Life, Liberty and Property

The three terms employed in the title are said to be the main ones intended to be secured by American governments. And this has been the case since the very beginnings of the idea of free American governments. The following will prove, beyond all shadow of a doubt. That the Federal government, as well as a great many of the states. Are failing miserably in fulfilling the purposes for which they were instituted. Not only are most of our governments failing to secure these great ends. The majority, are deliberately perverting, subverting and undermining them. They are defeating the very purposes for which We The People established them to begin with!

First, let's establish the FACT that the Right to Keep and Bear Arms is part and parcel of Life, Liberty and Property. We will turn to an excerpt from one of the first main works of freedom and liberty known in America:

    "Sect. 135. Though the legislative, whether placed in one or more, whether it be always in being, or only by intervals, though it be the supreme power in every common-wealth; yet, First, It is not, nor can possibly be absolutely arbitrary over the lives and fortunes of the people: for it being but the joint power of every member of the society given up to that person, or assembly, which is legislator; it can be no more than those persons had in a state of nature before they entered into society, and gave up to the community: for no body can transfer to another more power than he has in himself; and no body has an absolute arbitrary power over himself, or over any other, to destroy his own life, or take away the life or property of another. A man, as has been proved, cannot subject himself to the arbitrary power of another; and having in the state of nature no arbitrary power over the life, liberty, or possession of another, but only so much as the law of nature gave him for the preservation of himself, and the rest of mankind; this is all he cloth, or can give up to the common-wealth, and by it to the legislative power, so that the legislative can have no more than this. Their power, in the utmost bounds of it, is limited to the public good of the society. It is a power, that hath no other end but preservation, and therefore can never have a right to destroy, enslave, or designedly to impoverish the subjects.* The obligations of the law of nature cease not in society, but only in many cases are drawn closer, and have by human laws known penalties annexed to them, to inforce their observation. Thus the law of nature stands as an eternal rule to all men, legislators as well as others. The rules that they make for other men's actions, must, as well as their own and other men's actions, be conformable to the law of nature, i.e. to the will of God, of which that is a declaration, and the fundamental law of nature being the preservation of mankind, no human sanction can be good, or valid against it."-- John Locke, "The Second Treatise of Government" - Chapter 11 - Of the Extent of the Legislative Power. (1690).

        “Natural Rights of the Colonists as Men.”

        “Among the natural rights of the Colonists are these: First, a right to life; Secondly, to liberty; Thirdly, to property; together with the right to support and defend them in the best manner they can. These are evident branches of, rather than deductions from, the duty of self-preservation, commonly called the first law of nature.”

        - Samuel Adams and Benjamin Franklin, Nov. 20, 1772 'The Rights of the Colonists', (actual title; 'The Report of the Committee of Correspondence to the Boston Town Meeting').

Next, let us solidify the FACT that the Right to Keep and Bear Arms is indeed a "Liberty";

    "..."7th. The 9th article also provides that the requisition for the land forces, to be furnished by the several states, shall be proportioned to the number of white inhabitants in each In the act of independence we find the following declaration: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident --that all men are created equal; that they are endued by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.' Of this doctrine it is not a very remote consequence, that all the inhabitants of every society, be the color of their complexion what it may, are bound to promote the interest thereof, according to their respective abilities. They ought, therefore, to be brought into the account, on this occasion. But admitting necessity or expediency to justify the refusal of liberty, in certain circumstances, to persons of a particular color, we think it unequal to reckon upon such in this case. Should it be improper, for special local reasons, to admit them in arms for the defence of the nation, yet we conceive the proportion of forces to be imbodied ought to be fixed according to the whole number of inhabitants in the state, from whatever class they may be raised."

    - ABSTRACT OF PROCEEDINGS IN CONGRESS ON CERTAIN PROPOSED ALTERATIONS, AMENDMENTS, OR ADDITIONS, PROPOSED BY CERTAIN STATES TO THE ARTICLES OF CONFEDERATION. June 25, 1778. Congress took into consideration the representation from NEW JERSEY, on the Articles of Confederation). [The Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution.] [Elliot's Debates, Volume 1]

    "The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, and this without any qualification as to their condition or degree, as is the case in the British government...."

    "....This may be considered as the true palladium of liberty....The right of self-defense is the first law of nature; in most governments it has been the study of rulers to confine this right within the narrowest limits possible. Whenever standing armies are kept up, and the right of the people to keep and bear arms is, under any color or pretext whatsoever, prohibited, liberty, if not already annihilated, is on the brink of destruction."

    "...In America we may reasonably hope that the people will never cease to regard the right of keeping and bearing arms as the surest pledge of their liberty..."

    - St. George Tucker, Blackstone's Commentaries, (1803).

    "The militia is the natural defense of a free country against sudden foreign invasions, domestic insurrections, and domestic Usurpation of Power by rulers. The Right of the Citizens to Keep and Bear Arms has JUSTLY been considered, as the PALLADIUM of the LIBERTIES of The Republic; since it offers a strong moral check AGAINST the Usurpation and Arbitrary Power of rulers; and will generally...ENABLE the PEOPLE to RESIST and TRIUMPH OVER THEM."

    - Joseph Story, Supreme Court Justice, Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States, p. 3:746-7, 1833. (Joseph Story served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives from 1805 to 1808 and from 1810 to 1812 for two terms as speaker and was a representative in Congress from December 1808 to March 1809. In November 1811, at the age of thirty-two, he became, by President Madison's appointment, the youngest appointed Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States).

Now, let us examine even further examples of the importance of Life, Liberty and Property in American history;

Letters of Delegates to Congress: Volume 1
Samuel Adams' Draft Letter to Thomas Gage

Sir [October 7-8, 1774]

“...The Act of the British Parliament for shutting up the Harbour of Boston is universally deemd to be unjust and cruel; and the World now sees with Astonishment & Indignation the Distress which the In habitants of that loyal though devoted Town are suffering under the most rigid Execution of it. There are two other Acts passed in the present Session of Parliament, the one for regulating the Government of the Province of Massachusetts Bay and the other entitled an Act for the more impartial Administration of Justice in the same Province; the former of these Acts was made with the professed Purpose of materially altering the Charter of that Province granted by his Majesties Royal Predecessors King William & Queen Mary for themselves their Heirs &c forever; and both or either of them if put into Execution will shake the Foundations of that free & happy Constitution which is the Birthright of the English Subjects, and totally destroy the inestimable Blessing of Security in Life Liberty and Property.”

“By your own Acknowledgment, the refusal of the People to yield obedience to these Acts is far from being confind to a Faction in the Town of Boston: It is general through the province. And we do now assure your Excellency, that this Refusal is vindicable, in the opinion of this Congress, by the Laws of Reason and Self preservation; and the People ought to be and will be supported in it by the united Voice and Efforts of all America....”

Letters of Delegates to Congress: Volume 1
George Washington to Robert Mackenzie

Dear Sir, Philadelphia 9th October 1774
Your letter on the 13th ulto.,(1) from Boston, gave me pleasure, as I learnt thereby that you were well, and might be expected at Mount Vernon in your way to or from James river, in the course of the winter.

When I have said this, permit me with the freedom of a friend, (for you know I always esteemed you) to express my sorry at For tune's placing you in a service, that must fix curses to [the] latest posterity upon the diabolical contrivers; and, if success (which by the by is impossible) accompanies it, execrations upon all those who have been instrumental in the execution.

