~ Introduction ~
You believe that you are free. You believe that we have a representative form of government. You believe that the Civil War was fought to end slavery. You believe George Washington and Abraham Lincoln were great Presidents. You believe all manner of things, but my question to you is; what are your beliefs based upon? Are they based upon what you have been told or taught, or are they founded in fact and truth?
You have attended history and civics classes and that makes you think that you know the truth. Well I’m here to tell you that you are not in possession of the truth; you have been lied to and manipulated so that you will more readily accept your status as a ‘free range slave.’
Historians lie; they omit facts which contradict their own personal agenda; they provide you with partial quotes and details which provide no context for them. The further we travel from the occurrence of an event the more the story about it becomes distorted and convoluted as each ‘historian’ deletes and twists the narrative to fit their agenda. If you want the truth about anything, you are going to have to dig; dig back to the source documents from the time the events occurred and seek out the truth for yourselves.
Yes, this is a laborious task, but if you want to get to the truth you are going to have to do it. Otherwise you may as well accept the fact that everything you have been taught or told about your country and its system of government is a lie; or at least a gross manipulation of the truth.
There are those of us who have devoted a great deal of time seeking out the truth, some more extensively than others, and we have tried to share the truths we have uncovered with the great teeming mass of society. However, these truths take people out of their comfort zone and are, more often than not, rejected and the bearer of them ridiculed and scorned.
That being said, Frank Zappa once said, “The mind is like a parachute, for it to work it has to be open.” I’m asking, no, I’m begging that you open your minds to the truths I am about to present to you. Al Gore spread his global warming agenda in a book entitled An Inconvenient Truth; which is an oxymoron if you ask me, because the book is full of faux science and lies. Yet the title of Gore’s book is appropriate, as the truth is often inconvenient; it takes us out of our comfort zones.
What I am about to attempt is beyond the scale of anything I’ve written to date; I hope to show you the clear cut progression by which we have been transformed from free sovereign citizens into nothing better than chattel slaves to fund an illegitimate government and the bankers and industrialists who pull its strings. You can either choose to accept what I am about to say, or you can go on believing you live in a Constitutional Republic; the choice will be yours. I only ask that you give the truth a fair hearing and come to your own conclusions. If I am only successful in seeding a hint of a doubt in your minds, then I will have accomplished more than I could have hoped for. So buckle up and hang on, it’s going to be a wild ride. ~ Neal
~ Chapter I ~ How America Lost Its Soul ~
History and civics are two subjects which most people abhor; they are subject most people believe are less important than the fundamental skills which prepare them for life; such as reading, science and math. I don’t blame them; when I was in school I felt the same way. However, I was young and foolish. I remember the lines of an old Bob Seger song where he sings, “I wish I didn’t know now what I didn’t know then“, well I wish I knew then what I know now; I can only imagine how much fun it would have been to argue history and civics with my instructors with all the knowledge I have stored away in my brain right now.
What gets me is how people will tell you that they have informed opinions, but then if you turn around and ask them the most fundamental questions about the history of this country, or the organization of its system of government, they would be unable to answer them. How can anyone claim to have an informed opinion without any information to support that opinion? What, do they base their opinions on what Chuck Todd at NBC says?
If the truth really matters to you then there is one fact you are going to have to get through your head from the start; that being that those in positions of authority, or so-called experts lie to you routinely; they distort the truth, omit facts, and do so knowingly. If you want the truth you need to go to the horse’s mouth, so to speak.
The other night at work I was talking to a co-worker about the lies they have been taught about the Civil War and Abraham Lincoln, and she commented to another co-worker, “Look at how Neal just rolls those facts out; I don’t know how he does it.” Well, it’s simple really; I can do it because I have made the acquisition of these facts my first priority; aside from providing for my family that is.
If you want to know where we are today, you must look back to the time before the first English settler stepped foot upon American soil. Before the Mayflower landed at Plymouth, before Jamestown, even before Columbus, there were people living on the soil we now call our country. It has been said that upwards of 80% of the indigenous people who occupied the Americas before the first colonists came across the Bering Land Bridge which connected Russia to Alaska around 15,000 years ago. But I don’t need to go that far back in time to trace the history of our growth as a nation; I only need to go back to the first English settlers to this continent; those who established the first English Colony at Jamestown, Virginia.
The history of Jamestown is not pretty, and it certainly is not the fictionalized version of James Smith and Pocahontas that is portrayed in the Disney film. The Jamestown Colony began in 1607 when 104 men and boys arrived in three ships; the Susan Constant, the Godspeed, and the Discovery, off what we now call the Commonwealth of Virginia. They chose their location for specific reasons; primarily the fact that it had deep waters where ships could dock and it was easily defensible; being surrounded by water on three sides.
Within months the settlers began to suffer from a wide range of illnesses, causing many of them to die. They also were running out of food and would have starved had the local Powhatan Indians not sent them gifts of food to sustain them. By 1610 the demands of the Jamestown colonists had become so demanding that they led to tensions between themselves and the Powhatan Indians. During this period upwards of 80% of the Jamestown Colonists perished due to starvation or illness. They were so desperate that they ate the leather from their shoes and belts, and often the flesh of the deceased. Not something Disney would want to put in a children’s film, is it?
Jamestown almost perished, and would have not it been for the fact that it was settlers who had been shipwrecked in Bermuda arrived to reinforce and resupply the Colony. In 1612 John Rolfe helped turn Jamestown from near disaster into a profitable venture for the Virginia Company of England. Tobacco was introduced and became the primary source of income and trade.
Why is all this important to understand about where we are now? Well, it is because since tobacco, at that point in history, was a labor intensive crop, it required massive amounts of labor to grow and harvest. The British aristocracy had but 3 choices for this labor; indentured servants from Britain, Native Americans, or slaves. They tried indentured servants, but eventually discovered it too costly to be an effective means of managing the tobacco plantations, as after 7 years the indentured servants became free of their servitude and a new group would have to be brought in to replace them.
The native Americans were also considered prime candidates as if they could be made to work alongside the Settlers then the settlement itself would be less likely to be attacked by the Powhatan Indians. It is said that during the early years of America’s existence as Colonies under the Crown, somewhere between 24,000 and 51,000 Native Americans were held in slavery and sent to the West Indies; another British Colony.
However, the first African slaves did not arrive until 1619; in a Dutch ship which had captured them from the Spanish. What gets me about all the recent anger over the emblems and statues which represent the former Confederate States of America due to their supposedly representing slavery and prejudice is that people do not know the history of slavery in America; how it came to be an institution and who profited from it.
The Dutch brought the first slaves to America, but they captured them from the Spanish, who were also dealing in the slave trade. They were used her under the full knowledge of the British; who wanted a work force to turn their Colonies into profitable enterprises. So to say that the Confederacy is solely to blame for slavery only shows how ignorant you are on the subject.
But, I get ahead of myself…
The year after the first African slaves were brought to Jamestown, another group of British settlers arrived in the New World. However, these settlers did not come here as a venture with the sole intent of becoming a profitable enterprise for the Crown; they came for another reason altogether; religious freedom.
These Pilgrims, as they are called today, were actually Puritan Separatists who had been harassed and subjected to persecution for their religious beliefs. These Puritans had fled England to the Netherlands to escape persecution, only to find that their youth were being influenced by the Dutch way of life and the fact that they were not far enough away from the English to completely avoid persecution. For example, in 1618 the English sent authorities to the Netherlands to arrest Puritan leader William Brewster after he had made public statements criticizing the Crown.
