Friday, July 04, 2008

charging document

The Declaration we remember is the flowery language of Thomas Jefferson, which tweaked John Locke's Two Treatises of Government to give us "the pursuit of Happiness" instead of Locke's Natural Right of private property. This is mainly due to Abraham Lincoln, who resurrected the beloved Declaration for authority to free slaves.

But the part that Jefferson, Adams, and the rest that risked their lives by signing important was the latter part of the document, which I quote now and will examine below. It in you see origins of the rights of the people/limitations on the federal government that became incorporated into our Constitution 11 years later:
The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
From this we got in the Constitution (in no particular order):
  1. The Rule of Law over the Rule of Men.
  2. The Congress (and the states) being co-equal (if not superior to in some matters) to the President
  3. An independent Judiciary, with lifetime appointments and no ability of the Congress or the President to lower their salaries.
  4. Regularly scheduled elections and terms of office.
  5. Requiring Congress approve continuing to have armed forces in times of peace
  6. the Third Amendment
  7. The trial rights in a criminal trial to a impartial jury, the right to confrontation of witnesses against the accused, the right to jury for civil trials if exceeding a certain dollar amount, etc. found in the Sixth Amendment, Habeas Corpus Clause, and so on.
  8. Taxes must be first introduced and passed in the most democratic chamber of Congress--the House of Representatives--in order to become law
  9. Giving Congress, not the President (or the states) the power over commerce--and giving power to grant copyright.
  10. The concept of personal and subject matter jurisdiction (and an independent judiciary) to insure that the accused would be tried in an apt venue with some basic rules of fairness
  11. Giving Congress the power over matters of naturalization, not the President
  12. And but not least, the right oto petition the government for a redress of grievances found in the First Amendment
Have a fun filled and safe Fourth!

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