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Lessons in Centralized Power: Federal Policy Facilitated Forced Sterilization of Native American Women

Most people reflexively believe the federal government protects the interests of minorities. After all, the feds gave us the Civil Rights Acts and ended segregation – so the narrative goes. But in truth, the federal government has a pretty abysmal record when it comes to its treatment of minority communities and has often implemented policies extremely detrimental to their interests. In general, centralized authority has historically brutalized minority populations, and this includes the U.S. federal government.

The federal government’s treatment of Native Americans throughout history provides a litany of examples. The forced relocation of various tribes to reservations, the Trail of Tears, the long train of broken treaties, not to mention the outright wars of extermination waged against some native tribes in the 1800s immediately spring to mind. But while that kind of overt oppression has faded into the past, some modern federal policies continued this legacy of the horrible treatment of native populations.

The federal government’s involvement in Native American healthcare provides a chilling example.

Beginning in the late 1800s, treaties and executive orders established federal responsibility for Native American healthcare. The outcomes were nothing short of horrendous. According to an annual report by the Office of Indian Affairs in 1917, approximately three-fifths of Native American infants died before the age of five.

As deplorable health outcomes within Native American populations became too hard to ignore, the feds created Indian Health Services (IHS) within the Department of Health and Human Services in 1955. This agency ultimately helped facilitate the forced sterilization of Native American women.

In 1970, Congress passed the Family Planning Services and Population Research Act. The law was intended to provide funding to low-income and uninsured families for family planning services. As it turns out, this federal funding helped facilitate the sterilization of as many as 25 percent of Native American women of childbearing age. Under the law, the feds subsidized sterilization of women who received healthcare through the IHS as well as some Medicaid patients. Sterilization procedures were performed in both reservation hospitals and off-reservation facilities that the feds contracted with to provide healthcare for tribal members. According to an article published by Time, “Some of these procedures were performed under pressure or duress, or without the women’s knowledge or understanding.”

Marie Sanchez served as chief tribal judge on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation. During a U.N. Convention on Indigenous Rights in 1977, she called the sterilization policy “a modern form” of genocide.

African American and Hispanic women were also targeted for sterilization during this time period, according to the Time article.

It took concerted action by activists and nearly a decade for the federal government to adopt regulations protecting women from unwanted sterilization procedures.

These policies were clearly rooted in racism. But racists would have a limited ability to act without the power available to them through centralized government. And this is not an isolated example of racists taking advantage of federal power. In much the same way as racists used the Indian Health Services and federal funding available through the Family Planning Services and Population Research Act to facilitate forced sterilization of Native American women, federal farm programs made it possible to steal land from African-American farmers in the 20th century.

There is no denying that Native Americans and African Americans suffered from racism. But you shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that government actions gave racists their power, from Jim Crow laws at the state and local level to federal farm policy that enabled white people to dispossess black Americans of their land, to federal health programs that intentionally undermined the health of Native American populations.

The widespread notion that centralized national power is good for minorities is a myth. Centralized power has never been friendly toward minorities. From the Jews in Germany, to the Ukrainians in the U.S.S.R, to the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, to Africans in the United States, centralized governments have historically oppressed minorities and sometimes worked to exterminate them.

The Civil Rights Act notwithstanding, history shows that the U.S. federal government has, by and large, followed the historical pattern by facilitating discrimination, both directly and indirectly.

The post Lessons in Centralized Power: Federal Policy Facilitated Forced Sterilization of Native American Women first appeared on Tenth Amendment Center.

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The Lessons of Waco

April 19 was the 28th anniversary of one of the most shameful episodes in modern American history: the massacre of 76 innocent men, women, and children by agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) in a military-style assault on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas.

The assault followed a botched raid on the Davidian compound (staged at a time that it would distract attention from an ATF sexual harassment scandal) and a two-month standoff between the Davidians and the agency. The ATF used CS tear gas against the Dravidians, even though the gas was banned by an international treaty the US agreed to just months before the assault. So, if the assault had occurred on foreign soil as part of a military operation, it would have been a war crime.

Waco illustrates the dangers to our lives and liberties posed by a hyper-interventionist foreign policy. Eventually the deadly tools of the military-industrial complex will be brought home and used against US citizens.

In the 28 years since Waco, the military-industrial complex’s role in domestic law enforcement has grown. This is largely thanks to the Section 1033 program that provides military-grade equipment to local law enforcement. The people will not be safe from militarized law enforcement until Section 1033 is repealed and the military-industrial complex is dismantled.

The initial raid on the Branch Davidian compound was justified by claims the Davidians were violating unconstitutional gun laws. Infringements on the Second Amendment empower the federal police state. This is one reason why all those who value liberty must oppose all gun control laws, such as those currently being advocated by President Joe Biden and his congressional allies.

Last week, the ATF helped further Biden’s anti-Second Amendment agenda by issuing a proposed regulation regarding pistols fitted with stabilizers, thus allowing the agency to harass more gun owners.

Also last week, the Department of Justice unveiled model red flag legislation to encourage more states to adopt these laws. Red flag laws allow law enforcement to seize an individual’s firearms based on an allegation the individual may turn violent. Not surprisingly, allowing police to show up at a person’s home and demand he surrender his firearms can lead to violence. Expanding red flag laws will violate Americans’ Second Amendment rights, disregard due process, and lead to police being in more violent encounters.

David Chipman, President Biden’s nominee to head the ATF, is a former ATF agent turned gun control lobbyist. Mr. Chipman is an outspoken defender of the ATF’s actions at Waco. In addition to supporting red flag laws, he wants the ATF to arrest Americans who cannot buy a firearm because they failed a federal background check. The background check produces many false positives. Chipman’s proposal would lead to the arresting of many innocent Americans. This would not bother Chipman since he told the Senate Judiciary Committee that law-abiding gun owners are potential criminals.

The Waco massacre is proof that, as the late libertarian Karl Hess put it, “whenever you put your faith in big government for any reason, sooner or later you end up an apologist for mass murder.” Those of us who understand this must continue to spread the truth about the true nature of the welfare-warfare-regulatory state. Key to regaining our liberty is making government officials abide by the same rules against the initiation of violence that apply to private citizens.

Copyright © 2021 by RonPaul Institute. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit and a live link are given.

The post The Lessons of Waco first appeared on Tenth Amendment Center.

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Was It the Biggest Political Flip-Flop Ever?

I don’t think anybody is surprised when politicians flip-flop.

George H.W. Bush with his “no new taxes” pledge provides a great modern example. But Alexander Hamilton arguably gave us the most damaging, if not the biggest, flip-flop ever when he did a complete 180 on constitutional interpretation in order to justify his national bank.

Like most supporters of the Constitution, Hamilton promised that the new federal government would only be able to exercise powers explicitly enumerated in the Constitution. But during his push for the First Bank of the United States, he suddenly discovered “implied powers.” Had he mentioned this idea during the ratification debates, the Constitution would never have been adopted.

The debate over the National Bank was about more than chartering a bank. At its core, it was an argument about the extent of federal power.

James Madison called out Hamilton and other supporters of the national bank in a speech on the House floor, highlighting their departure from the constitutional system as it was understood when the document was ratified.

“With all this evidence of the sense in which the Constitution was understood and adopted, will it not be said, if the bill should pass, that its adoption was brought about by one set of arguments and that it is now administered under the influence of another set; and this reproach will have the keener sting, because it is applicable to so many individuals concerned in both the adoption and administration.”

Ultimately, Hamilton got his bank and his arguments supporting it became the basis for loose constitutional construction that flipped the structure of the U.S. government on its head. Instead of a federal government exercising powers “few and defined,” Hamiltonian constitutionalism with its implied powers gave us a general government with powers “numerous and indefinite”

While Hamilton’s arguments may have won the day, they betrayed the Constitution.

And we’re living with the consequences to this day.

Sadly, people follow Hamilton’s example every single day. They chip away at what few limits on federal power remain in order to advance this or that policy agenda. And then they whine and complain when somebody they don’t like is in office and uses those same powers.

Limits only work when they are applied consistently. Hamilton knew this. He always wanted a strong national government. All he had to do to get his wish was tear down the constitutional fence around government power.

We’re wrapping up final edits on an e-book tentatively titled the Federal Reserve vs. the Constitution. It will give you a much deeper analysis of the national bank debate. It will be available later this month for TAC members first, with ebook and print editions for the general public to follow in the coming months. (Members’ site here) | (JOIN TAC here)

The post Was It the Biggest Political Flip-Flop Ever? first appeared on Tenth Amendment Center.

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Trump and Bill O’Reilly announce national tour discussing history of Trump administration: Talk ‘will not be boring’

Former President Donald Trump and former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly announced Monday that the pair will be going on a national tour in December, discussing “a never before heard inside view” of the Trump administration called “The History Tour.”

What are the details?

A news release published on Bill O’ states that the “series of live conversations across the country” will begin in December, with locations already set in Florida and Texas, where they “will discuss exactly how things were accomplished, as well as challenges, both good and bad” during Trump’s time in the White House from January 2017 to January 2021.

“From the pandemic that killed hundreds of thousands, to the speedy development of the vaccine, to the rise of the economy, to the global challenge from China, Donald Trump was the dominant decision-maker and the most powerful person in the world,” the release reads.

Trump said in a statement:

“These will be wonderful but hard-hitting sessions where we’ll talk about the real problems happening in the U.S., those that the Fake News Media never mention. I will be focusing on greatness for our Country, something seldom discussed in political dialogue. If we don’t make our Country great again, we will soon no longer have a Country! I look forward to working with Bill, who right now has the #1 bestselling book, to openly discuss the real problems of our Country, and how to solve them. Additionally, it will be fun, fun, fun, for everyone who attends!”

O’Reilly added, My job as a historian/journalist is to get important things on the record in a fact-based way. These conversations with the 45th President will not be boring.”

When does the tour start?

The first event will be on Dec. 11 at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida, and the second talk will be on Dec. 12 at a location that has not been determined. The third event is scheduled on Dec. 18 at the Toyota Center in Houston, and a fourth event at the American Airlines Center in Dallas the next day.

Tickets go on sale June 14.

The tour announcement follows reports that Trump is considering resuming his “Make American Great Again” rallies as he considers another White House run in 2024.

Meanwhile, the former president remains prohibited from sharing his views on several Big Tech platforms, including Twitter (who issued him a lifelong ban following the Jan. 6 riot) and Facebook, who recently announced their post-riot ban wouldn’t be lifted until 2023 — two years from its implementation.

Antifa Antifa trump Change my mind COMEDY communism communist Crowder Crowder bits Crowder bits playlist1776 Crowder clips Crowder confronts Crowderbits CURRENT EVENTS D-day D-day invasion Donald Trump fake news Funny conservative History How to debate How to debunk Intelwars liberal libertarian Louder with crowder Lwc Mug club news Normandy Normandy beach Normandy landings Politics protest Socialism Stephen Crowder Steven Crowder Video What is antifa World War II WWII

Crowder obliterates Lincoln Project video that compares ANTIFA to WWII soldiers

In this clip, Steven Crowder discussed a video — produced by The Lincoln Project — created to mark the memory of D-Day when brave Allied troops stormed the beaches of Normandy, France, during World War II. But, things turned comical when the video compared those brave men to Antifa.

“Are they talking about the same Antifa?” Crowder asked sarcastically.

Crowder broke down all the ways that the Antifa we see today is nothing like the heroes that fought in WWII. Crowder and his crew reminded viewers of the fascism imposed on the American public in current times. “Silencing political opinions is what fascists do,” the guys agreed.

Crowder produced a video of his own to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the day Antifa “stormed the City of Seattle and changed the name to CHAZ.”

Watch the video below. Can’t watch? Download the podcast here.

Want more from Steven Crowder?

To enjoy more of Steven’s uncensored late-night comedy that’s actually funny, join Mug Club — the only place for all of Crowder uncensored and on demand.

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The 16th Amendment: How the U.S. Federal Income Tax Became D.C.’s Favorite Political Weapon

The American Revolution was sparked in part by unjust taxation. After all, the colonists in Boston rebelled against Britain for imposing “taxation without representation,” and summarily tossed English tea into the harbor in protest in 1773.

Nowadays Americans collectively spend more than 6 billion hours each year filling out tax forms, keeping records, and learning new tax rules according to the Office of Management and Budget. Complying with the byzantine U.S. tax code is estimated to cost the American economy hundreds of billions of dollars annually – time and money that could otherwise be used for more productive activities like entrepreneurship and investment, or just more family and leisure time.

The majority of these six billion hours sacrificed by Americans to Washington each year goes to complying with a tax that didn’t even exist until 100 years ago – the federal income tax.

