bias Federal Reserve Founding Fathers Intelwars Language political correctness Woke culture

Report: Federal Reserve tells workers to avoid using ‘biased terms’ like ‘Founding Fathers,’ ‘manmade’ — and even ‘singular generic pronouns’

Federal Reserve told employees to avoid using “biased terms” such as “Founding Fathers,” “manmade” — and even to ditch “singular generic pronouns,” Fox News reported, citing an internal webpage the cable network said it obtained.

What are the details?

A former Fed staffer with knowledge of the matter told Fox News the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors issued the guidance for all employees nationwide April 29.

“Bias-free language recognizes diversity and avoids stereotyping, demeaning, or excluding people on the basis of gender, race, ethnic group, religion, age, ability/disability, or sexual orientation,” the guidance states, according to the cable network.

“Try to avoid words and phrases that may be considered offensive, pejorative, or prejudiced (whether consciously or unconsciously), as these can distract your audience from the ideas/information you’re trying to convey,” the guidance also says, Fox News noted.

What terms did the guidance reportedly mention?

The cable network said the guidance contains a list of off-limits “biased terms” that includes terms such as “blacklist,” “grandfathered,” and “Founding Fathers.”

Instead, employees should instead use alternate terms such as “denied,” “legacy,” and “Founders,” Fox News said.

Other terms such as “whitelisted, “manpower,” “manmade,” as well as “singular generic pronouns” – “he,” she,” “his,” and “hers” – should be replaced with more “bias-free” alternatives such as “allowed,” “artificial,” the cable network said.

While the Fed stopped short of suggesting alternative pronouns such as “ze” and “zir” — which many readers of TheBlaze are all-too familiar with — Fox News said the Fed indicated “they,” “their,” and “theirs” would be fine alternatives.

What did the Federal Reserve have to say?

A Federal Reserve spokesman issued the following statement on the matter, the cable network reported: “The Federal Reserve has no language directives for employees.”

Anything else?

The Daily Wire reported that the Federal Reserve’s regional banks recently hosted “Racism and the Economy” for the purpose of “understanding the implications of structural racism in America’s economy and advancing actions to improve economic outcomes for all.”

The outlet added that Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey — a ranking member of the Senate Banking Committee — said he’d review the banks’ focus on “politically-charged issues, like global warming and racial justice.”

According to the Daily Wire, a letter from the Pennsylvania GOP senator to the Minneapolis, Boston, and Atlanta reserve banks reads:

Of course, racism is abhorrent and has no place in our society… I recognize the interest in studying economic disparities along demographic lines, such as race and gender. However, this subject matter is fraught with ideological assumptions and interpretations, and the work and analysis of the Fed seems heavily laden with political and value judgments.

Whether or not this is your personal view, I would remind you that only Congress has the authority to reform the Federal Reserve or modify its statutory mission. Moreover, I would caution you on the reputational damage being inflicted on the… Federal Reserve as a whole by pursuing a highly politicized social agenda unrelated to monetary policy.

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Glenn Beck: The Bible WARNS of these ‘perilous times’ — HERE’S how to prepare yourself and your family

On “The Glenn Beck Radio Program,” Glenn read from the Bible’s II Timothy 3, in which Paul warns of “perilous times” to come and describes a generation that will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, and the list goes on. Sound familiar?

But Glenn said the times we’re facing — which will likely become more and more difficult — are not any graver than what our Founders faced. We can overcome, and while it won’t be easy, it will be worth it.

“Just like George Washington and the badge of merit, we will not be able to conquer this evil unless we are on God’s side. If we don’t have Divine Providence, we will not be able to survive. The things that are arrayed in front of us, are no greater no less than what our Founders had arrayed against them,” Glenn stated.

“So, what will we do? You must make those decisions, as a family, right now. What is the line for you that you and your family will not cross? Because if you don’t know it now, you will cross it,” he warned. “You have to speak out, be that voice. You have to be strong enough to lead.”

Glenn went on to thank and praise his audience, saying, “This is the kindest, most generous audience I have ever encountered.”

“You will stand. This audience could be the extra 5% that is needed to change things, for the better,” he added. “We have great and glorious times, when I believe we will see the hand of God. We will see miracles. Expect them. And live in such a way where you can call them down.”

Watch the clip to get Glenn’s take on what’s coming next and how to prepare yourself and your family.

Want more from Graham Allen?

To enjoy more of Graham’s rants, high-profile interviews, skits and journeys into Real America, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream.

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Why the Founders Couldn’t Abolish Slavery

This is the third in a series of essays defending our Constitution against unfair accusations from so-called “progressives.” The first essay rebutted the charge that the Constitution discriminated against women. The second corrected the claim that the three-fifths compromise was motivated by racism.

This essay responds to incessant efforts to link the Constitution with slavery.

Why a Key ‘Progressive’ Claim Is Deceptive

“Progressives” base some of their case on that fact that perhaps 25 of the Constitution’s 55 Framers (drafters) were slaveholders.

But this statistic is deceptive. The constitutional convention also included influential opponents of slavery. John Dickinson had inherited bondsmen, but freed them all. Benjamin Franklin, James Wilson, and Gouverneur Morris, among others, were abolitionists. Even among the minority who held slaves, some, such as James Madison, favored gradual emancipation. There was much criticism of slavery at the constitutional convention, and only the South Carolina delegates offered even a tepid defense.

Another reason the statistic is deceptive is that the Framers composed only a tiny slice among the 2,000-or-so Founders. The Founders also included leading participants in the constitutional debates, such as Noah Webster of Connecticut and Tench Coxe of Pennsylvania, as well as the elected delegates to the state conventions that ratified the Constitution. Relatively few of these people owned slaves.

Slavery Seemed Headed for Extinction

Why then, didn’t the Constitution abolish or curb slavery?

One reason is that issues of “property” were seen as matters of state, rather than federal, law. A more important reason was that slavery seemed to be on the path to early extinction.

The English-speaking peoples were the first major demographic group in history to abolish slavery—a fact the “woke” crowd always overlooks. This process was well underway when the Constitution was written. In 1772, the English Court of King’s Bench had decided Somerset v. Stewart, which banished slavery from the English homeland. Soon after American Independence, 10 of the 13 states abolished the slave trade and one (North Carolina) imposed steep taxes upon it. Several states also began general emancipation. Five granted the vote to free African Americans.

That’s why constitutional convention delegate Roger Sherman of Connecticut remarked that “the abolition of slavery seem[s] to be going on in the U.S. & that the good sense of the several States would probably by degrees compleat it.” His Connecticut colleague, Oliver Ellsworth—later Chief Justice of the United States—predicted that “Slavery in time will not be a speck in our Country.” Tragically, they did not foresee the invention of the cotton gin.

Compromise Was Necessary for Unity

Still, it was clear that the elite in a few states were clinging to slavery and would not approve a Constitution that curbed it. South Carolina delegate Charles Cotesworth Pinckney said, “[I]f himself & all his colleagues were to sign the Constitution & use their personal influence, it would be of no avail towards obtaining the assent of their Constituents. S. Carolina & Georgia cannot do without slaves.”

The Framers were forced to conclude that a constitution curbing slavery could not unify the country and might even fail the nine-state ratification threshold.

Only Unity Would Prevent War

Why was unity so important? Because the probable result of disunion would be never-ending war on the American continent.

The common cause against Great Britain tied together colonies that never had much to do with each other—but by 1787, this connection was unraveling. The Confederation Congress was widely ignored. Rhode Island and Connecticut were in a creditor-debtor spat that threatened resort to arms. Many spoke of dividing the country into several confederations, with some states remaining entirely independent.

On the costs of disunity, European history was instructive. The previous 150 years had witnessed about 70 European wars (in addition to rebellions), and the results were horrific. The Thirty Years’ War, which ended in 1648, may have killed, directly or indirectly, as many as 8 million people. The War of the Austrian Succession (1740–48) resulted in perhaps half a million casualties; the Seven Years’ War (1756–63) caused perhaps a million.

That was why Gov. Edmund Randolph introduced his Virginia Plan by emphasizing that the current system could not protect against foreign invasion, could not prevent states from provoking foreign powers, and could not prevent interstate conflict. To do that, a stronger government was necessary.

The Constitutional Debates Emphasized Unity

During the public debates on the Constitution, an important part of the advocates’ successful argument was the need for unity to avoid war. Although I believe modern writers rely too heavily on “The Federalist Papers” when searching for constitutional meaning, those essays do offer a good sample of the arguments for unity.

John Jay, who had served as the Confederation’s foreign secretary, wrote in Federalist No. 4:

“But the safety of the people of America against dangers from foreign force depends not only on their forbearing to give just causes of war to other nations, but also on their placing and continuing themselves in such a situation as not to invite hostility or insult; for it need not be observed that there are pretended as well as just causes of war . . .

“One government can collect and avail itself of the talents and experience of the ablest men, in whatever part of the Union they may be found. It can move on uniform principles of policy. … In the formation of treaties, it will regard the interest of the whole. … It can apply the resources and power of the whole to the defense of any particular part, and that more easily and expeditiously than State governments or separate confederacies can possibly do, for want of concert and unity of system. It can place the militia under one plan of discipline, and, by putting their officers in a proper line of subordination to the Chief Magistrate, will, as it were, consolidate them into one corps, and thereby render them more efficient than if divided into thirteen or into three or four distinct independent companies.” (Emphasis in original.)

But …

“Leave America divided into thirteen or, if you please, into three or four independent governments—what armies could they raise and pay—what fleets could they ever hope to have? If one was attacked, would the others fly to its succor, and spend their blood and money in its defense?”