I do not mean by this to insinuate that an officer is not to dis charge his duty, even when chance, not choice, has placed him in a disagreeable situation; but I conceive, when you condemn the conduct of the Massachusetts People, you reason from effects, not causes; otherwise you would not wonder at a people who are every day receiving fresh proofs of a Systematic exertion of an arbitrary power, deeply planned to overturn the Laws & Constitution of their Country, & to violate the most essential & valuable rights of mankind, being irritated, & with difficulty restrained from acts of the greatest violence and intemperance. For my own part, I confess to you candidly, that I view things in a very different point of light to the one in which you seem to consider them; and though you are led to believe, by venal men (for such I must take the liberty of calling those new fangled Counsellors which fly to & surround you, & all others, who, for honorary or pecuniary gratifications will lend their aid to overturn the Constitution, & introduce a system of arbitrary Government) altho' you are taught, I say, by discoursing with such men, to believe that the people of Massachusetts are rebeilious, setting up for independency & what not; give me leave, my good friend, to tell you, that you are abused--grossly abused; and this I advance with a degree of confidence, & boldness which may claim your belief; having better opportunities of knowing the real sentiments of the people you are among, from the Leaders of them, in opposition to the present measures of Administration, than you have from those whose business it is not to disclose truth, but to misrepresent facts in order to justify as much as possible to the world, their own conduct; for give me leave to add, & I think I can announce it as a fact, that it is not the wish or interest of that Government, or any other upon this Continent, separately, or collectively, to set up for Independency; but this you may at the same time rely on, that none of them will ever submit to the loss of those valuable rights & privileges which are essential to the happiness of every free State, and without which, Life, Liberty & property are rendered totally insecure.

These Sir, being certain consequences which must naturally result from the late acts of Parliament relative to America in general, & the Government of Massachusetts Bay in particular, is it to be wonder'd at, I repeat, that Men who wish to avert the impending blow, should attempt to oppose it in its progress, or prepare for their defence, if it cannot be diverted? Surely I may be allowed to answer in the negative; & give me leave to add, as my opinion, that more blood will be spilt on this occasion (if the Ministry are determined to push matters to extremity) than history has ever yet furnished instances of in the annals of North America; and such a vital wound given to the peace of this great Country, as time itself cannot cure or eradicate the remembrance of.

But I have done. I was involuntarily led into a short discussion of this subject by your remarks on the conduct of the Boston People; & your opinion of their wishes to set up for independency. I am as well satisfied, as I can be of my existence, that no such thing is desired by any thinking man in all North America; on the contrary, that it is the ardent wish of the warmest advocates for liberty, that peace & tranquility, Upon constitutional grounds, may be restored, & the hor- rors of civil discord prevented.

I am very glad to hear that my friend Stewart was well when you left London; I have not had a letter from him these five years, nor heard of him, I think, for two. I wish you had mentioned his em- ployment. Poor Mercer! I often hear from him; much cause has he, I fear, to lament his having fallen into the accursed state of attendance & dependance. I remain with very great esteem, Dr. Sir, Your most Obedt. Servt. G. Washington

LB (DLC) . Addressed: "To Capt. Robert McKenzie."
1 Mackenzie's letter is in the Washington Papers, DLC, and is printed in Stanislaus M. Hamilton, cd., Letters to Washington and Accompanying Papers; Published by the Society of the Colonial Dames of America, 5 vols (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1898-1902), 5:49-50. Mackenzie, a captain in Washington's Virginia regiment during the French and Indian War, had obtained a lieutenant's commission in the Forty-third Regiment of Foot, which was among the British units stationed at Boston.

Journals of the Continental Congress,

“...1. That the power of making laws for ordering or regulating the internal polity of these Colonies, is, within the limits of each Colony, respectively and exclusively vested in the Provincial Legislature of such Colony; and that all statutes for ordering or regulating the internal polity of the said Colonies, or any of them, in any manner or in any case what-soever, are illegal and void. at these arbitrary proceeding of parliament and administration, have severally elected, constituted, and appointed deputies to meet and sit in general congress, in the city of Philadelphia, in order to obtain such establishment, as that their religion, laws, and liberties may not be subverted:

        Whereupon the deputies so appointed being now assembled, in a full and free representation of these Colonies, taking into their most serious consideration, the best means of attaining the ends aforesaid, do, in the first place, as Englishmen, their ancestors in like cases have usually done, for asserting and vindicating their rights and liberties, declare,

        That the inhabitants of the English Colonies in North America, by the immutable laws of nature, the principles of the English constitution, and the several charters or compacts, have the following Rights:

        Resolved, N. C. D. 1. That they are entitled to life, liberty, & property, and they have never ceded to any sovereign power whatever, a right to dispose of either without their consent.

        2. That all statutes, for taxing the people of the said colonies, are illegal and void.

        3. That all the statutes before mentioned, for the purpose of raising a revenue, by imposing 'rates and duties' payable in these Colonies, establishing a Board of Commissioners, and extending the jurisdiction of Courts of Admiralty, for the collection of such 'rates and duties' are illegal and void.

        4. That Judges, within these Colonies, ought not to be dependent on the Crown only; and that their commissions ought to be during good behavior.

        Resolved, N. C. D. 2. That our ancestors, who first settled these colonies, were at the time of their emigration from the mother country, entitled to all the rights, liberties, and immunities of free and natural-born subjects, within the realm of England.

        Resolved, N. C. D. 3. That by such emigration they by no means forfeited, surrendered, or lost any of those rights, but that they were, and their descendants now are, entitled to the exercise and enjoyment of all such of them, as their local and other circumstances enable them to exercise and enjoy....”

Letters of Delegates to Congress: Volume 1
Silas Deane to Samuel Webb

Dear Saml. Philadelphia 14th May 1775.

As You will See my Letters to Mrs. Deane I shall not enlarge on incidents referr'd to, and sketchd out in them. The Military Spirit is higher in this City, even among the Freinds, than in Connecticut. Have Your Letter of the 7th and wish Your Sister, was well out of Boston. Let Effects go where they will, it is not a Time to dispute, about property, when Liberty and Life are attacked. There is a talk of Adjg. to Hartford but this is out Doors chat, so no dependance can be laid on what the Resolution may finally be.(1) No place offers for Your Brother, indeed Business, is but a Secondary Object, in this City. Young Mr. Gadsden is here in bad State of health, will visit Connecticut, before he returns. Our Family is small, & agreeable, give my Compts. & Love to Your Brother and the Family. I am Dear Saml. Yours Silas Deane

Journals of the Continental Congress,

"...Another Act of your Legislature shuts our Ports, and prohibits our Trade with any but those States from whom the great Law of self-preservation renders it absolutely necessary we should at present withhold our Commerce. But this Act (whatever may have been its design) we consider rather as injurious to your Opulence than our Interest. All our Commerce terminates with you; and the Wealth we procure from other Nations, is soon exchanged for your Superfluities. Our remittances must then cease with our trade; and our refinements with our Affluence. We trust, however, that Laws which deprive as of every Blessing but a Soil that teems with the necessaries of Life, and that Liberty which renders the enjoyment of them secure, will not relax our Vigour in their Defence.