Worse still, this tax has become a political weapon for Washington to incentivize certain activities (homeownership, charitable giving, etc.) and to punish others. It’s a tax that follows Americans wherever they go in the world, and it’s one that was originally sold to the American people by President Woodrow Wilson as a means of “soaking the rich” during the so-called Gilded Age.

How did a country that was founded on the concept of limited government come to embrace such a draconian policy? And what does it say about Washington that tax reform has become synonymous with class warfare and corporate lobbyists?

Read on to learn the history of the 16th Amendment – which authorized the federal collection of an income tax – and how that power has ultimately meant the growth of Washington at the expense of just about everyone else.

Early Attempts to Implement an Income Tax

Could you imagine a time in the U.S. when roads were being paved, there was zero national debt, and the federal government was completely operational – all without income taxes? This may sound like a libertarian fantasy, but it’s actually an image of the America of yesteryear. Before the advent of the income tax, the U.S. government relied exclusively on tariffs and user fees to finance operations.

Unsurprisingly, operations were much smaller compared with today’s extravagant government programs like welfare, social security, and subsidies. But even though spending was more conservative during the Republic’s early years, certain political events motivated the government to consider more direct ways of reaching into the pockets of its citizens.

One of these political events was the War of 1812. This war may have inspired Francis Scott Key to write “The Star-Spangled Banner” as he famously watched the rockets red glare over Fort McHenry, but it was also straining our fiscal resources and the war effort needed to be financed.

Enter the idea of a progressive income tax – based on the British Tax Act of 1798 (which should have been our first warning). Fortunately for the time, the War of 1812 came to a close in 1815, and the discussion of enacting an income tax was tabled for the next few decades.

Ever so stubborn, big-government advocates were hell-bent on enacting income taxes, and they eventually found a way to do this at a local and state level. In time, they would reignite a new movement for the adoption of the federal income tax.

State Versions of the Income Tax

With state governments increasingly embarking on public infrastructure projects and introducing compulsory public education, the money for these programs had to come from somewhere. For the income tax advocates whose hopes were dashed during the War of 1812, state income taxes served as a consolation prize. In turn, income tax supporters immediately got to work and started to chip away at state legislatures.

In the mid-19th century, the fruits of the income tax crowd’s labor began to pay off as several states got the ball rolling. Some of these states included:

Slow but sure, income taxes started to make their way from one state legislature to the next. But once the 1860s arrived, income taxes got a tremendous push from one of the most destructive and pivotal events in U.S. history.

Did the income tax supporters finally get their wish?

The Civil War’s Boost for a Federal Income Tax

To say the U.S. was divided during the 1860s would be an understatement.

Ripped apart at the seams by a bloody Civil War (1861-1865), the Union government was desperate for funds to finance its war effort. Like the War of 1812, proposals for income tax were on the menu. Unlike the preceding war period, however, the U.S. was able to successfully enact an income tax.

Abraham Lincoln signed the Revenue Act of 1861 as a means to finance the expensive war effort. This was followed up with other measures like the Revenue Act of 1862 and Revenue Act of 1864, which created the nation’s first progressive income tax system and the precursor to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

What seemed like a monumental victory for income tax supporters who hoped for a long-lasting income tax system would vanish into the ether once the Civil War ended. No longer needing a massive army, the U.S. government let Civil War era income taxes expire once Reconstruction was in full swing. The pro-income tax crowd would have to reassess its tactics and look at other avenues for political change.

The American People Push Back

How did the U.S. government go from embracing massive government expansions during the Civil War to later reverting back to its Constitutional roots of limited government during the next decade? Was it benevolent politicians who, in an act of political kindness, decided to hit the reset button and give Americans their cherished rights back? Or was there something else at play?

Upon further inspection, there is reason to believe that taxes in the 19th century tended to be temporary in nature given the American people’s ideological propensities. Most people were still skeptical of government overreach, especially during the Civil War – a time where habeas corpus was suspended, and the first income tax was implemented. Shell-shocked from a horrific experience that laid waste to countless urban centers and left hundreds of thousands of Americans dead, the American populace wanted a return to normalcy. And that meant scaling back government as much as possible.

Even Henry Ward Beecher, the brother of the famous author Harriet Beecher Stowe, was skeptical of the Radical Republicans’ zealous plans to grow government during the Reconstruction period. Historian Tom Woods in The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History exposed Beecher’s thoughts on the matter:

“The federal government is unfit to exercise minor police and local government, and will inevitably blunder when it attempts it…To oblige the central authority to govern half the territory of the Union by federal civil officers and by the army, is a policy not only uncongenial to our ideas and principles, but pre-eminently dangerous to the spirit of our government.”

Many Americans would agree with Stowe’s assessment – above all, members of Congress who sought to reassert Congressional dominance throughout the rest of the 19th century. But with the arrival of the Progressive Era, the rules of the political game began to change. Soon, ideas of expansive government, which were routinely scoffed at by intellectuals, politicians, and the American population at large throughout the first half of the 19th century, made a fierce comeback during the latter half of the 19th century.

This time around, these ideas began to have considerable staying power.

The Income Tax: A Child of the Progressive Era

Decades of legislative pressure and constant hand-wringing finally began to pay off for income tax supporters.The arrival of the Progressive Era was like Christmas for political figures in favor of an activist state. This was a time when reformers actively pushed for an energetic government to solve all of society’s ills, most notably poverty and income inequality.

Although they were shut out from the federal government throughout the Gilded Age, Progressives focused their attention on local and state races. Additionally, academia became more receptive to the technocratic message of Progressivism, as numerous academics like John Dewey gained prominence during this period and made progressive ideas popular in the Ivory Tower circles.

Many will scoff and think that Ivory Tower ideas have no impact in changing, that these ideas are simply too dense and inaccessible to the masses. However, free market economists like Nobel laureate F.A. Hayek understood the indispensable role ideas play in politics. In his work, The Intellectuals and Socialism, Hayek argued that when certain ideas promoting activist government become prominent among the academia and general culture, they eventually consume the political class whole.

The idea of an income tax would have been laughed out the venue in previous decades. But in the 1890s, it was all the rage at universities throughout the U.S. Soon, political winds started to blow in a more favorable direction.

For a brief moment, Progressives got their wish when the Congress introduced an income tax during the mid-1890s. The Wilson-Gorman Tariff Act, which had an income tax provision attached to it, gained the ire of then President Grover Cleveland for its last-minute amendments. Nevertheless, the Wilson-Gorman Act became law without Cleveland’s signature. The Supreme Court would later strike down the income tax provisions of the Wilson-Gorman Act in 1895’s Pollock v. Farmers’ Loan Trust Co. case.

The Supreme Court’s rejection of the income tax was no trivial failure. It was the first step in starting the conversation on the need for an income tax. Progressives now smelled blood in the water and would come back with a vengeance in less than two decades.

Enter the Wilson Presidency

Not letting the temporary setback of the Pollock v. Farmers’ Loan Trust Co. deter their activism, Progressives continued plowing ahead and making their ideas more palatable to the political class and the masses. Progressivism reached its zenith during the administration of Woodrow Wilson, when progressive reformers finally got their wish as the 16th Amendment was ratified in 1913. This ratification settled any constitutional questions about the legality of this controversial tax. It started out as a relatively limited tax, with individuals making below $20,000 paying a rate of one percent, and the rich – those making making more than $500,000 – paying a seven-percent tax.

Supporters of the income tax sold it as a tax that would only target the filthy rich. But as history has shown, government encroachments have a tendency of growing over time. In 1917, the lowest tax bracket paid two percent, although the highest income earners saw their taxes skyrocket to 67 percent.

At the time, politicians reassured their constituents that those rates would not be permanent and they would eventually be scaled back. Little did taxpayers know what the 1930s and 1940s had in store for them.

The Income Tax: A Normal Part of Public Policy

Since its ratification, the income tax has been a calling card for politicians keen on growing the size of the State. By soaking the rich and redistributing their wealth, politicians can claim to be champions of the common man, all while consolidating their power in D.C. However, economic realities and political backlash have constrained politicians’ abilities to indefinitely raise taxes.

Power-hungry politicians needed a little bit of outside help to make their wildest fantasies become reality. That help usually comes in the form of political crisis, which politicians exploited in its fullest.

The New Deal was the first era that witnessed income taxes rise at astronomical rates. On the eve of the 1929 stock market crash, the highest income earners paid a marginal tax rate of 25 percent. But once the Great Depression was well underway in the mid-1930s, the top tax bracket was paying 63 percent, and the United States’ entrance into World War II catapulted these rates toward 94 percent.

Certain political practices, such as the abandonment of the use of war bonds – debt securities the government issued to finance war efforts – changed certain political realities for the political class. The discontinued use of war bonds made using the income tax and deficit spending a necessity. This was the result of the populace starting to grow skeptical of military action abroad. With war bonds out of the picture, the U.S. relied more on income taxation and central banking to finance military actions and domestic programs after World War II.

Like an annoying chore, the income tax soon became a part of the average American’s life, whether they liked it or not. For some Americans, the rabbit hole of inconveniences and frustration goes even deeper.

Extraterritorial Taxation: The Income Tax’s Worst Kept Secret

Living in foreign lands is one of the most tantalizing experiences for people all over the globe. And after decades of hard work and meticulous saving, many Americans dream of living abroad.

Often times, unsavory political situations like economic collapses, heavy taxation, and even war compel people to search for greener pastures. For many, settling in new lands is a form of wiping the slate clean – disassociating with a tyrannical homeland and starting a new life in a land of opportunities.

But for Americans abroad, the U.S. government still finds a way of sneaking back into their lives. Like an unwanted guest, the income tax has latches on to Americans and follows them all the way to their new place of residency. Thinking that their foreign villa by the beach is a refuge from potential U.S. government meddling, many Americans are caught by surprise when the tax bill comes at their U.S. embassy.

A particularly unique feature of America’s income tax system is its power to tax extraterritorial income. In other words, Americans living abroad are subject to a worldwide tax on their income. One caveat is that American taxpayers enjoy a foreign earned income exclusion that reduces their overall tax burden. As of 2018, the maximum exclusion for taxpayers is $103,900. Nevertheless, the U.S. and Eritrea are unique in their extraterritorial taxation models. Eritrea, however, taxes its citizens living overseas at a flat rate of two percent.

The extraterritorial nature of U.S. taxes has not been without its fair share of legal controversies. George Cook, an American living in Mexico for 20 years, was perturbed by the fact that he had to pay an income tax on his foreign earnings despite no longer having ties with his country of origin. George’s dispute eventually made its way to the Supreme Court in 1924, and the issue was resolved in the Supreme Court case Cook v. Tait.

The Supreme Court ended up ruling that international taxation of foreign income was constitutional because the U.S. government “benefits its citizens and their property” wherever they live. In essence, Americans are double taxed – they must pay both the taxes in their new country of residence and American income taxes.

Still not satisfied, D.C. has made sure to extend its international taxation reach by passing the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) in 2010. FATCA essentially turns banks and financial institutions into de facto enforcement branches of the IRS.

Although FATCA is an American law, foreign countries must comply with its ordinances. FATCA initially requires that all foreign financial institutions register with the IRS. In the case that foreign financial institutions don’t follow through with FATCA standards, the U.S. government can levy a withholding tax of 30 percent on the foreign bank’s earnings.

The Sneakiness of Income Tax Withholding

One of the sneakiest aspects of the income tax is the practice of withholding. Instead of paying a lump sum on April 15th, most taxpayers have their income taxes deducted from their paycheck. Their employer essentially becomes an unpaid tax collector that gradually extracts their income in relative silence.

Come Tax Day, many Americans receive money back after paying excess taxes all year, so they’re left feeling like they’ve been given the gift of free money. Sounds too good to be true, right? Skeptics have every reason to question the euphoria certain Americans display on April 15th. In reality, the government is actually forcing taxpayers to loan it money to finance lavish programs, with zero interest.

Ironically enough, withholding wasn’t an original feature of the income tax. It wasn’t until World War II that the practice of tax withholding was standardized through the Current Tax Payment Act of 1943. Withholding would later become a permanent feature of the current tax code, despite its original intentions of being a temporary wartime measure.

Sales Tax Deductions vs. Income Tax Deductions

Though the income tax is a convoluted maze that creates headaches for business owners and individual taxpayers alike, there are certain features in the current tax code that can be used to help taxpayers reduce their overall tax burden and make their tax filing experience more comfortable. Tax deductions are just one of these features.