In Federalist No. 5, Jay outlined the danger of warfare among the American states themselves, and in Federalist No. 6, Alexander Hamilton carried the argument further:

“If these States should either be wholly disunited, or only united in partial confederacies, the subdivisions into which they might be thrown would have frequent and violent contests with each other. … To look for a continuation of harmony between a number of independent, unconnected sovereignties in the same neighborhood, would be to disregard the uniform course of human events, and to set at defiance the accumulated experience of ages.”

In Federalist No. 41, Madison pointed out that European nations would intervene to turn American states against each other:

“The fortunes of disunited America will be even more disastrous than those of Europe. The sources of evil in the latter are confined to her own limits. No superior powers of another quarter of the globe intrigue among her rival nations, inflame their mutual animosities, and render them the instruments of foreign ambition, jealousy, and revenge.”

Madison summarized in Federalist No. 45: “[T]he union … [is] essential to the security of the people of America against foreign danger [and] essential to their security against contentions among the different states.”

So before criticizing the Founders for permitting the states to allow slavery, we must understand the choice they faced: (1) tolerating a vile institution that was (then) dying anyway or (2) consigning the American continent to perpetual warfare at a cost of millions of lives and incalculable misery.

Parting Shots

The “progressive” crowd attacks the Constitution in part because some slaveholders advocated it. But slaveholders were at least as prominent among the Constitution’s active opponents. By the “woke” crowd’s own reasoning, their criticism is tarred by antifederalist slaveholders such as Virginia’s Richard Henry Lee and North Carolina’s Willie Jones.

Finally: The claim that the Founders should have abolished slavery at all costs—no matter how horrible the results—ill becomes those who accept, or even promote, evils such as street violence, government attacks on freedom, and infanticide. Such people should re-assess their own conduct before railing against the Founders.

This essay first appeared in the March 29, 2021 Epoch Times.

The post Why the Founders Couldn’t Abolish Slavery first appeared on Tenth Amendment Center.

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Why we get it wrong about the “antifederalists”

If you take a standard American history course at your college or university, they professor will probably tell you that the “antifederalists” opposed the Constitution because it did not contain a bill of rights. Period. That’s it.

Dr. Establishment Professor might also label these people anti-government radicals or link them to modern tea party groups.

Translation: they’re dangerous.

But what if all of this is wrong? If you are reading this email then you probably know I am going to throw some cold water on this interpretation.

Part of it is true. A substantial number of so called “antifederalists” wanted a bill of rights, but that’s only part of the story.

The glue that held all of the “antis” together was fear of nationalization or centralization. They didn’t believe in an American national government.

And they weren’t really “antifederalists.” They clearly wanted to maintain the original federal republic as under the Articles of Confederation making them the real “federalists” and their opponents the “nationalists.” Of course, that is not how establishment history remembers those men.

Which is why it’s so refreshing to read people who think otherwise, like Aaron Coleman or Michael Faber.

Coleman wrote a great review of Faber’s new book at Law and Liberty.

Coleman’s money quote: “This overlooks how Anti-Federalists feared consolidation above all other issues precisely because the loss of state sovereignty equated to the loss of both liberty and popular government.”

If you want to understand “think locally, act locally,” then you need to understand the “antis.”

But I have also argued that the real fire comes not from the antis but from the proponents of the Constitution. They sold the document to the States based on the promise that it did not create a national government and that the States still retained control of most aspects of American government.

A great sales job to be sure, but the ultimate bamboozle.

I discuss Coleman, Faber, and the antis in Episode 281 of The Brion McClanahan Show.

You can watch it here.


You can listen to it here.

The post Why we get it wrong about the “antifederalists” first appeared on Tenth Amendment Center.

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We Have it in our Power to Begin the World over Again

In the Appendix to Common Sense, first published on January 10, 1776 – Thomas Paine wrote about the “birthday of a new world,” with this timeless reminder that fits today – and every single day of the year:

“We have it in our power to begin the world over again.”

With that reminder as our foundation today – I wanted to share with you 9 more of my favorite quotes from leading founders that set the stage for how we’re approaching things in 2021, and beyond. I present them without comment – the words speak for themselves.

9. Richard Henry Lee – Elective Despotism

I suppose my dear Sir, that the good people of the U. States in their late generous contest, contended for free government in the fullest, clearest, and strongest sense. That they had no idea of being brought under despotic rule under the notion of “Strong government,” or in form of elective despotism: Chains being still Chains, whether made of gold or iron.
-Letter to Samuel Adams (5 Oct 1787)
Podcast episode on this topic here

8. James Otis, Jr. – Prudence

“When our rights are invaded, it is high time to throw aside prudence, and believe me my countrymen, he is not worthy your suffrages who on such an occasion wou’d prudently resign them for the sake of peace. He that is afraid to speak his mind, and is for suffering injury, injustice or oppression, rather than disturb public tranquility or more properly dangerous security, is not to be confided in; for it is always safer to oppose any the least infraction of our happy constitution, than prudently to acquiesce for the preservation of peace.”
Writing as “Freeborn American” (27 Apr 1767)

7. George Washington – Usurpation

“Let there be no change by usurpation; for though this, in one instance, may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed. The precedent must always greatly overbalance in permanent evil any partial or transient benefit, which the use can at any time yield.”
-Farewell Address (19 Sept 1796)
Video and Podcast: George Washington’s Warnings

6. Theophilus Parsons – Justified in Resistance

“The people themselves have it in their power effectually to resist usurpation, without being driven to an appeal to arms. An act of usurpation is not obligatory; it is not law; and any man may be justified in his resistance.”
-Speech in the Mass. Ratifying Convention (23 Jan 1788)
Video and Podcast: How to Deal with Unconstitutional Acts

5. James Iredell – Inherent right of the People

“Abuse may happen in any government. The only resource against usurpation is the inherent right of the people to prevent its exercise. This is the case in all free governments in the world. The people will resist if the government usurp powers not delegated to it.”
-Speech in the N.C. Ratifying Convention (29 Jul 1788)

4. Patrick Henry – Trust

“Show me that age and country where the rights and liberties of the people were placed on the sole chance of their rulers being good men, without a consequent loss of liberty! I say that the loss of that dearest privilege has ever followed, with absolute certainty, every such mad attempt.”
-Speech in the Virginia Ratifying Convention (5 Jun 1788)

3. Samuel Adams – Defending Freedom

“The truth is, all might be free if they valued freedom, and defended it as they ought.”
-Essay in the Boston Gazette (14 Oct 1771)
Video and Podcast: American Independence

2. James Madison – Refuse to Cooperate

“Should an unwarrantable measure of the federal government be unpopular in particular States, which would seldom fail to be the case, or even a warrantable measure be so, which may sometimes be the case, the means of opposition to it are powerful and at hand. The disquietude of the people; their repugnance and, perhaps refusal to cooperate with officers of the Union, the frowns of the executive magistracy of the State; the embarrassment created by legislative devices, which would often be added on such occasions, would oppose, in any State, very serious impediments; and were the sentiments of several adjoining States happen to be in Union, would present obstructions which the federal government would hardly be willing to encounter.”
-Federalist No. 46 (29 Jan 1788)
Video and Podcast: How to Stop Federal Programs

1. Thomas Jefferson – Free People

“A fee people claiming their rights, as derived from the laws of nature, and not as the gift of their chief magistrate
-A Summary View of the Rights of British America (1774)
Video and Podcast: Thomas Jefferson’s Vision

As we kick off the New Year, we’re rolling up our sleeves every single day to take a stand for the Constitution and liberty against the largest and most powerful government in the history of the world.

Getting the job done won’t be easy, but no matter what the odds, it’s essential to do what’s right. And for us at the TAC, that’s the Constitution: Every issue, every time. No exceptions, no excuses.

Together with your help, we’ll continue setting the foundation for liberty in 2021 and beyond. Thank you for being here with us!

Concordia res parvae crescunt
(small things grow great by concord)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is today’s Tenther newsletter, which everyone in the nullification movement gets daily or weekly. Be one of them.

The post We Have it in our Power to Begin the World over Again first appeared on Tenth Amendment Center.

American Revolution founders Founding Fathers History Intelwars Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine, Passionate Pamphleteer for Liberty

As nobody before, Thomas Paine stirred ordinary people to defend their liberty. He wrote the three top-selling literary works of the eighteenth century, which inspired the American Revolution, issued a historic battle cry for individual rights, and challenged the corrupt power of government churches. His radical vision and dramatic, plainspoken style connected with artisans, servants, soldiers, merchants, farmers, and laborers alike. Paine’s work breathes fire to this day.

His devastating attacks on tyranny compare with the epic thrusts of Voltaire and Jonathan Swift, but unlike these authors, there wasn’t a drop of cynicism in Paine. He was always earnest in the pursuit of liberty. He was confident that free people would fulfill their destiny.

He provoked explosive controversy. The English monarchy hounded him into exile and decreed the death penalty if he ever returned. Egalitarian leaders of the French Revolution ordered him into a Paris prison—he narrowly escaped death by guillotine. Because of his critical writings on religion, he was shunned and ridiculed during his last years in America.

But fellow Founders recognized Paine’s rare talent. Benjamin Franklin helped him get started in Philadelphia and considered him an “adopted political son.” Paine served as an aide to George Washington. He was a compatriot of Samuel Adams. James Madison was a booster. James Monroe helped spring him from prison in France. His most steadfast friend was Thomas Jefferson.