"We might here observe on the Cruelty and Inconsistency of those, who, while they publicly Brand us with reproachful and unworthy Epithets, endeavour to deprive us of the means of defence, by their Interposition with foreign Powers, and to deliver us to the lawless Ravages of a merciless Soldiery. But happily we are not without Resources; and though the timid and humiliating Applications of a British Ministry should prevail with foreign Nations, yet Industry, prompted by necessity, will not leave us without the necessary Supplies...."

"...We could wish to go no further, and, not to wound the Ear of Humanity, leave untold those rigorous Acts of Oppression, which are daily exercised in the Town of Boston, did we not hope, that by disclaiming their Deeds and punishing the Perpetrators, you would shortly vindicate the Honour of the British Name, and re-establish the violated Laws of Justice.

That once populous, flourishing and commercial Town is now garrisoned by an Army sent not to protect, but to enslave its Inhabitants. The civil Government is overturned, and a military Despotism created upon its Ruins. Without Law, without Right, Powers are assumed unknown to the Constitution. Private Property is unjustly invaded. The Inhabitants, daily subjected to the Licentiousness of the Soldiery, are forbid to remove in Defiance of their natural Rights, in Violation of the most solemn Compacts...."

Letters of Delegates to Congress: Volume 2
Samuel Ward to Deborah Ward

“My dearest Debby Philadelphia 12th. Octr. 1775

Your Letter accompanying your Sisters was very acceptable. I shall always be pleased to receive Letters from you & write to you and though your Daddy does not always write a very good Letter the Correspondence probably will be no Injury to You. Your Aunts I imagine are with you before this Time, their Company I doubt not will be agreable and instructive. I could wish it was in my Power to give you & all the rest of my dear Tribe a better Education but when all that We have is called in Question by wicked men if We can but preserve Life Liberty & Property we shall be happy. You must endeavour to polish & improve each other....”

Letters of Delegates to Congress: Volume 2
Samuel Ward to Henry Ward

Dear Bror. Philadela. 31st Decr. 1775...

“...The Plan of Union I agree ought to be setled this Winter but the Terms you propose I dont like. You say Representation ought to be as equal as possible. Agreed, but what is to be represented-not the Individuals of a particular Community but several States, Colonies or Bodies corporate. All Writers agree that a Nation is to be considered as one Person, one moral accountable Person having a Will of its own &c. Your Proposition allows to the larger Colonies several Wills & to the smaller not one, that is not one entire or compleat Will, & thereby makes the smaller wholly dependent on the larger; but You say Justice requires that the larger Colonies having a great number of Inhabitants & a greater Share of Property should have a proportionably greater Share of Representation. Let us see how the Doctrine will apply to individuals. One Man hath a numerous Family & is possessed of a large Estate, another has only a small Family & a little Estate. Is not the Life, the Family, Liberty & Property of the poor man being his all of as much Importance to and as dear to him as the larger all of the rich Man. Most clearly they are, surely then he may be equally intrusted with the Care of that all, and Justice cannot require that he should be deprived of any Part of the Means of self Preservation that they may be transfered to another and yet if you allow to one of them a single Voice, to the other two or three Voices, You certainly (selfish as people in general are) deprive one of the Means of Self Preservation or defence and put him wholly in the Power of the other. Do not the numerous Family & Fortune of the one give him suflicient Weight &c Influence, surely they do, he can have no Right to more, the Laws have therefore wisely given to the Man of a fixed moderate Estate an equal Voice with him who is worth a hundred Times as much....”

The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799. John C. Fitzpatrick, Editor.

George Washington, January 3, 1776, General Orders

“...It is expected that the Commanding Officers of Regiments, will be exceedingly attentive to the training, exercising and disciplining their men; bringing them as soon as possible acquainted with the different Evolutions and Manoeuvres, necessary to be practiced; and as nothing reflects more disgrace upon an Officer, or is more pernicious and dangerous in itself, than suffering Arms to be in bad order; the General assures the Officers and Men, that he will never overlook, or pardon, a neglect of this kind--There are many practices in Regular Service, highly worthy of Imitation, but none more essential than this, and keeping Soldiers always clean and neat: The first, is absolutely necessary for self-preservation; the other, for health and appearance; for if a Soldier cannot be induced to take pride in his person, he will soon become a Sloven, and indifferent to every thing else--Whilst we have Men therefore who in every respect are superior to mercenary Troops, that are fighting for two pence or three pence a day: Why cannot we in appearance also be superior to them, when we fight for Life, Liberty, Property and our Country? ...”

Letters of Delegates to Congress: Volume: 3
Samuel Ward to John Ward

"My dear Son (1) Philadelpa. 10th Feby. 1776

"The old Proverb is with You "better late than never." I have sometimes been displeased that you have not obeyed my Commands & wrote to Me. I will however forgive you but dont omit for the future to write to Me once a Month at least & let me know all about the Business of the Farm & Stock, how you all do, how you imploy your time, what Progress in learning you make and what Books you read.

"Goods you observe are scarce; We must learn to manufacture every thing necessary and to do with out every thing else. When the Enemy has invaded our Lives, Liberty and Property, We must exert every Nerve to defend them; when We have once secured them, let Us turn our Attention to the Conveniences of Life- but without Liberty my dearest there is no safety or enjoyment in Life. Could you read History and see the dreadful Miseries of the unhappy People who have lost their Liberty, young as you are I believe you would consent to give up Goods, Business & ease & every pleasure and chearfully suffer all the Dangers & Hardships of War & even risque your Life in Defence of your Country rather than submit to that horrid State of Oppression, Slavery & Misery which others now groan under & Britain is trying to reduce Us to. The War between the Dutch & the Spaniards, lasted sixty years; should this War last one quarter so long you would be able to take up Arms in Defence of your Country; Cherish therefore the Love of Liberty & your Country which next to the Love of God I have endeavoured to plant in your tender heart that you may be qualified the Moment your Age & Strength allow it bravely to take up Arms in the Defence of your dear Country if necessary..."

Letters of Delegates to Congress: Volume: 3
John Adams' Notes of Debates

[May 13-15, 1776]

"...McKean. Construes the Instructions from N. York as Mr. Sherman does, and thinks this Measure the best to produce Harmony with G. Britain. There are now 2 Governments in direct Opposition to each other. Dont doubt that foreign Mercenaries are coming to destroy Us. I do think We shall loose our Liberties, Properties and Lives too, if We do not take this Step.

S. Adams. We have been favoured with a Reading of the Instructions from N. York. I am glad of it. The first Object of that Colony is no doubt the Establishment of their Rights. Our Petitions have not been heard-yet answered with Fleets and Armies and are to be answered with Mirmidons from abroad. The Gentleman from N. York, Mr. Duane, has not objected to the Preamble, but this-he has not a Right to vote for it. We cant go upon stronger Reasons, than that the King has thrown us out of his Protection. Why should We support Governments under his Authority? I wonder the People have conducted so well as they have...."

