Robert Yates of New York, a dissenting member of the Constitutional Convention, writing as Brutus, has discussed what form of government might be best for the country. He has noted:
"The first question that presents itself on the subject is, whether a confederated government be the best for the United States or not? Or, in other words, whether the thirteen United States should be reduced to one great republic, governed by one legislature, and under the direction of one executive and judicial; or whether they should continue thirteen confederated republics, under the direction and control of a supreme federal head for certain defined national purposes only? "
And then he gets to the nub of the problem. He says:
"This enquiry is important, because, although the government reported by the convention does not go to a perfect and entire consolidation, yet it approaches so near to it, that it must, if executed, certainly and infallibly terminate in it."
Mr. Yates seems to be saying that, while the new government is not totally consolidated as presented, it leans so far in that direction that, if pursued with any vigor, it must inevitably end up being consolidated, not confederated.
Yates further observed:
"So far therefore as its powers reach, all ideas of confederation are given up and lost. It is true this government is limited to certain objects, or to speak more properly, some small degree of power is still left to the states, but a little attention to the powers vested in the general government, will convince every candid man, that if it is capable of being executed, all that is reserved for the individual states (must) very soon be annihilated, except so far a (s they are) barely necessary to the organization of the general government."
The states, then, are to be fed just enough crumbs to make them look forward to thinking they will receive a states rights banquet, but this illusion will only last for so long as the states are necessary as a foundation upon which to build a consolidated, nationalist government.
Yates had a genuine concern over the geographical size of a consolidated country. He said
"Let us now proceed to enquire, as I first proposed, whether it be best the thirteen United States should be reduced to one great republic or not? It is here taken for granted, that all agree on this, that whatever government we adopt, ought to be a free one; that it should be so framed as to secure the liberty of the citizens of America, and such an one as to admit of a full, fair, and equal representation of the people. The question then will be, whether a government thus constituted, and founded on such principles, is practicable, and can be exercised over the whole United States, reduced to one state?"
"If respect is to be paid to the opinion of the greatest and wisest men who have ever thought or wrote on the science of government, we shall be constrained to conclude, that a free republic cannot succeed over a country of such immense extent, containing such a number of inhabitants, and those increasing in such rapid progression as that of the whole United States."
Yates then quoted Baron de Montesquieu, who wrote:
"It is natural to a republic to have only a small territory, otherwise it cannot long subsist. In a large republic there are men of large fortunes, and consequently of less moderation; there are trusts too great to be placed in any single subject; he has interest of his own; he soon begins to think that he may be happy, great and glorious, by oppressing his fellow citizens; and that he may raise himself to grandeur on the ruins of his country..."
Another writer, the Marquis Beccarari, observed that history does not give us any examples of a free republic that is, in any way, like the size of the United States. He noted that:
"The Grecian republics were of small extent; so also was that of the Romans. Both of these, it is true, in process of time, extended their conquests over large territories of country; and the consequence was, that their governments were changed from that of free governments to those of the most tyrannical that ever existed in the world."
At this point in history, does the description above remind you of any particular government you can think of right off the top of your head?
If Mr. Yates was correct in his assessment that his country, in 1787, was too large and extensive to be a workable consolidated "republic" what would he think of the territory we currently occupy, supposedly as a "republic" (but actually as a consolidated democracy)? If thirteen states were too many, with too much area for a workable republic to function correctly, what can we say for fifty states, plus whatever other territories we currently occupy?
All you have to do is to read the headlines, even those in the managed media today, to realize that this system we have today is not working. It is thoroughly broken, and has been at least since the War of Northern Aggression and probably for some time before that. Which means that Patrick Henry was completely correct when he warned that the "Union" created by the Constitution would not last 100 years. It didn't. And we've been living with (and in) the wreckage for longer than most are willing to admit.
Yates went on to briefly describe a free government. He said it is one in which the people have to give their assent to the laws that govern them. And he said "This is the true criterion between a free government and an arbitrary one."
Based on that brief definition, where does that leave this country today? Do we get to give assent to the laws that govern us? Some will probably say "Well, yes, we get to elect those that pass the laws we live under." Based on past performance as witnessed in my lifetime, this weak definition does not pass muster for me. Sure, we get to elect the characters that go to Washington and posture before the masses--our elected royalty--who live better than we ever will and think they are entitled to it. But how many of us really give our assent to the laws they pass? What about Obamacare? How many of us have "assented" to that? Not many from what I have read and most don't want it, but for all our lack of assent, it will undoubtedly, in some form, become the law of the land--even if the Republicans manage to tinker with it a little to make themselves look "conservative" for the upcoming elections.
Then there is the Patriot Act, a misnomer if ever there was one, and the new law outlawing the type of light bulbs most of us use and forcing us to replace them with a more dangerous variety. You have to wonder if any current friends of those behind Obama's throne have any financial interest in the companies that make these new bulbs? Although I don't know for sure, I've heard that's the case. After all, if you can't trust your government, who can you trust? Right? But I digress slightly. All of this does seem to prove Yates' contention that "big republics" lead to more and bigger government.
It seems to me that Mr. Yates has made an excellent case for states rights--which the present Constitution does not seem to go nearly far enough in protecting.
It would seem we have a lot of work to do in order that we might leave something better for our grandchildren than was left for us. How many Christians will be up to this task? That's something I've wondered about for years now. And how many more will look and say "The Lord's in control so I just ain't going to worry about all this."And while I will agree that, in His Sovereign power, the Lord truly is in control, I wonder how much of that control He wants to exercise through His people, and what He will choose to do if they are not willing.
To be continued ...
What is States' Rights? Part 5
[The following is a portion of What is States' Rights? Part 5]
Ladies and gentlemen, like myself I am sure that you have been told throughout most of your life that the intent of the Framers of the Constitution was to create a federated or federal form of government. The Framers were educated men and here in the words of the delegates from Virginia, mostly crafted by James Madison, is a plan for a national government – a consolidated government – NOT A FEDERATED government.
Some or many will say that the word "national" was just a casual reference to the central government. I truly wish that were true. But it isn't as the historical record will demonstrate:
The Virginia Plan was a national form of government, one designed to create a consolidated government. Three parts of this Plan tell the story:
1) The first is item number 5 from the stated objectives of the Virginia Plan
Read carefully: "to be paramount to the state constitutions."
2) The second is Resolution 6 of 15 in the submitted Virginia Plan
"moreover to legislate in all cases to which the separate States are incompetent, or in which the harmony of the United States may be interrupted by the exercise of individual Legislation; to negative all laws passed by the several States, contravening in the opinion of the National Legislature the articles of Union; and to call forth the force of the Union agst. any member of the Union failing to fulfill its duty under the articles thereof."
3) The third is Resolution 15 of 15 in the Virginia Plan
"Resd. that the amendments which shall be offered to the Confederation, by the Convention ought at a proper time, or times, after the approbation of Congress to be submitted to an assembly or assemblies of Representatives, recommended by the several Legislatures to be expressly chosen by the people, to consider & decide thereon."
These are attributes of a "national", not federated form of government.
- The objective was for the National Constitution to be paramount to the State Constitutions,
- that the National Legislature would be Supreme and be able to repeal State laws and
- that ratification not be by the governing bodies of the States, but by conventions other than the legitimate government of the States!
Also see the other parts of this series by Al Benson, Jr.:
| Part 2
| Part 3
| Part 4
| Part 5
| Part 6
| Part 7
| Part 9
| Part 10
| Part 11
| Part 12
| Part 13
| Part 14
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What is States' Rights
by Mike Crane
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