Paine was a prickly pear—vain, tactless, untidy—but he continued to charm people. Pioneering individualist feminist Mary Wollstonecraft wrote: “He kept everyone in astonishment and admiration for his memory, his keen observation of men and manners, his numberless anecdotes of the American Indians, of the American war, of Franklin, Washington, and even of his Majesty, of whom he told several curious facts of humour and benevolence.”

Despite his blazing intelligence, Paine had some half-baked ideas. To remedy injustices of the English monarchy, he proposed representative government which would enact “progressive” taxation, “universal” education, “temporary” poor relief, and old-age pensions. He naively assumed such policies would do what they were supposed to, and it didn’t occur to him that political power corrupts representative government like every other government.

Yet in the same work containing these proposals—Rights of Man, Part II—Paine affirmed his libertarian principles again and again. For example: “Great part of that order which reigns among mankind is not the effect of government. It has its origin in the principles of society and the natural constitution of man. It existed prior to government, and would exist if the formality of government was abolished.”

The “Muse of Fire”

Paine stood five feet, ten inches tall, with an athletic build. He dressed simply. He had a long nose and intense blue eyes. His friend Thomas Clio Rickman noted that “His eye, of which the painter could not convey the exquisite meaning, was full, brilliant, and singularly piercing. He had in it the `muse of fire.”’

Thomas Paine was born on January 29, 1737, in Thetford, England. His mother Francis Cocke came from a local Anglican family of some distinction. His father Joseph Paine was a Quaker farmer and shoemaker. Although Thomas Paine wasn’t a practicing Quaker, he endured some of the intolerance directed against Quakers.

Paine took a while to find his calling. He left school at age 12 and began apprenticeship as a Thetford corset-maker, but he didn’t like it. Twice he ran away from home. The second time, in April 1757, he joined the crew of the King of Prussia, a privateer that didn’t find much booty. He tried his hand as a corset-maker again, then as an English teacher and independent Methodist preacher. Public-speaking experience surely gave him insights about what it takes to stir large numbers of people.

Paine’s most puzzling decision was to become an excise tax collector. He got fired, landed another excise tax-collecting job, and got fired again after writing a pamphlet to promote pay raises. Paine witnessed the resourcefulness of smugglers, resentment against tax collectors, and the pervasiveness of government corruption.

Except for a couple of brief interludes, Paine was a loner. Believing that marriage should be based on love, not social status or fortune, he wed Mary Lambert, a household servant, in September 1759, but within a year she died during childbirth. In March 1771, he married again—Elizabeth Ollive, a 20-year-old teacher. While trying to earn a living as a grocer and tobacconist, he went bankrupt in early 1774. Most of his possessions were auctioned April 14th. Two months later, Paine and his wife went their separate ways.

Meanwhile, he thrived on discussions about philosophy and practical politics. In Lewes, Paine belonged to the Headstrong Club, a discussion group. It gathered weekly at the White Horse Tavern where Paine relished ale and oysters. One of the members was an ardent republican and defender of libertarian rebel John Wilkes. Paine’s radical libertarian views jelled.

Intellectually curious, Paine liked to browse in bookstores, attend lectures on scientific subjects, and meet thoughtful people. He befriended a London astronomer who introduced him to Benjamin Franklin, then working to expand business with England. Franklin seems to have convinced Paine that he could make a better life in America, and Franklin provided a letter of introduction to his son-in-law in Philadelphia.

Arrival in America

Paine arrived November 30, 1774. He rented a room at Market and Front streets, the southeast corner—from which he could see the Philadelphia Slave Market. He spent spare time in a bookstore operated by Robert Aiken. Paine must have impressed the bookseller as a lively and literate man, because he was offered the job of editing Aiken’s new publication, The Pennsylvania Magazine.

For Paine, this experience was a proving ground. He produced at least 17 articles, perhaps as many as 26, all signed with such pseudonyms as “Vox Populi,” “Justice, and Humanity.” He edged closer to the controversy of America’s future relationship with England. He vehemently attacked slavery and called for prompt emancipation.

Then came the Battle of Lexington, at dawn on April 19, 1775. British Major John Pitcairn ordered his troops to fire on American militiamen gathered in front of a meetinghouse, killing eight and wounding ten. The outraged Paine resolved to defend American liberty.

Common Sense

In early September, he began making notes for a pamphlet. He probably started writing around the first of November. He worked at a wobbly table, scratching out the words with a goose quill pen on rough buff paper. The manuscript proceeded slowly, because writing was always difficult for Paine. He discussed the evolving draft with Dr. Benjamin Rush whom he had met at Aiken’s bookstore. The draft was completed in early December. Paine got comments from astronomer David Rittenhouse, brewer Samuel Adams, and Benjamin Franklin. Paine thought of calling his pamphlet Plain Truth, but Dr. Rush recommended the more earthy Common Sense.

Dr. Rush arranged for the pamphlet to be published by Robert Bell, a Scotsman who had become a noted Philadelphia publisher, colorful auctioneer, and underground supporter of American independence. Priced at 2 shillings, the 47-page Common Sense— written anonymously “by an Englishman”—was published on January 10, 1776. Paine signed over royalties to the Continental Congress.

With simple, bold, and inspiring prose, Paine launched a furious attack on tyranny. He denounced kings as inevitably corrupted by political power. He broke with previous political thinkers when he distinguished between government compulsion and civil society where individuals pursue private productive lives. Paine envisioned a “Continental union” based on individual rights. He answered objections from those who feared a break with England. He called for a declaration to stir people into action.

Common Sense crackled with unforgettable lines. For example: “Society is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness. . . . The sun never shined on a cause of greater worth. . . . Now is the seed-time of Continental union. . . . We have every opportunity and every encouragement before us to form the noblest, purest constitution on the face of the earth. . . . O! ye that love mankind! Ye that dare oppose not only the tyranny but the tyrant, stand forth!. . . . We have it in our power to begin the world over again. . . . The birthday of a new world is at hand.”

The first edition sold out quickly. Soon rival editions began appearing. Printers in Boston, Salem, Newburyport, Newport, Providence, Hartford, Norwich, Lancaster, Albany, and New York issued editions. Within three months, Paine estimated that over 120,000 copies had been printed. Dr. Rush recalled that “Its effects were sudden and extensive upon the American mind. It was read by public men, repeated in clubs, spouted in Schools, and in one instance, delivered from the pulpit instead of a sermon by a clergyman in Connecticut.” George Washington declared that Common Sense offered “sound doctrine and unanswerable reasoning.”

Paine’s incendiary ideas leaped across borders. An edition appeared in French-speaking Quebec. John Adams reported that “Common Sense was received in France and in all Europe with Rapture.” There were editions in London, Newcastle, and Edinburgh. Common Sense was translated into German and Danish, and copies got into Russia. Altogether, some 500,000 copies were sold.

Common Sense changed the political climate in America. Before its publication, most colonists still hoped things could be worked out with England. Then suddenly, this pamphlet triggered debates where increasing numbers of people spoke openly for independence. The Second Continental Congress asked Thomas Jefferson to serve on a five-person committee that would draft the declaration Paine had suggested in Common Sense.

“Thomas Paine’s Common Sense,” reflected Harvard University historian Bernard Bailyn, “is the most brilliant pamphlet written during the American Revolution, and one of the most brilliant pamphlets ever written in the English language. How it could have been produced by the bankrupt Quaker corset-maker, the sometime teacher, preacher, and grocer, and twice-dismissed excise officer who happened to catch Benjamin Franklin’s attention in England and who arrived in America only fourteen months before Common Sense was published is nothing one can explain without explaining genius itself.”

When Independence brought war, Paine enlisted as a military secretary for General Daniel Roberdeau, then for General Nathaniel Greene, and by year-end 1776 he was with General George Washington. The untrained, poorly paid Americans, typically serving for a year, were routed by well-trained British soldiers and ruthless Hessian mercenaries.

“The Harder the Conflict, the More Glorious the Triumph”

Paine wondered how he could boost morale. By evening campfire he began writing a new pamphlet. When he returned to Philadelphia, he took his manuscript to the Philadelphia Journal, which published it on December 19th as an eight-page essay, American Crisis. On Christmas Day 1776, George Washington read it to his soldiers. Paine’s immortal opening lines: “These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.” Within hours, Washington’s fired-up soldiers launched a surprise attack on sleeping Hessians in Trenton, giving Americans a much-needed battle victory.

By the time the Revolutionary War ended, Paine had written a dozen more American Crisis essays. They dealt with military and diplomatic issues as Paine promoted better morale. In the second essay, published January 13, 1777, Paine coined the name “United States of America.”

After the British surrendered at Yorktown, Paine was broke, and he didn’t know how he would earn a living. He wanted a government stipend for what he had done to help achieve American Independence. New York State gave him a 300-acre farm in New Rochelle, about 30 miles from New York City, which had belonged to a British loyalist. Congress voted Paine $3,000 for war-related expenses he had paid out of pocket.

Then he came up with an idea for cashing in on the American bridge-building boom. He didn’t find American backers, so on Franklin’s recommendation, he sought support in France and England. While the project fizzled, it brought him into contact with leading classical liberals of the day. In France, he renewed his friendship with Marquis de Lafayette, who had served the American Revolution. Lafayette introduced Paine to the Marquis de Condorcet, a French mathematician and influential classical liberal. In England, Paine met Parliamentary radical Charles James Fox and Edmund Burke, a Parliamentary defender of the American Revolution and friend of radical John Wilkes.

The outbreak of the French Revolution, in July 1789, horrified Burke who began writing his counterrevolutionary manifesto, Reflections on the Revolution in France. It defended monarchy and aristocratic privilege. Burke’s book appeared November 1, 1790, and it reportedly sold almost 20,000 copies within a year. French, German, and Italian editions soon followed.