Taxpayers have the choice of opting for a standard deduction or they can itemize their deductions. If an individual decides to itemize, one of the deductions they’re allowed to take is on various taxes at the state and local level. These deductions are called SALT deductions. Taking a sales tax deduction is a legitimate way to recoup an individual’s local and state sales tax obligations

For 2018, the standard tax deduction was $12,000 for individuals, $18,000 for heads of household, and $24,000 for married couples filing together. Itemizing is a reasonable route to go if an individual’s itemized deductions are larger than the allowed standard deduction. Individuals can’t deduct all state and local taxes, however. They have to choose between deducting state sales taxes or state income taxes, but they can’t deduct both. That being said, taxpayers can deduct state and local property taxes irrespective of the options they choose.

It should be noted that this deduction strategy is not necessarily a one-way ticket to lower taxes. In the case that itemizing deductions gives an individual a lower income tax burden than a standard deduction, the sales tax deduction is worth looking into. It makes sense for individuals who have realized major purchases, thus paying a considerable amount in sales taxes, or for those living in states with no income tax, to include the sales tax in their list of itemized deductions.

Bear in mind that certain things have changed since the 2017 tax reforms. The Trump administration’s tax reforms have capped how much individuals can deduct from federal income taxes for state and local income, property, and sales taxes. Under the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, taxpayers can only deduct a maximum of $10,000 in state income taxes and property taxes combined.

The IRS Sales Tax Deduction Calculator

For those who proceed to file a Form 1040 and itemize deductions on Schedule A, they have the option of choosing between claiming state and local income taxes or state and local sales taxes.

If an individual is planning to claim sales taxes paid in order to lower their federal income tax burden, they should first go to the IRS’ Sales Tax Deduction Calculator page. This way they can better estimate their itemized SALT tax savings versus taking the standard deduction.

The IRS’ Sales Tax Deduction Calculator is a handy tool for helping individuals figure out the amount of state and local sales tax one can claim. This is true even if the individual’s state and local sales tax rates changed during the year (e.g., because the rates changed or because you moved your personal residence). Be sure and have your Form 1040 draft in-hand when you are ready to calculate.

GILTI: The Global Intangible Low-Taxed Income Provision

Apart from lowering certain taxes, the 2017 Trump tax reforms came with a series of changes with global implications to the U.S. tax code. One that stands out in particular is the introduction of “The Global Intangible Low-Taxed Income” (which is subversively-nicknamed “GILTI”). GILTI is a new tax provision that specifically targets U.S. corporations that own Controlled Foreign Companies (CFCs) for U.S. tax purposes.

Prior to GILTI, U.S. corporations with a CFC could defer U.S. taxes on the earnings of their CFCs until the CFC distributed those earnings to the parent U.S. corporation. (This is how a U.S.-based multinational like Apple Inc. came to have close to a quarter trillion dollars of foreign cash on-hand, and subsequently had to explain American tax law to U.S. Senators who couldn’t understand what Apple was in fact legally doing.) Post-GILTI, U.S. corporations are taxed at a rate of 10.5% on the earnings of their CFCs regardless of whether the earnings are distributed or not.

To address this transition, the U.S. made two important changes. First, the law authorized the IRS to impose a Section 965 transition tax (also called “The Mandatory Repatriation Tax”) on the accumulated earnings of CFCs through the end of 2017. And second, the law authorized the IRS to impose on CFCs the aforementioned GILTI tax on all future (i.e., post-2017) foreign earnings.

In practice, here’s how the GILTI tax works: Assume you have a CFC owned by a U.S. C corporation (like Apple Inc.) with $1,000 in earnings for 2019. Also assume it has tangible assets with a tax basis of $2,000. You would subtract $200 (10% of $2,000 tangible assets) from the $1,000 in earnings, leaving you with $800 to which a 10.5% tax rate is applied – and you’d get a GILTI tax due of $84.

Amongst Constitutional scholars, the Section 965 transition tax has raised 5th Amendment due process concerns because it authorizes the IRS to impose a retroactive tax on foreign earnings nearly three decades after the fact. To comply with this change, companies have the option to pay in installments over eight years – but they still owe back taxes worth 15.5% on overseas profits computed under U.S. tax principles represented by cash and liquid assets, and 8% on profits represented by illiquid assets.

It is this illiquid asset provision which is ensnaring some expected U.S. companies like Kansas City Southern and Tupperware (hardly Silicon Valley darlings like Apple Inc.), and causing them to pay taxes above the new statutory corporate rate of 21%. And in other cases, business owners must resort to becoming residents of the foreign country their multinational is operating in as a means of lowering their tax burden. This is on display when people consider establishing their residency in Puerto Rico, as will be discussed below.

Tax Reformers Still Have Work to Do

Despite the marketing campaign that initially sold the income tax as a straightforward measure to finance government, it has morphed into a legal maze that keeps tax lawyers gainfully employed. After more than a century in existence, the income tax may no longer be worth the headache that millions of Americans must cope with every year on April 15th.

Although the last few decades have witnessed politicians reducing income taxes at reasonable rates, fiscal irresponsibility and a lopsided tax burden remain lingering problems.

As of 2018, the U.S. has been running a fiscal deficit of $778 billion, in a year when unemployment has reached historical lows. One can only imagine how deep those deficits will go under less favorable economic circumstances. A report from the Wall Street Journal also indicates that the U.S. income tax system remains very progressive, with the top 20 percent of taxpayers paying 87 percent of total income tax revenue.

Tax cuts are not bad in of themselves. The great Libertarian economist Milton Friedman was in “favor of cutting taxes under any circumstances and for any excuse, for any reason, whenever it’s possible.” The real problem at hand is the political class’s insistence on maintaining unsustainable levels of spending.

In a tragic twist of fate, these deficits will negate all of the positive effects of the original tax cuts. As debt accumulates, future generations will be stuck with a hefty tax bill. Not only that, but big spending crowds out private-sector investment, thus creating a capital-starved future economy. History has shown, in such cases of fiscal irresponsibility, that governments will either raise taxes exorbitantly or turn to the printing presses to debase the currency.

Alternative Tax Models to Consider

For many Americans today, the idea of a world without income taxes seems almost absurd. Income tax has become a presence like furniture in the living room – a baseline they’ve been so used to that they no longer even notice it. But for many business owners, the income tax is a very real part of everyday life that must be dealt with, lest they want to suffer legal penalties.

In the frustrated business owner’s eyes, any type of reform to simplify the tax code would be a release from the current income tax quagmire. The good news is that business owners no longer have to figure out alternatives to the present tax code. There are numerous individuals who have stepped up to plate and put forward reasonable alternatives to the current system.

Several proposals to reform the income tax have come in the form of a national sales tax or a flat tax. Both of these taxes are preferable to the income tax status quo. A flat tax entails having a single tax that taxes every American at one rate. Additionally, the flat tax treats all taxpayers and income equally, in stark contrast to the current tax model.

On the other hand, the national sales tax would repeal the current income tax code and replace it with a tax on the final sale of all goods and services to consumers. Although the most notable difference between the national sales and flat tax is the collection point, they are actually quite similar when it comes to how income is treated.

Economist Dan Mitchell breaks down some of the similarities between the flat tax and a national sales tax:

“A single flat rate. Under both plans, income is taxed at one low rate. This would ensure that the government treated taxpayers equally and would address the problem of high marginal tax rates. The single low rate also would promote faster economic growth by minimizing tax penalties on work, risk-taking, and entrepreneurship.”

“No bias against savings and investment. Implementing either the flat tax or a national sales tax would eliminate the current tax code’s bias against capital formation by ensuring that no income is taxed more than one time. Because double taxation of capital income is a pervasive problem in the current law, going to the flat tax or a national sales tax would stimulate higher incomes and faster growth by minimizing the tax penalties on savings and investment.”

“Equality. Adoption of the flat tax or a national sales tax also would end the discriminatory treatment caused by a tax code that grants preferences or imposes penalties on certain behaviors and activities. Either reform would change the code so that all taxpayers – and all income – are treated the same under the law.”

Mitchell is correct in his assessment that the current progressive system punishes success and discourages saving and investment – two of the pillars of capital accumulation. In addition, risk-taking and entrepreneurship are crucial in a market economy. Progressive income taxes impede this process through its arbitrary redistributions on income.

In the same token, income taxes do have a social engineering function that encourages certain types of behavior and favors certain interest groups over others. For example, on the class warrior side of the aisle, the earned-income tax credit effectively subsidizes low-income tax filers. Other uses of the tax code to socially engineer desired results include sweetheart tax breaks for the solar industry or making childcare costs deductible.

All in all, a switch to either a national sales tax or a flat tax would lead to a simpler tax system that no longer incentivizes interest group politicking or places a disproportionate tax burden on a certain class of taxpayers. Instead, they would encourage productive activities like entrepreneurship, saving, and investment.

9 States Without State Income Tax

While most states have emulated the federal government, implementing income taxes of their own throughout the 20th century, nine states have broken the mold by not having broad-based income taxes.


In 1949, Alaska’s income tax was established at a rate of 10 percent. Employers carried out withholding, while residents and non-residents were taxed. During the period of 1949 to 1961, the income tax was increased from to 16 percent.

Alaska’s income tax was repealed in 1980, in the midst of an oil boom, with several attempts to reinstate it. In 1986, a Joint Special Committee did not recommend bringing back the income tax. HB 154 was introduced in 1987, which sought to reestablish the income tax, but ultimately died. A final attempt was made in 1989 through the introduction of HB 252, which also did not move forward in the Alaska legislature.

Alaska has the lowest tax burden of all states in the country according to WalletHub.


Florida’s income tax abolition came in 1924, when voters passed an amendment to the state constitution. For nearly a century, business interests and real estate agencies have used Florida’s lack of income tax to draw America’s wealthiest individuals to the state. The president of Florida TaxWatch, Dominic Calabro, said that the income tax prohibition is part of Florida’s attractiveness and that it’s “kind of the social contract” behind Florida’s economic success.

When the ban was enacted, it also prohibited corporate income tax. However, this changed in 1971. The governor at the time, Reubin Askew, spearheaded a campaign that convinced voters to amend the state constitution so that corporations pay their “fair share.”

Nevertheless, Florida remains one of the best spots for economic activity thanks to its low-tax environment. It has the fourth lowest tax burden according to WalletHub.


Article 10 of Nevada’s Constitution states:

“No income tax shall be levied upon the wages or personal income of natural persons. Notwithstanding the foregoing provision, and except as otherwise provided in subsection 1 of this Section, taxes may be levied upon the income or revenue of any business in whatever form it may be conducted for profit in the State.”

During the Great Depression era, the state of Nevada considered passing an income tax to raise revenue in the legislative session of 1931. This measure failed, but renewed pushes for income and corporate income taxes continued throughout the 20th century.

The Nevada Taxpayers Association rallied against a teacher union initiative petition to impose a corporate income tax in the 90s. The NTA was successful.

To this day, the state generates most of its revenue from sales taxes and taxes on the gambling and mining industries. With a Democrat trifecta in the Nevada State Assembly, it remains to be seen if the state will eventually end up implementing an income tax.

WalletHub puts Nevada as the state with the 24th lowest tax burden in the country.

New Hampshire*

New Hampshire has no broad-based income tax. In other words, it does not collect taxes on income received from wages or salaries. However, the state does tax interest and dividends. Bills like SB 404 have been introduced in the past to phase out the state tax on interest and dividends.

During the 1930s, 1960s, 1970s, and as recently as the 2000s, there were multiple attempts to bring a broad-based income tax to New Hampshire. These failed attempts have ingrained a so-called “Pledge” in New Hampshire politics, where state governors vow to veto any sales or income tax proposal that comes to their desk.

New Hampshire has the fifth lowest tax burden in the United States, based on WalletHub’s rankings.

South Dakota

South Dakota repealed its income tax in 1943. It does, however, levy taxes on certain financial institutions.

Since 1943, several attempts have been made to reinstate an income tax. Jim Fry, director of South Dakota’s Legislative Research Council, reported that in the 1970s former South Dakota Governor Richard Kneip tried to push an income tax scheme that was initially approved by the House of Representatives. In the end, this measure was eventually defeated when Lieutenant Governor William Dougherty cast the crucial vote that killed the income tax bill in the evenly divided Senate.

Future attempts to bring back an income tax have proven to be difficult since several constitutional amendments were added in 1978 and 1996. These amendments prohibit the enactment of any new taxes and the increase of any existing tax rates, but with key exceptions: These actions can only be carried out by a voter initiative or by a two-thirds vote of all members in each chamber of the legislature.

According to WalletHub, South Dakota has the eighth lowest total tax burden in the nation.


On November 4, 2014, Tennessee voters approved Amendment 3, which prohibited the Tennessee General Assembly from imposing a broad-based income tax.

