Welcome back to the Scuttlebutt. It’s the morning of 4 July 4, 2018 as I write this. I have a cup of coffee at my left hand. Please join me in some, or if it’s later in the day, feel free to have something stronger if you’ve a mind.
Back nearly 250 years ago, one of the three or four most important political documents, and one of the top ten most important documents ever was written. It might not have read that way, but for a series of events that led up to it.
It was expected that Richard Henry Lee was to write it, however he was on the committee writing the articles of confederation, and it was thought that he shouldn’t be on both. Then his wife got sick and he had to leave town.
A committee was formed, and it was proposed that John Adams write it. He refused, and in a letter he wrote later explaining it to a friend, Adams says that he told Jefferson to write it, because he (Adams) was roundly distrusted, and disliked, “and besides, you’re ten times the writer that I am”. Now because Adams and Jefferson were political enemies until way late in their lives, that’s something of note right there. (It is however worthy of note that each one’s last words, as they both were dying within minutes of each other, hundreds of miles away from each other, was of the other man.)
What was originally wrote by T. Jefferson got shortened in committee and by the body of the whole, removing such things as the indictment against the crown for supporting and driving slavery in the colonies, yet still it stands as an explanation of why, men who had until recently considered themselves to be patriotic Englishmen, felt that they must break free from the crown. Let’s look at their explanations:
“When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”
This explains why the declaration exists. In the modern vernacular, “We’ve had enough, we’re breaking ties, and it’s only fair that we explain to the world why we do this.”
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,”
Why we believe government exists, and a statement of what is a human’s right by birth.
“— That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
We think that you’re destroying our freedom, and our rights, we believe we can do better.
“Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.”
It’s not smart to run a revolution if there’s a choice, and people will and should, put up with a lot of stuff before taking that step. This is important!
“But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. 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.”
More on the same theme. Here starts the indictment of the crown.
“He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.”
The colonies had approved governments (remember, it took two to four months to sail across the Atlantic, so communication with “Mother England” was too slow for day to day governance.) Still the colonial governments were not allowed to levy taxes to fund themselves, nor to make deals without approval, make laws, etc without the king saying ok. By the time the king was asked it was often too late to do anything.
“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.”
Remember, these men saw themselves as Englishmen, every bit as much as if they were born within view of the Tower of London. To be told that “not only am I not going to let you have representation in parliament, but your local government, appointed at my pleasure and revoked on a whim, must ask my permission to breath, and when you ask that permission, I will ignore it.”
The men involved were all students of history. It was a subject much more highly thought of back in the day. They knew that in the Roman empire (much bigger than the English empire from the perspective of how long it took a message to get from the frontier to the seat of power) Every Roman citizen, whether born inside the seven hills of Rome, or born within sight of Hadrian’s wall, had the right to vote on the senate and the right to send senators to Rome. If a Rome, run by a Caesar can do that, it’s inconceivable that an “enlightened” England can’t. Imagine if the President told the state and local government of your area that they aren’t allowed to pass any law or to tax without his approving every act. This is the sort of thing we’re talking about.
“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.”
More on the same subject.
“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.”
The king dissolved colonial governments and ordered them to meet at the opposite end of the colony from the “government building”, seemingly just to fuck with them. Several times, he dissolved colonial governments for arguing with him. Imagine a President saying “that’s it California, I’m tired of your shit. Your government is dissolved because you argued with me, I’ll be sending you a new governor by and by.”
“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.”
Self-explanatory, yes this happened, repeatedly. (it’s worth remembering that King George was documentably insane.) He would dissolve governments and put nothing in their place. Then when governments grew from nothing (think HOAs and such) he would have the members arrested for rebellion.
“He has endeavoured (sic) 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.”
In short, no, there is no legal path to immigration, and anyone trying to immigrate will be arrested. This isn’t just “you can’t come across the border without immigration paperwork,” this is no one can come across the border period, and no one can move from one colony (state) to another period!
“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.”
No, you may not appoint your own judges, no you may not have judges unless I the king appoint them, and I’ll say who, how many, and what they get paid!
“He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.”
