Liberty or … death by doctor visit? - Patrick Henry famously persuaded the American colonialists into a war for independence with the words, “give me liberty, or give me death.” It seems that, ...
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Just one left-wing Modern Orthodox yeshiva student's musings and thoughts.
...do by these presents solemnly and mutually in the presence of God and one of another, Covenant and Combine ourselves together into a Civil Body Politic, for our better ordering and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute and frame such just and equal Laws, Ordinances, Acts, Constitutions and Offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the Colony, unto which we promise all due submission and obedience.
And in this case if the people who were former Inhabitants did disturbe them in their possessions, they complained to the King, as of wrong done unto them: As Abraham did because they tooke away his well, in Gen. 21, 25. For his right whereto he pleaded not his immediate calling from God, (for that would have seemed frivolous among the Heathen) but his owne industry and culture in digging the well, verse 30. Nor doth the King reject his plea, with what had he to doe to digge wells in their soyle? but admitteth it as a Principle in Nature, That in a vacant soyle, hee that taketh possession of it, and bestoweth culture and husbandry upon it, his Right it is. And the ground of this is from the grand Charter given to Adam and his posterity in Paradise, Gen. 1. 28. Multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it. If therefore any sonne of Adam come and finde a place empty, he hath liberty to come, and fill, and subdue the earth there. This Charter was renewed to Noah, Gen. 9. 1. Fulfill the earth and multiply: So that it is free from that common Grant, for any to take possession of vacant Countries.
The primary purpose of this essay is to introduce readers to the Reformed political tradition, show how the tradition manifested itself in colonial America (especially New England), and demonstrate that Calvinism was still a vibrant and influential force in late eighteenth century America. I address the common view that the founders were heavily influenced by a secularized version of Lockean liberalism...
An important argument of this essay is that the political theory of many founders is best understood as being heavily influenced by Reformed political thinking. Yet many scholars argue that the founders were influenced by a version of John Locke’s political philosophy that is sharply at odds with this tradition. ... In doing so, they ignore the possibility that Locke’s political philosophy is best understood as a logical extension of Protestant resistance literature rather than as a radical departure from it. Obviously if this interpretation is correct (and I am very sympathetic to it), any amount of influence Locke had on America’s founders would be unproblematic for the thesis of this essay. Locke’s influence would be cooperative with the influence of the Reformed tradition rather than competing with it.
[I]f one recognizes that Calvinists had long advocated political ideas similar to those later articulated by Locke, and that most New England ministers were by any measure orthodox Christians, it is more plausible to conclude that these ministers viewed Locke as an ally to be cited to defend concepts well within the bounds of Reformed Christianity.
If nothing else, I hope to have shown that simplistically assigning all references to natural rights, consent, limited government, and a right to rebel to the influence of John Locke is problematic.
As soon as peace was established, says Mr. Curtis, (Hist. Const. vol. 1, p. 384,) it became apparent, that while the [Articles of] Confederation was a government with the power of contracting debts, it was without the power of paying them. Id. p. 173, et seq. But the Congress did not claim that, under the pressure of necessity, or a latitudinous construction of the general welfare clause of the Articles of Confederation, it could assume power to raise money. The written charter of powers specified what might be done to provide for the general welfare; it clearly indicated the scope and meaning of that term, and Congress, in its actions, conformed thereto. But efforts were immediately commenced to procure from the States a further grant of power, by way of amendment to the Articles of Confederation, to enable Congress to levy duties, &c., for the express purpose of paying the debts, &c. The efforts were unsuccessful, but they resulted in the call of a national convention to revise the Articles of Confederation; which convention formed our present Constitution.
We do not wish to be understood as intimating that the Constitution is beyond improvement; that progress will not render change necessary; but we do hold that such change, happily provided for in the Constitution itself, should be made in the mode therein prescribed. Ours is either a government of the Constitution, or it is not. If it is a government of the Constitution, then its execution, consistently with the laws made under it, is all the Federal Government that is necessary and proper for the welfare of the nation, and all to which the States and people can be rightfully subjected.In other words, the Amendment process is there for a reason!
The reader of Madison's Notes on the Debates of the Convention would naturally infer that Sherman was prejudiced against paper money. But where is any material explaining why Sherman disliked paper money? None can be found. There's a black hole in history where Roger Sherman's monetary philosophy should be.
It's been estimated that there are more than 500 million copies in print of Karl Marx's Manifesto of the Communist Party and Das Kapital. How many billions of impressions of Marx's monetary philosophy have been etched into human consciousness nobody can calculate. He is celebrated as the founding father of the Communist movement and is regarded as one of the greatest thinkers of all time not only in the communist countries, but also in most American colleges and universities, where he is Required Reading in many sociology, history, economics, and philosophy courses. Karl Marx (1818-1883), of course, was a friend of paper money. He held that a central bank empowered to emit paper money and compel the people to use it was essential to government's control of individual property.
We don't have to estimate how many copies of Roger Sherman's only book there are in existence. There are considerably fewer than 500 million. In fact, there are only two. Only two copies of A Caveat Against Injustice left in the world. Think about it. Five hundred million that say paper money is good vs two that say paper money is evil.
About the Author
Dr. John Witherspoon (1723-1794), Signer of the Declaration of Independence and educator of James Madison and other founders of our nation, was the author of the well-reasoned Essay on Money, which undoubtedly gave respected support to Roger Sherman's igenious hard money clause in Article I, Section 10, of the Constitution -- that most remarkable remedy that rescued our nation from near oblivion in its infancy. This is "must" reading for anyone who entertains any illusions about government-issue "money," wonderful as "free of interest to the Fed" may sound. (Dr. Witherspoon's impressive credentials are detailed in the Biographical Note at the end.)