Like New Hampshire, Tennessee still has a peculiar tax, the Hall Tax, which taxes some dividends and interest. This tax was added to the Tennessee constitution in 1929, and imposed a flat tax rate of six percent.

The good news for Tennessee taxpayers is that the Tennessee General Assembly voted to repeal the Hall Tax in 2016. This plan would phase out the Hall Tax by a percentage point each year until 2022, provided that the state meets certain revenue targets.

Tennessee is one of the most tax-friendly states in the U.S. according to WalletHub, which ranks it in third place when it comes to states with the lightest tax burdens.


Due to an amendment to the Texas Constitution, which was adopted in 1993, Texas has no broad-based income tax. Section 24 of Article 8 of the Texas Constitution prohibits the legislature from imposing an income tax. Under Section 24, any income tax proposal must also go through a statewide referendum in order for it to go into effect. If the income tax law increases the “collective liability” of individuals subject to the tax, it must be ratified via referendum.

Then, the proceeds from the income tax are required to be allocated towards the reduction of local school property taxes. The remaining proceeds are then used to help fund education.

WalletHub puts Texas in 17th place for states with the lowest tax burdens in the U.S.


Historically, Washington state had relied on property taxes to finance government services. However, the Great Depression of the early 1930s caused tremendous political unrest in the state. As a result, many reformers were looking for a more equitable alternative for taxation. In 1933, voters were able to overwhelmingly pass I-69, an initiative which would enact an income tax in the state.

Despite its resounding support, I-69 was struck down by the Washington Supreme Court as unconstitutional. Since then there have been multiple attempts to implement an income tax, but they have all failed. In 1971 and 1973, voters rejected income taxes.

According to WalletHub, Washington state has the 18th lowest tax burden in the country.


On November 5, 1974, Wyoming voters approved a constitutional amendment that made it virtually impossible to implement a state income tax. Article 15, Section 18 does not explicitly prohibit an income tax as many people erroneously believe. What this amendment states is that:

“No tax shall be imposed upon income without allowing a credit against such tax liability for all sales, use, and ad valorem taxes paid in the taxable year by the same taxpayer to any taxing authority in Wyoming.”

WalletHub puts Wyoming in ninth place among the states with the lowest overall tax burdens.

*States with no broad-based income taxes, but that still tax dividends and interest.

Puerto Rico: Tax Incentives For Americans

Due to GILTI and other questionable features of the U.S. tax code, Americans have looked for ways to move abroad so as to lighten their tax burden. The U.S. is unique in its approach to taxing worldwide income, which makes it very difficult for Americans to substantially reduce the amount of taxes they are paying to the U.S. government, even if they live abroad.

With the recent Trump tax reforms, it has become more difficult for U.S. citizens to lower their global tax burden, however, there are still ways around this. One of these strategies has been to move to U.S. territories, which are not subject to the U.S. income tax.

One of the more popular destinations for Americans looking for favorable tax advantages is Puerto Rico. Provided that they they do their homework, Americans could potentially enjoy federal income tax exemptions and see their taxes drop by 90%.

Two programs that the Puerto Rican government offers are Act 20 and Act 22, which are the island’s two major tax incentives.

Here is a brief summary of what these programs entail:

Act 20: The Export Services Act

Act 20 targets certain types of qualifying businesses, like consulting or financial services, by offering incentives such as 4% corporate income tax rates. This is available to corporations who relocate to Puerto Rico and meet the following requirements:

  1. Become a bona fide resident. In other words, an individual must relocate their center of life to the island and spend at least half the year (183 days) in Puerto Rico.
  2. Set up a Puerto Rican company.
  3. Establish an office in the country.

For Americans, GILTI has changed the tax outlook in Puerto Rico. Now that corporate tax policy has been streamlined for all CFCs, U.S persons will have to pay another 6.5% in corporate taxes to meet the GILTI minimum of 10.5%. The best way for Americans who have a CFC to deal with this provision is by becoming official residents of Puerto Rico.

Act 22: Individual Investor Act

Act 22, the Individual Investors Act, gives investors the ability to pay 0% tax on interest, dividends, and capital gains while living in Puerto Rico as a certified resident. Like Act 20, the taxpayer must be a bona fide resident who has relocated their life to Puerto Rico and must spend at least half the year (183 days) on the island.

This program is especially attractive to traders and crypto-investors, or any individual with a large amount of passive income or capital gains from any source.

A Cause for Hope

The tedious process of filing tax returns is a common pain point for millions of Americans on April 15th. After more than a century’s existence, the income tax has become a political baseline, which many Americans take as a given.

Make no mistake about it, the income tax is no mundane feature of the American political economy. In fact, it’s one of the largest enablers of government growth. To genuinely reduce the size of the American state in economic affairs, the abolition of the income tax – or at the very least, a gradual phase-out – would be solid steps in bringing fiscal sanity.

Thanks to a few high-profile political campaigns over the last decade, the desire to get rid of the income tax is no fringe idea, and is starting to gain momentum in Conservative and Libertarian circles.

Since 2008, each presidential cycle has featured candidates on the Republican side of the aisle with campaigns to abolish the IRS. Ron Paul did so in 2008 and 2012, whereas candidates like Paul’s son Rand Paul and Senator Ted Cruz followed in the retired Congressman’s footsteps during the 2016 Republican primaries.

Should the Overton window of public opinion shift toward limited government, the days of Americans having to deal with the IRS may soon come to an end.

After all, tax rebellions are in the American people’s DNA. And with the U.S.’s fiscal situation deteriorating annually, bold measures will need to be taken.

The 16th Amendment: How the U.S. Federal Income Tax Became D.C.’s Favorite Political Weapon originally appeared in The Resistance Library at

The post The 16th Amendment: How the U.S. Federal Income Tax Became D.C.’s Favorite Political Weapon first appeared on Tenth Amendment Center.

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The Reasons Why Leftists Will Never Successfully Disarm Americans

This article was written by Brandon Smith at

Gun confiscation has always been the Holy Grail of totalitarian regimes. Without disarmament, fully centralized control of a population is not possible. And though it is true that not every evil regime seeks to disarm every single citizen (at least not right away), they always disarm the people they specifically intend to hurt the most.

For example, gun control advocates today like to point out that the Third Reich in Germany did not disarm the entire German population. This is a rather bizarre position for leftists as they continually wail and scream about Nazis around every corner and behind every tree, but they will STILL defend their gun-grabbing policies by arguing that the Nazis were not as bad as conservatives assume. Of course, what they rarely mention is that the Nazis DID disarm millions of people; most of them Jews and political opponents under 1938 German gun laws.

The National Socialists disarmed the people they planned to destroy. It’s not hard to figure out why; they didn’t want their targets to be able to fight back. They allowed their political supporters to keep their weapons legally; this is not a relaxation of gun laws, in fact, it’s the reverse – It is selective enforcement of gun confiscation based on ideological loyalty.

Hilariously, leftists in the US when confronted with this fact double down on their gun control arguments. Instead of admitting their foolish error they will say: “Yes, the Nazis disarmed the Jews and others, but having guns would have made no difference in saving their lives…” And there you have it – The most backwards circular logic of all time. If Jews and others owning guns was not a deterrent to their slaughter, then why would the Nazis bother disarming them in the first place? Leftists have no answer to this question.

They are trying to argue against facts using a hypothetical; really, how would they know? Maybe owning guns might have saved the lives of millions of people the Nazis had deemed enemies of the state? Maybe it would have acted as a deterrent to the Holocaust? Maybe the Nazis would have been afraid to expand tyranny into Europe if they had to worry about their own population fighting back and disrupting their momentum? Maybe, WWII would have never happened? We could argue hypotheticals all day long…

What we do know for certain is that disarmament is ALWAYS one of the first steps by totalitarians in cementing their control of a population, and this is most common among the biggest political killers in modern history – And no, it’s not the Nazis; it’s the communists.

While a debate rages over the exact number of deaths attributed to communist governments, it is estimated that they are responsible for approximately 65 million to 100 million murders over the course of the last century, a genocide beyond anything history has ever seen before. These deaths were caused by direct means, such as shooting dissidents, or indirect means, such as imprisoning dissidents until they died from complications, or stealing food supplies from rural communities and allowing them to starve en masse.

Stalin, in particular, declared any theft of state property a crime punishable by death. He then at the same time declared that all products including food production was state property. So, if you eat food that was not granted to you by the state, you are stealing, and could therefore be shot. See how that works?

None of this would have been possible without gun control and confiscation laws put in place before the larger genocide was enacted. In 1918 the Bolsheviks and the Council of the People’s Commissar mandated that Russian citizens turn in their firearms under penalty of prosecution. Gun restrictions and penalties were increased over the years until WWII when the Soviets were loath to arm their own population in response to the Nazi invasion. In fact, the ease by which the Nazi army rolled through the Eastern front was partly due to the disarmament of the Russian population.

Communist governments only allow people to have firearms in their hands when they are fighting against the ideological and foreign foes of the regime. You are allowed to be cannon fodder for the elites, you are not allowed the means to defend yourself from those same elites.

Americans (primarily conservative Americans) have an in-depth understanding of this dynamic. While leftists are more concerned with rewriting history to their benefit, we are more concerned with learning from it. We know where gun control leads, and so did the Founding Fathers of our nation, which is why they codified gun ownership into the US constitution as an inalienable right under the 2nd Amendment. Here are the reasons why leftists, globalists and communists will NEVER be able to disarm the American population as they have done in previous nations…

We Know The History Of Gun Control

As noted above, we have studied the history of tyrants. There is no tyranny that has ever existed that did not try to disarm the population or disarm the portion of the population the government intended to enslave or destroy. Leftists froth at the mouth trying to re-imagine history in a way that circumvents or ignores the tyranny issue when it comes to gun control. They are wasting their time.

They are never going to convince conservatives and moderates that gun confiscation was not a key step in the establishment of various tyrannies in modern history. All the mental gymnastics and manipulation, all the energy they spend trying to rationalize away genocide as somehow “inevitable” regardless of gun rights – it’s all for nothing. We are far smarter than they are. We are well versed in the legacy of gun control, and this makes their tactics useless.

We Understand Incrementalism – We Know All The Tricks

The level of dishonesty involved in gun control advocacy is astonishing. Leftists often use lies as a means to gain political capital; if they were completely honest about their intentions they would not receive much support from the general population for their efforts. Gun grabbers are very careful in most cases to use phrases like “common sense” when talking about new restrictions. They try to refrain from admitting what they really want is complete disarmament, at least, they tried until recently.

Incrementalism was the name of the game for decades, but in the past year, they are going for broke. Some leftist politicians are openly admitting their true goals because frankly the song and dance wasn’t working and they know conservatives aren’t going to allow any further encroachment on their rights.

I find it interesting that leftists are so astonished at our refusal to compromise on any further gun restrictions. They seem to think that any new mass shooting buys them new gun control capital. Maybe that’s how things used to work, but not any longer. Frankly, these shootings are irrelevant to our gun rights. Punishing everyone for the crimes of a handful is no longer acceptable to conservatives because we know that if we give gun control advocates an inch, they will take a mile.

Kamala Harris, now Vice President of the US, is one of the many Democrats openly seeking mandatory government buybacks of firearms and the dismantling of gun rights. However, it was Beto O’Rourke who really took the mask off when it came to the true intentions of gun grabbers.  Stating that “hell yes” the Dems are going to take away our AR-15s.

Joe Biden is famous for his statements admonishing military-grade weapons in civilian hands and telling people that a “double-barreled shotgun” is “superior” to the AR-15 for home defense. Obviously, a two-shot weapon with a limited effective range of around 50 yards or less makes it very difficult to fight back against government tyranny. And, we all know that eventually even the shotguns would be taken away.

Biden’s specific focus, though, seems to be Red Flag gun laws, which allow authorities to confiscate firearms from people not involved in criminal activity, and this is based on hearsay testimony and without due process. Criteria includes any “suspicion of mental illness”, which is completely subjective. Conservatives have been accused of mental illness because they oppose Covid lockdowns, they question vaccine safety, they question the legitimacy of Global Warming fear-mongering in the media, etc. ANYTHING could be labeled a mental illness by the state and therefore make a person susceptible to Red Flag confiscation.

This is targeted incrementalism and slective enforcement of gun control, much like that used by the Nazis. Red Flag laws allow the government to attack political and ideological opponents one at a time and disarm them, just as the Nazis selectively targeted their political opponents for disarmament. We know where all of this is going. We’ve seen it before.

BLM Race Riots

Despite the false claims of the mainstream media, we have seen first hand the destruction and insanity perpetrated by Marxist groups like Black Lives Matter. They are anything but “peaceful”, they are dangerous in their lack of intelligence and logic, and their social justice ideology is a cancer that infects and debilitates every vital organ of Western civilization.