In June of 1619 the Puritans had successfully obtained a land permit to establish a Colony in the New World; with their specific target being the mouth of the Hudson River in what is present day New York. However, they eventually made landfall in what is now present day Massachusetts.
Upon arriving in what is now Plymouth Massachusetts, these colonists wrote one of the earliest political documents from our distant past; the Mayflower Compact. The Mayflower Compact states:
IN THE NAME OF GOD, AMEN. We, whose names are underwritten, the Loyal Subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord King James, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, &c. Having undertaken for the Glory of God, and Advancement of the Christian Faith, and the Honour of our King and Country, a Voyage to plant the first Colony in the northern Parts of Virginia; Do by these Presents, solemnly and mutually, in the Presence of God and one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil Body Politick, for our better Ordering and Preservation, and Furtherance of the Ends aforesaid: And by Virtue hereof do enact, constitute, and frame, such just and equal Laws, Ordinances, Acts, Constitutions, and Officers, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general Good of the Colony; unto which we promise all due Submission and Obedience.
There are two points which I’d like to focus your attention to in this document. The first is the stated purpose of this colony; the advancement of the Christian Faith. That should be sufficient to settle the argument over whether or not America was founded by Christians; otherwise why would they say that the advancement of Christianity was their stated purpose for establishing the Plymouth Colony?
Secondly by virtue of this document they declare that they will ‘…enact, constitute, frame, such just and equal Laws, Ordinances, Acts, Constitutions, and Officers….as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general Good of the Colony…‘ Although they still considered themselves British subjects, they also believed in the fundamental right of self-governance; that they should be allowed to established governments and pass laws of their own. This will come into play when I begin discussing the period leading up to the decision to seek independence; so keep it fresh in your memory.
Now that I’ve covered that, let’s dispel a myth and talk about a something you may not be aware of. Quick, what image comes to mind when you think of the Pilgrims? I’m guessing most people envision Thanksgiving dinner where they gave thanks for a bountiful harvest. Possibly, but who where they thanking? Some believe it was the assistance of the local Indians who helped teach them how to plant and harvest crops. Well, that’s a myth I’d like to put to rest forever.
If you want the truth, it was the death of America’s first experiment with Socialism that they were giving thanks for. Upon arriving at Plymouth the settlers began practicing Collectivism, which is basically Socialism under another name. Whether it was done by choice, or as terms of the charter granted them by the Virginia Company is neither here nor there; the fact is that upon establishing their colony all goods and labor went into a communal pot, so to speak. Goods were handed out equally to all, no matter the effort that each put forward to produce them. Those that worked the hardest got the same in return for their efforts as those who could not work at all. Women were required to wash and mend clothes for those without wives of their own.
I don’t want to get too far off topic here, but Collectivism is the thing Ayn Rand rails against in her books Atlas Shrugged and the Fountainhead. Rand viewed Collectivism as evil and destructive of man’s rights and the ability to enjoy the fruits of his labor.
Getting back to the Colonists, this whole communal pot thing didn’t work out too well; the effort was, needless to say, disastrous. From Governor William Bradford’s journal we read, “For this community was found to breed much confusion and discontent and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort. For the young men, that were most able and fit for labor and service, did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men’s wives and children without any recompense. The strong had no more in division of victuals and clothes than he that was weak and not able to do a quarter the other could; this was thought injustice. The aged and graver men to be ranked and equalized in labors everything else, thought it some indignity and disrespect unto them. And for men’s wives to be commanded to do service for other men, as dressing their meat, washing their clothes, etc., they deemed it a kind of slavery, neither could many husbands well brook it.”
Seeing the folly of their ways, Governor Bradford gave to each settler a plot of land of their own to work as they pleased. The turnaround was nothing less than miraculous. Within a very short time each family was producing so much that there was an overabundance of corn. Again, taking from the journal of Governor Bradford, “They had very good success, for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been. The women now went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn; which before would allege weakness and inability; whom to have compelled would have been thought great tyranny and oppression”. By this time harvest was come, and instead of famine, now God gave them plenty, and the faces of things were changed, to the rejoicing of the hearts of many, for which they blessed God. Indeed, their bounty was so great, that they had enough to not only trade among themselves but also with the neighboring Indians in the forest.”
The Thanksgiving that we all celebrate today is based upon a myth; what they really celebrated was the death of Collectivism and the birth of the free market system where each was free to labor and produce without anyone confiscating or sharing in the fruits of their labors. That first Thanksgiving was also a celebration of the blessings God bestows upon those who follow His word and give thanks to Him who provides to all who believe in His goodness and grace.
That is also something you should keep readily at hand for upcoming segments of this series; but for now I will end my discussion and allow you the chance to absorb what I have shared with you.
~ Chapter II ~
Before I continue I would like to address something that I hope clarifies why I might appear to be somewhat condescending. I have absolutely no idea how much people know about American History, or our system of government. I have met people who are far more educated than I am as it pertains to these two subjects and I have met those who probably couldn’t pass a 5th grade history or civics class.
Therefore, I am going on the assumption that you know absolutely nothing about these subjects; which in all likelihood, (due to the fact that much of what you have been taught is incorrect), is probably closer to the truth than you care to admit. So if I appear to be speaking down to your level of education, please bear with me as I am attempting to catch up those who aren’t as knowledgeable as you are in regards to the subjects under discussion. That said, let’s move on to the next area of discussion. ~ Author
I have often wondered if people have given any consideration to the amount of time that passed between when the first Pilgrims landed at Plymouth to the time the delegates to the Second Continental Congress voted to declare their independence. I’m sure that now that I have mentioned it you could to some simple math to figure it out, but let me save you the effort; it was 156 years.
While that is ten times less than the length of time the Roman Empire existed, it is still a respectable amount of time for a people to exist as subjects under a monarch before they decided 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…‘ (Declaration of Independence)
You see, that is something I don’t think people have really given any consideration to. Sure, they use the word Colonists all the time to describe them, but I don’t think they have really thought about what a Colony is. At the beginning, every group of people who wished to travel outside the established British Empire to the New World had to obtain a charter from the British Government to establish a Colony. Think of a Colony this way, it is a holding of the Crown; it’s people are subject to the laws and edicts passed by their sovereign and they are subject to taxes to support the empire. If the King demanded that they pay 15% of all the tobacco grown, and 25% of all the cotton, then that was what they would have to pay as subjects of the realm.
The thing was, the British Colonies were not the only Colonies in the New World. Spain had holdings there, as did France; both of whom were potential enemies to the British. Not only that, but there were the local Native American Indians who were being slowly forced off their land by the increasing number of English settlers that the King had to contend with.
In the year that the first hundred settlers first arrived at Plymouth the total population of the English Colonies was only 2,000 people. By the time the Declaration of Independence was signed that number had escalated to over 2.5 million. Not only that, the English Colonies had expanded from two settlements to cover most of the Eastern Seaboard all the way west to the Appalachian Mountains. All that land and all those people were under the dominion of the King of England and subject to his law; that is the nature of a Colony.