Letters of Delegates to Congress: Volume 4
John Dickinson's Notes for a Speech in Congress

[July 1, 1776] (1)

“...It was a Custom in a wise and virtuous State, to preface Propositions in Council, with a prayer, that they might redound to the public Benefit. I beg Leave to imitate the laudable Example. And I do most humbly implore Almighty God, with whom dwells Wisdom itself, so to enlighten the Members of this House, that their Decision may be such as will best promote the Liberty, Safety and Prosperity of these Colonies-and for Myself, that his Divine Goodness may be graciously pleased to enable Me, to speak the Precepts of sound Policy on the important Question that now engages our Attention.

Sir, Gentlemen of very distinguished Abilities and Knowledge differ widely in their Sentiments upon the Point now agitated. They all agree, that the utmost Prudence is required in forming our Decision-But immediately disagree in their Notions of that Prudence, Some cautiously insisting, that We ought to obtain That previous Information which We are likely quickly to obtain, and to make those previous Establishments that are acknowledged to be necessary-Others strenously asserting, that tho regularly such Information & Establishment ought to precede the Measure proposed, yet, confiding in our Fortune more boldly than Caesar himself, We ought to brave the Storm in a Skiff made of Paper.

In all such Cases, where every Argument is adorn'd with an Eloquence that may please and yet mislead, it seems to me [the proper method of?] discovering the right Path, to enquire, which of the parties is probably the most warm'd by Passion. Other Circumstances being equal or nearly equal, that Consideration would have Influence with Me. I fear the Virtue of Americans. Resentment of the Injuries offered to their Country, may irritate them to Counsels & to Actions that may be detrimental to the Cause they would dye to advance.
What Advantages? 2. 1. Animate People. 2. Convince foreign Powers of our Strength & Unanimity, & aid in consequence thereof.
As to 1st-Unnecessary. Life, Liberty & Property sufficient Motive. General Spirit of America....

Letters of Delegates to Congress: Volume 4
Benjamin Rush's Notes for a Speech in Congress

[August 1, 1776]

“...The members of the congress it is true are appointed by States, but represent] the people-& no State hath a right to alienate the privilege of equal representation: it belongs solely [to] the people. The Objects before us are the people's rights, not the rights of States. Every man in America stands related to two legislative bodies-he deposits his property, liberty & life with his own State, but his trade [and] Arms, the means of enriching & defending himself & his honor, he deposits with the congress.
If entitled to equal representation] in the first case, why not in the second?(3) ...

...3 At this point, Rush attached a small sheet of paper to his notes with sealing wax, masking over the following passage, which he probably ignored when he delivered his speech. "One right excepted which belong [to] States-boundaries- this perhaps by colony Voting. The rest are all the rights of individuals-no state can alienate them."

The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799. John C. Fitzpatrick, Editor.

George Washington, August 13, 1776, General Orders

“...The Enemy's whole reinforcement is now arrived, so that an Attack must, and will soon be made; The General therefore again repeats his earnest request, that every officer, and soldier, will have his Arms and Ammunition in good Order, keep within their quarters and encampment, as much as possible; be ready for action at a moments call; and when called to it, remember that Liberty, Property, Life and Honor, are all at stake; that upon their Courage and Conduct, rest the hopes of their bleeding and insulted Country; that their Wives, Children and Parents, expect Safety from them only, and that we have every reason to expect Heaven will crown with Success, so just a cause. The enemy will endeavour to intimidate by shew and appearance, but remember how they have been repulsed, on various occasions, by a few brave Americans; Their Cause is bad; their men are conscious of it, and if opposed with firmness, and coolness, at their first onsett, with our advantage of Works, and Knowledge of the Ground; Victory is most assuredly ours....”

Letters of Delegates to Congress: Volume 5
William Hooper to Joseph Hewes

[November 16? 1776] (1)

“...I lament the late changes in your Convention. To what strange infatuation has been owing the removal of Mr Johnston from your Councils. At a time when the Abilities of the first Characters in the State are necessary to give you a Constitution which will secure happiness, Life, liberty & property to the Inhabitants, you have deprived yourself of the most able head in North Carolina and as good a heart as God ever made. Is it become criminal then to stretch forth the hand of compassion, & shed the tear of pity upon suffering weakness. Is not liberty the same to one Class of beings as to another, or are a few of us Gods Elect who have a right to think & act as we please, without suffering any others to step within the pale of our Privileges. I confess there are few incidents which have taken place since my entrance into publick life which have given me equal distress. Past services seem to be no security for future preferment & a life far exhausted in promoting the publick good is to close under the greatest Example of Ingratitude that ever marked a people. In dust and ashes may they attone for it, to God & to my friend, & the friend of his Country.(2) ...

1 A comparison of this letter with the one Hooper wrote to the North Carolina Convention on November 16 strongly suggests that both were composed on the same day. Burnett conjectured that the last five paragraphs and postscript of this letter were written sometime after the 16th because "It does not appear, for instance, that on the 16th the incorrectness of Searle's information had yet been discovered." In fact Congress had learned as early as November 15 that Searle's intelligence was in error. See Burnett, Letters, 2:155n.2; and Board of War to the Pennsylvania Associators, November 14, 1776, note,

2 Samuel Johnston had not been elected to the North Carolina Provincial Congress which met at Halifax from November 12 to December 23, 1776, and drew up North Carolina's first state constitution....”

Journals of the Continental Congress,

THURSDAY, MAY 29, 1777

To the inhabitants of the United States.

"...Arms were employed to punish you for not surrendering your Birth-right; and to wrest from you what you would not, relinquish. What remained on your Part, to be done? To oppose Force by Force. The Sword that is drawn in the Defence of Liberty is consecrated...."

"...But the Means of Freedom will never be wanting to those, who resolve to be free. Liberty was, in happier Times, enjoyed under the British Constitution: It will grow however with proper Culture, in every Soil. The [transplanted] Branch which is transplanted will flourish, though the Root be rotten. By your Authority your Delegates, in Congress assembled declared that you were free and Independent States...."

"...Was it necessary for you to enter into this Controversy? An Attention to its Importance will discover the true Answer. It was not a Dispute about Affairs of trivial Consequence--about Claims or Rights which might have been admitted or given up, without materially affecting you. Your Property and your Lives--your Liberties and those of your Posterity--every Thing on Earth worth contending for--all were involved in the Decision of the momentous Conflict...."

"...If it was necessary to enter into the Controversy, at what Stage in its Progress, ought you to have stopt? Are there certain Lengths, to which Freemen may go, in asserting their Freedom, and no farther? Does the sacred Blessing deserve a Petition or a Remonstrance, and nothing more? If Arms may be taken up in its Defence, when should they be laid down? When the Attack upon it is abandoned, or effectually repulsed.

"The Truth is, that Independence was the natural, and when it was declared, the necessary Result of your Determination to defend and of the Determination of your Enemies to destroy your Liberties; that the Support of it is now become essential to the Success of your Cause; and that every Bar to an Accommodation with Great Britain which existed before it, exists still. Every Principle, which justified your Opposition at its Commencement, justifies it at its present Height...."

The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799. John C. Fitzpatrick, Editor.

George Washington, February 28, 1782, General Orders

Head Quarters, Philadelphia, Thursday, February 28, 1782.

Parole --. Countersigns --.

At a general Court Martial held in Philadelphia January 29, 1782, whereof Col Nichola is President, Colonel Daniel Brodhead of the first Pennsylvania Regiment was Tryed on the following Charges viz. first for various specious and unwarrantable attempts on the life, liberty and property of the good people of this Country, highly oppressive and injurious to individuals and detrimental to the common weal, by rendering what is most valuable to free men uncertain and precarious....