In his movie ‘Platoon’, Oliver Stone’s character Chris Taylor says: “Hell is the impossibility of reason”. If this doesn’t describe the social justice movement today then I don’t know what does.

If a group of people is determined to make every single tragedy about racism and “white supremacy” despite all facts to the contrary, and then use those tragedies as an excuse for mass violence, then they are zealots, and zealots cannot be reasoned with. They are cultists with a mission, and they will do anything to accomplish that mission.

In this case, the mission of Marxists within BLM and the globalist foundations that fund them (like Ford Foundation and Open Society Foundation) is to destroy the very fabric of America, “burn it to the ground”, and then rebuild it into an unrecognizable husk devoid of principles or freedom.

Yeah, I don’t think conservative gun owners are going to go along with that. Burning down their own neighborhoods is one thing, but BLM activists have tried to spread beyond the borders of their own garbage cities in the past, and we aren’t going to allow them to act violently. For this reason alone, conservatives will never disarm.

The Control Agenda Is Out In The Open

There is a reason why leftists and globalists are so obsessed with taking away combat-ready firearms from Americans, and it’s not about “saving lives”. These weapons act as a deterrent to full blown tyranny. As long as they exist, our ability to take back our other rights and freedoms exists.

If anything has convinced gun owners of the need for firearms, it has been the past year of pandemic fear-mongering. What have we learned so far? Well, we are now fully aware of the “Great Reset” agenda, which has been promoted nonstop by the World Economic Forum and various political leaders. This agenda calls for years of economic lockdowns and medical mandates, forced vaccination, medical passports without which a person might be completely removed from the economy, a new cashless society, a shared economy in which you will “own nothing and like it”.

The medical or vaccine “passports” are particularly disconcerting. For one, governments don’t necessarily have to enforce them right away. Rather, they can simply allow their corporate partners to demand said passports from anyone that wants to get a job or shop in their stores. Once this system is ingrained into the consumer world, governments can then step in and make passports a legal requirement. Eventually, the passports give the establishment the ability to control and micro-manage every aspect of every individual life. Without compliance to every whim, the technocrats can easily void your passport, and then you die from poverty and starvation.

This would be impossible to do in a country where a majority of the population is armed. I think it’s safe to say most Americans do not want to live in the dystopian world that the globalists at the WEF envision, and we will fight to ensure it does not happen.

Tyranny Is Enforced By Armed Men On The Ground

My favorite mantra of gun grabbers is the claim that “Your AR-15 isn’t going to help you against an Abrams tank or a predator drone”. These people don’t understand how totalitarian systems function. In order to control a population, you have to have loyal troops on the ground…everywhere. Not only that, but you also need loyal civilians, a large percentage of the population, to act as your eyes and ears and sometimes brute force. And finally, you need anyone who might oppose you to be afraid to take action to defend themselves. You need them docile and passive.

There are a lot of moving parts to tyranny, and tanks and planes are secondary to basic manpower. And where there are troops and others enforcing tyranny, there are numerous targets. Where there are firearms, there is a means to eliminate a tyrant at the top of the pyramid with a single well-placed bullet. Furthermore, you don’t need armored vehicles and stealth jets to fight tyranny; what you need is a good firearm to remove the people driving and flying those machines. A smart rebel might even take those weapons for his own arsenal in the process.

A lot of gun owners are also military veterans, and they have seen how things played out in places like Afghanistan, where all the military might in the world was ineffective against tribesman with old AK-47s and roadside IEDs. It’s about force of will along with minimal necessary firearms. Guerrilla wars are not fought in terms of battles, they are fought in terms of attrition. Americans understand this better than most.

For all these reasons and more, the gun grabber ethos is essentially pointless. They can have total dominance in the federal government, they could have every state government on their side and pass hundreds of laws and executive orders making every gun owner a criminal, and it still would not matter. We will not budge, we would rather fight.

Elitists and leftists just don’t seem to get it. Maybe it’s the way their brains work. Maybe they just can’t comprehend the idea that some people will not compromise certain freedoms no matter the cost. They think everyone has a limit; that everyone has a price. They think anyone can be bought, or that anyone can be leveraged into submission. The truth is, many of us can’t. Some of us have no price, and we cannot be compelled to comply.

We are the people that keep freedom alive, and totalitarians are terrified of us; gun-grabbing is merely a natural extension of their fear and doubt. Wherever an oligarchy is seeking to disarm the population this is a sure sign they are about to grasp for even more control, and they are afraid that the population might dethrone them. And honestly, they should be afraid.

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American Revolution History Intelwars Midnight Ride Paul Revere Today in History

Today in History: The Midnight Ride

Today in history, on April 18, 1775, the British military began to plan an expedition to seize the gunpowder store in Concord, Massachusetts.

Encouraging patriot riders to alert locals to approach of British soldiers, the decision was a watershed moment in the struggle for American independence, and led to the first armed confrontation between the British crown and militia from colonial Massachusetts.

On the morning of April 18, Royal Governor Thomas Gage ordered a mounted patrol to find and imprison Samuel Adams and John Hancock, the two most influential patriot leaders in Boston. The two men had been deemed the only two unworthy of amnesty, and newspapers in London declared they would be hung if caught. By that time, however, both men had fled Boston and taken refuge in a Lexington home owned by one of Hancock’s relatives. In addition, he commanded 700 soldiers to seize gunpowder stores in Concord, 20 miles west of Boston.

Hoping to avoid a campaign of individual disarmament, Gage hoped to repeat the successes of his seizure of the Somerville Powder House the year prior, where the governor’s forces removed gunpowder from a similar store in Somerville. The result of that incident was the Powder Alarm, a concerted plan of mobilization as the result of a false rumor that American blood had been shed at the hands of the British.

Though the rumor proved to be untrue, the incident laid the groundwork for future mobilization of militia in Massachusetts, and served as a test run in the event that the redcoats were to be confronted.

The attempt to seize the gunpowder in Concord spurred various patriot riders, such as Paul Revere, to warn the local communities that the Britain were en route, and encourage their militia forces to mobilize for defense. In doing so, they emulated the quick response that was seen during the Powder Alarm. The event became known as the “midnight ride,” and its success allowed patriot locals to remove gunpowder from traditional storage locations such that the Britain could not seize them.

Contrary to the oft-repeated claim that Revere shouted “the British are coming,” he actually warned patriots that “the regulars are coming out.”

There were as many as 40 riders, each taking a different route to alert patriots throughout Middlesex County. During the ride, three of the patriot riders – including Revere – were arrested and detained by the British Army. After being threatened by gunpoint, Revere advised against approaching Lexington, making clear that hostile militia forces were mustering there. Nonetheless, the riders were brought near Lexington, where the opening gunshots rang out.

When forced to answer, Revere admitted the shots were a signal to “alarm the country,” and the Lexington town bell began to ring. Now panicked, the British soldiers decided against moving closer to Lexington. Instead, they seized Revere’s horse, released the three captured riders, and moved toward Boston to alert their superiors. If not for the timing, Revere may never have gone free. As the opening gunshots of the Battle of Lexington rang out, Revere helped Hancock and his family escape.

A breaking point in the schism between the crown and the colonies, the forthcoming Battles of Lexington and Concord encouraged a concerted response from Britain’s North American colonies. In large part, these circumstances led to the formation of the Second Continental Congress, a convention of delegates from the colonies tasked with responding to the crisis.

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Thomas Jefferson Born Today in History

Today in 1743, Thomas Jefferson was born. A classical liberal that embraced decentralized power, Jefferson championed a distinctly American political philosophy during Virginia’s ascension to statehood, the creation of the United States, and throughout the remainder of his life. Undoubtedly, he was one of the most successful statesmen in the history of the country.

Jefferson was a multi-faceted polymath. His mind was boundless, and he thrived in almost every realm he endeavored to pursue. He was well studied in many fields, including history, philosophy, law, music, architecture, and science, and considered Isaac Newton, Francis Bacon, and John Locke as the greatest men who ever lived. An unwavering defender of natural rights theory, he famously wrote that “the God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time; the hand of force may destroy, but cannot disjoin them.”

Jefferson may be best known as the primary penman of the Declaration of Independence, a declaration of secession against the British crown. The document enumerated a list of Parliamentary transgressions under George III, and acknowledged natural law and the right to alter or abolish one’s own government by force. Upon its acceptance by the Continental Congress, the former colonies were now free and independent states, each with the “full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do.”

In 1791, Jefferson wrote that the “foundation” of the United States Constitution was its embrace of federalism, which was made explicit in the Tenth Amendment. “To take a single step beyond the boundaries thus specially drawn around the powers of Congress,” he wrote, “is to take possession of a boundless field of power, no longer susceptible of any definition.” Certainly, Jefferson rejected the apocryphal view that the Constitution was a “living document” which would be malleable at the will of the government.

In his later years, Jefferson worked to maintain the federal model agreed upon by the states under the United States Constitution, and supported local nullification of unconstitutional federal laws. “He tirelessly attacked the Alien and Sedition Acts because of their blatant unconstitutionality, and penned the Kentucky Resolutions of 1798. “Whensoever the general government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force,” he wrote.

By all accounts, Jefferson held disdain toward central banks and central economic planning. While the Hamiltonian economic plan called for a national bank, protective policies, and “bounties” (corporate welfare), Jefferson embraced free trade and unregulated commerce. In his first inaugural address, he announced that “peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations” would be the cornerstone of his administration. He wrote that “The exercise of a free trade with all parts of the world [is] possessed by [a people] as of natural right.” Jefferson also despised paper money, and recognized the destructive power of banks to print such bills. “Paper is poverty…it is only the ghost of money, and not money itself,” he wrote.

Jefferson abhorred the notion that a small group of federal judges could decide of the constitutionality of every matter. In the 1800s, Jefferson went to war with the federal judiciary, which had been packed with Federalist activists from the Washington and Adams administration. Jefferson’s Republican faction impeached Supreme Court Justice Samuel Chase for his partisan activities on the bench. Still, he could not impede the predilections of his cousin, John Marshall, whose constant rulings in favor of increased national authority made him a thorn in Jefferson’s side. Jefferson wrote that a federal judiciary that held a monopoly over the extent of its own powers would be characterized by the “despotism of an oligarchy.”

From his earliest days as a Burgess in Virginia, and despite owning slaves himself, Jefferson worked to curtail slavery where it existed and to impede its extension. In the 1760s, he proposed that individual slave owners should have power over slave manumissions rather than the bureaucracy of state government. In 1770, he worked pro-bono for a mixed-race boy, arguing that he had natural rights. Jefferson’s legal argument in this case noted that “Under the law of nature, all men are born free.”

He strongly opposed the international slave trade, which he condemned in the original version of the Declaration of Independence. In 1784, he proposed a resolution that – had it not failed by one vote – would have prohibited slavery in every corner of the Northwest Territories. Fortunately, a similar measure passed in 1787. In 1785, he drafted the century’s most prominent anti-slavery work, Notes on the State of Virginia.

In his own state, he wrote and championed legislation that would provide public education to slaves for the first time. As president in 1808, Jefferson signed the bill outlawing the international slave trade forever. Believing that all Americans, including slaves, were equally entitled to self-government, he came to support recolonization efforts that never fully materialized. Finding himself in the doldrums of debt as a spendthrift, Jefferson was never able to freed his slaves, but his writings certainly prove that he believed slavery to be an immoral atrocity.

Jefferson’s vision for the United States held that “energetic” government was to be rejected in favor of republicanism and federalism. Despite modern political tendencies, he defended the notion that “the several States composing, the United States of America, are not united on the principle of unlimited submission to their general government.”

ShareThe states, he countered, were “the surest bulwark against antirepublican tendencies.” One of the most important Americans to have ever lived, Jefferson’s legacy is one to be celebrated by all generations and all ages.

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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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Today in History: Florida Territory Established by Congress

Today in history, on March 30, 1822, the territory of Florida was officially established by Congress. The region was extracted through a diplomatic arrangement with Spain wherein the United States purchased Spanish Florida for $5 million.

The episode that led to the acquisition of Spanish Florida was itself an event of immense historical weight. It all began in 1818, when General Andrew Jackson, in an act of insubordination against President James Monroe, invaded Spanish Florida, slaughtered many of the native Indians there, conquered several outposts, and charged and hanged two British subjects for inciting border raids. Jackson was only expressly ordered by the president to repel Indian invasions, and if necessary, to track them across the border and kill agitators. However, he was not to embark on an outright invasion of Florida proper.

