What is States Rights

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Is the Constitution Really Inimical To States Rights? - Part Fourteen

MYTH: Too cold for shepherds to Tend Flocks in December - Part 2

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What is States’ Rights? Part 7.
by Mike Crane
Morganton, Georgia

 "Our Rights are like a cookie, no matter how big the cookie and how small the bites, eventually you run out of cookie"

In Part 1 of this series a concept was presented that runs a bit contrary to current public conception – that the term States’ Rights can be used more for partisan benefit than a true effort to protect the God-Given Rights of the people.  Part 2 demonstrated that as early as 1801 incursions attacking American Liberty and State’s Rights had already started and have continued to this day. Part 3 gave details on an obvious expansion of central government powers (authority) by legislative action. Part 4 began listing the causes of the failure of State’s Rights. Parts 5 and 6 continued listing some misconceptions about the Constitution of 1787.

This article will focus on an example of how one aspect of the concept of States Rights was instrumental in the march to our Independence and demonstrate that this concept was lost with the ratification of the Constitution of 1787.

In May of 1776 the Colony of Virginia held a convention to determine the course of action that Virginia would take in the rapidly deteriorating crisis with the English Crown and Parliament. On May 14, 1776 sitting as a Committee of The Whole the question of Independence was discussed. Archibald Cary was presiding and Thomas Nelson introduced a resolution marked "No. 1" which was in Patrick Henry’s hand writing. There were three different resolutions, but only "No. 1," the one written by Patrick Henry proposed that Congress be asked to make for all the Colonies a "clear and full declaration of independency."

After the Committee compared the three resolutions the best features of each werePatrick Henry combined into, "Resolutions of the Virginia Convention Calling for Independence in Convention May the 15th 1776. Present one hundred and twelve members."

The portion of this Resolution discussed in this article follows:

"Resolved, unanimously, That the Delegates appointed to represent this Colony in General Congress be instructed to propose to that respectable body to declare the United Colonies free and independent States, absolved from all allegiance to, or dependence upon, the Crown or Parliament of Great Britain; and that they give the assent of this Colony to such declaration, and to whatever measures may be thought proper and necessary by Congress for forming foreign alliances, and a Confederation of the Colonies, at such time and in the manner as to them shall seem best..."

 

Colonel Nelson delivered this Resolution to the Virginia Delegates to Congress in Philadelphia on May 27th. Eleven days later June 7, 1776 Richard Henry Lee moved in Congress, as instructed by his State:

 

"That these united Colonies are and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be totally dissolved.

That it is expedient forthwith to take the most effectual measures for forming foreign alliances.

That a plan of confederation be prepared and transmitted to the respective colonies for their consideration."

 

Richard Henry LeeLee’s Resolution was seconded by John Adams of Massachusetts and was debated on June 8 and June 10. A decision was postponed until July 2 - some delegates had to confer with their Colonies. On June 11 a committee was formed to write such a Declaration to be considered on the postponed vote.

Let’s consider this very important sequence of events and compare with the current operation of Congress. In the Resolution passed by Virginia on May 15, 1776 there is one word that that is very often overlooked – "instructed."

 

"Resolved, unanimously, That the Delegates appointed to represent this Colony in General Congress be instructed

Now for those of us living in the current era, this may sound strange. But in the time period when American Liberty was created, in the Colonial Congress, this was an understood principle of how to govern. Delegates were in the Continental or Colonial Congress to represent their Colonies or after July, 1776 to represent their States. They were NOT independently elected, they were chosen and appointed by their Colony’s (later, State’s) governing body.

As you can see from the sequence of events leading up to "The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America," the instructions from the Colony or State of Virginia (Virginia had already declared its Independence from the British Crown) was the event that led to the proposing, writing and ultimate passage of the Declaration of Independence.

Now let’s return to the debate in the Constitutional Convention of 1787 on June 6 from Part 6 of this series:

On June 6, 1787 the debate centered on electing the first branch of the national government by the State Legislatures.