Although the Colonists were technically British Subjects, they were relatively free to govern themselves as long as they did not openly rebel against the laws passed by Parliament; so the first hundred or so years passed in relative peace between the Colonies and the Crown. However, this peace sense of independence that had been growing in the Colonies; not so much the desire to sever all ties with England, rather that they had established legislatures of their own and they should be allowed to make laws which governed the internal operation of each Colony.
Then along came the French and Indian War. The French and Indian War was part of a global war between the British and the French which pitted the British Colonists against the French, who were vastly outnumbered and had to rely upon help from the Native Indians to even the odds. Of course troops from both countries were involved which proved costly for the Crown.
As subjects of the Crown, the King felt it right that they should bear a portion of the cost of his having to send troops to defend them. To cover this cost, Parliament passed the Stamp Act, a direct tax upon the Colonies; the first direct tax which they had been subjected to. This angered many; particularly those in and around the Boston area who had grown especially independent minded. Men like Samuel Adams and John Hancock were very vocal in their opposition to these new taxes. They felt that due to the fact that not a single Colonist was ever chosen to serve in Parliament they were being taxed without representation in the body imposing these taxes; hence the saying, “taxation without representation.”
Samuel Adams declared the Colonists position on taxation best when he wrote, “For if our Trade may be taxed why not our Lands? Why not the Produce of our Lands & every thing we possess or make use of? This we apprehend annihilates our Charter Right to govern & tax ourselves – It strikes our British Privileges, which as we have never forfeited them, we hold in common with our Fellow Subjects who are Natives of Britain: If Taxes are laid upon us in any shape without our having a legal Representation where they are laid, are we not reduced from the Character of free Subjects to the miserable State of tributary Slaves.”
After Parliament passed the Stamp Act, agents were put into place to collect the tax upon all printed materials; including legal documents, playing cards, magazines and newspapers. In Boston, Andrew Oliver was assigned as the Crown’s tax collector. On August 14, 1765 an effigy of Andrew Oliver was hung from a giant Elm Tree at the corner of Essex and Orange Streets. This tree would come to be known as The Liberty Tree.
Shortly thereafter, a shoemaker named Ebenezer MacIntosh cut down the effigy, and with a large crowd behind him, paraded it to the Town House where the Legislature met. From there they took it to Oliver’s office; which they then tore down. From there they marched to Oliver’s house; where they beheaded the effigy, set it afire, and burnt Oliver’s stable house, coach and chaise. The sheriff, Stephen Greenleaf and the Governor, Thomas Hutchinson, attempted to stop them, but they were stoned and had to retreat for their own safety.
This event caused Oliver to ask to be relieved of his position, but that was not enough to satisfy the angry mob; he was marched to the Liberty Tree and forced to publicly resign.
A few nights later, August 26 to be exact, another mob had gathered together and after some minor disturbances turned their attention to the Governor himself; a direct appointee of the Crown. Thomas Hutchinson was himself a Colonist, yet as an appointee of the Crown, an attack upon him or his property was considered to be an attack upon the Crown itself.
Hutchinson had been warned in advance that a mob was on its way, and had sent his family to safety. He himself fled shortly before the mob arrived, leaving his home empty and abandoned; which the mob took full advantage of. They ransacked and looted his home.
In Hutchinson’s own words, I’ll let him describe the destruction to his home, “Not contented with tearing off all the wainscot and hangings and splitting the doors to pieces they beat down the Partition walls and although that alone cost them near two hours they cut down the cupola or lantern and they began to take the slate and boards from the roof and were prevented only by the approaching daylight from a total demolition of the building. The garden fence was laid flat and all my trees broke down to the ground. Such ruins were never seen in America. Besides my Plate and family.
Pictures, household furniture of every kind, my own my children and servants apparel, they carried off about £900 sterling in money and emptied the house of everything whatsoever except a part of the kitchen furniture not leaving a single book or paper in it and have scattered or destroyed all the manuscripts and other papers I had been collecting for 30 years together besides a great number of Public papers in my custody. The evening being warm I had undressed me and slipped on a thin camlet surtout over my waistcoat, the next morning the weather being changed I had not clothes enough in my possession to defend me from the cold and was obliged to borrow from my host. Many articles of clothing and good part of my Plate have since been picked up in different quarters of the town but the furniture in general was cut to pieces before it was thrown out of the house and most of the beds cut open and the feathers thrown out of the windows.“
This violence was not confined to Boston either; in Rhode Island there was violence as well where a mob attacked the homes of two local officials; Thomas Moffat and Martin Howard. When the first official stamps arrived in New York Harbor for distribution, a proclamation was issued which warned, “…the first man that either distributes or makes use of stamped paper let him take care of his house, person, and effects.” In Maryland a court of 12 magistrates ruled the Stamp Act invalid, and directed all business to proceed as usual without any stamps.
Thus was the anger over the Stamp Act. It was not the heavy burden of the tax itself that angered the Colonists as much as it was the idea of a direct tax, and a tax imposed upon them without any representation in the body which enacted it.
If I may regress a bit, up until this point, each Colony was a distinctly different entity. As I mentioned in my previous segment, the original settlers to Plymouth consisted of many Puritan Separatists. However as the Colonies began to grow, each had their own religious belief which they practiced. The differing religious beliefs ranged from Quakers to Lutherans to Baptists, Anglicans and Catholics. Even a smattering of Jews lived and practiced their faith amongst the growing Colonies.
Each had their own belief and they often passed laws and ordinances which went along with their religious doctrine, or dogma. As such, each was independent from the others and governed themselves as they saw fit. Yet it was with the passage of the Stamp Act that they began to come together as united Colonies who were seeing their rights as freemen violated by a common threat; the power of Parliament and the Crown.
It was during this period that the Son’s of Liberty became a sort of underground network of Colonists who opposed the policies of their King. These people are looked upon today as patriots, today they would be looked upon as domestic terrorists. Can you imagine an angry mob today marching to their Governors home, ransacking and looting it to the extent the mob in Boston did to Thomas Hutchinson’s home? The outcry from the public would be deafening and those guilty of it would be hunted down and prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Yet our forefathers understood the nature of their rights as British Subjects, and realized that the Stamp Act was a violation of their rights.
Although the Stamp Act was later repealed; possibly because it hurt British merchants whose goods were being boycotted in the Colonies; the outcry over the Stamp Act was the flame which would begin to grow; leading the Colonies to come to the conclusion that they must either suffer as slaves, or declare their independence.
~ Chapter III ~
As to the history of the revolution, my ideas may be peculiar, perhaps singular. What do we mean by the Revolution? The war? That was no part of the revolution; it was only an effect and consequence of it. The revolution was in the minds of the people, and this was effected before a a drop of blood was shed. ~ John Adams to Thomas Jefferson (August 24, 1815)
As I have already stated, the Colonists lived in relative peace as subjects of the King of Great Britain for a pretty lengthy period before they decided to separate and form their own country. I have also discussed the Stamp Act, which led to open acts of civil disobedience to the King’s Laws. But for a moment I’d like to backtrack a bit; but before I do there is something you need to know.
By today’s standards, most Colonists would be considered drunks. That’s right, I said drunks. The amount of alcohol they consumed is mind boggling by today’s standards. Part of this is due to the fact that water was considered unsanitary and unsafe for human consumption; as they did not have water treatment plants like we do today; so they turned to libations.
Benjamin Franklin is quoted as saying, “Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants to see us happy.” Thomas Jefferson supposedly said, “Wine is necessary for life.” George Washington said, “My manner of living is plain…a glass of wine and a bit of mutton.”