Despite Jackson’s pleadings to the contrary, the conquest of Florida was generally perceived as an aggressive strike. Jackson’s ordeal in Florida was a stain to his reputation for the rest of his life, a deed that some would never forgive him for. The international fallout Jackson caused was such that it could have sparked a war with two major European powers, but such a catastrophe never came to fruition. In a cunning maneuver, Secretary of State John Quincy Adams thought the Monroe administration could use Jackson’s whimsical act of insubordination to its own advantage.

The general’s insubordination ultimately became a political victory for Monroe – the ease with which Jackson conquered Spanish Florida helped convince Spain that their North American holding was tenuous at best. Along with the masterful diplomatic expertise of Secretary of State John Quincy Adams, Spain became convinced to sell Florida to the United States through the Adams-Onis Treaty of 1819. Even still, the consequences of Jackson’s Spanish excursion brought about new questions regarding America’s role in territorial expansion and laid the groundwork for manifest destiny.

Despite his widespread popularity, some Americans came to view Jackson as an American Napoleon, a demagogue whose voracious ambition would leave a wake of destruction and counteract the axioms of republicanism. The fiercest attacks against Jackson were made through Thomas Ritchie’s prominent Virginian newspaper, the Richmond Enquirer.

One anonymous editorial condemned Jackson for “disregarding his orders” and “usurping the powers of Congress, which alone by our constitution is capable of declaring war.” Considering Jackson as an arbitrary and ambitious strongman, another tract declared that he had “promulgated a new code of his own, conceived in madness or folly, and written in blood.” He had, according to writer, “violated all laws human and divine, and violated them with impunity.”

Monroe’s own cabinet entered the debate, and mulled how to respond to Jackson’s delinquency. Believing the foray constituted an act of war, Secretary of War John Calhoun thought Jackson should be court-martialed and punished for the seizure of Pensacola and for the Arbuthnot and Ambrister incident. Nonetheless, Secretary of State John Quincy Adams disagreed with Calhoun on the basis that Jackson’s orders were ambiguous and susceptible to possible misinterpretation by the general. Jackson’s dereliction stirred dissention within Monroe’s cabinet, but Monroe ultimately sided with Adams.

The president criticized Jackson for exceeding his orders, but did nothing to punish the general.

Jackson’s act of disobedience undoubtedly threw an unexpected wrench into the traditional conception of American foreign policy. In the United States, never before had peaceful diplomatic engagements between world powers been so rapidly supplanted by military expansion. Short of the diplomatic handiwork of Adams and the Monroe administration, Jackson’s exploits could have exploded into a war that involved several European power

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Today in History: Stamp Act Repealed and Declaratory Act Passed

Today in history, on Mar 18, 1766, British Parliament repealed the Stamp Act, after months of protest from the colonies and British merchants.

On the same day, Royal Assent was given to the Declaratory Act, a pronouncement that Parliament’s authority in North America was supreme and binding upon the colonies. It declared that Parliament had the authority “to make laws and statutes of sufficient force and validity to bind the colonies and people of America…in all cases whatsoever.”

In “The American Crisis,” Thomas Paine condemned the Declaratory Act and considered its underlying idea to be the root of the conflict with Britain:

“Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated. Britain, with an army to enforce her tyranny, has declared that she has a right (not only to tax) but “to bind us in all cases whatsoever” and if being bound in that manner, is not slavery, then is there not such a thing as slavery upon earth.”

To many, the Declaratory Act offered no saving grace to the prevailing American position that the colonies could be taxed only by their own colonial assemblies, a precept they believed stretched all the way back to the Magna Carta. This contradictory view would force a new rift between the colonies and their mother country that would be seen over the next years.

Still, jubilant celebrations broke out all throughout North America. Some had said the king had delivered the colonies from oppression and injustice, and were ready to give adulation to the crown. New Yorkers celebrated by erecting a statue of George III on the tip of Bowling Green in Manhattan. Ultimately, the same statue would be melted down and turned into musket balls to be fired on his majesty’s forces.

After continual hostility against the taxes it attempted to levy against the North American colonies, Parliament in 1774 passed the even more controversial Coercive Acts. The laws effectively stripped Massachusetts of any political sovereignty, enacted a policy that permitted forcible quartering of British soldiers, closed the ports in Boston to all commerce, and allowed for trials of royal officials to be brought elsewhere in the British Empire in order to secure a more preferable outcome.

Richard Henry Lee described the measures as “a most wicked System for destroying the liberty of America.”

Responding harshly to all resistance against taxation and circumstances considered rebellious, Britain’s conscious attempt to drain power from the colonies, and propensity to assert itself as supreme over all legislative matters, served as the primary reason the colonies drew arms against the government they ultimately chose to depart from.

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Bioethics and the New Eugenics

At first glance, bioethics might seem like just another branch of ethical philosophy where academics endlessly debate other academics about how many angels dance on the head of a pin in far-out, science fiction like scenarios. What many do not know, however, is that the seemingly benign academic study of bioethics has its roots in the dark history of eugenics. With that knowledge, the dangers inherent in entrusting some of the most important discussions about the life, death and health of humanity in the hands of a select few become even more apparent.

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Today in History: Missouri Compromise Signed as Law

Today in  history, on March 6, 1820, a set of bills that came to be known as the “Missouri Compromise” were signed into law by United States President James Monroe.

Initially seen as a gesture of conciliation between factions that would avert discord, the event generated divisive uproar and ripped asunder any semblance of national unity. The controversy, based on the question of Missouri’s statehood, ignited a national debate over the expansion of slavery, the bounds of constitutional authority, and the federal orientation of the union.

Louisiana, the first state to be carved out of the territory acquired through the Louisiana Purchase, entered the union as a slave state in 1812 with an enabling act that admitted the state to the union “upon the same footing with the original states.” The region was then renamed the “Missouri Territory.” By 1818, the renamed Missouri territory started accumulating settlers from the east, many of which travelled from the mid-South. Given the precedent set by Louisiana, many thought the state’s admission to the union would be a conventional affair. It hardly was.

Before Missouri even drew up a constitution and applied for statehood, Congress had made several attempts to impose slavery ultimatums upon the prospective state. In early 1819, a movement within the House of Representatives suggested an amendment that would prohibit slavery in Missouri and freed all slaves born to slave parents after Missouri’s admission at the age of 25. Supporting this amendment was John W. Taylor of New York, who contended that the Constitution allowed Congress to restrict slavery in the territories. He insisted that “the exercise of this power, until now, has never been questioned.”

This alone produced a spirited debate, as many within Congress denied the power to impose ultimatums on statehood on the grounds that the Constitution called only for an up or down vote on state admissions. Sometimes called “anti-restrictionists,” this group included representatives Philip P. Barbour, John Tyler, senators Nathaniel Macon and James Barbour, and Missouri’s independent ambassador John Scott.

While the proposed amendment was agreeable to the House of Representatives, the plan failed in the Senate. The next year, the House passed a new plan that allowed Missouri to adopt a constitution that permitted slavery. The Senate approved such a plan, but added a provision for a geographical line to be drawn along on the southern border of Missouri at the 36°30? parallel that extended westward. North of the line, slavery would be prohibited from all of the western territory.

At the same time as the Missouri matter was debated, the northern portion of Massachusetts petitioned to secede from the rest of the state and apply for statehood as the new independent state of Maine. In order to secure a compromise between opposing factions, the Senate also made an attempt to connect the admission bills of Missouri and Maine together. A rules resolution prevented this from happening, and the two bills were split into separate questions.

After the intense political battle in the Congress, Missouri was added to the union as a state with a Constitution that allowed slavery, and Maine entered the union as a state that prohibited slavery. Additionally, Congress agreed to adopt the proposed parallel of divide that separated slave territories from free territories. This settlement has often been called the “Missouri Compromise,” to which “The Great Compromiser” Henry Clay has been given much credit. In reality the actual results demonstrated that little compromise ever took place, and the voting on each bill reflected marked sectional divide.

The bill that enabled Missouri to draw up a pro-slavery Constitution also admitted it to the union “on an equal footing with the original states, in all respects whatsoever.” Missouri’s enabling act also required the new state to transmit a copy of the constitution it created to the government to fulfill a notification requirement. However, the act also made clear that the state’s admission of the union was not contingent upon whether Congress found the constitution to be agreeable – according to the law, Missouri would be admitted regardless.

The people of Missouri produced their own republican constitution by the middle of 1820, which expressed a desire to establish “a free and independent republic.” Therein, Article III, Section 26 prevented the state government from emancipating slaves without the consent of their owners. Just when political commotion over the state appeared to subside, a second crisis broke out when Missouri’s constitution also included an anti-vagrancy clause that prevented the migration of free blacks and mulattoes. Although this again jeopardized Missouri’s admission to the union for a time, the situation was allayed when Missouri affirmed the constitutional guarantee of privileges and immunities of the several states.

The Missouri crisis was the starting point for what became the most divisive national political issue of the 19th century – the question of whether the Constitution allowed Congress to regulate slavery in the American territories. On this question, two incongruent constitutional perspectives emerged during the “Era of Good Feelings.”

Northerners tended to argue Congress held this power through Article IV, Section 3, which provided that the legislature could make “rules and regulations” in the territories. Some also cited the precedent found in the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, where the Confederation Congress prohibited slavery in the region. Article 6 of the ordinance held that there “shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude” in the territory, but also included a fugitive slave clause that required the return of runaway slaves. If Congress held plenary power to make rules and regulations in the territories, this view espoused that such a power extended to the authority to eliminate slavery in the territories. During the Missouri crisis this view was promoted by Senator Rufus King, who had helped draft the United States Constitution in Philadelphia.

On the other hand, the southern perspective, denying that Congress could regulate slavery in the territories, relied upon the existence of the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment. The clause prohibited the government from seizing the property of individuals “without due process of law.” This outlook held that no enumerated power, whether applicable to the states or the territories, could supersede explicit, overarching limitations that applied to the entire scope of the federal government’s power. If slaveholders chose to bring their slaves into the territories, this position rejected the notion that the general government could prevent it through the rules and regulations provision. Adhering to this view was Alexander Smyth of Virginia, who during the Missouri debates cited the Fifth Amendment as an obligatory limitation of the federal government’s authority.

These two irreconcilable doctrines produced a volley of tensions that plunged the next four decades into political strife. The situation in Missouri, for the first time, demonstrated the extent to which geographical factions apprehended the balance of power between regions that sanctioned slavery and those that did not. If Congress could systematically dictate whether states carved out of the territories could prohibit slavery, many feared that nothing would stop it from regulating the practice in the territories, which did not hold the same sovereign stature as states. The antithetical perspective, on the other hand, asserted that if Congress could not regulate slavery in the territories, that future states created from those districts would inevitably be friendly to slavery.

Besides the vitriol resulting from questions of slavery’s expansion, the situation in Missouri brought about significant questions surrounding the primacy of the states and federal orientation of the union. For his part, former president Thomas Jefferson perceived the Missouri Compromise as a calamity. Jefferson wrote that news of the federal settlement reached him “like a fire bell in the night” and filled him with terror. The esteemed Virginian “considered it at once as the knell of the Union.” Likening the Missouri outcome to a pattern of bell-ringing used to signify a funeral procession, Jefferson viewed the general government’s ultimatum toward Missouri as a radical diversion from the Constitution. A strict adherent to what became known as the “equal footing doctrine,” Jefferson rejected any impulse that would diminish the sovereignty of new states by dictating positions on issues that were independently determined by each prior state.

Bolstering this perspective, Congress had inserted an explicit clause that reiterated this principle into each state’s enabling acts, from the 1791 admission of Vermont onward. The clause asserted that the state entered the union “on an equal footing with the original States, in all respects whatever.” Since new states would likely be carved out of the territory south of the line established by the Missouri Compromise, Jefferson feared this would create a new class of states that would be utterly subordinate to the existing states. The Missouri settlement, he thought, created a permanent schism would undermine the ratified conception of the federal union.

The post Today in History: Missouri Compromise Signed as Law first appeared on Tenth Amendment Center.

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Episode 396 – Bioethics and the New Eugenics

At first glance, bioethics might seem like just another branch of ethical philosophy where academics endlessly debate other academics about how many angels dance on the head of a pin in far-out, science fiction like scenarios. What many do not know, however, is that the seemingly benign academic study of bioethics has its roots in the dark history of eugenics. With that knowledge, the dangers inherent in entrusting some of the most important discussions about the life, death and health of humanity in the hands of a select few become even more apparent.
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Even IF You Are Fully Vaccinated For COVID-19, You Still Have Comply With The Edicts

The “experts” are saying that even after you are fully vaccinated (got two shots of the Big Pharma COVID-19 vaccine) you have to still follow the same tyrannical edicts that everyone else does. Getting injected doesn’t mean you can go back to normal.