Rights of Man

Meanwhile, Paine, who had been working on a new book about general principles of liberty, learned the gist of Burke’s manifesto and decided to revise his book as a rebuttal. He moved into a room at the Angel Inn, Islington, where he could concentrate on the project. He started work November 4th. He worked steadily, often by candlelight, for some three months. He finished the first part of Rights of Man on January 29, 1791—his birthday. He was 54. He dedicated the work affectionately to George Washington, and it was published on Washington’s birthday, February 22nd.

While Burke had impressed many people with flowery prose, Paine replied with plain talk. He lashed out at tyranny. He denounced taxes. He specifically denied the moral legitimacy of the English monarchy and aristocracy. He declared that individuals have rights regardless what laws might say. For centuries, people had resigned themselves to tyranny and war, but Paine provided hope these evils could be curbed.

Paine defended the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of Citizens, which included a commitment to private property. “The right to property being inviolable and sacred, no one ought to be deprived of it, except in cases of evident public necessity, legally ascertained, and on condition of just indemnity.”

The first printing sold out in three days. The second printing, within hours. There was a third printing in March 1791, a fourth printing in April. Some 200,000 copies sold in England, Wales, and Scotland. Another 100,000 copies were sold in America.

Rights of Man convinced many people to support the French Revolution and dramatic reform in England, and the government reacted with repression. Pro-government newspapers denounced Paine as “Mad Tom.” Churchmen delivered sermons attacking Paine. People hanged effigies of Paine across England. On May 17, 1792, the government charged him with seditious libel, which could be punished by hanging. Excise tax collectors ransacked Paine’s room. He hastened to Dover and boarded a boat for Calais, France, in September 1792. An arrest warrant reached Dover about 20 minutes later.

An enthusiastic crowd welcomed him. He was offered honorary citizenship of France and elected as Calais representative to the National Convention which would develop reforms. He didn’t speak French, and he often failed to realize how fast the political situation was changing. But he knew he was an ideological ally of the so-called Girondins who favored a republican government with limited powers.

His adversaries were the ruthless, xenophobic Jacobins. Incredibly, Paine was considered suspect because he was born in England—even though he could be hanged if he returned there. In the middle of the night before Christmas 1793, Jacobin police hauled him away to Luxembourg Prison. Paine was held without trial in a tiny, solitary cell. On July 24, 1794, the public prosecutor added Paine’s name to the list of prisoners who would be beheaded, but he got lucky. Prison guards mistakenly passed by his cell when they gathered the night’s victims. Three days later, July 27, 1794, people had had enough of the Terror, and they beheaded Robespierre, the most fanatical promoter of Jacobin violence, and the worst was over.

Age of Reason

Before Paine was imprisoned, he started his most controversial major work, Age of Reason, and he continued writing behind bars. While he commended Christian ethics, believed Jesus was a virtuous man, and opposed the Jacobin campaign to suppress religion, he attacked the violence and contradictions of many Bible stories. He denounced the incestuous links between church and state. He insisted that authentic religious revelation came to individuals rather than established churches. He defended the deist view of one God and a religion based on reason. He urged a policy of religious toleration.

Age of Reason had a big impact, in part, because Paine wrote it with his trademark dramatic, plainspoken style which stirred strong emotions. The book became a hot seller in England, and government efforts to suppress it further spurred demand. The book was much sought after in Germany, Hungary, and Portugal. There were four American printings in 1794, seven in 1795, and two more in 1796. People formed societies aimed at promoting Paine’s religious principles.

U.S. minister to France James Monroe demanded that government officials bring Paine to trial or release him. Monroe was eloquent: “the citizens of the United States cannot look back to the era of their revolution, without remembering, with those of other distinguished patriots, the name of Thomas Paine. The services which he rendered them in their struggle for liberty have made an impression of gratitude which will never be erased, whilst they continue to merit the character of a just and generous people.”

By November 6th, gray-bearded and frail, Paine was free at last. In 1801, First Consul Napoleon Bonaparte invited Paine to dinner, hoping for insights about conquering Britain. Paine recommended a policy of peace, the last thing Napoleon wanted to hear, and they never met again.

Paine returned to America on September 1, 1802. He was 65. A Massachusetts newspaper correspondent observed: “Years have made more impression on his body than his mind. He bends a little forward, carries one hand in the other behind, when be walks. He dresses plain like a farmer, and appears cleanly and comfortably in his person. . . . His conversation is uncommonly interesting; he is gay, humorous, and full of anecdote—his memory preserves its full capacity, and his mind is irresistible.”

Paine was subjected to personal attacks from the Federalist press, but he spoke out on controversial issues. For example, after Napoleon gained control of Louisiana in 1800, and the Mississippi was closed to American shipping, Federalists called for war against France. Paine encouraged President Jefferson to propose purchasing the Louisiana territory. While Federalist Alexander Hamilton thought Napoleon would never go for the idea, Paine drew from his firsthand knowledge: “The French treasury is not only empty, but the Government has consumed by anticipation a great part of next year’s revenue. A monied proposal will, I believe, be attended to. . . .” In May 1803, Napoleon sold the Louisiana territory to the United States for $15 million.

Although Federalist critics savaged President Thomas Jefferson for defending Paine, he courageously invited his friend to the White House. When Jefferson’s daughters Mary and Martha made clear they would rather not associate with Paine, Jefferson replied that Paine “is too well entitled to the hospitality of every American, not to cheerfully receive mine.”

During Paine’s last years, he was desperate for cash as his health deteriorated, and he lived in pitiful squalor. He asked to be moved into the home of his friend Marguerite de Bonneville at 59 Grove Street, New York City, and there he died on the morning of June 8, 1809. Mme. de Bonneville arranged for burial at his New Rochelle farm because no cemetery would take him.

Paine didn’t rest in peace. A decade later, English journalist William Cobbett, a foe of Paine’s who became a disciple, secretly dug up the casket and shipped it to England. According to some accounts, he thought that by making it part of a shrine, he could inspire large numbers of people to push for reform of the government and the Church of England. But people weren’t much interested in Paine’s bones. When Cobbett died in 1835, they were dispersed with his personal effects and lost.

Paine remained a forgotten Founder for decades. Theodore Roosevelt summed up the prevailing view when he referred to Paine as a “filthy little atheist.” The first really comprehensive biography didn’t appear until 1892. There still isn’t an authoritative edition of Paine’s complete work.

The American bicentennial helped revive interest in Paine. Paperback collections of his major writings became widely available for the first time, and at least eight biographies have appeared since then—two within the past year.

Perhaps a new generation is rediscovering this marvel of a man. He didn’t have much money. He never had political power. Yet he showed how a singleminded private individual could, by making a moral case for natural rights, arouse millions to throw off their oppressors—and how it could happen again.

Jim Powell

Jim Powell

Jim Powell, senior fellow at the Cato Institute, is an expert in the history of liberty. He has lectured in England, Germany, Japan, Argentina and Brazil as well as at Harvard, Stanford and other universities across the United States. He has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Esquire, Audacity/American Heritage and other publications, and is author of six books. 


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James Wilson’s State House Yard Speech: A Primer

On October 6, 1787, eminent Pennsylvanian James Wilson delivered his famous “State House Yard Speech” in support of the Constitution in Philadelphia. On the dawn of the first true test for the Constitution’s palatability, Wilson intended to explain how the Constitution was intended to be understood in the eyes of those who drafted the document the same summer. In addition, he sought to answer some of the fiercest critics of the model, and refute some of the most common themes of opposition against it.

By that time, Wilson was an extremely well-known lawyer in Philadelphia. During the imperial crisis with Britain, he wrote a well-regarded pamphlet that backed the standard patriot notion that Parliament lacked the legal authority to intervene in the internal matters of the colonies. By 1776, he had become an advocate for colonial independence within a delegation within the Continental Congress that was wholly divided on the issue. As part of the Confederation Congress, he worked to solidify an alliance with France, and made a fortunate on land speculation.

In the runup to Wilson’s speech, those that opposed the Constitution – often deemed Anti-Federalists – made central to their opposition the critique that the document lacked a bill of rights. Such an addendum, they argued, was necessary to impose explicit prohibitions on the extension of power against the general government. George Mason, brilliant Virginian statesman and writer of the Virginia Constitution of 1776, left Philadelphia “in an exceeding ill humor indeed,” according to his peer James Madison, largely because of his failure to convince fellow delegates that a bill of rights was a non-negotiable requirement. “Brutus,” a persuasive enemy of the Constitution in New York, condemned the framework on the basis that a “grand security to the rights of the people is not to be found” in the document. While in France, disreputable Thomas Jefferson wrote that “a bill of rights is what the people are entitle to against every government on earth, general or particular, and what no just government should refuse.”

To these charges, Wilson answered that a bill of rights – in the context of the system proposed – would have been unnecessary and redundant. It “would have been superfluous and absurd,” Wilson professed, to have stipulated with a federal body of our own creation, that we should enjoy those privileges of which we are not divested, either by the intention or the act that has brought the body into existence.” In other words, the proposed Constitution only allowed the general government to exercise the powers enumerated. To restrict it from exercising powers it was never granted in the first place – through a bill of rights – was counterintuitive.

To the assertion that the Constitution gave the general government powers which were not explicitly stated, Wilson countered that “everything which is not given is reserved.” The document grant powers not granted by “tacit implication,” he insisted, “but from the positive grant expressed in the instrument of the union.” Therefore, all powers granted were explicit in the Constitution’s text, and those that were undocumented remained under the jurisdiction of the localities. This guarantee – though implicit at the time – was eventually made explicit in 1791 by way of the 10th Amendment.