But it wasn’t just the occasional glass of wine or beer that they consumed; it was from the moment they woke up in the morning until the time they climbed into bed for the evening. In writing about his co-workers and a printing press, Benjamin Franklin stated, “My companions at the press drank every day a pint before breakfast with his bread and cheese, a pint between breakfast and dinner, a pint in the afternoon about six o’clock, and another when he had done his day’s work.”
One of the spirits that was favored amongst the Colonists was rum; and rum requires sugar and molasses to produce. One of the things the Crown had done was to impose taxes, or duties upon goods entering the Colonies in an effort to coerce the Colonists into purchasing goods from English manufacturers, rather than from French manufacturers. One of these duties was upon the importation of sugar and molasses; a tax of six pence per gallon. However, this tax was not strictly enforced, and smugglers often brought in huge quantities of it from the French Indies. In fact, John Hancock, the man whose name is most prominent on our Declaration of Independence was supposedly heavily involved in the smuggling trade.
This tax, or duty, had been in existence since 1733 and in 1764 was about to expire. Seeking a way to make the tax less offensive and more enforceable, the Sugar Act, or The American Revenue Act of 1764 as it was officially called, reduced the tax to three pence, but they also beefed up their Navy’s presence to enforce it. Not only did the Sugar Act list sugar and molasses as goods to be taxed, but certain wines, coffee, pimiento were also taxed, while it placed restrictions on the exportation of lumber and iron.
The tax on molasses caused an immediate decline in the amount of rum produced in the Colonies and the restrictions on exporting lumber and iron hurt the Colonists trade with Madeira, the Azores, the Canary Island and the French West Indies.
Although the King was well within his right as their sovereign, these acts were seen as harmful to their trade and livelihood and the Colonists viewed them as violating their right to trade with whomever they pleased.
In September of that same year, Parliament passed another act; The Currency Act; which effectively took control of the Colonists control of their currency. This act also established a vice-admiralty court to hear cases of suspected smugglers.
Many of our prominent Founding Fathers held a deep seated hatred of banks and bankers, and the corruptive influence upon economies. Franklin went so far as to say, “The Colonies would gladly have borne the little tax on tea and other matters had it not been the poverty caused by the bad influence of the English bankers on the Parliament, which has caused in the Colonies hatred of England and the Revolutionary War.”
This opinion was also expressed by others, such as Thomas Jefferson, who said, “I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. Already they have raised up a monied aristocracy that has set the government at defiance. The issuing power (of money) should be taken away from the banks and restored to the people to whom it properly belongs.”
John Adams declared, “Banks have done more injury to the religion, morality, tranquility, prosperity, and even wealth of the nation than they can have done or ever will do good.”
And James Madison writes, “History records that the money changers have used every form of abuse, intrigue, deceit, and violent means possible to maintain their control over governments by controlling the money and its issuance.”
Today the Sugar and Currency Act are merely a part of our nation’s history, and in fact, we suffer far worse from our own elective government than they did; but back in 1764 these two acts were an affront to their liberty, their livelihood, and their status as freemen. In short, they were the first push of a shoving match that would lead to actual violence; The American Revolution. These two acts basically told the Colonists “You can’t conduct global trade with whomever you want”, “You can’t print your own money to pay your debts”, “And if you do any of these things and get caught, you won’t be tried by a jury of your peers.”
You see, the difference between our Founders and the people living in America today is that our Founders understood their rights and sought to protect them against any and all infringements; whereas we are more likely to accept violations of them if, in so doing, it provides us with the assurance of safety and security. Well you all know what Ben Franklin had to say about that right, he said, “Those that would give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither and will lose both.”
Years after the Revolution James Madison would write, “Because it is proper to take alarm at the first experiment on our liberties. We hold this prudent jealousy to be the first duty of Citizens, and one of the noblest characteristics of the late Revolution. The free men of America did not wait till usurped power had strengthened itself by exercise, and entangled the question in precedents. They saw all the consequences in the principle, and they avoided the consequences by denying the principle.”
Unlike us today, our Founders resisted every encroachment upon their rights as freemen. Sometimes it was peaceful petitions to the Crown for a redress of grievances, and sometimes it was in the form of violent protests. I have already discussed the looting and ransacking of the homes of Governor Hutchinson and Andrew Oliver, I would now like to speak for a moment in regards to a more direct attack upon the personages who the Colonists felt were violating their rights; tarring and feathering.
Tarring and feathering is, to put it mildly, a harsh form of punishment. The victim is either stripped naked, or to the waist, then hot tar is painted or poured onto him, then they are covered in feathers for their suspected crimes. Although it did not occur with great frequency, it did occur to those who the Colonists felt were particularly deserving of it.
In 1766 Captain William Smith was tarred and feathered and dumped into the harbor at Norfolk, Virginia for supposedly informing on smugglers. Tarring and feathering made its appearance in Massachusetts in 1767 when customs agents were often the victims of this form of mob justice; the most notable being the tarring and feathering of customs worker John Malcolm in 1774.
Again, this type of civil uprising, and taking the law into our own hands, is something that is unheard of today, and if it were to happen the public outcry against it would be long and hard. Can you imagine a group of people tarring and feathering an agent of the IRS sent to perform an audit of someone’s taxes?
The point I’m trying to get at is, had our Founders been as complacent and apathetic as we are today, the American Revolution may very well never had happened. Sure, we may eventually have become an independent nation, but who knows when it would have happened, and more importantly, what form might our government have taken had it happened later in time?
After the passage of the Stamp Act, and the reaction from the Colonists, the Crown decided the only way to enforce the law was by stationing troops inside those areas where resistance to the law was heaviest. Instead of building forts though, Parliament passed the Quartering Act of 1765 which allowed for the quartering of British soldiers in inns and taverns, and if these weren’t sufficient, in the homes of the Colonists themselves. Not only that, but those forced to quarter these soldiers would be required to furnish, “…furnished with diet, and small beer, cyder, or rum mixed with water…” (Source: text of the Quartering Act of 1765)
This act was so grievous that it later led our Founders to ensure it never happened again by protecting against this violation of people’s rights by constitutional amendment; the Third Amendment to be more specific.
In 1767 Parliament passed the Townshend Revenue Act, which placed taxes on glass, paint, lead, oil, paper and tea. When officials impounded a ship owned by John Hancock mobs swarmed the customs officers, forcing them to flee to a British Naval ship anchored in Boston Harbor. The Colonial reaction was not violent this time, instead they established non-importation agreements which stated they simply would no longer import these items. Parliament then partially repealed these acts, but left certain parts of them in place.
Then came an event most are somewhat familiar with; The Boston Massacre. Although from a purely legal standpoint, the soldiers who fired into the crowd of Bostonians, it only added gasoline to the fire that was the increased sense that the Colonists rights were becoming increasingly threatened and violated by their King.
There were also less known instance where resistance to British authority was demonstrated by the Colonists. There were the Pine Tree riots where restrictions on the cutting down of White Pine’s with diameters more than 12 inches were routinely violated. There was the Gaspee Affair where an overzealous customs enforcer, Lieutenant William Duddington was lured into a trap where his ship was boarded, his men abandoned on the shore, and his ship set ablaze.