The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799. John C. Fitzpatrick, Editor.

Mount Vernon, November 5, 1786.

“...How melancholy is the reflection, that in so short a space, we should have made such large strides towards fulfilling the prediction of our transatlantic foe! "leave them to themselves, and their government will soon dissolve." Will not the wise and good strive hard to avert this evil? Or will their supineness suffer ignorance, and the arts of self-interested designing disaffected and desperate characters, to involve this rising empire in wretchedness and contempt? What stronger evidence can be given of the want of energy in our governments than these disorders? If there exists not a power to check them, what security has a man for life, liberty, or property? To you, I am sure I need not add aught on this subject, the consequences of a lax, or inefficient government, are too obvious to be dwelt on. Thirteen Sovereignties pulling against each other, and all tugging at the foederal head will soon bring ruin on the whole; whereas a liberal, and energetic Constitution, well guarded and closely watched, to prevent incroachments, might restore us to that degree of respectability and consequence, to which we had a fair claim, and the brightest prospect of attaining. With sentiments of the sincerest esteem etc.46”

[Note 46: From a facsimile in the Washington-Madison Papers sales catalogue (The McGuire Collection), 1892.]

The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787 [Farrand's Records, Volume 3]
XXXVI. George Washington to La Fayette.2

[Note 2: 2 Documentary History of the Constitution, IV, 184.]

Philadelphia, June 6th 1787.

It was, when I came here, and still is, my intention, to write you a long letter from this place before I leave it, but the hour is not yet come when I can do it to my own Satisfaction or for your information. I therefore shall wait till the result of the present meeting is more matured, and till the members who constitute it are at liberty to communicate the proceedings more freely before I attempt it.

You will I dare say, be surprized my dear Marquis to receive a letter from me at this place, -- you will probably, be more so, when you hear that I am again brought, contrary to my public declaration, and intention, on a public theatre -- such is the viscissitude of human affairs, and such the frailty of human nature that no man I conceive can well answer for the resolutions he enters into.

The pressure of the public voice was so loud, I could not resist the call to a convention of the States which is to determine whether we are to have a Government of respectability under which life--liberty, and property will be secured to us, or are to submit to one which may be the result of chance or the moment, springing perhaps from anarchy and Confusion, and dictated perhaps by some aspiring demagogue who will not consult the interest of his Country so much as his own ambitious views. What my be the result of the present deliberations is more than I am able, at present, if I was at liberty, to inform you, & therefore I will make this letter short, with the assurance of being more particular when I can be more satisfactory--

The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787 [Farrand's Records, Volume 1]

Friday, June 8, 1787.

“...Wilson (James)--In the Establishment of society every man yields his life, his liberty, property & Character to the society. there is no reservation of this sort, that the individual shall be subject to one and exempt from another Law--Indeed we have seen the Legislatures in our own Country deprive the citizen of Life, of Liberty, & property we have seen Attainders, Banishment, & Confiscations.

If we mean to establish a national Govt. the States must submit themselves as individuals--the lawful Government must be supreme--either the Genl. or the State Government must be supreme--We must remember the language with wh. we began the Revolution, it was this, Virginia is no more, Massachusetts is no more--we are one in name, let us be one in Truth & Fact--Unless this power is vested in the Genl. Govt. the States will be used by foreign powers as Engines agt the Whole--New States will be soon formed, the Inhabitants may be foreigners and possess foreign affections, unless the Genl. Govt. can check their State laws they may involve the Nation in Tumult and Confusion....”

The Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787
reported by James Madison: July 5

“...Life & liberty were generally said to be of more value, than property....” - Gouverneur Morris

The Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution [Elliot's Debates, Volume 3]
Saturday, June 21, 1788.

“...Gov. (Edmund) RANDOLPH, (Virginia). Mr. Chairman, I shall state to the committee in what cases the federal judiciary appears to me to deserve applause, and where it merits dispraise. It has not yet been denied that a federal judiciary is necessary to a certain extent, Every government necessarily involves a judiciary as a constituent part. If, then, a federal judiciary be necessary, what are the characters of its powers? That it shall be auxiliary to the federal government, support and maintain harmony between the United States and foreign powers, and between different states, and prevent a failure of.justice in cases to which particular state courts are incompetent. If this judiciary be reviewed as relative to these purposes, I think it will be found that nothing is granted which does not belong to a federal judiciary. Self-defence is its first object. Has not the Constitution said that the states shall not use such and such powers, and given exclusive powers to Congress? If the state judiciaries could make decisions conformable to the laws of their states, in derogation to the general government, I humbly apprehend that the federal government would soon be encroached upon. If a particular state should be at liberty, through its judiciary, to prevent or impede the operation of the general government, the latter must soon be undermined. It is, then, necessary that its jurisdiction should "extend to all cases in law and equity arising under this Constitution and the laws of the United States."

“Its next object is to perpetuate harmony between us and foreign powers. The general government, having the superintendency of the general safety, ought to be the judges how the United States can be most effectually secured and guarded against controversies with foreign nations. I presume, therefore, that treaties and cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers, and consuls, and all those concerning foreigners, will not be considered as improper subjects for a federal judiciary. Harmony between the states is no less necessary than harmony between foreign states and the United States. Disputes between them ought, therefore, to be decided by the federal judiciary. Give me leave to state some instances which have actually happened, which prove to me the necessity of the power of deciding controversies between two or more states. The disputes between Connecticut and Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island and Connecticut, have been mentioned. I need not particularize these. Instances have happened in Virginia. There have been disputes respecting boundaries. Under the old government, as well as this, reprisals have been made by Pennsylvania and Virginia on one another. Reprisals have been made by the very judiciary of Pennsylvania on the citizens of Virginia. Their differences concerning their boundaries are not yet perhaps ultimately determined. The legislature of Virginia, in one instance, thought this power right. In the case of Mr. Nathan, they thought the determination of the dispute ought to be out of the state, for fear of partiality.

“It is with respect to the rights of territory that the state judiciaries are not competent. If the claimants have a right to the territories claimed, it is the duty of a good government to provide means to put them in possession of them. If there be no remedy, it is the duty of the general government to furnish one.

“Cases of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction cannot, with propriety, be vested in particular state courts. As our national tranquillity and reputation, and intercourse with foreign nations, may be affected by admiralty decisions; as they ought, therefore, to be uniform; and as there can be no uniformity if there be thirteen distinct, independent jurisdictions,--this jurisdiction ought to be in the federal judiciary. On these principles, I conceive the subjects themselves are proper for the federal judiciary.

“Although I do not concur with the honorable gentleman that the judiciary is so formidable, yet I candidly admit that there are defects in its construction, among which may be objected too great an extension of jurisdiction. I cannot say, by any means, that its jurisdiction is free from fault, though I conceive the subjects to be proper. It is ambiguous in some parts, and unnecessarily extensive in others. It extends to all cases in law and equity arising under the Constitution. What are these cases of law and equity? Do they not involve all rights, from an inchoate right to a complete right, arising from this Constitution? Notwithstanding the contempt gentlemen express for technical terms, I wish such were mentioned here. I would have thought it more safe; if it had been more clearly expressed. What do we mean by the words arising under the Constitution? What, do they relate to? I conceive this to be very ambiguous. If my interpretation be right, the word arising will be carried so far that it will be made use of to aid and extend the federal jurisdiction.