Responding to Brutus’ implication that the Constitution would homogenize the state governments into a national entity, Wilson responded that “the existing union of the States, and even this projected system is nothing more than a formal act of incorporation.” On the contrary to this claim, he noted that entire constitutional system depended on the primacy of the states. For instance, the state governments were necessary to amend the document, select Senators to fill the upper house, and determine the qualifications for voting for members of the House of Representatives. The supposition “that the annihilation of the separate governments will result from their union” was accordingly “absurd,” Wilson insisted.

Concluding the speech was Wilson’s reminder that the Constitution featured an amendment process that would right aspects deemed to be widespread wrongs. “If there are errors, it should be remembered, that the seeds of reformation are sown in the work itself,” he stated. The amendment process, which required three-fourths of the states to ratify, was far less a hurdle to overcome than the alteration mechanism in the Articles of Confederation – which required all 12 states to assent to each change.

Ultimately, Pennsylvania ratified the Constitution in mid-December assuming many of the explanations Wilson provided. Even more consequentially, the themes he invoked in the State House Yard Speech were adopted by leading Federalists in the other states, and clearly influenced the ratification proceedings therein.

Edmund Randolph claimed that the general government would endeavor to violate the constitution for exercising any power “not expressly delegated therein,” an idea implied by Wilson’s assertion that all powers granted were explicit. Likewise, James Iredell declared in North Carolina that the “powers of the government are particularly enumerated and defined: they can claim no others but such as are so enumerated.” Echoing Wilson’s argument that the states were integral to the federal system, Oliver Wolcott of Connecticut declared that the states “are the pillars which uphold the general system.” These declarations – which unambiguously laid the foundation for ratification in the states – followed a logical pattern that originated with and flowed from Wilson’s oratory.

Though The Federalist is often cited – by academics and federal judges – as the definitive commentary on the federal Constitution, the series played only a minor role in securing ratification. The State House Yard Speech, on the other hand, framed the way in which friends of the Constitution explained the instrument and answered their many critics. In this way, Wilson’s narrative had a much more tangible effect on ratification.

Ironically, all of this came to pass despite the fact that Wilson was one of the most notorious archnationalist of his time. At the Philadelphia Convention that drafted the Constitution, he favored a national referendum to elect the president, giving the executive an absolute veto over any law passed by Congress, adding the power to tax exports, permitting everlasting inferior federal courts that could not be dissolved by the legislature, and even bestowing upon Congress the power to ability to enact “mercantile monopolies” and charter corporations.

Despite his own ideological proclivities, Wilson articulated the plain truth – that the Constitution was a federal model based on enumerated powers rather than general authority. The framework divided powers not only between federal branches, but also between local and central authorities. Rather than divesting general grants of power, provisions within the apparatus were to be the only ones exercised in the first place. Those that ratified, then, did so on the basis of these assurances rather than accepting the trepidations of the document’s skeptics at face value.

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‘This changes absolutely everything’: Glenn reads rediscovered ORIGINAL draft of the Declaration of Independence

As the left tries to erase America’s history and disparage nearly everything about our nation’s founding, Glenn Beck set the record straight about the Declaration of Independence, what it really says, and why he believes it is the “greatest mission statement of all time.”

On the radio program Monday, Glenn read something you’ve probably never heard before: a section of the earliest known draft of the Declaration of Independence, written by Thomas Jefferson in July 1776 and lost for more than a century and a half.

“This wasn’t found until 1947; the original draft of the Declaration was found in a bunch of Thomas Jefferson’s writings, in a box in the Library of Congress,” Glenn said. “This takes everything that you have learned about Thomas Jefferson and turns it upside down. It also explains why we didn’t eliminate slavery. It also explains that our Founders felt passionately about slavery, that they tried to end slavery. I want to read just this paragraph to you. This changes absolutely everything.”

Watch the video below for more details:

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Wave of criticism smashes Lin-Manuel Miranda as leftists declare ‘Hamilton’ to be ‘problematic’

The circular firing squad of progressivism has taken aim on one of its former darlings. Leftists loved the musical “Hamilton” when it hit Broadway in January 2015. Democratic leaders, including Bill and Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and the Obama family, flocked to see Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical over the years. The musical is based on founding father Alexander Hamilton but with a modern twist and heavy influence of hip-hop.

Flash forward to 2020, and now the progressives say the founding fathers should solely be remembered for being slave owners, and all of their achievements have been nullified by many leftists. Some progressives not only declare that the founding fathers should no longer be admired, but they call for their statues to be ripped down. Now, there are people who want to cancel the “Hamilton” musical because it is based on the founding fathers. Many of the harsh critics are the same people who made the musical into a cultural leviathan.

“Hamilton” was trending on social media this weekend as the film-version made its debut on Disney Plus. There was also an undercurrent of leftists saying that “Hamilton” is “problematic.”

“Are y’all ready to talk about how problematic Hamilton is? Lin Manuel Miranda created a piece of work that used hip hop (a genre created by black people) to tell the story of colonizers and slave owners,” one Twitter user wrote.

“As much as I love the show, it and it’s writer are deeply problematic,” another wrote. “I’ve intentionally or unintentionally ignored these things for years, but I’m trying to fix this now so I can fully contextualize and understand Hamilton and it’s effect as a whole.”

“Hamilton is deeply problematic in concept and so is Lin Manuel Miranda to some degree,” another person tweeted.

“I mean I think the fact that a musical like Hamilton (which is deeply problematic and nationalist) has to exist in order for non-white actors to have a space on Broadway is just very indicative of how non-white stories will never be able to thrive on this elitist medium,” another person said.

“Reminder for all y’all Hamilton watching mofos: Hamilton was a racist slaveowner, and casting POC as white bigots isn’t the reclamation you think it is,” read a tweet that had nearly 60,000 likes. “It’s a romanticized telling of a white man’s plights, so none of y’all better be stanning the founding fathers AGAIN.”

Ajamu Baracka, a self-described “international human rights activist,” blasted Miranda.

“Lin-Manuel Miranda is a Puerto Rican Uncle Tom who instead of fighting for independence makes feel-good revisionism for white liberals. He is pathetic,” Baracka said.

In May, Miranda and “Hamilton” creator Jeffrey Seller were forced to apologize because people criticized them for not supporting Black Lives Matter sufficiently and not speaking enough about police brutality and the George Floyd protests.

“We spoke out on the day of the Pulse shooting. We spoke out when Vice President Mike Pence came to our show 10 days after the election. That we have not yet firmly spoken the inarguable truth that Black Lives Matter and denounced systematic racism and white supremacy from our official ‘Hamilton’ channels is a moral failure on our part,” Miranda said in a video. “As the writer of the show, I take responsibility and apologize for my part in this moral failure.”

“‘Hamilton’ doesn’t exist without the black and brown artists who created and revolutionized and changed the world through the culture, music and language of hip-hop,” he added. “Literally, the idea of the show doesn’t exist without the brilliant black and brown artists in our cast, crew and production team who breathe life into this story every time it’s performed.”

“It’s up to us and words and deeds to stand up for our fellow citizens,” he concluded. “It’s up to us to do the work to be better allies and have each other’s backs.”

Seller apologized by saying, “I’m not a politician. I’m not an activist. I’m not an expert. I’m a theater producer. But what I realize today is most importantly I’m an American citizen, and silence equals complicity and I apologize for my silence thus far.”

The cancel culture mob comes for everyone.

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How the Founders Responded to an Epidemic in the Nation’s Capital

by Lawrence Reed, FEE

Do not read this book before eating, or in the midst of a sleepless night. For it is a revolting book, filled with the disgusting details of a loathsome disease.

Sounds like the opening paragraph of a one-star review by a merciless critic, but it’s not. It’s from the 1949 preface to a book by the book’s author himself, J. H. Powell. Titled Bring Out Your Dead: The Great Plague of Yellow Fever in Philadelphia in 1793, it is “the story of a foul and fantastic pestilence, striking without warning in all classes of society,” a true account of “people sick in body and heart, astonished and fearful, paralyzed by the mysterious obscenity about them.”

I thoroughly enjoyed it—the book, that is.

Powell brings to life the people and events of the worst epidemic in American history—yes, worse than the Wuhan coronavirus of 2019-2020 and the Spanish Flu of 1918. Though it was localized in Philadelphia, it killed nearly ten percent of the city of 51,000 people between August 1 and November 9, 1793. That’s about ten times the death rate in the U.S. from today’s pandemic. More than 40 percent of Philadelphians fled into the countryside to escape a disease whose origin (a virus spread by the bite of a mosquito) no one would know for another hundred years.

New interest in historic health disasters is drawing attention to Powell’s book, as well as another good one from 2003, An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793 by Jim Murphy. For this essay, I draw passages from both volumes.

Philadelphia was America’s national capital and headquarters of the federal government in 1793. By act of Congress, the capital wouldn’t move to what is now Washington, D.C. for another seven years. President George Washington had commenced his second term in March. Five months later, in the midst of a hot, wet summer, Philadelphians suddenly took sick in huge numbers, leading quickly to scores of deaths each day. What did the Washington administration do in response?

Nothing. That’s all it could do. It possessed no constitutional duty in the matter and even less experience and expertise. No one argued there were epidemiological exceptions to the First Amendment or, for that matter, to any other provisions in the document ratified just four years earlier. So the federal government never got involved.