At this point, most people have hopefully figured out there is no “going back to normal.”  After all, you can still get and transmit the virus even if you’re fully vaccinated, so you are supposed to remain terrified and afraid of being a human.  But the control freaks say you’ll have “fewer symptoms” if you get the vaccine. It’s hard to believe that getting two Big Pharma jabs is worth it to some people.

Vaccine Trial Participants Warn: Side Effects After Second Shot Are “Intense”

The ruling class with the help of the mainstream media simply want to be able to change humans’ behavior on a whim, and so far, up to this point anyway, they’ve been overtly successful:

The key to being able to ultimately change our behavior is protecting a large percentage of the population through vaccination, said Stephanie Silvera, a professor of public health at Montclair State University.Widespread vaccination will reduce the number of people who become infected and not permit the virus to reproduce and continue to spread, she said.

Although vaccines usually prevent transmission, that was not confirmed in the clinical trials of the vaccines, said Silvera.

“Viruses need hosts to continue to reproduce,” she said. “If we reduce the number of possible hosts through vaccination, we can then prevent the transmission and resume activities that were put in place to counter the spread of this virus.” –

In fact, submitting to the commands of the ruling class won’t actually net you any more freedom. Shocking, right?

Nalin Johri, the acting program director of the Seton Hall Master of Healthcare Administration Program, said you should still follow CDC guidelines and at a minimum wear a mask, socially distance and keep washing your hands even after having two doses. The problem, Johri said, is that while the vaccine provides protection against severe illness, it does not provide 100 percent protection, but more importantly, even if you are vaccinated you may still be able to spread the virus to unvaccinated people.

These people act the unvaccinated care. If they lived their lives in a panicked state of mainstream media-induced fear, they’d have already gotten the shots like the other cattle. This is one of the biggest vaccine pushed in human history, and it’s global.  Wake up.  It’s easy to see this isn’t being done for your own good or the good of others.

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The Founding Father of the Fourth Amendment

February 5 marks the birth of the American who had the greatest hand in what became the 4th Amendment’s prohibition of unreasonable searches and seizures – James Otis. Unfortunately, “one of the most passionate and effective protectors of American rights” is too-little remembered today.

Otis’ efforts applied the celebrated English maxim, “Every man’s house is his castle” – or, as William Pitt said in Parliament in 1763, that “The poorest man may in his cottage bid defiance to all the force of the crown” – to the colonies, in resistance to Crown-created writs of assistance. They were broad search warrants enabling customs officials to enter any business or home without advance notice, probable cause, or reason, which Otis asserted were unconstitutional.

A young John Adams listened to Otis’ anti-writs oration, at which “the child’s independence was then and there born.”

Otis was an advocate general in the vice-admiralty court with responsibilities including prosecuting smuggling, to which Britain’s onerous trade restrictions had turned many. But when the Crown imposed writs of assistance to crack down, Otis resigned his post in protest and represented, without charge, Boston merchants’ efforts to stop the writs. For five hours he argued that they violated citizens’ natural rights, putting them beyond Parliament’s powers. A young John Adams listened to Otis’ oration, at which “the child’s independence was then and there born.”

Otis lost the case, but public wrath discouraged officials from employing the writs. Otis then became influential, his role growing with American grievances. He led the Massachusetts Committee of Correspondence in 1764. He wrote pamphlets. He argued against Parliament’s power to tax colonists, particularly in The Rights of the British Colonies Asserted and Proved, and was a leader at the Stamp Act Congress. Otis joined Samuel Adams to pen a circular to enlist other colonies in resisting the Townshend Duties.

John Adams said, “I have never known a man whose love of country was more ardent or sincere, never one who suffered so much, never one whose service for any 10 years of his life were so important and essential to the cause of his country, as those of Mr. Otis from 1760 to 1770.” Why then is he not better remembered? Because he then began suffering bouts of mental illness which ended his contributions before the Revolutionary War, whose many American heroes have eclipsed him in memory.

However, “search and seizure” issues permeate Americans’ liberties today. These include the exclusionary rule’s prohibition against admitting evidence gathered in violation of the 4th Amendment at trial and injured parties’ power to sue officers involved for damages suffered in unlawful searches. But they also include government spying on its citizens, as Edward Snowden’s leaks revealed, and questionable cell phone searches, in which, as Justice Anthony Kennedy’s words, “someone arrested for a minor crime has their whole existence exposed.” Such issues make it well worth revisiting Otis’ highly consequential insights.

James Otis’ argument was based on our liberty because we “are by the law of nature free born,” and that “[every] act against natural equity is void.” In consequence,

The end of government being the good of mankind … It is above all things to provide for the security, the quiet and happy enjoyment of life, liberty, and property. There is no one act which a government can have a right to make, that does not tend to the advancement of the security, tranquility and prosperity of the people.

Otis took our liberty, drawn in broad brushstrokes, and applied it specifically to our homes and possessions. He asked, “Can there be any liberty where property is taken away without consent?” and asserted that “One of the most essential branches of … liberty is the freedom of one’s house,” which writs of assistance steamroll. As he put it,

A man’s house is his castle; and whilst he is quiet, he is as well guarded as a prince in his castle. This writ … would totally annihilate this privilege. Custom-house officers may enter our houses when they please … break … everything in their way; and whether they break through malice or revenge, no man, no court may inquire.

Otis then asked what the consequence of violating those principles now articulated in our 4th Amendment would be. His answer was tyranny. “Everyone with this writ may be a tyrant.” And tyrannical violations of our rights that have occurred create no authorizing precedent.

[Even] if every prince … had been a tyrant, it would not prove a right to tyrannize. There can be no prescription old enough to supersede the law of nature, and the grand of God almighty; who has given to all men a natural right to be free.

Because “Tyranny of all kinds is to be abhorred,” Otis’ offered a principled and profound response:

I will to my dying day oppose, with all the powers and faculties God has given me, all such instruments of slavery on the one hand and villainy on the other, as this Writ of Assistance is.

The 4th Amendment is one of the most important playing fields on which the battle between liberty and tyranny is waged. That makes revisiting James Otis’ understanding critical. As Law Professor Thomas K. Clancy wrote:

James Otis first challenged British search and seizure practices and offered an alternative vision of proper search and seizure principles. No authority preceding Otis had articulated so completely the framework for the search and seizure requirements that were ultimately embodied in the Fourth Amendment.

Gary M. Galles is a Professor of Economics at Pepperdine University and a member of the Foundation for Economic Education faculty network.

In addition to his new book, Pathways to Policy Failures (2020), his books include Lines of Liberty (2016), Faulty Premises, Faulty Policies (2014), and Apostle of Peace (2013). 

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How the Washington Administration Responded to an “Insurrection”

The recent protests and storming of the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6 produced a hysterical reaction from both pundits and the federal government. This contrasts wildly with the response to an actual rebellion during the Republic’s early days.

The new federal government didn’t respond to the so-called Whiskey Rebellion with crackdowns on civil liberties to “prevent another rebellion” as many seem to want to do today.

In 1794 Kentucky and Pennsylvania farmers took up arms in opposition to a federal whiskey excise tax. The Whiskey Rebellion concluded with President George Washington calling up the militia to suppress the rebels, who dispersed before any real fighting occurred.

Interpretations of the rebellion vary. Some view Washington’s decision as a vital move to preserve the then-fledgling federal government’s legitimacy after Shay’s Rebellion eight years prior had prompted the founders to replace the Articles of Confederation in favor of a stronger central government. However, others consider the rebels as patriots resisting an unjust tax on whiskey, which was frequently used as a means of exchange in frontier areas where coinage was scarce.

To be sure, Washington reacted initially in a manner utterly restrained compared to what we could expect today. Even after invoking the Militia Act of 1792 allowing him to call up state militiamen, he sent state officials to the rebels and tried to reach a peaceful resolution, without success.

However, a separate issue to look at is the aftermath of the rebellion. Roughly 150 men were arrested and tried for treason. Yet only two men were found guilty, and they were later pardoned by Washington himself.

In his seventh state of the union address Washington defended his decision:

For though I shall always think it a sacred duty to exercise with firmness and energy the constitutional powers with which I am vested, yet it appears to me no less consistent with the public good than it is with my personal feelings to mingle in the operations of Government every degree of moderation and tenderness which the national justice, dignity, and safety may permit.

As historian Carol Berkin noted in a 2017 lecture, “not a single person really ever served a jail term. Everybody was given amnesty. Nobody was cruelly beaten or destroyed. But the power, the authority of the federal government was upheld.”

Perhaps Washington and other Founders holding office realized the appearance of hypocrisy for condemning men as traitors who acted as they had just a few decades earlier.

At the same time, it’s not so much what Washington and Congress did as what they didn’t do or even propose to do. Reading through diaries, letters, and correspondence from founders ranging from George Washington and Alexander Hamilton to Thomas Jefferson written during the rebellion, there is no instance I could find in which they advocated or suggested the civil rights restrictions such as firearms ownership or freedom of speech and assembly. There was no call for a permanent standing army. This is on top of the fact that nothing was actually proposed and then enacted.

In fact, Jefferson wrote sympathetically of the rebellion in a Dec. 28, 1794 letter to John Adams, calling the whiskey tax “an infernal one. The first error was to admit it by the Constitution.”

He wrote further that hatred of the law in those states was “universal, and has now associated to it a detestation of the government; & that separation which perhaps was a very distant & problematical event, is now near, & certain, & determined in the mind of every man.”

Not surprisingly, Jefferson would later repeal the excise tax when elected president.

Even federalists like Alexander Hamilton in ways sought to avoid violence that might have demonstrated the power of the new government, albeit he did advocate hanging some of the rebel leaders. In an Aug. 29, 1794 letter to Maryland Governor Thomas Lee, he wrote of avoiding “the necessity of using force now & at future periods” by keeping the militia deployed in good morale.

In all the correspondence Hamilton had with George Washington, not one advocated for the confiscation of firearms from the regions where the rebellion had occurred. Nor was there a call to restrict firearm ownership of any type among the general population to prevent similar rebellions in the future. The federal government didn’t use the “crisis” as an excuse to enlarge itself, as some sought with the Alien and Sedition Act passed four years later

While Washington’s best opportunity to make himself a military dictator occurred just after the War of Independence ended with him still in charge of the continental army, the Whiskey Rebellion theoretically could have afforded him another chance – one that he likely never even contemplated.

The comparatively restrained response by Washington to the rebellion demonstrated that it is not necessary to take away liberties to maintain civil order or “keep us safe.”

Writing in reaction to Shay’s Rebellion, Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter to James Madison saying rebellions were a “medecine necessary for the sound health of government” and that “honest republican governors” should be “so mild in their punishment of rebellions, as not to discourage them too much.”

What many people fail to grasp is that rebellions and insurrections aren’t always found in physical confrontations, and the “medicine necessary for the sound health of government” can be applied just as effectively through the nullification of unconstitutional federal acts. Incidentally, Jefferson referred to nullification as the “rightful remedy.”

The histrionic and totalitarian rhetoric coming from the federal government today over a handful of people storming the U.S. Capitol demonstrates how fragile its perceived legitimacy is today. It is a government that overreacts to minor incidents because deep down its members are terrified of any meaningful defiance or resistance to their rule.

They realize how easily D.C. tyranny could end if the American people were united in common opposition to unconstitutional actions in a manner that reduced their power, rather than give the largest government in the world the further pretext to expand it.

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Today in History: Treaty of Paris Ratified, Formally Ending War for Independence

Today in history, on January 14, 1784, the United States ratified the Treaty of Paris with Britain, bringing a formal end to the American War of Independence.

Although few actual scuffles with the British had occurred since the 1781 Battle of Yorktown, the war officially dragged on for two additional years. By this time, exorbitant debts, paper money experiments, insolvency, bloodshed, and financial woes compounded the maladies facing the American states.

The states were ready to end remaining hostilities by 1782, and in that September negotiations with Britain began. The United States sent John Adams of Massachusetts, John Jay of New York, and Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania to formulate and sign the treaty under the authority of Congress, while Britain was represented by David Hartley and Richard Oswald.

While French diplomat Vergennes was on cordial terms with Benjamin Franklin, the famed American diplomat in London, he remained at odds with American commissioners John Jay and John Adams – both of whom distrusted him. The negotiations were originally intended to be a three-party arrangement between the United States, Britain, and France. After a series of deliberations between only the American and British diplomats, however, a series of stipulations were agreed to without the consent of France.

First, the independence of the American states was unambiguously recognized. Rather than the acknowledgement of a singular American union, the Treaty of Paris made clear that each state was to be considered a sovereign country with independent political authority.