“As to controversies between the citizens of different states, I am sure the general government will make provision to prevent men being harassed to the federal court. But I do not see any absolute necessity for vesting it with jurisdiction in these cases.

“With respect to that part which gives appellate jurisdiction, both as to law and fact, I concur with the honorable gentleman who presides, that it is unfortunate, and my lamentation over it would be incessant, were there no remedy. I can see no reason for giving it jurisdiction with respect to fact as well as law; because we find, from our own experience, that appeals as to fact are not necessary. My objection would be unanswerable, were I not satisfied that it contains its own cure, in the following words: "with such exceptions and under such regulations as Congress shall make." It was insisted on by gentlemen that these words could not extend to law and fact, and that they could not separate the fact from the law. This construction is irrational; for, if they cannot separate the law from the fact, and if the exceptions are prevented from applying to law and fact, these words would have no force at all. It would be proper to refer here to any thing that could be understood in the federal court. They may except generally both as to law and fact, or they may except as to the law only, or fact only. Under these impressions, I have no difficulty in saving that I consider it as an unfortunate clause. But when I thus impeach it, the same candor which I have hitherto followed calls upon me to declare that it is not so dangerous as it has been represented. Congress can regulate it properly, and I have no doubt they will. An honorable gentleman has asked, Will you put the body of the state in prison? How is it between independent states? If a government refuses to do justice to individuals, war is the consequence. Is this the bloody alternative to which we are referred? Suppose justice was refused to be done by a particular state to another; I am not of the same opinion with the honorable gentleman. I think, whatever the law of nations may say, that any doubt respecting the construction that a state may be plaintiff, and not defendant, is taken away by the words where a state shall be a party. But it is objected that this is retrospective in its nature. If thoroughly considered, this objection will vanish. It is only to render valid and effective existing claims, and secure that justice, ultimately, which is to be found in every regular government. It is said to be disgraceful. What would be the disgrace? Would it not be that Virginia, after eight states had adopted the government, none of which opposed the federal jurisdiction in this case, rejected it on this account? I was surprised, after hearing him speak so strenuously in praise of the trial by jury, that he would rather give it up than have it regulated as it is in the Constitution. Why? Because it is not established in civil cases, and in criminal cases the jury will not come from the vicinage. It is not excluded in civil cases, nor is a jury from the vicinage in criminal cases excluded. This house has resounded repeatedly with this observation--that where a term is used, all its concomitants follow from the same phrase. Thus, as the trial by jury is established in criminal cases, the incidental right of challenging and excepting is also established, which secures, in the utmost latitude, the benefit of impartiality in the jurors. I beg those gentlemen who deny this doctrine to inform me what part of the bill of English rights, or Great Charter, provides this fight. The Great Charter only provides that "no man shall be deprived of the free enjoyment of his life, liberty, or property, unless declared to be forfeited by the judgment of his peers, or the law of the land." The bill of rights gives no additional security on the subject of trial by jury. Where is the provision made, in England, that a jury shall be had in civil cases? This is secured by no constitutional provision. It is left to the temper and genius of the people to preserve and protect it.

“I beg leave to differ from my honorable friends in answering this objection. They said that, in case of a general rebellion, the jury was to be drawn from some other part of the country. I know that this practice is sanctified by the usages in England. But I always thought that this was one of those instances to which that nation, though alive to liberty, had unguardedly submitted. I hope it will never be so here. If the whole country be in arms, the prosecutor for the commonwealth can get a good jury, by challenging improper jurors. The right of challenging, also, is sufficient security for the person accused. I can see no instance where this can be abused. It will answer every purpose of the government, and individual security....”

“...But I never thought so, nor do I now. If, in the ratification, we put words to this purpose*, "and that all authority not given is retained by the people, and may be resumed when perverted to their oppression; and that no right can be cancelled, abridged, or restrained, by the Congress, or any officer of the United States,"--I say, if we do this, I conceive that, as this style of ratification would manifest the principles on which Virginia adopted it, we should be at liberty to consider as a violation of the Constitution every exercise of a power not expressly delegated therein. I see no objection to this. It is demonstrably clear to me that rights not given are retained, and that liberty of religion, and other rights, are secure. I hope this committee will not reject it for faults which can be corrected, when they see the consequent confusion that will follow.”

And, indeed those words, (and more), were put in six days later;

"That there be a declaration or bill of rights asserting, and securing from encroachment, the essential and unalienable rights of the people, in some such manner as the following:--

    "1st. That there are certain natural rights, of which men, when they form a social compact, cannot deprive or divest their posterity; among which are the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring, possessing, and protecting property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.

    "2d. That all power is naturally invested in, and consequently de, rived from, the people; that magistrates therefore are their trustees and agents, at all times amenable to them....”

    "7th. That all power of suspending laws, or the execution of laws, by any authority, without the consent of the representatives of the people in the legislature, is injurious to their rights, and ought not to be exercised...”

    "14th. That every freeman has a right to be secure from all unreasonable searches and seizures of his person, his papers, and property; all warrants, therefore, to search suspected places, or seize any freeman, his papers, or property, without information on oath (or affirmation of a person religiously scrupulous of taking an oath) of legal and sufficient cause, are grievous and oppressive; and all general warrants to search suspected places, or to apprehend any suspected person, without specially naming or describing the place or person, are dangerous, and ought not to be granted.

    "17th. That the people have a right to keep and bear arms; that a well-regulated militia, composed of the body of the people trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defence of a free state; that standing armies, in time of peace, are dangerous to liberty, and therefore ought to be avoided, as far as the circumstances and protection of the community will admit; and that, in all cases, the military should be under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power.

    "18th. That no soldier in time of peace ought to be quartered in any house without the consent of the owner, and in time of war in such manner only as the law directs.

    "19th. That any person religiously scrupulous of bearing arms ought to be exempted, upon payment of an equivalent to employ another to bear arms in his stead.

    "20th. That religion, or the duty which we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and therefore all men have an equal, natural, and unalienable right to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience, and that no particular religious sect or society ought to be favored or established, by law, in preference to others."

Journal of the Senate of the United States of America,

“...On motion that this last mentioned article be amended, to read as follows: 'No person shall be held to answer for a Capital or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia when in actual service, in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject to be put in jeopardy of life or limb, for the same offence; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself; nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation:'

It passed in the affirmative. (There can be no “due process of law” when the legislature is expressly forbidden from enacting laws that would “infringe” against a specifically reserved right).

Journal of the Senate of the United States of America,

“...A written message from the President of the United States was communicated by Mr. Lear, his Secretary. And he withdrew.

Gentlemen of the Senate,
and House of Representatives:

The ratification of the constitution of the United States of America by the state of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, was received by me last night; together with a letter to the President of the United States from the President of the convention. I have directed my Secretary to lay before you a copy of each.


United States, June 16, 1790.

“...[The constitution of the United States of America, precedes the following ratification.]

Ratification of the constitution by the convention of the state of Rhode-Island and Providence Plantations.