However, it is the next event that most are familiar with, the Tea Act and the ensuing Boston Tea Party. The Tea Act imposed no new taxes per se; what it did was seek to prop up the floundering East India Tea Company who had 18 million pounds of tea it needed to sell. The Act declared that the tea be shipped to the Colonies and sold at a discount rate.
Colonists in Philadelphia and New York refused to allow the ships to set anchor and sent them back to England. Charleston simply let the tea rot while sitting in their harbor. But it was those feisty old Bostonians who upstaged everyone. Dressed as Indians, locals, supposedly members of the Son’s of Liberty, rowed out to the ships holding the tea, then boarded them and dumped 342 chests of tea into Boston Harbor. Considering for inflation over the years, the loss suffered by the East India Tea company came to roughly $750,000.
When news of the Boston Tea Party reached London, the Crown reacted by shutting down Boston Harbor and implementing the Administration of Justice Act. This act was particularly offensive, as those found guilty of violating the Kings Law were to be transported to England for trial, denying them the right of a trial by a jury of their peers.
Things were now heating up. The Crown, fearing an armed uprising began restricting the rights of the Colonists to own powder and ball for their muskets, and often confiscated weapons held by locals.
In March of 1775 Patrick Henry delivered a speech at St. John’s Church in Virginia, declaring, “Give me liberty or give me death.” The following month would bring the ‘shot heard round the world‘ when British Redcoats clashed with local Minutemen at Lexington and Concord when the British soldiers sought to confiscate their cache of arms and arrest Samuel Adams and John Hancock.
In early 1776 Thomas Paine published his pamphlet Common Sense, which urged the Colonies to seek independence. In May the Second Continental Congress gathers together and a committee is formed to draft a declaration of independency.
~ Chapter IV ~
Nearly a month after the conflicts at Lexington and Concord, delegates gathered together in the city of Philadelphia for the Second Continental Congress. Their goal was to resume where the First Continental Congress had left off the following year, and although independence may have been on the minds of many, it was still a subject that had yet to be openly discussed by the Congress.
Who were these men who put aside their lives and came together to alter the course of America’s history? Some of them you know, some you don’t. For instance, three future presidents were in attendance; George Washington, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. Adam’s cousin Samuel was also in attendance as was Benjamin Franklin. Are you aware that there were at least two physicians in attendance as well; Benjamin Rush and Josiah Bartlett?
People look back on this event almost as if it were something out of a Hollywood movie, but they fail to realize the solemnity under which these men gathered together; the Colony of Massachusetts had openly engaged in armed conflict with the King’s men and their actions may very well draw the ire of the King upon all the Colonies. Yet at the same time, they too had suffered under the increasingly oppressive laws passed by Parliament. People read about Atlas, the Titan who was condemned to hold the world upon his shoulders for eternity; well these men also had heavy burdens on their shoulders; as the choices they made would affect the future of the American Colonies.
Prior to adjourning the previous October, the First Continental Congress had sent a petition to King George III hoping to avoid a full blown conflict with Britain. When the Second Continental Congress met the following spring they had yet to receive the King’s response. It was highly unlikely that the Colonies petition would do any good, as a letter written by John Adams to a friend had been intercepted by the Kings men in which Adams declared that there had been enough talk of peace and reconciliation; that the Colonies should have already raised a Navy and taken British sailors prisoners. When word of this reached the King it was enough to convince him of the insincerity of their petition, and he refused to even read it. The delegates were essentially stuck between a rock and a hard place; either acquiesce to whatever laws were passed by Parliament, or go to war to defend their rights.
In June, the Virginia delegation, headed by Richard Henry Lee, received authorization from their State Legislature to propose independence, and towards the end of June Lee read the following to the delegates of the Convention:
Resolved, That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.
That it is expedient forthwith to take the most effectual measures for forming foreign Alliances.
That a plan of confederation be prepared and transmitted to the respective Colonies for their consideration and approbation.
Even after all the Colonies had endured at the hands of King George and Parliament, the idea of an independent America was one which many were not ready to consider. Yet the Congress had heard Lee’s resolution and assigned a Committee of Five to draft such a declaration. This committee, possibly at the suggestion of John Adams, chose a young Thomas Jefferson to be the principle author of that document. Jefferson reluctantly accepted the task at hand, not knowing that what he was about to write would contain the most oft repeated political phrase ever written by man.
When people hear the name Thomas Jefferson, I wonder what passes through their minds. Do they say, yeah, I’ve heard of him, and that’s all they think? Are they aware that Jefferson could read and write in Greek and Latin; that he was an inventor and an avowed collector of Native American artifacts?
I don’t think people today can even get their heads around the intelligence of some of our Founding Fathers. I look at the scribblings I write and compare them to the garbled English I see people use on the social media site Facebook and I wonder what kind of education those people got. Then I look at the things some of our Founders wrote, and compare it to what I write and I am ashamed to even think that I come close to the knowledge and writing skill they possessed.
At the top of my list of Founding Fathers is Thomas Jefferson; the knowledge that this one man possessed is absolutely mind boggling. James Madison, the so-called Father of our Constitution, wrote the following about Jefferson in a letter to Samuel Harrison Smith, “He was certainly one of the most learned men of the age. It may be said of him as has been said of others that he was a “walking Library,” and what can be said of but few such prodigies, that the Genius of Philosophy ever walked hand in hand with him.”
Over a century later, when President John F. Kennedy hosted 49 Nobel Prize winners at the White House, he is said to have commented, “I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent and of human knowledge that has ever been gathered together at the White House – with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.”
When Jefferson wrote something, he pondered each word, each sentence carefully; there was no wasted effort and no superfluous phrasing; he said what needed to be said, and he said it in such a way that it almost rang of poetry. I can only imagine how our Declaration of Independence may have sounded had they chosen anyone but Jefferson to write it.
When Jefferson sequestered himself away for the task assigned to him, he sought, not only to write a simple declaration stating that the Colonies sought independence and a list of the grievances against the King of England, he sought to write a formal declaration on the nature of our rights and the reasons for which governments exist, and those by which governments can be altered or torn down.
Even so, when Jefferson presented his first draft to the Committee of Five, they edited it down by nearly one fourth; as they felt some of what he had written would cause some delegates to the Congress to oppose it.
For instance, in his original draft Jefferson stated, “…he has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating it’s most sacred rights of life & liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating & carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither…”, thereby laying the blame for slavery at the feet of the King of England. Regardless of what was edited out, and how the sentence structure was altered, a final document was prepared and ready for the Congress to receive or reject.
I wonder if people today think about what took place in the days immediately preceding the voting to seek independence; do they think the delegates just unanimously decided, “Hey, we’ve had enough of old King George. Let’s write up a quick document declaring our independence and get on with it.” Is that what people think took place? I often think that is exactly what people think.
There were many in attendance who did not want independence, and when it came time to vote on Jefferson’s document they voted against it. John Dickinson of Pennsylvania voted against it, as did James Duane, Robert Livingston and John Jay of New York. Carter Braxton, Robert Morris, George Reed and Edward Rutledge opposed it, but voted in favor to give the impression of unanimous consent.
Many an impassioned argument was heard by the members in attendance; both for and against independence. One of the most memorable ones, at least for me, came from John Adams, who stated, “Sink or swim, live or die, survive or perish, I give my hand and my heart to this vote. It is true, indeed, that in the beginning we aimed not at independence. But there’s a Divinity that shapes our ends…Why, then, should we defer the Declaration?…You and I, indeed, may rue it. We may not live to see the time when this Declaration shall be made good. We may die; die Colonists, die slaves, die, it may be, ignominiously and on the scaffold. Be it so. Be it so.
