Tag Archives: Constitution

Withering Glare

Delegates at the Constitutional Convention privately questioned whether George Washington’s attendance would make a difference… his comrades from the Revolutionary War knew it would; that his renowned resolve would provide legitimacy to their undertaking in Philadelphia.  Some doubted Washington’s imposing presence could really move men.

Wanna bet?

Alexander Hamilton, Washington’s adjutant during much of the War… challenged a Pennsylvania delegate, the jovial Gouverneur Morris, to greet the General by grasping him by the shoulder.  The bet was a feast for 12.  Morris boasted to Hamilton that no man could intimidate him, even Washington.

 

At a formal dinner a few nights later… Morris approached Washington and greeted him with a firm grasp of the General’s shoulder,

Withered away

“My Dear General, I am very happy to see you look so well.”

Washington removed Morris’s hand and took a step back… fixing on Morris what was described as an “angry frown” and “steely glance”  that “withered” Morris and forced his retreat.  He later confessed to Hamilton,

“I have won the bet but paid dearly for it, and nothing could induce me to repeat it.”

 

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

On Education

We celebrate the birth of Samuel Adams by expressing his desire for an educated electorate…  Not the kind of rabble easily fooled by demagogues manipulating fear and emotion– the masses of people able to discern and decide on their own, using sound minds and commendable judgements.

The said Constitution shall never be construed to authorize Congress to infringe the just liberty of the press or the rights of conscience; or to prevent the people of The United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms.”

“Let Divines, and Philosophers, Statesmen and Patriots unite their endeavours to renovate the Age, by impressing the Minds of Men with the importance of educating their little boys, and girls — of inculcating in the Minds of youth the fear, and Love of the Deity, and universal Phylanthropy; and in subordination to these great principles, the Love of their Country — of instructing them in the Art of self government, without which they never can act a wise part in the Government of Societies great, or small…”  1790

Leave a comment

Filed under Ephemera

Leave Madison Alone

Joe Ellis explained the absence of serious Madison biographies… by proclaiming “he’s boring as hell” and that “only lawyers like him.”   As previously stated, Ellis’s recent comments on the Framers and Original Intent cast doubt on the rigor of his scholarship- and these nuggets of wisdom only enhance the evidence of his misguided revisionism.

Never far apart

Never far apart

The revision Ellis is peddling holds that Madison and other Framers… rejected the doctrine of Original Intent on its face.  The only empirical evidence supporting this notion is Madison’s oft quoted explanation for not publishing his notes on the Constitutional Convention.  Once established, the government continued to disappoint Madison, driving him closer to his friend Jefferson.  During his presidency, Madison undoubtedly supported Original Intent as he battled John Marshall and Congress for the soul of the Constitution.  He feared the elasticity in the Constitution was being abused by ambitious demagogues- Madison wanted the power of government restrained- his original intent.

What have your wrought, Joe?

What have your wrought, Joe?

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review, Uncategorized

The American Spirit

Madison argues that oligarchy is difficult in America because of our size and diversity… but critics consistently cited the House of Representatives as the most susceptible institution in the new government.

james-madison

Anti-Federalists argued that the Representatives would have the least amount of sympathy… with the masses of people; focusing exclusively on the narrow interests of their few electors, ignoring the will of the majority.  Madison first counters with a historical analysis of the British system and the necessary role of states in the Federal system.  But he concludes his argument in Federalist #57 by appealing to what he describes as the American Spirit:

 

“If it be asked, what is to restrain the House of Representatives from making legal discriminations in favor of themselves and a particular class of the society? I answer: the genius of the whole system; the nature of just and constitutional laws; and above all, the vigilant and manly spirit which actuates the people of America — a spirit which nourishes freedom, and in return is nourished by it.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Ephemera, News

Defining Misdemeanors

Madison and Hamilton allowed the grounds for impeachment of the President… open to necessary judgments and deliberations in the House of Representatives.  Madison’s original draft suggested only the term “maladministration” of the duties of the office.  Later amended to “misdemeanors” it is clear that the Framers were not only discussing indictable crimes- public men of this order would be above petty larceny and the like-  abuse of the office and the neglect of official duty is what concerned them.

You doubt our words?

Hamilton explained the difference in Federalist #65:

“Those offences which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust. They are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated POLITICAL, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself.”

Impeachment applies to political abuses of the office… not necessarily criminal acts.  Delegates at the ratifying conventions were concerned about the President interfering in the legislative or judicial processes.  Madison responded to the concerns by equating such Constitutional misconduct with criminality:

“Were the President to commit any thing so atrocious… he would be impeached and convicted, as a majority of the states would be affected by his misdemeanor.”

Failing to discharge the duties of his office

The President cannot abuse or misuse the powers of his office… without risking impeachment.  The term “misdemeanor” as applied by the Framers establishes a standard extending far beyond simple criminal acts.  Public men should be held to a greater standard.

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under News

The American Spirit

Madison argues that oligarchy is difficult in America because of our size and diversity… but critics consistently cited the House of Representatives as the most susceptible institution in the new government.

james-madison

Anti-Federalists argued that the Representatives would have the least amount of sympathy… with the masses of people; focusing exclusively on the narrow interests of their few electors, ignoring the will of the majority.  Madison first counters with a historical analysis of the British system and the necessary role of states in the Federal system.  But he concludes his argument in Federalist #57 by appealing to what he describes as the American Spirit:

 

“If it be asked, what is to restrain the House of Representatives from making legal discriminations in favor of themselves and a particular class of the society? I answer: the genius of the whole system; the nature of just and constitutional laws; and above all, the vigilant and manly spirit which actuates the people of America — a spirit which nourishes freedom, and in return is nourished by it.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Ephemera, News

On Impeachment

Supporters of corrupt Presidents, from Andrew Johnson to Bill Clinton… all use the same erroneous argument about the Impeachment provision of the Constitution.  “But he didn’t commit a high crime!”   

 

If only our Framers had specific indictable crimes in mind when they included… the all important Impeachment provision.  The historical record clearly shows “High crimes and misdemeanors”  is a standard based on all facets of public conduct.

Listen to this rap

In Federalist 65, Hamilton writes : “those offences which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust. They are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated POLITICAL, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself.”

 

Madison argues in the Convention debates that impeachment can be used if the President “fails to discharge the duties of his office.”  

The Framer

“it will make him in a peculiar manner, responsible for [the] conduct” of executive officers. subject him to impeachment himself, if he suffers them to perpetrate with impunity high crimes or misdemeanors against the United States, or neglects to superintend their conduct, so as to check their excesses.”

 

Should we scrutinize the current occupant of the White House more diligently? 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized