nullify overreaching federal intrusions on Second Amendment rights with Alabama being one of the latest states looking to protect the natural rights of its citizens. Alabama Senate Bill 43 is called the ‘Firearms Freedom Act’ and it intends to ‘exempt from…

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No Budget, No Freedom

There are rallying cries from the American revolutionary period which are still axiomatic in American Society. One was apparently coined by Jonathan Mayhew in a 1750 sermon, “Discourse Concerning Unlimited Submission and Non-resistance to the Higher Powers“. It is, “No taxation without representation.” Similarly, James Otis is often credited with the phrase, “Taxation without representation is tyranny.” It is claimed that Otis used this phrase in his legal argument against the Writs of Assistance.

These phrases are unquestionably correct in a free society, but what is it that makes them true? What are the characteristics of taxation without representation that make it tyrannical — and how do these principles apply to today’s American society?

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Do the Secessionists Have As Much Courage As the Nullifiers?

By now, anybody who even casually follows the Tenther movement and the liberty movement in general has likely heard about the secession petitions circulating.  Yesterday, I had personally gone from only hearing about Louisiana, to hearing my State of New Jersey had one too, to hearing the count was up to twenty States.  That could be an old number by the time this makes it into the Tenth Amendment Center blog.

The language of these petitions is interesting, as they “ask” the federal government to let said States peaceably withdraw from the United States.  Although I confess to having signed, originally for Louisiana upon first finding out, and then for New Jersey, it was more out of curiosity than anything else.

Apparently, any State circulating these petitions requires a minimum of 25,000 signatures within thirty days in order to receive a White House response.  Texas has nearly double the required signatures, and Louisiana is likely a day away from hitting the threshold.  Several states are beyond halfway there.  Check to see if your State is on the list.  While you’re at it, go ahead and sign, so you can get your response.  The most likely response from the White House is a familiar word to anybody in the nullification movement, “No.”

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To Intervene or Not to Intervene?

Turkey has a fighter plane shot down by a Syrian missile defense battery. Do you think that they will respond with military force? Do you wonder if anyone in our central government said that they wished it was one of our F4 Phantoms that was fired upon?

Syria, much like Libya before it, is in a civil war. There is a large group of people tired of the oppression of their ruling government and they are killing each other.

We had a President once who thought he knew better and went to war to prevent a bunch of states from withdrawing from the union of states that they had previously sought to join as members.

No country decided who was right and who was wrong and sent troops over here to fight on a side; did they? Is it our place to decide who is right and who is wrong in Libya, or Syria?

Let us say our country arrives at a point where we find ourselves in a civil war.

Say the people of a number of states tire of the tyranny of the central government. They refuse to be threatened with indefinite detention without trial or evidence.

They refuse to live with drones able to conduct 24 hour surveillance without any warrant. No more will they submit to bodily searches by uniformed thugs before they travel or having their mail, phone calls and Internet activities monitored.

A number of states decide that they cannot realistically expect their citizens to be able to pay their state, property and sales taxes needed to maintain the state as well as pay federal taxes for the central govt. to fund programs that support the schooling, food, housing and utility assistance of those who pay no taxes.

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18th Century Meanings of Happiness and Liberty

Cross Posted from the Pennsylvania Tenth Amendment Center.

In this Glenn Beck interview,

Rick Santorum tells us that the 18th century definition of happiness is, “to do the morally right thing”.  When I heard this, I was surprised and fascinated, but also suspicious, so I decided to see if I could confirm that.  First, I checked the Dictionary of the English language by Samuel Johnson (1768, 3rd edition), where I found this…

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