(Roger Sherman's own definitive treatise, A Caveat Against Injustice, or An Inquiry into the Evils of a Fluctuating Medium of Exchange, rescued from the obscurity of only two copies in existence and republished by Spencer Judd, can be found in The Treasury, which is bound with Remarkable Remedy.)
The Rev. David Paul is looking for someone to publish Witherspoon's other out of print documents, including sermons and letters. Our thanks to him, for he has graciously offered the Essay on Money to Kidogo's World for your benefit. We thought at first to give you only excerpts, but couldn't bring ourselves to leave anything out. We thought we thoroughly understood the money issue, having studied it for years, but we gained "new" insight from this essay. We have taken the liberty to provide subheads, more modern use of commas, separation of ideas into paragraphs, and an outline, below, to facilitate following his reasoning. The full text follows on subsequent pages. You are welcome to download, but well-formatted hard copy can be obtained at a nominal price. firstname.lastname@example.org
JOHN WITHERSPOON (1723-1794)
John Witherspoon was a distinguished Presbyterian divine, who signed the Declaration of Independence. He was born in the parish of Yester, near Edinburgh, Scotland. His father was a clergyman of the Church of Scotland, respected for his piety and learning. On his mother's side he traced an unbroken line of ministerial ancestry for more than two hundred years to the great Reformer, John Knox. Witherspoon accepted Christ at a very early age, and pursued his preparatory studies in the public school at Haddington. He there soon showed remarkable powers; graduated at the University of Edinburgh. In his studies he stood "unrivalled for perspicuity of style, logical accuracy of thought, taste in sacred criticism.
All those intellectual qualities and accomplishments, in later years, conspired to make him one of the great men of the age and of the world." He was licensed to preach in 1743; ordained as minister of the popular parish of Beith, in the west of Scotland, 1745. In 1757 he accepted a call to the Low Church in Paisley where he continued till 1768.
That year the College of New Jersey elected him president, and inaugurated Dr. Witherspoon at a meeting of the trustees, August 17, 1768. The fame of his talents and learning had preceded him, so he brought to the college a large accession of students. He also greatly increased its funds, by traveling from Georgia to New England to obtain subscriptions for his money-troubled institution. (God used this means to acquaint Dr. Witherspoon with the people of the colonies.) Indeed, few men could combine more vital qualifications for the presidency of a literary institution --"talents, extensive attainments, commanding personal appearance, and an admirable faculty for governing young men, and exciting in them a noble emulation to excel in their studies."
He introduced many important improvements in the system of education. The most significant of these was the method of teaching by lecture, which seems before to have been unknown to American colleges. He even delivered lectures on four different subjects! These were Eloquence and Composition, Taste and Criticism, Moral Philosophy, Chronology and History, and Divinity. He also gave most important service to the college by increasing its library. Witherspoon also introduced the study of the Hebrew and French. During this period Dr. Witherspoon taught the young James Madison and other Framers of the Constitution. It was he who was chiefly instrumental in getting the first orrery (model of the solar system) construction by the celebrated Rittenhouse. Besides being president, he was pastor of the church in Princeton during the whole period of his presidency.
Witherspoon was soon to enter upon a new sphere of duty. The citizens of New Jersey elected him in 1776, as a delegate to the General Congress from 1776 to 1782. In practical business talent and devotion to public affairs he was second to none in that body. He served on the Board of War and the Committee of Finance. During this time he wrote his Essay on Money. It may well have influenced Madison and others to support the ingenious hard money clause that Roger Sherman moved to be inserted into the Constituton (according to Madison's Notes of the Convention).
Dr. Witherspoon wrote many of the most important state papers of the day. With all his civil responsibility, he never laid aside his ministerial character during the whole period. He wished it understood that he was "a minister of God," in a sacred as well as in a civil sense. When he retired from the national councils, he went to his country place near Princeton, N.J. Two years before, he had partially given up his duties as president of the college. His son-in-law, Dr. Samuel Stanhope Smith, the vice-president, took over the operation of the institute. This gave him the assurance that the college was well administrated. He died November 15, 1794.
Dr. Witherspoon was undoubtedly one of the ablest, as well as one of the most extensive writers of his time. He published Ecclesiastical Characteristics; or, The Arcana of the Church Policy, (Glasgow, 1753, 8vo.; 3d.ed.1754; at least five edits.). This work was aimed at certain principles and practices which then prevailed extensively in the Church of Scotland. By its acknowledged ability, and particularly by the keenness of its satire, it produced a great sensation and acquired immense popularity. His Essay on the Connection between the Doctrine of Justification by the Imputed righteousness of Christ and Holiness of Life, etc. (Edinb. 1756, 12mo.) was often re-published. Rev. John Newton stated, "This work has always been regarded as one of the most able Calvinistic expositions of that doctrine in any language. I hope you approve Mr. Witherspoon's books. I think his Treatise on Regeneration is the best I have seen upon the subject." John Witherspoon wrote political papers and sermons so profusely that his works cover dozens of volumes published in three countries. Rev. J.W. Alexander in the Princeton Address said "The name of Dr. Witherspoon stands high on both continents.
No man thinks of Witherspoon as a Briton, but as an American of the Americans: as the counsellor of Morris, the correspondent of Washington, the rival of Franklin in his sagacity, and of Reed in his resolution." He was one of the boldest in that Declaration of Independence, and one of the most revered in the debates of the Congress. Most of the above material from The Rev. J. L.Sooy, A.M. John Witherspoon, Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature v.10 p.1026-1027