We, the delegates of the people of the state of Rhode-Island and Providence Plantations, duly elected, and met in convention, having maturely considered the constitution for the United States of America, agreed to on the seventeenth day of September, in the year one thousand seven hundred and eighty-seven, by the convention then assembled at Philadelphia, in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, (a copy Whereof precedes these presents) and having also seriously and deliberately considered the present situation of this state, do declare and make known:

1st. That there are certain natural rights, of which men, when they form a social compact, cannot deprive or divest their posterity, among which are the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring, possessing, and protecting property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.

17th. That the people have a right to keep and bear arms; that a well regulated militia, including the body of the people capable of bearing arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defence of a free state; that the militia shall not be subject to martial law, except in time of war, rebellion, or insurrection; that standing armies, in time of peace, are dangerous to liberty, and ought not to be kept up, except in eases of necessity; and that at all times, the military should be under strict subordination to the civil power...”

“...Under these impressions, and declaring that the rights aforesaid cannot be abridged or violated, and that the explanations aforesaid are consistent With the said constitution; and in confidence that the amendments hereafter mentioned will receive an early and mature consideration, and conformably to the fifth article of said constitution; speedily become a part thereof: we, the said. delegates, in the name, and in the behalf, of the people of the state of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, do, by these presents, assent to, and ratify, the said constitution...”

Journal of the Senate of the United States of America,

"...On this first occasion of addressing Congress, since, by the choice of my constituents, I have entered on a second term of administration, I embrace the opportunity to give this public assurance, that I will exert my best endeavors to administer faithfully the Executive Department, and will zealously co-operate with you in every measure which may tend to secure the liberty, property, and personal safety, of our fellow-citizens, and to consolidate the republican forms and principles of our government...."

- President Thomas Jefferson, Address To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America.

The Jeffersonian Cyclopedia, 1900. Washington ed. ix, 498.

"We owe every other sacrifice to ourselves, to our federal brethren, and to the world at large, to pursue with temper and perseverence the great experiment which shall prove that man is capable of living in society, governing itself by laws self-imposed, and securing to its members the enjoyment of life, liberty, property and peace; and further to show, that even when the government of its choice shall manifest a tendency to degenercy, we are not at once to despair but that the will and the watchfulness of its sounder parts will reform its aberrations, recall it to original and legitimate principles and restrain it within the rightful limits of self-government."

- Thomas Jefferson, Virginia Protest, 1825.

Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States,
WEDNESDAY, December 6, 1848.

“...From the adoption of the federal constitution, during a period of sixty years, our progress as a nation has been without example in the annals of history. Under the protection of a bountiful Providence, we have advanced with giant strides in the career of wealth and prosperity. We have enjoyed the blessings of freedom to a greater extent than any other people, ancient or modern, under a government which has preserved order, and secured to every citizen life, liberty, and property....”

“...Holding as a sacred trust the executive authority for the whole Union, and bound to guard the rights of all, I should be constrained, by a sense of duty, to withhold my official sanction from any measure which would conflict with these important objects.

“I cannot more appropriately close this message than by quoting from the farewell address of the father of his country. His warning voice can never be heard in vain by the American people. If the spirit of prophecy had distinctly presented to his view, more than a half century ago, the present distracted condition of his country, the language which he then employed could not have been more appropriate than it is to the present occasion. He declared:

"The unity of government which constitutes you one people is also now dear to you. It is justly so, for it is a main pillar in the edifice of your real independence, the support of your tranquility at home your peace abroad, of your safety, of your prosperity, of float very liberty which you so highly prize. But as it is easy to foresee that, from different causes, and from different quarters, much pains will be taken, many artifices employed, to weaken in your minds the conviction of this truth; as this is the point in your political fortress against which the batteries of internal and external enemies will be most constantly and actively (though often covertly and insidiously) directed, it is of infinite moment that you should properly estimate the immense value of your national union to your collective and individual happiness; that you should cherish a cordial, habitual, and immovable attachment to it; accustoming yourselves to think and to speak of it as a palladium of your political safety and prosperity; watching for its preservation with jealous anxiety; discountenancing whatever may suggest even a suspicion that it can in any event be abandoned, and indignantly frowning upon the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest, or to enfeeble the sacred ties which now link together the various parts.

"For this you have every inducement of sympathy and interest. Citizens by birth or choice of a common country, that country has a right to concentrate your affections. The name of AMERICAN which belongs to you in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of patriotism, more than any appellation derived from local discriminations. With slight shades of difference, you have the same religion, manners, habits, and political principles. You have, in a common cause, fought and triumphed together. The independence and liberty you possess are the work of joint councils and joint efforts, of common dangers, sufferings, and success. With such powerful and obvious motives to union, affecting all parts of our country, while experience shall not have demonstrated its impracticability, there will always be reason to distrust the patriotism of those who in any quarter may endeavor to weaken its bands.

"In contemplating the causes which may disturb our union, it occurs as matter of serious concern that any ground should have been furnished for characterizing parties by geographical discriminations--Northern and Southern, Atlantic and Western; whence designing men may endeavor to excite a belief that there is a real difference of local interests and views. One of the expedients of party to acquire influence within particular districts is, to misrepresent the opinions and aims of other districts. You cannot shield yourselves too much against the jealousies and heart burnings which spring from these misrepresentations. They tend to alien to each other those who ought to be bound together by fraternal affection."

- President James K. Polk, Washington, August 14, 1848.

"Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place."

- Frederic Bastiat, "The Law" 1850.

Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States,

SATURDAY, June 28, 1856.

“..."Sec. 16. And be it further enacted, That no person demeaning himself in a peaceable and orderly manner shall ever be molested on account of his mode of worship or religious sentiments in said Territory; that the inhabitants of said Territory shall always be entitled to the benefits of the writ of habeas corpus, of trial by jury, of proportionate representation of the people in the legislature, and of judicial proceedings according to the course of the common law. All persons shall be bailable unless for capital offences, where the proof shall be evident or the presumption great. All fines shall be moderate, and no cruel or unusual punishments shall be inflicted, No person shall be deprived of his life, liberty, or property, but by the judgment of his peers or the law of the land; and should the public exigencies make it necessary, for the common preservation, to take any person's property or demand his particular services, full compensation shall be made for the same. And in the just preservation of rights and property, it is understood and declared that no law ought ever to be made or be in force in said Territory that shall in any manner interfere with or affect private contracts or engagements bona fide and without fraud previously proved. And the people of said Territory shall be entitled to the right to keep and bear arms, to the liberty of speech and of the press, as defined in the constitution of the United States, and all other rights of person or property thereby declared and as thereby defined.

    "Sec. 17. And be it further enacted, That the following propositions be, and the same are hereby, offered to the said convention of the people of Kansas, when formed, for their free acceptance or rejection, which, if accepted by the convention and ratified by the people at the election for the adoption of the constitution, shall be obligatory on the United States and upon the said State of Kansas, to wit:...”

Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress. Transcribed and Annotated by the Lincoln Studies Center, Knox College. Galesburg, Illinois.