General PINKNEY wished to have a good National Govt. & at the same time to leave a considerable share of power in the States. An election of either branch by the people scattered as they are in many States, particularly in S. Carolina was totally impracticable. He differed from gentlemen who thought that a choice by the people wd. be a better guard agst. bad measures, than by the Legislatures.

Mr. MADISON considered an election of one branch at least of the Legislature by the people immediately, as a clear principle of free Govt. and that this mode under proper regulations had the additional advantage of securing better representatives, as well as of avoiding too great an agency of the State Governments in the General one.

From the portion of the historical record of the Convention above - the position of the two views on the composition of what became the US House of Representative is highlighted.

Note that General Pinkney is proposing the composition that was used in the Continental Congress. This would have embedded a major feature of a "federated" form of government in what became the Constitution.

James Madison was opposed to giving the States "too great an agency" in the central or new form of government and argued in favor of bypassing the States and imposing direct election. This represents a characteristic of a "national" or "consolidated" government.

This debate was settled in the favor of Mr. Madison’s position.

For an evaluation of the two methods let’s consider the effect of an old saying: "You dance with them what brung you."

"You dance with them what brung you" is an old saying which means it might be in your best interest to "Dance with";or, go out of your way to show rightfully due gratitude and consideration, by your actions and words towards "them what brung you" or those who helped you, get where you are.
 

In the Continental or Colonial Congress every delegate and every citizen knew "Who brung ‘em." It was their State Legislature or State’s governing body. Thus the ability to instruct their delegates to conform to the expressed interest determined by their State’s governing body was real and understood. The State’s had the ability to recall or dismiss any delegate that "went off the reservation" so to speak.

In today’s world and current make up of Congress (both the US House of Representatives and US Senate post 17th Amendment) it is not always clear - who brung ‘em?

In some cases these Representatives are "brung" by grass roots efforts that would coincide with the interests of the States they represent. But sadly - most will agree that these are the exception rather than the rule. The US House of Representatives is not considered an institution of virtue by American Citizens today. Two questions concerning Madison’s "better representatives" come to mind:

Are some "brung" by special interests?

Do these Representatives "dance" with those that "brung them?"

You know the answer to these questions. A vast majority of American citizens know the answers to these questions.

But have you ever considered that this situation might not exist today if the vote on June 6 had turned out different? The same applies to the 17th Amendment, but that is a subject for a different series. The idea of appointing by State Legislatures is considered un-American today. However this so-called un-American method was instrumental in creating American Liberty and was the original American way of constituting Congress!

In closing this article, there is little doubt in anyone’s mind that the Representatives and Senators currently sitting in Washington DC care more about political parties, campaign (and possibly personal) contributions, remaining in office, power and greed than the interests of their States. In this environment the concept of States Rights is reduced to little more than political rhetoric, most commonly during political campaigns.

If States Rights as a check on the central government is important to maintaining American Liberty – are the vote of June 6th, 1787 and the 17th Amendment two major events that have contributed to American Liberty rapidly approaching a cliff? If the answer to that question is "yes" have you considered what that means?

To be continued …

 

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Article Series on why States Rights have failed to be an effective check on the central government by Mike Crane.

What is States' Rights?

What is States' Rights? Part 2.

What is States' Rights? Part 3.

What is States' Rights? Part 4.

What is States' Rights? Part 5.

What is States' Rights? Part 6.

What is States' Rights? Part 7.

What is States’ Rights? Part 8.

Article Series on the effects of The Constitution of 1787 on States Rights by Al Benson, Jr.

Is the Constitution Really Inimical To States Rights ? Part One

Is the Constitution Really Inimical To States Rights ? Part Two

Is the Constitution Really Inimical To States Rights ? Part Three

Is the Constitution Really Inimical To States Rights ? Part Four

Is the Constitution Really Inimical To States Rights ? Part Five

Is the Constitution Really Inimical To States Rights ? Part Six

Is the Constitution Really Inimical To States Rights ? Part Seven

Is the Constitution Really Inimical To States Rights ? Part Eight

Is the Constitution Really Inimical To States Rights ? Part Nine

Is the Constitution Really Inimical To States Rights ? Part Ten

 

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