Uh, this is awful close to home over the last several decades. You can’t have judges, but we’re going to create a lot more agencies and bureaus, to mess with you. Yes, we have seen a lot of this one. New regulations and a new regulatory agency to enforce them as if they were laws… Oddly, this seems to be primarily the tool of one side of the political spectrum (Yeah I’m looking at you Democrats) and when the other side tries to dissolve some of these “new offices” the democrats scream!
“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.”
In short, he’s used the army to enforce the law, and put us under what now would be called Martial law.
“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:”
Imagine being told that you, as a homeowner, must house and feed members of the military who will then enforce the president’s wishes, in the form of “law” on you. Further, those soldiers, if they are accused of a crime, be it rape, murder, or lesser offences, are not answerable to anyone except their own Commanding Officer!
“For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:”
You may only trade with the governments approved representatives.
“For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:”
I get a cut of anything you do, pray I do not alter the deal further!
“For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:”
No jury trial for you, you’re going to be taken to DC, where you will be tried in front of my friend here, and then found guilty and hung, do you have a problem with that, Subject?
“For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring (sic) 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.”
The king fucked over Canada, then used that as an excuse to fuck over the American colonies because “precedent”.
“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 (sic) 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.”
Self-explanatory. Imagine the President dissolving the government of your state, because you argued with him in court, basing troops in your house because you are obviously unruly (after all, you argued with him) setting up his own government in the place of your state legislature, answerable only to him, then when you complain about it, those troops that you were feeding rape your daughter and wife, and burn your fucking town down. Then he sends in UN troops to finish the job!
“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.”
This is about “press gangs” on ships at sea. Imagine if the army set up roadblocks, stopped tractor trailer rigs, and said “hey asshole, you’re in the army now!” Here’s a rifle, go shoot those rebellious traitors in your home town.
“He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured (sic) 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.”
Imagine inviting MS 13 in and arming them, to try to start a fight as an excuse to use martial law. On second thought, we may just have seen this one, with the BATF “Fast and Furious” scandal under President Obama’s administration.
“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.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.”
In short, we’ve repeatedly gone the legal route, we’ve talked until we’re blue in the face, and you’ve ignored us.
“We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, 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; and that as Free and Independent States, they have 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. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”
We’re done. We quit, fuck off. Because of all the above examples of you being a shithead, we no longer recognize your right to govern us. We’ll make our own government, doing all the things that a government does. (“and we’ll have hookers and blow”, to use a prominent meme) Yes we understand that you will view this as treason, bring it on!
They pledged on their lives, their fortunes, and their honor. Now there’s a thing that has gone around for decades about what happened to the signers, some of it’s true, some of it is not. Five signers of the Declaration were taken prisoner by the British, four of them on the battlefield as POWs. Yes, 12 of them had their houses ransacked and burned. So, did a lot of other people, that’s what happens in war, which is why it’s to be avoided. If you look at Snopes, they will tell you that none of the signers were pauperized in the war or after. Well that’s bullshit, but then Snopes goes out of their way to make anything patriotic seem tawdry and cheap, why, I refuse to speculate at this time. The fact of the matter is that the signers where full well aware that what they were doing was going to be viewed as treason by the English king, and if they didn’t succeed, they were facing trial and death.
There’s a lot of whiny little bitches on both sides that are crying “our forefathers would already be shooting”. No, they wouldn’t. If you are in doubt, go up and look again at the grievances the colonies had, and how much they put up with before they said, “that’s it, we’re done”. Now yes, there have been a couple of those grievances that have parallels to the situation we see today, but only a couple, and those end up getting resolved in the courts.
About 1% of the population died in the eight years of the war. In addition, there was an enormous cost in destroyed property. That was with a technology not far removed from bows and arrows. Imagine the current civil war in Syria but with the far better armed and more technologically advanced society we live in.
No one wins such a war, it’s just variations of loss. There may come a day when such a fight NEEDS to happen, but it is not within my view at this point. The courts still work, elections still work, and just because they don’t go your way doesn’t mean it’s time to start the revolution.
Remember the founders and their sacrifices, but don’t be in a hurry to start the next one.
Yours in service,