Matthew Birchard, et al. to Abraham Lincoln, Wednesday, July 01, 1863 (Response to Lincoln's letter of June 29 regarding Vallandigham)

"...July 1st 1863


Your answer to the application of the Undersigned for a revocation of the order of banishment of Clement L. Vallandigham requires a reply which they proceed, with as little delay as practicable, to make--

They are not able to appreciate the force of the distinction you make, between the Constitution, and the application of the Constitution, whereby you assume, that powers are delegated to the President at the time of invasion or insurrection, in derogation of the plain language of the Constitution. The inherent provisions of the Constitution, remaining the same in time of insurrection or invasion, as in time of peace, the President can have no more right to disregard their positive and imperative requirements, at the former time, than at the latter. Because some "things may be done" by the terms of the Constitution, at a time of invasion or insurrection, which would not be required by the occasion, in time of peace . . . You assume that any thing whatever, even though not expressed by the Constitution, may be done on the occasion of insurrection or invasion, which the President may choose to say is required by the public safety-- In plainer terms, because the writ of Habeas corpus may be suspended, at the time of invasion or insurrection, you infer, that all other provisions of the Constitution, having in view the protection of the life, liberty, and property of the Citizen, may be in like manner suspended-- The provision relating to the writ of Habeas Corpus, being contained in the first part of the Constitution, the purpose of which, is to define the powers delegated to Congress, has no connection in language, with the declaration of rights, as guaraties of personal liberty contained in the additional, and amendatory articles; and in as much as the provision relating to Habeas Corpus, expressly provides for its suspension, and the other provisions alluded to, do not provide for any such thing, the legal conclusion is that the suspension of the latter is unauthorized. The provision for the writ of Habeas Corpus, is merely intended to furnish a summary remedy, and not the means, whereby personal security is conserved, in the final resort; while the other provisions are guaranties of personal rights, the suspension of which puts an end to all pretence of free goverment-- It is true Mr. Vallandigham applied for a writ of Habeas Corpus, as a summary remedy against oppression-- But the denial of this did not take away his right to a speedy public trial by an impartial Jury, or deprive him of his other rights as an American Citizen-- Your assumption of the right to suspend all the Constitutional guaranties of personal liberty, and even of the freedom of Speech and of the press, because the summary remedy of Habeas Corpus, may be suspended is at once startling and alarming, to all persons desirous of preserving free government in this Country.

The inquiry of the undersigned, whether "You hold that the rights of every man throughout this vast Country in time of invasion, or insurrection are subject to be annulled, whenever you may say, that You consider the public safety requires it," was a plain question, undisguised by circumlocution, and intended simply to elicit information. Your affirmative answer to this question, throws a shade upon the fondest anticipations of the framers of the Constitution who flattered themselves, that they had provided Safeguards, against the dangers, which have ever beset, and overthrown free goverment in other ages and countries-- Your answer is not to be disguised by the phraseology that the question "is simply a question who shall decide, or an affirmation that no body shall decide what the public safety does require in cases of rebellion or invasion." Our government was designed to be a government of law; settled and defined, and not of the arbitrary will of a single man. As a safeguard, the powers delegated were distributed to the legislative, Executive, and judicial branches of the government, and each made co-ordinate with the others, and supreme within its sphere, and thus a mutual check upon each other, in case of abuse of power-- It has been the boast of American people that they had a written Constitution, not only expressly defining, but also limiting the powers of the government, and providing effectual safeguards, for personal liberty, security and property. And to make the matter more positive and explicit, it was provided by the Amendatory articles, nine and ten, that "the enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people;" and that "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, now prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively or to the people." With this care and precaution on the part of our forefathers, who framed our institutions, it was not to be expected that at so early a day as this, a claim of the President to arbitrary power, limited only by his conception of the requirements of the public safety, would have been asserted-- In derogation of the Constitutional provisions making the President strictly an executive officer, and vesting all the delegated legislative power in Congress, your position, as we understand it, would make your will the rule of action and your declarations of the requirements of the public safety the law of the land-- Our inquiry was not therefore, "simply a question who shall decide, or the affirmation that no body shall decide, what the public safety requires." Our government is a government of law, and it is the law making power, which accertains what the public safety requires, and prescribes the rule of action; and the duty of the President is simply to execute the laws thus ennacted, and not to make or annul laws--..."

Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States,
FRIDAY, December 20, 1867.

"...Mr. Price, by unanimous consent, submitted the following preamble and resolution; which were read and referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, viz:

"Whereas the obligation on the part of the subject to obey the laws, support the government, and bear true faith and allegiance thereto, presupposes an obligation on the part of the government to protect and defend the subject, whether native or adopted, whether at home or abroad, in all his rights of life, liberty, and property; and whereas numerous cases have recently occurred where the government of Great Britain has, with apparent injustice, deprived our citizens of one or all of these..."

Journal of the Senate of the United States of America,
THURSDAY, March 23, 1871.

“...The following message was received from the President of the United States, by Mr. Porter, his secretary:

To the Senate and House of Representatives:

A condition of affairs now exists in some of the States of the Union rendering life and property insecure, and the carrying of the mails and the collection of the revenue dangerous.

The proof that such a condition of affairs exists in some localities is now before the Senate. That the power to correct these evils is beyond the control of the State authorities I do not doubt. That the power of the Executive of the United States, acting within the limits of existing laws, is sufficient for present emergencies is not clear.

Therefore, I urgently recommend such legislation as in the judgment of Congress shall effectually secure life, liberty, and property in all parts of the United States.

It may be expedient to provide that such law as shall be passed in pursuance of this recommendation shall expire at the end of the next session of Congress.

There is no other subject on which I would recommend legislation during the present session.


Washington, D. C., March 23, 1871....”

Journal of the Senate of the United States of America,
WEDNESDAY, April 5, 1871.

"...On motion by Mr. Stockton to further amend the resolution so that it would read:

"Resolved, That the Committee on the Judiciary is instructed to report a bill or bills to enable the President and the courts of the United States to execute the laws, punish and prevent organized violence, and secure to all citizens the rights guaranteed to them by the Constitution of the United States;

"On motion by Mr. Edmunds to amend the amendment proposed by Mr. Stockton by inserting after the word "rights," the words, to life, liberty, and property, and the equal protection of the laws;

It was determined in the affirmative..."

Journal of the Senate of the United States, 43rd Congress, 2nd session through 44th Special session
MONDAY, December 7, 1874.

"...Mr. Ingalls submitted the following resolution for consideration:

Resolved, That the Committee on Indian Affairs be directed to inquire into the recent disturbances in the Indian Territory, and to report to the Senate what measures are necessary for the protection of life, liberty, and property, and the preservation of law and order in that region, and whether the best interests of civilization do not demand the immediate establishment of courts of the United States in said Territory as provided by the treaties of 1866...."

"The very purpose of a Bill of Rights was to withdraw certain subjects from the vicissitudes of political controversy, to place them beyond the reach of majorities and officials and to establish them as legal principles to be applied by the courts. One's right to life, liberty, and property, to free speech, a free press, freedom of worship and assembly, and other fundamental rights may not be submitted to vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections."

- Justice Robert H. Jackson, U. S. Supreme Court Justice, (1892-1954). [West Virginia Board of Education vs. Barnette, 1943.]

It should be quite plain for all to see. That neither the local, state or federal governments have any legally delegated Constitutional authority over arms in the hands of We The People. Rather, it is one of the specific duties of the Federal government. To secure that “inalienable” right from any government encroachments or interferences whatsoever.

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