Even if the federal government possessed the power to jump into the crisis, it’s hard to conceive of any action it might have taken that would have better met the challenge than what Philadelphians did, crude though it seems by today’s standards. The feds were there, on the scene, but possessed no special knowledge the locals did not also have. Yellow fever is not contagious from one person to another. The disease requires a mosquito in between and nobody knew that then. Lockdowns would likely have made little difference.

The one big issue the Washington administration had to decide—whether to convene Congress in the fall at its Philadelphia location or somewhere else—prompted sharp views on both sides. Thomas Jefferson and James Madison (both of an Anti-Federalist bent) told the President he had no authority to move the site where Congress met, so it would have to be Philadelphia, in spite of the crisis. Alexander Hamilton argued that if a foreign enemy occupied the capital or if any other kind of disaster in the city prevented Congress from assembling, then of course the President could bring it together elsewhere. Just weeks into the epidemic, Washington and his Cabinet members themselves skedaddled to Germantown, ten miles to the north, and they hoped Congress would follow.

Jefferson and Madison won that one but, in the end, the question was moot. The first frost in early November killed the mosquitoes and the disease with it. Congress met in Philadelphia in December but one of its first acts was to pass a law authorizing the President to convene it outside the national capital in the future, should conditions require it.

Pennsylvania state government was also domiciled in Philadelphia at the time. The capital wouldn’t be moved to Harrisburg until 1812. In 1793, Governor Thomas Mifflin and the legislature provided some money to Philadelphia to help handle the crisis, then they left town for the duration. So it all came down to Philadelphians. Fortunately, they were blessed with both public and private leadership talent in the persons of Mayor Matthew Clarkson, Dr. Benjamin Rush, and others. Rush was a signer of the Declaration of Independence and had served as Surgeon General of the Continental Army during the War for Independence.

To this day, no cure exists for yellow fever. Thanks largely to the work of U.S. Army physician Dr. Walter Reed (no relation) in 1901, we know that the virus is spread by a particular species of mosquito, Aedes aegyptiModern treatments and palliatives greatly reduce suffering and deaths. Draining swamps and pools of stagnant water remain the most effective preventative measures. But 230 years ago, what a victim endured and what “experts” prescribed were a medieval horror show. Powell writes,

Lassitude, glazed eyes, chills, fevers, headaches, nausea, retching, and nosebleeds would suddenly attack people in the best of health. These symptoms, more violent than any the doctors had ever observed, would be followed by a yellow tinge in the eyeballs, puking, fearful straining of the stomach, the black vomit, hiccoughs, depression, “deep and distressed sighing, comatose delirium,” stupor, purplish discoloration of the whole body [from liver damage], finally death.

In the panic that followed the onset of the epidemic, there was no end to the weird and ineffective treatments suggested and tried. They included dousing the afflicted with vinegar, “earth-bathing” (rolling in dirt), drinking molasses by the quart, burning tobacco in the streets. Purging and blood-letting were Dr. Rush’s favored remedies, which also included a concoction of mercury and jalap, the latter being a drug extracted from the tuberous roots of a Mexican climbing plant. As Murphy’s book reveals,

Ads appeared in the newspapers hawking Peruvian bark, salt of vinegar, refined camphor, and other concoctions, such as Daffey’s Elixir (which contained so much pure alcohol that a glass of it could put a person into a drunken stupor). The science of medicine at the end of the eighteenth century still relied a great deal on ancient myths and folk remedies.

Someone recommended that to purify the air of whatever was causing the disease, gunpowder should be liberally set afire. So for a brief time until residents complained of the noise and smoke, municipal workers pulled cannons through the streets and fired them every few yards or so.

Unaware that a mosquito was the carrier, many people thought they could catch yellow fever from proximity to someone infected. So “social distancing” became the norm. Powell writes,

People quickly acquired the habits of living with fear. Handshaking was abandoned, acquaintances snubbed, everyone walked in the middle of the streets to avoid contaminated homes. Those wearing mourning bands were obviously dangerous, as were doctors and ministers. People maneuvered in passing to get windward of anyone they met.

City government ordered a limited quarantine of arriving foreigners but to little effect because the source of the problem was not overseas. It was quickly lifted. When the city cleaned up the filth in and around the wharves on the river, it likely did more to help than the quarantine.

Afraid to leave their homes unless they had a place to flee to in the countryside, Philadelphians withdrew from commerce. Businesses closed. Mail delivery stopped. Newspapers were reduced to a single page for lack of advertising. Incoming vessels on the Delaware River couldn’t find dock workers so they sat in the water or on the docks while their cargo rotted.

Even clocks in the city went haywire. So many clockmakers and time-setters were sick, dead or gone that Philadelphians often couldn’t tell for sure what time it was.

Churches in Philadelphia never closed during the epidemic. Given the nature of the disease, it wouldn’t have made a difference either way. If government officials had ordered them closed, there’s good reason to believe that devout Philadelphians would have defied or resisted such orders.

To his credit, Mayor Clarkson responded with courage and good sense. He formed a committee of respected local citizens who organized makeshift hospitals, raised money for treatment, cleaned the streets and wharves, and looked after children suddenly orphaned when parents or guardians died from the disease.

Some white residents complained that black nurses in town were raising their fees in the midst of the crisis. They took their complaint to the mayor, hoping he would impose controls on those fees. He said no. Jim Murphy tells us,

The mayor knew he couldn’t order black nurses to refuse any fee over a dollar. If he forced them to hold down their costs, he would have to do the same with every merchant, laborer, and farmer doing business in town. How much food would be brought to market if he insisted that only pre-plague prices be charged? How many carters would haul away diseased corpses? What was happening with the black nurses was a classic example of demand exceeding supply, resulting in higher prices, and nothing more…He also had an ad published in the newspapers that admonished citizens to cease bothering the black nurses as they went about town to do their work.

Dr. Rush, though wrong about remedies, was right about his initial warnings that the illness was yellow fever; he also labored long hours to bring comfort to the afflicted. He died in 1813, widely esteemed a hero by his fellow citizens.

People in nearby cities and adjacent states pitched in to help the City of Brotherly Love while the illness raged. New Yorkers were first with a gift to Philadelphia of $5,000—a substantial sum in those days and the start of a cascade of philanthropy for Philly. According to Powell,

The news of $5,000 from New York spread about the city like a tonic. It was, Editor Brown proclaimed, an act of noble sympathy and generosity. And as other donations poured in, the Committee (of Mayor Clarkson’s creation) wisely gave publicity to them all, even the smallest. Brown’s columns soon were filled with letters from villages, townships, counties, congregations, and synods, all conveying gifts of some kind to the Mayor’s care. The distraught citizens could take heart. They were not alone in misfortune. All America was sharing their burden.

None of that giving was required by anybody. It was simply what Americans did, from the depths of their giving hearts, without mandates from on high. The Philadelphia epidemic of 1793 was one of the new country’s earliest and best examples of the cascade of private charity that defined the nation for the next two centuries.

Yellow fever outbreaks in Philadelphia occurred again during the last three years of the 1790s. None, fortunately, were as lethal and widespread as the 1793 episode.

All these many decades later, perhaps the applicable lessons for today of Philadelphia’s experience then are few and limited. For sure, it’s a tribute to the city that it rallied and prospered, thanks to the initiative of its citizens and the freedoms the nation as a whole enjoyed in its early decades. Half a century after the epidemic, Philadelphia was a bustling city of 122,000 people—two and a half times its size on the eve of the 1793 disaster.

Lawrence W. Reed is President Emeritus and Humphreys Family Senior Fellow at FEE, having served for nearly 11 years as FEE’s president (2008-2019). He is author of the 2020 book, Was Jesus a Socialist? as well as Real Heroes: Incredible True Stories of Courage, Character, and Conviction and Excuse Me, Professor: Challenging the Myths of Progressivism. Follow on LinkedIn and Twitter and Like his public figure page on Facebook. His website is

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Don’t Trust Government

Don’t trust government. And don’t trust politicians.

That can’t be repeated often enough.

Unfortunately, it seems that most people trust politicians – depending on the issue or depending on the political party they happen to be a part of.

This never has good results in the long run.

Patrick Henry put it this way in the Virginia ratifying convention:

“Show me that age and country where the rights and liberties of the people were placed on the sole chance of their rulers being good men, without a consequent loss of liberty! I say that the loss of that dearest privilege has ever followed, with absolute certainty, every such mad attempt.”

In short – every time people trust political leaders to do the right thing – the long-term result is a loss of liberty.

But it wasn’t just Henry. On the other end of the spectrum, John Adams gave almost the same warning in 1772:

“There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty.”

We should all know that power corrupts. And, as the old saying goes, absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Samuel Adams knew this well when he warned us:

“Power is intoxicating; and Men legally vested with it, too often discover a Disposition to make an ill Use of it and an Unwillingness to part with it.”

This is pretty much the same warning from John Dickinson, the “Penman of the Revolution,” who wrote:

“All artful rulers, who strive to extend their power beyond its just limits, endeavor to give their attempts as much semblance of legality as possible.”

These are all timeless truths.

No one with power should be trusted. Not most. Not some. No one. And we should also recognize that those with power will try to make all kinds of arguments to make their unconstitutional acts look legal.

Living in the US of A – the largest government in the history of the world – we would do well to treat every politician with this kind of jealous eye.

As Thomas Jefferson put it in the Kentucky Resolutions of 1798:

“Free government is founded in jealousy, and not in confidence; it is jealousy, and not confidence, which prescribes limited constitutions to bind down those whom we are obliged to trust with power; that our Constitution has accordingly fixed the limits to which, and no farther, our confidence may go”

That’s why it’s so important for us to continue our stand – The Constitution. Every issue, every time. No exceptions, no excuses.

