We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
There’s no arguing with the result of a Rasmussen poll of who was the “greatest founding father”, George Washington. But the choices to select from -- Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, George Washington or James Madison? – excluded Patrick Henry and his key role in rallying the new Americans to rebel against Britain and then to enact the new Constitution’s Bill of Rights to further protect individual liberties and states’ rights.
A biographer of Patrick Henry calls him “the first American to sound his displeasure with big government.”
Henry, of course, is best known for his stirring defiance of British rule in March 1775, when he pleaded to "almighty God. Give me liberty or give me death!" Although Henry was urging Americans to fight for independence from British rule, many Americans, then and now, fail to realize that he had aimed his call for liberty at all big government--American as well as British.
Like many of today's Tea Party supporters, Henry believed that big government, by its very nature, was unjust--because of its distance and isolation from the people whose lives it touched. A staunch supporter of home rule and states' rights, Henry believed that only those who lived, worked, and owned property in a community should determine the needs of that community and the taxes citizens should pay. And that is why he refused to attend the Constitutional Convention of 1767.
"Here is revolution as radical as that which separated us from Great Britain," Henry thundered when he saw a copy of the Constitution. "Our rights and privileges are endangered; the sovereignty of the states shall be relinquished. All pretensions to human rights and privileges are rendered insecure."
As angry as he had ever been during the Revolutionary War, Henry demanded that any constitution guarantee individual liberties and impose strict limits on federal government powers. He demanded that Congress obtain the approval of two-thirds of the state legislatures before approving any foreign treaty or enacting any federal tax. After eight years of rebellion against taxation without representation by the British government, he was not about to hand those same powers to an American Congress.
As a leader of the Anti-Federalists, whose critiques of the proposed Constitution were telling, then and now, as to the dangers of excess central power over individuals and the states, Henry’s advocacy resulted in the first ten amendments, the Bill of Rights. “
The necessity of a Bill of Rights appears to me to be greater in this government than ever it was in any government before... All rights not expressly and unequivocally reserved to the people are impliedly and incidentally relinquished to rulers, as necessarily inseparable from the delegated powers...
What needs to be remembered, as well, is that Patrick Henry became a leading defender of the new constitutional arrangement. Late in life, after the adoption of the Bill of Rights, Patrick Henry accommodated himself to the new Constitution, partly in reaction to the excesses of the French Revolution. Henry supported several measures that defended a strong federal government over actions that would in effect severely weaken it in favor of states’ greater independence. Henry remained active as a Virginia legislator and governor but although offered several important posts in the federal government he preferred his landed gentry existence.
The lesson to today’s Tea Partiers? Even with foresight, good arguments and wide following, it is difficult to remain centered on the importance of individual liberties in the face of national emergencies or alternative good arguments. Avoiding embitterment or extremism is fundamental to having wide hearing and lasting impacts. They may be eroded over time but will not be forgotten and will rise when trials ensue.
It would be better if the the ratification of a treaty, or a tax increase, required at least one vote from the Senator of each state; that is, if both Senators from any state opposed any such measure, that measure was deader than Ishbosheth.
I really can't decide. All the founders did amazing work and hold special sway on my thanks and thinking.
Has anybody here heard Mike Church's Road to Independence works (they played one of them on Sirius/XM radio this AM)? I though I knew about the founding, and a good portion of the founders, but he did yeoman's work with his three docudramas - well worth the listening to and price. Cheap plug, but the works are that good, far better learning than can be had in most schools and 'official' books.