Second, all wartime hostilities were to cease and British army and naval forces, along with remaining British forts, were to be evacuated with “all convenient speed.” Third, all land north of the Ohio River and south of Canada was to be ceded to the United States. Fourth, rights to fisheries off Newfoundland and Nova Scotia were guaranteed to all Americans.

Fifth, the rights and property of Tories in the United States were to be recognized, and the states were ordered to repay the Tories for estates that had been confiscated during the course of the war. Future confiscation of Tory property was expressly prohibited, and all prisoners of war were to be released. Sixth, debts accrued between citizens of both Britain and any American state were to remain undisturbed and in affect. Seventh, navigation of the Mississippi River would be guaranteed to each American state and to Britain. However, since Spain controlled access to the river, this clause was virtually meaningless in practice.

At the urging of Jay, this maneuver effectively pushed Vergennes out of deliberations, and the French diplomat consequently felt deeply betrayed by the Americans. Believing the terms toward the United States to be too generous, he commented that “the English buy peace rather than make it.”

Respecting the primacy of the states, Article II of the Articles of Confederation emphasized that each of the state retained its sovereignty, freedom, and their independence. By securing the successful endorsement of nine states, the states entered into a pact with Britain to end hostilities. The treaty was considered “perpetual” – not everlasting but lacking a specific sunset date.

Confirming that the sovereignty of the states pre-dated the general government, Great Britain recognized that the details of the arrangement were binding with states individually rather than with a national polity:

“His Brittanic Majesty acknowledges the said United States, viz., New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, to be free sovereign and independent states, that he treats with them as such, and for himself, his heirs, and successors, relinquishes all claims to the government, propriety, and territorial rights of the same and every part thereof.”

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Constitution History Intelwars John Breckinridge Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions Kentucky Resolutions nullification

New Evidence: The Kentucky Resolutions of 1798 Were All About Nullification

Nullification skeptics will often argue that the Kentucky Resolutions of 1798 weren’t actually proposing nullification. They base their argument on the fact that John Breckinridge removed specific references to nullification from Jefferson’s draft before he introduced it in the Kentucky House. But evidence from the debates in the House reveals that the resolutions were absolutely intended to set the stage for nullification and all of the representatives who voted to pass them knew it.

In his original draft, Jefferson specifically asserted a state’s right to “nullify” unconstitutional acts.

“Therefore this commonwealth is determined, as it doubts not its co-States are, to submit to undelegated, and consequently unlimited powers in no man, or body of men on earth: that in cases of an abuse of the delegated powers, the members of the general government, being chosen by the people, a change by the people would be the constitutional remedy; but, where powers are assumed which have not been delegated, a nullification of the act is the rightful remedy: that every State has a natural right in cases not within the compact, (casus non foederis]) to nullify of their own authority all assumptions of power by others within their limits: that without this right, they would be under the dominion, absolute and unlimited, of whosoever might exercise this right of judgment for them.” [Emphasis added]

Jefferson sent former Virginia ratifying convention delegate Wilson Cary Nicholas a draft of the resolution, likely hoping the state legislator could get them introduced in Virginia. In October 1798, Wilson indicated that state representative John Breckinridge was willing to introduce the resolutions in Kentucky. Breckinridge suffered from tuberculosis and made a recuperative trip to Sweet Springs, Va. late in August of that year. Nicholas likely gave the Kentucky lawmaker a copy of Jefferson’s draft during that trip.

On Nov. 8, 1798, Breckinridge introduced an amended version of Jefferson’s draft. Most notably, Breckinridge omitted the specific nullification language from the actual version considered by the Kentucky legislature, seeking to moderate the tone of the resolutions.

Those who deny the legitimacy of state nullification seize upon the omission of the nullification language as proof that Breckinridge didn’t actually believe the state had the power to nullify and was unwilling to present resolutions to that effect to the state legislature.

I have always contended that even without the specific language, the resolutions still laid the foundation for nullification. By declaring the Alien and Sedition Acts unconstitutional, and declaring that it “is not law, but is altogether void, and of no force,” Breckinridge presented the Kentucky legislature with a nullification resolution, even with the actual word omitted.

His motives for removing the direct reference to nullification were purely political. Anger over the Alien and Sedition Acts was so intense, there were some calls for violent action against the federal government. As a first step, Breckinridge wanted to walk a line between making a strong case for Kentucky’s right to act while maintaining a moderate tone.

But during a debate on the House floor recorded by the Frankfort Palladium, Breckinridge made it absolutely clear that the resolutions were supporting a case nullification and he specifically used the word.

Rep. William Murray was one of the few Federalist Party members in the Kentucky House. He made a speech in opposition to the resolutions on the House floor, arguing that it wasn’t the state legislature’s job to censure Congress and that it had no authority to declare a duly enacted law unconstitutional. Breckinridge forcefully responded in a speech of his own, saying, “The legislature is the constitutional and proper organ through which the will of the people is known, and when known, effectually executed on ordinary occasions.” He went on to ask a poignant question: “If Congress received no censure from the state legislature, from whom is the censure to come?”

In fact, when the people had protested the Alien and Sedition Acts in various county assemblies, Federalist Party supporters had accused them of raising “tumultuous mobs.”

Breckinridge went further, arguing that Congress was not “the lords and masters” of the states. He quipped, “The doctrine of passive obedience and non-resistance has grown rather unfashionable, and obsolete to be now revived.”

Breckinridge said his hope was that upon the representations of the state legislatures, Congress would “expunge the unconstitutional proceedings from the annals of the United States.” But he went on to say that if Congress attempted to enforce the Alien and Sedition Acts that it was “the right and the duty of the several states to nullify those acts and to protect their citizens from their operation.”

Breckinridge made this speech in front of the full House. This proves beyond a doubt that Breckinridge understood the resolutions to justify nullification. In fact, the intent of introducing them was to set the stage for further action if Congress failed to repeal the onerous laws. And everybody in the legislative body knew this because they heard Breckinridge’s defense of the resolutions.

The resolution passed the House on Nov. 10 with only three dissenting votes. The Senate unanimously concurred three days later, and Gov. James Garrard signed the resolutions on Nov. 16.

The day after Garrard signed the resolutions, Jefferson sent a draft to James Madison, writing, “I inclose you a copy of the draught of the Kentuckey resolves. I think we should distinctly affirm all the important principles they contain, so as to hold to that ground in future, and leave the matter in such a train as that we may not be committed absolutely to push the matter to extremities, & yet may be free to push as far as events will render prudent.” [Emphasis added]

Kentucky followed up with a second resolution affirming its position in 1799, notably including the word “nullification,” omitted in the final version of the Kentucky Resolutions of 1798 passed by the state legislature.

“The several states who formed that instrument (the Constitution), being sovereign and independent, have the unquestionable right to judge of its infraction; and, That a nullification, by those sovereignties, of all unauthorized acts done under color of that instrument, is the rightful remedy.”

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Nikki Haley tells RNC Trump’s actions since election ‘will be judged harshly by history’

Former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley delivered harsh criticisms of President Donald Trump in a speech to the Republican National Committee on Thursday, telling the audience that her former boss’s actions since the election “will be judged harshly by history.”

What are the details?

“President Trump has not always chosen the right words,” Haley said in her address at the RNC’s winter meeting, according to Politico. “He was wrong with his words in Charlottesville, and I told him so at the time. He was badly wrong with his words yesterday. And it wasn’t just his words. His actions since Election Day will be judged harshly by history.”

The Washington Free Beacon reported that Haley also praised Trump for his foreign policy approach, saying, “President Trump was our first commander in chief to see China for what it really is—the greatest global threat facing America. He held China accountable for its unfair trade, its theft of our secrets, and its egregious human rights record. The United States now sees China with open eyes, and we have Donald Trump to thank for that.”

On the morning of her talk, Haley tweeted that “it would be a conversation about where we are, some hard truths, and where I believe we go from here.”

Haley, the former governor of South Carolina, has been floated as a possible 2024 Republican presidential contender, and has campaigned aggressively for GOP Senate candidates. Most recently, she stumped in Georgia for Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, who both lost to their respective Democratic challengers earlier this week—flipping the Senate blue.

Haley called the outcome “a major wake up call for the Republican Party and our country.”

Over the past 24 hours, President Trump has faced calls from within his own party to resign, after hosting a huge rally in Washington, D.C., that ended with the U.S. Capitol building falling under siege by his supporters in protest of the presidential election results.

As Congress prepared to certify the Electoral College votes in favor of President-elect Joe Biden on Wednesday, a mob of hundreds of Trump supporters stormed the building. The rioters overwhelmed Capitol police and even breached the Senate chamber. One woman was fatally shot by an officer when she attempted to climb through a window into the House chamber. Three other protesters died reportedly from medical emergencies.

During the chaos, the president delivered a video message telling the protesters to go home in “peace,” while continuing to insist the the election was stolen.

Since the events on Wednesday, several Trump administration officials including two cabinet members have resigned.

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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Embargo Act History Intelwars Thomas Jefferson Today in History

Today in History: Embargo Act of 1807 Signed as Law

Today in history, the Embargo Act of 1807 was signed into law by President Thomas Jefferson. Passed at the height of the Napoleonic Wars in Europe, Jefferson and the Republicans hoped to use the embargo to preserve American neutrality and avoid foreign entanglements.

Early in the 19th century, the neutrality of the United States was tested repeatedly. In France, Napoleon had enacted the Continental System, which prohibited the importation of British goods into Europe. The British responded by imposing their own trade restrictions against the French. During this time, the British antagonized American ships, continuing the practice of impressment and treating the neutral United States as if it were an enemy power. This situation culminated in the Chesapeake-Leopard Affair, where a British warship attacked and boarded an American frigate and captured its crew.

Since the incident caused a huge public uproar, Jefferson faced a tough decision. The president did not want to embroil the United States in a conflict with a major world power, but also hoped to protect American citizens from foreign assaults. Ultimately, he promoted a full-scale embargo as a method to avoid war with both France and England. Though he philosophically favored free economic pursuits, the unyielding policy represented a desperate attempt to avoid military conflict. To Jefferson, enlightenment philosophy had opened the possibility of waging war economically rather than military, and no circumstance was worse than wartime depravity.

In Congress, the law was highly controversial. Former Jefferson ally John Randolph of Roanoke derided the bill, believing it to be a violation of the Constitution. Even Jefferson’s Secretary of the Treasury, Albert Gallatin, vehemently objected to the policy. “As to the hope that it may…induce England to treat us better,” he wrote to Jefferson, “I think it is entirely groundless.” Gallatin explained that “government prohibitions do always more mischief then had been calculated; and it is not without hesitation that a statesman should hazard to regulate the concerns of individuals as if he could do better than themselves.”

By all accounts, the embargo backfired. The disastrous policy crippled New England’s maritime economy, which thrived on foreign trade. At the same point, Britain released a royal proclamation that promised more impressments and attacks on American vessels. Jefferson was ambushed in the press, where he was characterized as a loathsome villain. Despite this, he and Secretary of State James Madison worked diligently to enforce the embargo.

In New England, many found ways to resist the policy, and Jefferson’s political enemies responded by invoking Jefferson’s own “Principles of 98” against him. Massachusetts passed a resolution that condemned the embargo as “unjust, oppressive, and unconstitutional, and not legally binding on citizens of this state.” Connecticut passed a similar act, declaring the embargo unconstitutional and iterating that state officials would refuse to “assist, or concur in giving effect to the aforesaid unconstitutional act.” Rhode Island even passed a resolution that borrowed some verbatim language from the Virginia Resolutions of 1798, written by Madison. Ironically, it was Madison that was largely responsible for enforcing the law.

Congress denied Jefferson the troops he desired to enforce the policy, and merchants and shippers simply ignored the law. Without the resources necessary for enforcement, the embargo went unheeded and the Jefferson administration suffered greatly. In upstate New York, Vermont, and parts of Maine, the law was openly flouted and the federal officials considered these reasons to be in open insurrection. Rumblings of northern secession were plentiful, and many believed the embargo had brought their region under the thumb of oppression by the general government.

The lowest point of Jefferson’s political career, the Embargo Act brought the president and his Republican Party under a degree of scrutiny it had never before witnessed. In the end, the president and most of his Republican allies realized the failure of his policy. In one of his last days in office, Jefferson signed the Non-Intercourse Act, repealing the Embargo Act’s application to Britain and France.

When Jefferson’s successor, James Madison, initiated another embargo in 1812, the program created additional economic hardship and proved similarly ineffective. Tensions with the British were exacerbated, and the British continued assaulting American ships and impressing their crew into the Royal Navy. Rather than averting war, conflict came to the American doorstep as Britain and the United States clashed in the War of 1812.

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