Thank you so much for being here. We are so incredibly grateful for your support – large or small – it all helps us make a difference:

Constitution federal power federalism Founding Fathers Founding Principles Intelwars Virginia Plan

Should we interpret the Constitution so the feds can oversee everything affecting more than one state?

The Constitution lists powers it grants to the federal government, reserving the rest in the states and the people. Over the last few decades, some federal powers—particularly those embodied in the Commerce Clause, Taxation Clause, Necessary and Proper Clause, and Property and Enclave Clauses—have become stretched out of recognition. The power to regulate interstate commerce, for example, has become authority to regulate the entire economy. The power to tax has become authority to spend on anything Congress wishes. And the Property and Enclave Clauses have been expanded into federal authority to hold as much land as the government wishes, for any purpose and any length of time.

Some liberal constitutional commentators defend this development with this argument: One of the Founders’ goals was to deal with spillover effects—externalities—among the states. They designed the Constitution, therefore, to give the federal government almost all power necessary to do so. Over the years, those spillover effects have become greater and greater, as the country has become more and more interdependent. Therefore, construing the enumerated powers expansively serves the purpose for which the Constitution was written.

In support, they cite the wording of the Virginia Plan, an outline for a constitution submitted early in the 1787 convention. The Virginia Plan would have granted the Congress power “to legislate in all cases to which the separate States are incompetent, or in which the harmony of the United States may be interrupted by the exercise of individual Legislation.”

There are several problems in relying on this wording. First, the framers ultimately rejected it in favor of a specific enumeration of federal powers. Indeed, late in the convention they rejected several attempts to add powers to the list. Second, they excluded many activities from the federal enumeration even though they recognized that they were tightly tied up with activities within the enumeration. The Founders often spoke about how commerce, for example, affected manufacturing, agriculture, and even religion and demographics. But only the regulation of commerce was given to the federal government; regulating the other activities was left to the states.

Third, when the framers did want the federal government to regulate connected areas, they listed each separately. For example, they listed distinctly the tightly connected realms of commerce, patent, and copyright.  Fourth, in Article I, Section 10, they recognized the power of states to deal with spillovers themselves by entering into interstate compacts.

Fifth, leading founders specifically represented that certain activities with interstate spillovers would remain outside central control.

And sixth, the argument that the central government ought to have power to control all activities with spillover effects proves too much. “Externality federalism” is inherently unstable. Because everything ultimately affects everything else, the central government can always make a case for central regulation.

But liberal commentators have an response: If the enumeration was a narrowing of federal power rather than just a clarification, then why did some pro-Constitution Founders claim that the document gave the federal government general authority to deal with spillovers? For example, speaking on November 26, 1787 at the Pennsylvania ratifying convention, James Wilson said:

Whatever object of government is confined in its operation and effects within the bounds of a particular state, should be considered as belonging to the government of that state; whatever object of government extends in its operation or effects beyond the bounds of a particular state, should be considered as belonging to the government of the United States.

Taken in isolation, however, this comment overstates the case. And it can’t be taken in isolation, because avoiding interstate spillovers wasn’t the framers’ only goal. In allocating power between the federal and state government, they considered but other factors as well.  Wilson admits this immediately after the last quoted remark, in which he mentions the competing values of clarity and certainty:

But though this principle be sound and satisfactory, its application to particular cases would be accompanied with much difficulty; because, in its application, room must be allowed for great discretionary latitude of construction of the principle. In order to lessen or remove the difficulty arising from discretionary construction on this subject, an enumeration of particular instances, in which the application of the principle ought to take place, has been attempted with much industry and care. It is only in mathematical science, that a line can be described with mathematical precision. But I flatter myself that, upon the strictest investigation, the enumeration will be found to be safe and unexceptionable; and accurate too, in as great a degree as accuracy can be expected in a subject of this nature.

In other words, if we used words such as those in the Virginia Plan, there would be endless debates and uncertainties. So we listed specific federal powers instead. We did the best we could to give the national government power over national matters. But where the enumeration falls short of giving the national government power over all externalities, then we sacrificed that value for clarity and certainty.

That’s not all. The framers also sacrificed the “externality federalism” value to another at least as important. Wilson recognized this, too. But first some explanation:

Very often it is better to tolerate bad spillovers than to incur the cost of suppressing them. If your neighbor’s dog happens to wake you with its barking one night, you do not immediately run out to challenge your neighbor.  You don’t call the police or kill the dog. The costs of such unkind and unneighborly behavior are too high. As long as nocturnal barking does not become a persistent nuisance, you tolerate it.

Similarly, state autonomy has benefits that outweigh the costs of most bad spillovers.  Wilson recognized this later in his speech:

When a confederate republick is instituted, the communities of which it is composed surrender to it a part of their political independence, which they before enjoyed as states. .  . .  The states should resign to the national government that part, and that part only, of their political liberty, which, placed in that government, will produce more good to the whole, than if it had remained in the several states. While they resign this part of their political liberty, they retain the free and generous exercise of all their other faculties as states, so far as it is compatible with the welfare of the general and superintending confederacy.

Of course, the “good of the whole” consists of many more elements than merely suppressing spillovers: Allowing the people of individual states to govern themselves makes people happy. It improves the responsiveness of government. It gives people choices of different “policy packages” in different states.  It greatly reduces the chances of centralized tyranny. Values like that generally far outweigh the inconvenience of, for example, differing traffic laws, tax schemes, and insurance regulations.

As the framers did so often, in allocating authority between states and federal government they balanced competing values. The need for central regulation of interstate spillovers was only one of those values. It should not trump the others.

I discuss this subject in the context of the Commerce Power in this academic article.

American Revolution Founding Fathers History Intelwars liberty Richard Price

Richard Price: Torchbearer of Liberty

“Make way! Make way for the good Dr. Price!”

This is reportedly the familiar cry of farmers and tradesman who would greet Richard Price every morning as he would pass by their stalls at the marketplace. Today, there are PhDs in American history who have never heard of this man once known as the “Torchbearer of Liberty.”

There are scores of books published every year about the various men and movements that influenced the founding fathers of the United States, but there are few that even mention the celebrated Richard Price.

Richard Price is a name that every American who loves liberty and wants to more fully understand the true value of “so celestial an article as freedom” should know and whose words should be taught to every child in every home in the country whose liberty Dr. Price praised so fully and so frequently.

Among our founding fathers, not only was the name of Richard Price known very well, but many of the leading lights of that noble generation knew him personally, eating dinner with him, listening to him deliver fiery sermons in support of human freedom, and carrying on years of correspondence with him. If for no other reason, our founders’ immense respect and innumerable references to him make Richard Price worthy of our interest.

Born in Tynton, Wales, in 1723 in a farmhouse that was home to his ancestors for over 200 years by the time he was born, Richard Price was raised in a family of devout faith. They were members of a denomination of Christianity known in history as “Dissenters.”

Dissenters were those who did not agree with the direction being taken by the Anglican Church when it was restored as the established church by Charles II. Many members of the Church of England, in fact, fled from their mother church and met together in defiance of the dictates of the political powers of the day.

In a book describing the atmosphere that dominated Great Britain in those days, G.M. Trevelyan wrote that the Puritans and other Dissenters developed a “political tradition…of vigilant criticism of protest towards the powers that rule society and the State.”

During the reign of Charles II, Dissenters — including the Puritans, the Presbyterians, and others — were oppressed by laws passed by Parliament for that very purpose: denying Dissenters their religious liberty.

Richard Price’s parents were Dissenters who attended the congregation created by Reverend Samuel Jones in Glamorganshire, Wales, and Richard was raised in a home where protest against any power that limited liberty was a family tradition.

Reverend Jones and his parishioners, including the Price family, often met in a barn, being prohibited by Parliament from publicly meeting. While the laws restricting the activity of the Dissenters were sometimes not enforced strictly, at other times they were enforced with ferocity. Such ferocity once saw Samuel Jones imprisoned for a short time.

This suffering for the sake of the right to worship according to one’s own conscience was a condition that would make a deep impression on the young mind of Richard Price and would set the course of his life.

That attitude was cultivated and encouraged during his years studying at a school ran by a man named Samuel Jones, however, this was not the same Samuel Jones who was the pastor of his family’s church, although this Samuel Jones was a fellow Dissenter.

When he was 12, Richard’s father, Rees Price, enrolled his son in Jones’s school, seeking a tutor for his son that would give him more than an ordinary education. Samuel Jones was an able teacher and one that exposed to his students scholarship that would have been ignored, had it not been for Jones’s zeal for teaching his young scholars to be free-thinking, farsighted, and tenaciously true to the cause of religious liberty. This was the fountain from which the young Richard Price would drink deeply.

Richard’s father died suddenly when Richard was only 16, forcing the young man and his two sisters to move from the family’s ancestral estate and into a small house some forty miles away. The death of her husband caused Mrs. Price’s own health to deteriorate and she died less than one year later.

So, at 17-years-old Richard Price was an orphan. Although yet young, Richard was determined to not allow the tragedy of his parents’ untimely deaths to determine the trajectory of his life. Accordingly, Richard set out for London and the home of his uncle, Samuel Price, a preacher of some note among the nonconformists.

While in the home of his uncle, Richard marinated in the teaching of his uncle and he enrolled in Coward’s Academy where his uncle was a professor. In order to be admitted to the Coward school, applicants were required to pass difficult entrance tests and deliver a sermon in front of the academy’s faculty and administration.