“If it be the pleasure of Heaven that my country shall require the poor offering of my life, the victim shall be ready…. But while I do live, let me have a country, or at least the hope of a country, and that a free country.”
In closing out this segment I would like to leave you with a few final words. I could have provided a few sundry quotes from the Declaration of Independence, but that would not do what Jefferson accomplished true justice. You need to find some time alone and sit down and read what Jefferson wrote and let it sink down into your hearts. You need to feel the soundness of his reasoning and let the truth of his words rise up in your breasts until you too understand the foundation upon which everything America was to stand for would be built.
At the same time you must remember the solemnity of the occasion when the delegates were called upon to vote for or against Jefferson’s creation. Thirty five years after the vote was taken, and independence gained, Dr. Benjamin Rush sat down to write about that memorable day in a letter to John Adams, stating, “Do you recollect the pensive and awful silence which pervaded the house when we were called up, one after another, to the table of the President of Congress, to subscribe what was believed by many at that time to be our own death warrants?”
That, above all things, is what you must remember about the day which saw 56 delegates vote to make America a free country; that they did so at the risk of everything they had. What they did showed the degree to which they were willing to stand up for their beliefs and a level of courage that is, if you ask me, relatively non-existent in this country today.
For better or worse the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence had burnt all bridges, there was no going back to the way things were; they would either gain their independence or they would die on the battlefields or the gallows.
~ Chapter V ~
The primary topic of discussion for the Second Continental Congress was whether or not the Colonies should support Boston and join in their rebellion against the Crown. So it almost seems inevitable that when Richard Henry Lee introduced his resolution suggesting a complete and irrevocable dissolution of the ties which bound the Colonies to England that a committee was formed to draft a declaration of independency. Yet there is more to Lee’s resolution than simply declaring that the Colonies “are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States.”
You have to realize, that at this moment in time the Colonies, although subject to the jurisdiction and authority of the Crown, were essentially independent from each other. Lee’s resolution also called for them to join together loosely in a confederation for their mutual benefit. The result of this suggestion was the Articles of Confederation; our nation’s first Constitution.
This wasn’t the first time such a suggestion was made; so the delegates were not absolutely certain that any proposal for a confederation would be accepted by the legislatures of each Colony.
Twenty two years earlier, Dr Benjamin Franklin proposed the Albany Plan which would have established a confederation of the Colonies during the French and Indian Wars. The plan was soundly rejected by all Colonies, so it was not certain that things would go any differently this time either.
Nonetheless, on June 12, 1776, the day after a committee was chosen to draft our Declaration of Independence, another committee, this time consisting of 13 individuals, was chosen to draft a document outlining the proposed confederacy. This committee met for a month, and on July 12 presented their completed document to the Congress. It was then debated and amended over the course of another year, until in 1777 the finished document was approved and forwarded to the States for their consideration.
Virginia was the first State to ratify these Articles of Confederation, doing so on December 16, 1777, and Maryland was the last to do so, agreeing to them on February 2. 1781.
I think now would be a good time to bring up the subject of true sovereignty. Sovereignty is defined as the absolute or supreme political authority in a nation or state. Although it does not directly come out and say so, our Declaration of Independence declares that this sovereignty is held by the people, “…Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…“
When it was proposed that this confederation be formed, most Colonies had already written, or were in the process of writing their own Constitutions to establish governments to represent the citizens of each Colony. After all, that is all that a constitution is; the act of a people constituting a form of government; declaring the shape it will take, the powers it will exercise on behalf of those it represents, and any limitations that might be imposed upon it.
This principle is so vitally important for you to understand, so I wish to discuss it a bit further. I have used the word delegate numerous times so far in my writings, but I am not sure if you truly understand what it implies. To delegate is to give another power to act on your behalf. A power of attorney is a form of delegated power; it can be general, or it can be very specific; depending upon what powers you want that delegate to exercise on your behalf.
The delegates to the Continental Congress were acting on the authority of the States they represented; they could not agree to anything without that authority having been expressly granted them by the States which chose them. Today people call those they elect politicians, when the correct term would be representatives, or delegates to the government established by the people in 1789. Any system of government based upon the idea that all political power is ultimately held by the people is a system in which the power to enact law is a delegated authority; and not to be exercised beyond the specific limits for which it was originally delegated.
Therefore, as the people had already delegated the authority to govern on their behalf’s to State governments, the delegates to the Continental Congress could not unilaterally decide that the States must submit to becoming members of a Confederation; that choice must be made by the representatives of the citizens of each State. And as each State was extremely reluctant to agree to anything which would weaken its authority, it was not without some doubt that any proposal for a Confederation might not be approved unanimously.
We do not have a confederation today, so it is highly unlikely that most people know what one is. One definition; the one which I prefer to use, states that a confederation consists of “…a number of full sovereign states linked together for the maintenance of their external and internal independence by a recognised international treaty into a union with organs of its own, which are vested with a certain power over the member ‘states’, but not over the citizens of these states.“
Under a confederation, the government established by whatever document creates the confederation can only pass laws that directly affect the States as entities. The government of the confederation cannot pass laws that say the people must do this, or refrain from doing that; it can only direct the laws it enacts upon the legislatures of the States.
Think of a confederation as a large scale version of a Neighborhood Watch program in which homeowners unite together to pass ordinances which protect their neighborhood. The individuals within that neighborhood are still free to govern the internal workings, or politics, of their home which the Neighborhood Watch protects them from crime and other dangers.
You have to remember, all power, particularly political power, is inherent in the people. The people had already established governments for their States to govern the affairs of these States. For a confederated government to have any power and authority, it must be delegated to them. In other words, the States must accept that they relinquish certain powers and hand those powers over to the government of the confederation.
The ratified Articles of Confederation were our nation’s first constitution; as they established our first centralized government. Up until that point, each State had been an entirely independent and self-governing entity. So forming a confederacy was a big deal back then; it was not something that was done hastily and without a great deal of thought on the part of the individual States.
Now would be a good time to plant a seed for future discussion. Why is it that it took 4 years, in the midst of war against England, for the States to ratify the Articles of Confederation, yet it took only a year to ratify the Constitution once it was sent to the States for their consideration?
Although it did take 4 years to ratify the Articles of Confederation, the Congress established by that document acted as the de facto government of the United States throughout its war with England. It only became the de jure government when the Articles of Confederation were finally ratified by Maryland in 1781.
As our nation’s first constitution, The Articles of Confederation bears a certain amount of study to see what it says. For one thing, there was no Executive, nor was there any Judiciary; just a Congress representing the States. Secondly, the powers reserved to the States were extensive and those granted to the Congress were few, and expressly delegated. But more importantly, any law passed by the Congress had to be confirmed, or accepted by the Legislatures of all 13 States before it could go into effect.
The Articles of Confederation were written in such a way as to ensure the sovereignty and independence of each State; only granting Congress the necessary powers to manage the general affairs of the nation.
Yet all this was done in a time of grave emergency; the ongoing war for independence.
~ Chapter VI ~
While all these plans for independence and the establishment of a confederation were well and good for the Colonists; they all hinged on their defeating the most highly trained and well equipped army in the world. When it was suggested that a Continental Army be raised to fight the British, the obvious choice to lead it was right there in the room with them; George Washington.