Richard Price not only passed this battery of examinations and discourses, but he was such a studious young man that he developed jaundice attributed to “fatigue from his arduous studies.”

When surveying the lives of our own founding fathers and the men that formed their thinking, you come to find that with few exceptions all of them clung tenaciously to the concept that wisdom was acquired by sincere study and genuine faith in God. Richard Price was such a man. He was not afraid of the heavy lifting required of those who would be leaders, whether in the 18th Century or the 21st Century.

During his four years at Coward’s Academy, Richard studied Hebrew, Greek, Latin, philosophy, divinity, theology, the history of the Holy Land, algebra, trigonometry, physics, oration, logic, and “pastoral care,” the art and science of being a minister of the gospel.

These are the very subjects that were studied by our founding fathers during their own education and it would seem that anyone who wants to be a man of their mental power would do more than give lip service to such studies.

After graduating from Coward’s Academy Richard Price entered the world where those of his religious beliefs were still subject to widespread prejudice. This challenge sculpted men of Richard’s mien and, as Trevelyan wrote, they were shaped into “a large body of the most conscientious and enthusiastic men [who] became political critics and social reformers by profession.” They were leaders of the liberty movement because “their own wrongs sharpened their sensibility to the wrongs of others, and their own position never permitted them to fall into the sleep of those to whom the world is an easy bed.”

Are you starting to see the picture? Are you starting to appreciate why Richard Price was so influential on America’s founding fathers? Are you starting to sense why tyrants of any era would want to keep kids from learning about him and from reading the powerful words he wrote defending freedom and condemning despots?

There’s no doubt that those devoted to restoring liberty to our people and protecting the free exercise of religion would be better prepared for such an endeavor by reading some of the sermons delivered by the Reverend Richard Price that prove that he was a flamethrower of freedom! Before we get into some of those sermons, let’s look at how he came to call so many founding fathers his friend.

By the time he was 40 years old, Richard Price had written a shelf-full of books on several subjects and a variety of religious tracts taking to task the established church and the politicians that propped it up. By 1767, Richard Price’s reputation as a staunch supporter of liberty and talented writer had drawn many famous men into the orbit of his friendship, including David Hume, Lord Shelburne (the prime minister of England), and Benjamin Franklin.

Respect spread rapidly for Richard Price all over the island of Great Britain, across the English Channel to continental Europe, and across the Atlantic Ocean to America. Believe it or not, Richard’s rise to worldwide fame began after he published a book about how to determine a person’s expected lifespan and how to handle life insurance costs based on those calculations. His work in this area was so well regarded that many American leaders pointed to Price’s work as the best way for a country “to avoid sinking under a weight of debt.”

That statement alone should be enough to convince parents and professors in a country that’s currently over $22 trillion in debt to teach children and students about Richard Price!

In fact, American political leaders were so grateful to the good work of Richard Price that on October 6, 1778, the Second Continental Congress passed the following resolution:

“RESOLVED, that the Honorable Benjamin Franklin, Arthur Lee, and John Adams, Esqrs., or any of them, be ordered forthwith to apply to Dr. Price, and inform him that it is the desire of Congress to consider him as a citizen of the United States and to receive his assistance in regulating their finances; that if he shall think it expedient to remove with his family to America and afford such assistance, a generous provision shall be made for requiting his services.”

The resolution, offered by Henry Laurens of South Carolina, passed 6 to 3, with three states whose delegations were split.

Richard Price declined the offer, but wrote that he hoped that “British America may preserve its liberty, set an example of moderation and magnanimity, and establish such forms of government, as may render it an asylum for the virtuous and oppressed in other countries.” (Emphasis in original)

In a separate letter sent to his friend Benjamin Franklin, Price asked that Franklin inform Congress “that Dr. Price feels the warmest gratitude for the notice taken of him, and that he looks to the American States as now the hope and likely soon to become the refuge of mankind.” (Emphasis in original)

When the war between England and America started a couple of years earlier, Richard Price supported the states in their battle to defeat the forces of despotism. As the war continued and the breach between the colonies and their mother country became irreparable, Price clearly communicated his advocacy for the Americans.

Richard Price was such a strident proponent of American independence, in fact, that Congress hired him as a spy and he began sending secrets to the representatives of the states. The intelligence gathered by Price never made much of a difference in the waging of the war, but his pen certainly did.

First, in February 1776, Price wrote a pamphlet called “Observations on the Nature of Civil Liberty, the Principles of Government, and the Justice and Policy of the War with America,” setting out his positions on the importance not only of political liberty in general, but on the success of the American struggle to restore that very condition to their country.

In the preface to the fifth edition of the work published one month after it first appeared, Price summarized his purpose in penning this pamphlet, courageously calling out the British government for fomenting the war by denying Americans of the freedom they enjoyed as an endowment from God, not from government:

“The principles on which I have argued form the foundation of every State as far as it is free, and are the same with those taught by Mr. Locke, and all the writers on Civil Liberty who have been hitherto most admired in this country. But I find, with concern, that they are not approved by our Governors; and that they chuse to decline trying by them their present measures: For, in a pamphlet which has been circulated by government with great industry; these principles are pronounced to be ‘unnatural and wild, incompatible with practice; and the offspring of the distempered imagination of a man who is byassed by Party, and who writes to deceive.’

“I must take this opportunity to add, that I love quiet too well to think of entering into a controversy with any writers; particularly, nameless ones—Conscious of good intentions, and unconnected with any Party, I have endeavoured to plead the cause of General Liberty and Justice; and happy in knowing this, I shall, in silence, commit myself to that candour of the Public of which I have had so much experience.”

Later in the paper, Price puts a fine point on the problem, warning his own countrymen that if they love liberty, then they just support the cause of the colonies or their own freedom would be forfeited:

“OUR Colonies in North America appear to be now determined to risk and suffer every thing, under the persuasion, that Great Britain is attempting to rob them of that Liberty to which every member of society, and all civil communities, have a natural and unalienable right. The question, therefore, whether this is a reasonable persuasion, is highly interesting, and deserves the most careful attention of every Englishman who values Liberty, and wishes to avoid staining himself with the guilt of invading it.”

The case for considering Richard Price a starting player on the varsity squad of men who molded the minds of our founding fathers shouldn’t need much more evidence. For those who remain unpersuaded, there’s more to come.

Writing of the freedom to worship, Price wrote that, “He likewise who, in religion, cannot govern himself by his convictions of religious duty, but is obliged to receive formularies of faith, and to practise modes of worship imposed upon him by others, wants Religious Liberty.”

Using Price’s definition of religious liberty, would a time traveler to the United States of 2019 believe that we enjoyed the right of unregulated religious practice?

In a final selection from “Observations on the Nature of Civil Liberty, the Principles of Government, and the Justice and Policy of the War with America,” Richard Price puts himself in the company of such renowned republicans as John Locke and Algernon Sidney:

“FROM what has been said it is obvious, that all civil government, as far as it can be denominated free, is the creature of the people. It originates with them. It is conducted under their direction; and has in view nothing but their happiness. All its different forms are no more than so many different modes in which they chuse to direct their affairs, and to secure the quiet enjoyment of their rights.—In every free state every man is his own Legislator.—All taxes are free-gifts for public services.—All laws are particular provisions or regulations established by common consent for gaining protection and safety.—And all Magistrates are Trustees or Deputies for carrying these regulations into execution.

“Liberty, therefore, is too imperfectly defined when it is said to be ‘a Government by Laws, and not by Men.’ If the laws are made by one man, or a junto of men in a state, and not by common consent, a government by them does not differ from Slavery. In this case it would be a contradiction in terms to say that the state governs itself.”

Again, would someone who’s a stranger to our world and our country read this description of liberty and judge the United States to be a free country? Would he think that Americans were self-governing?

Finally, in this time when political turmoil too often turns into partisan terrorism, Richard Price has a sermon that could set us straight.

On November 4, 1789, Richard Price delivered a discourse celebrating the centennial of the Glorious Revolution of Great Britain that should be required reading for every American who wants to make a difference in the direction our country is heading and on the people who we put in political office and the power they’re able to exert on the liberty that we once recognized as being composed of rights with which we were “endowed by our Creator,” but today is being converted by Congress, the courts, and the president into permission they can give and take away at their will.

We know better. Richard Price knew better.

So, for us, in these days of deep political and moral division, here’s a couple words of counsel from Richard Price’s 1789 sermon entitled “A Discourse on the Love of Our Country:”

“The love of our country has in all times been a subject of warm commendations; and it is certainly a noble passion; but, like all other passions, it requires regulation and direction. There are mistakes and prejudices by which, in this instance, we are in particular danger of being misled.—I will briefly mention some of these to you, and observe,

“First, That by our country is meant, in this case, not the soil or the spot of earth on which we happen to have been born; not the forests and fields, but that community of which we are members; or that body of companions and friends and kindred who are associated with us under the same constitution of government, protected by the same laws, and bound together by the same civil polity.”


“In other families there may be as much worth as in our own. In other circles of friends there may be as much wisdom; and in other countries as much of all that deserves esteem; but, notwithstanding this, our obligation to love our own families, friends, and country, and to seek, in the first place, their good, will remain the same.”

Do yourselves a solid and go read Richard Price for yourselves. All of his most influential works are available free online.

Maybe, if enough of remember this forgotten influence on the Founding Fathers, we can develop the same unshakeable love of liberty that our ancestors had and maybe we can come to truly find the good and the commendable in other countries and other parties, realizing that such wisdom does not require us to reduce in any amount whatsoever the love of what is our own.