Washington was a Virginian, so it appeased the Southern States who were somewhat distanced and detached from the troubles going on in Boston. Washington commanded respect wherever he went so when his name was put forward to lead this Continental Army it was a way of saying that this wasn’t just Boston’s problem to deal with, it was a problem all 13 Colonies must deal with together.
Although an imposing man, Washington was relatively soft-spoken and humble. It is said that when he was asked to lead the Continental Army, he replied by saying the he would accept the command offered him, but that he believed himself to be ill equipped to lead such an army; a sentiment he would repeat upon being chosen as our nation’s first president.
What do we know of the wars long since forgotten? Do we remember the names of those who fought, or do we only remember the names of those who led the men into battle? Unless you know someone who fought during any of our nation’s many wars, you most likely only remember the names of the generals who led them. Can you tell me the name of one soldier/sailor/marine or airman who fought in World War II? Yet I bet you have at least heard the name Patton.
The further back in time one goes, the fewer the names they remember. Most people know that George Washington commanded the Continental Army during our war for independence; but do they know the names of any of the other generals who served under Washington?
How about Nathanial Greene; do you know about him? He was a member of the Rhode Island General Assembly who also ran his family’s foundry. He was a Major General under Washington.
How about Henry Knox; ever hear of him? Knox was a bookstore owner with a keen mind for military history and tactics. It was Knox’s idea to retrieve the cannon at Fort Ticonderoga and return them through the ice and snow to surprise the British armada anchored in Boston Harbor.
Yet although wars are led by generals, they are fought by the soldiers who face off against each other for their respective cause or country. It is they who do the bleeding and dying; most of the time that is; and it is they who are remembered least for their contributions. The politicians may declare war; the generals may lead the men on the battlefield; but it is those who do the fighting that ultimately win or lose wars. Our war for independence was no different; except in this instance it was not begun by politicians declaring war on another nation, it began when the people of a nation stood up against the tyranny of their rulers at Lexington and Concord.
Are you aware that when our nation declared its independence that it was pretty much equally divided into thirds; with one third supporting independence, one third opposing it, and one third not caring one way or the other? Are you aware that out of the one third who supported independence, roughly 3% actively fought to secure it?
Wars were fought much differently back then; they didn’t have the sophisticated weaponry we do today, so soldiers would line up almost toe to toe on the battlefield, level their weapons, and fire point blank at each other. The effective range of the weaponry used by the soldiers of the 18th Century was approximately 50 yards; half a football field away. Of course cannon also came into play as well, but the real fighting was done by men who could stare their enemies in the eye and have the courage to stand within fighting distance of them and face incoming fire and not retreat in fear.
Also, since there were no troop transports or airborne divisions, the soldiers relied on ships to get them relatively close to wear the action was, and they then marched inland to the battles. In the wintertime, the war typically ground to a stop as the opposing armies hunkered down to ride out the inclement weather. Sure there were minor skirmishes in the winter, but the majority of the army rode the winter out; and many died from illness during this period alone.
When Washington assumed command of his ‘army’ he found a ragtag bunch of undisciplined and untrained soldiers; many of whom were already suffering the effects of the pox which was ravishing the countryside at the time. His repeated pleas for assistance and equipment went relatively unanswered by the Congress in Philadelphia. It was not that they did not hear his cries for assistance; it is that they were powerless to compel the States to provide the things Washington needed to supply and lead his army.
This could be one of the reasons why Washington’s aide de camp, Alexander Hamilton, sought a much stronger centralized government years later; his first hand experiences on the battlefield; having to deal with an incompetent and powerless central government that could not equip an army.
The war officially began on April 19, 1775 when the Boston militia formed up and repelled the Redcoats at Lexington and Concord; even before Congress recognized that the war had started without them. The war continued at Bunker Hill while the Congress debated whether or not to declare independence and form an army to fight it.
But it was Bunker Hill that showed the Redcoats that these untrained militiamen were not to be trifled with. During the siege of Boston the British had learned that the militia had occupied certain high ground overlooking their ships and the city itself. On the morning of June 17, the British mounted their attacks upon Bunker and Breeds Hills; attempting to roust the militiamen who occupied them. The first and second waves were repulsed; but the third was successful at securing the high ground; although at quite a cost to the British. The Colonists lost nearly 115 men that day, but the British lost over 236; many of them officers. Afterwards the body of Joseph Warren, (a Colonial Major General who was killed at Bunker Hill), was dug up by the British, desecrated, and its head cut off. General Gage is said to have stated that the loss of Warren was as much a blow to the Colonists as the loss of 500 men.
Although Bunker Hill showed the British that the Colonists were no pushovers, they were not going to give up the fight after the licking they took taking that small plot of ground from the Colonials. After the Colonies had formally declared their independence, Sir William Howe launched a counter-attack and captured New York; leaving American confidence in their chance for success shaken.
Then the Colonial Army achieved victories at Trenton and Princeton, which led to a boost in morale; both in the troops and in the people’s support of the war. But it was a blunder on the part of the British which led to their ultimate surrender at Yorktown. In 1777, under the command of General John Burgoyne, the British army began an assault out of Quebec intended to isolate New England. General Howe was supposed to support this effort, but instead took his army onwards to the seat of power in America; Philadelphia. This led Burgoyne and his men to being soundly defeated at Saratoga; a loss which would lead to the French agreeing to support the Colonies in their quest for independence.
While the war drug on in the North to a relative standstill, the British felt there was enough Loyalist support in the South that they could defeat any Colonial efforts at separation. The British initially captured Savannah, then Loyalist militias suffered a resounding loss at Kettle Creek; proving that they could not win a major battle far removed from British support.
When Horatio Gate’s army suffered a major defeat at Camden, the British, under General Cornwallis, chose in invade North Carolina. However, patriot militia’s were successful in disrupting his efforts and Cornwallis dispatched Loyalists to deal with them. His Loyalist’s were all but destroyed on October 7; leaving Loyalist support hard to come by for the British.
The two armies then played a game of cat and mouse where the British chased Nathaniel Greene’s army all over the countryside while Greene sought to build the strength of his army through volunteers to the cause. By March Greene felt confident enough to engage Cornwallis in open battle. Although he was defeated, he had inflicted such losses to the British that he was forced to retreat; leaving the Carolina’s and Georgia open for Greene to retake.
Cornwallis had learned that Patriot support was passing through Virginia and chose to invade Virginia to disrupt the lines of supply to Greene’s army in the South. Although he was subordinate to General Clinton, Cornwallis chose not to inform him of his decision to invade Virginia.
It was at this time that the French had come to the conclusion that a closer working relationship with the Colonists was needed if they were to achieve victory; so Washington and Comte de Rochambeau discussed their options over where to assault the British. Washington preferred to strike New York, while Rochambeau favored Virginia.
Meanwhile General Cornwallis chose to dig in at Yorktown and await the Royal Navy for support. When that support did arrive, it was no match for the French fleet, and was soundly defeated; cutting Cornwallis off from any further support.
On September 28 the Franco/American forces began the assault upon Yorktown. Cornwallis had prematurely abandoned all his outer defenses, which probably hastened his defeat. After nearly a month of constant bombardment and assault, Cornwallis and his aides came to the realization that they had no chance for success, and Cornwallis sent an aid to surrender. Ironically, on the same day Cornwallis was giving up, General Clinton was dispatching 6,000 reinforcements to build up Cornwallis’s army.
The surrender of General Cornwallis was pretty much the end of the war on the part of the British. Although they still had nearly 30,000 soldiers on U.S. soil, General Clinton had been replaced by Guy Carlton, who was under orders to suspend all offensive operations.
All that needed doing now was the establishment of peace and America taking its place in the world as a sovereign and independent nation.
~ Chapter VII ~
When Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown, that officially ended the war, but the hostilities continued until word made its way to all those still engaged in combat. Yet as soon as word reached Philadelphia, the Congress realized that they would need to choose delegates to negotiate a treaty of peace between themselves and the Crown. They chose John Adams, Henry Laurens, Benjamin Franklin, David Hartley, Richard Oswald and John Jay to represent them in the negotiations.
You have to remember one thing, back then they couldn’t just hop on a plane and be there in 10-12 hours; they had to board a wooden ship and travel across the Atlantic; a journey that could take from six to eight weeks, depending upon weather conditions on the open seas.
It was then, in April of 1782 that the delegations arrived in Paris and began their discussions; which lasted more than a year. One thing people need to remember, or learn if they didn’t know, is that the War for America’s independence was not only a war fought between the Colonies and England; it had spread into a global conflict involving both Spain and France as well. So the terms of peace were not limited to solving the dispute between the new independent Colonies and the Crown, it was settling disputes between all warring factions.
All parties were tired of the war and wanted peace, except for Spain that wished to continue until it gained control of the island of Gibraltar. In September French Foreign Minister Vergennes offered a means for Spain to accept peace without the British giving up Gibraltar; they would establish a Spanish held territory in the south of the colonies; in what we now call Florida.
The delegates from the Colonies were not content with the French proposal and sought to shut them out of the discussions entirely by dealing directly with the British. Hoping to get a better deal directly out of London, John Jay told the British that the U.S. was willing to negotiate directly with them. Prime Minister Shelburne agreed as he saw this as an opportunity to give the Americans more of what they wanted in return for them breaking free from a permanent alliance with France. This would create a powerful trading partner for England in the newly independent American Colonies.
From a purely political point of view it was a shrewd move by the American delegates, as they got a much better deal from the English. But if you look at it from a moral viewpoint, it was a stab in the back to the French; for had they not entered the war on our side it was very likely we would have lost and remained English colonies. Nonetheless, a year later, after the French had been cut out of negotiations, a treaty was signed by the representatives of the Crown and those representing the Colonies.
Much of the treaty of 1783 deals with navigation rights to the Mississippi, the borders of the newly established United States of America, fishing rights, and trade agreements; however it is the very first article of the treaty that I wish to focus your attention upon. The first article of the Paris Peace Treaty of 1783 declares, “His Brittanic Majesty acknowledges the said United States, viz., New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, to be free sovereign and Independent States; that he treats with them as such, and for himself his Heirs & Successors…“
If you’ll notice, the King, in whose name the British negotiated the treaty for, recognizes each State to be free and independent from the others. That is a crucial point one has to understand if we are to continue; each State was, for all intents and purposes, a nation unto itself. Each State had written a constitution for itself, establishing a government to handle all the needs of those living within the independent States. In the America of 1783 the States were no different than Germany, Italy, Spain, and France, today; independent nations joined together in a confederation.
Prior to the negotiations for the peace treaty began, the then Colonies had finally ratified the Articles of Confederation; formally joining together for their mutual benefit and protection. The full title of the document establishing this first centralized government is, The Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union. Although the title may sound like it created a consolidated union of the States, the text of the document itself proves that was anything but the case.
Article II of the Articles of Confederation states, “Each state retains its sovereignty, freedom and independence, and every Power, Jurisdiction and right, which is not by this confederation expressly delegated to the United States, in Congress assembled.”
And Article III of that document declares, “The said states hereby severally enter into a firm league of friendship with each other, for their common defence, the security of their Liberties, and their mutual and general welfare, binding themselves to assist each other, against all force offered to, or attacks made upon them, or any of them, on account of religion, sovereignty, trade, or any other pretence whatever.”
Although it was not written into any man made law, it was widely accepted by the citizens of each Colony that political power and authority flowed upwards from the people; that is each citizen was sovereign unto themselves and that the only authority others might exercise over them must be delegated authority; otherwise the exercise of undelegated power became tyranny.
This was one of the key principles upon which our Founders based their decision to sever the political ties which bound them to England; that they were not represented in the British government, and that they no longer consented to the authority of a government that had sought to subjugate them and suppress their rights.
By ratifying the Articles of Confederation they were delegating certain powers to a unicameral legislative body, a Congress, to act on behalf of them all. Yet for any law passed by Congress to be binding upon them, it must first be agreed to by the State legislatures of all 13 States; which is found in Article XIII of the Articles of Confederation, “Every State shall abide by the determinations of the united states, in congress assembled, on all questions which by this confederation are submitted to them. And the Articles of this confederation shall be inviolably observed by every state, and the union shall be perpetual; nor shall any alteration at any time hereafter be made in any of them, unless such alteration be agreed to in a congress of the united states, and be afterwards con-firmed by the legislatures of every state.”
One final point I would like to bring to your attention before I pause before the next segment; in Article XIII you’ll notice that they refer to the united states using lowercase letters, not like we do today with the first letter of each word being capitalized; United States. If you’ll also note, in Article II they do refer to the United States as we are familiar with; being capitalized.
Why the difference? The use of capitalization back then was important, as it referred to a pronoun describing the item being discussed. The title of these States united was to be the United States; hence the capitalization. However, in Article XIII they use the lowercase, denoting that the States were united together for the common causes found within the Articles of Confederation.
Remember now, all political power is delegated, and since the people are the original source of all political power, they may delegate it to certain bodies, then those bodies may, by the consent of the people from whom their authority originates, delegate certain powers to a higher body. But never can those who are the holders of delegated power delegate MORE power than they themselves have been granted.
Think of it this way; if you hire a contractor to make repairs to your kitchen, and he needs to hire subcontractors to perform a portion of the work, that subcontractor cannot be given the authority to make repairs to your bathroom as well. So, if the people of the States had delegated certain powers to their State governments, then those State governments could not delegate more power to a central government than they themselves held.
Another way of looking at it is this; if you take a pyramid and divide it into segments, the wider portion at the bottom is the power held by the people. The next higher up level might be the local governments; mayors or commissioners voted for directly by the people. The next level up may be the State governments, and finally, above that, any central government. Each level up decreases in size and scope of their powers and authority. That is the true nature of political power and authority. The perversion of that principle is to invert the pyramid with the point at the bottom and say that is the amount of power held by the people, with each level up increasing in the amount of power it exercises upon those below it.
These are all important principles you must understand before I move on to the first step towards our future enslavement, the drafting of and ratification of our Constitution. Until then, ponder the things I have discussed in this segment.
~ The Author ~
Neal Ross, Student of history, politics, patriot and staunch supporter of the 2nd Amendment. Send all comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you liked Neal’s latest column, maybe you’ll like his latest booklet: The Civil War: (The Truth You Have Not Been Told) – and stay tuned – Neal has a new, greatly expanded book coming soon dealing with the harsh truths about the so-called American Civil War of 1861-1865. Life continues to expand for this prolific writer and guardian of TRUE American history.