It has been well documented about how our revered elected representatives in whom we placed our faith distorted the Constitution to pass laws to suit their own often-egotistical means. You rarely hear about it, because the liberal press and the people who create our schoolbooks don’t want it printed. The actions of our elected representatives were often in direct violation of the Constitution, resulting in a powerful centralized Federal government that was NEVER the intent of our Founding Fathers.
The information herein has been gathered from the writings of distinguished scholars, authors and teachers of American history, who have documented these facts in hundreds of books and articles in far greater detail. I will offer up adequate evidence of the perversion of the Constitution that fostered the illegal, exponential growth of the Federal government, often by people we hold in the highest esteem throughout American history. If you keep an open mind and you find this information of extreme value to you, there are many sources of additional historical data on the Internet and law libraries (and elsewhere) with which you may amplify your knowledge.
To fight the politicians who are taking our hard-earned money and destroying our civil liberties under the umbrella of eliminating poverty, improving education, or fighting terrorism, we need to be able to understand that the basis by which these sharks are bankrupting our country financially and morally is both illegal and corrupt. Once we “know thy enemy,” we can take corrective action to return the government to the people.
In Robert Higgs classic work, Crisis and Leviathan, published in 1987, he demonstrates how government officials will often manufacture crises as an instrument to defend both tax increases and new legislation, often in conflict with the Constitution. Does this not sound familiar?
The road to big government has been a long and treacherous road starting over 100 years ago in the Civil War when Abraham Lincoln was President of the Union. The growth of the Federal government expanded greatly through Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s “New Deal,” actually picked up speed through Lyndon Baines Johnson’s “Great Society,” and has been running at breakneck speed ever since. For the most part these presidents, plus to some degree the remainder of the presidents after FDR, ignored the Constitution when it suited them. Incredibly, Congress or the Supreme Court rarely challenged these chief executives.
Let us not forget that immortal quote by Lord Acton in his private correspondence with Confederate General Robert E. Lee.
“Powers tend to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely,”
We have all been taught that Abraham Lincoln was the Great Emancipator who freed the slaves during the Civil War, but according to the Independent Review, “contrary to popular belief, the war was not fought primarily over slavery.” This statement counters everything we have been taught since grammar school. It appears that in reality most Northerners did not object to slavery; quite to the contrary, they graciously accomplished trade and most business matters with the south, without protest. Supposedly, the war was fought because of the different economic policies of the northern and southern states, wherein some of these policies were related, but other matters had absolutely nothing to do with slavery.
Therefore, the war with the south, which is more correctly identified as the “war between the states,” was a convenient vehicle to ensure the southern tax base was retained to fund the treasury to feed expansion. Lincoln may have made many decisions for what he considered the greater good of the country, but on the surface it appears that sinister forces were at work. Scholars have debated the issue of why the war was fought for over a hundred years, without an absolute conclusion. As far as this book, this is not the issue I wish to explore. The issue is how the Constitution has been suborned, misinterpreted, ignored or simply bypassed by the politicians, and in some cases by the judicial system itself, so I will leave the great debate to the scholars.
Let me be very clear about this. I am not attempting to demonize some of the most important figures, such as Abraham Lincoln, in American history, as many revisionists have reviled both Jefferson and Washington and other revolutionary visionaries because they owned slaves. We know little of the mindset of many of these people over one hundred to two hundred years ago. As incomprehensible as their thinking may have been in today’s society, in many quarters slaves were considered sub-human, to be used for menial labor in much the same manner as we use robots today. Therefore, the Founding Fathers did not see any contradiction between slavery and the “All men are created equal” clause of the Declaration of Independence.
Lincoln claimed in his First Inaugural Address “No state upon its own mere motion can lawfully get out of the Union.”
Closely examining the Articles of Confederation, Article II states,
“Each state retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every power, jurisdiction, and right, which is not by this Confederation expressly delegated to the United States, in Congress assembled.”
By the standard definition in any randomly chosen dictionary, delegated means to pass down a chain-of-command to a subordinate agent by a superior authority – in this case, the individual state is passing authority to the Federal government. To reinforce this argument, The Declaration of Independence, in part, states quite clearly,
“That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, Free and Independent States… and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do.”
“Power to levy War?” “Contract Alliances? These words sound very much like the authority any nation would grant itself.
Remember that the framers of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution very specifically designed the new government on the basis of a union of strong and independent states with a minimal Federal government solely responsible for defense and the judiciary, to avoid the pitfalls of powerful central governments such as England. In fact, Article 1, Section 8, Clause 1 of the Constitution specifically states
“The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States.”
Common defence and general Welfare meant that their intention was simply to maintain a Federal army and the development of a nationwide judicial system. That was the main purpose of the Federal government – and not the mutation we have today. According to various legal interpretations, Lincoln had no more claim to bind Georgia or Alabama than it had in binding China or France to the Union. The key here is that somehow Lincoln and his supporters chose to believe that the states had magically surrendered their status as sovereign nations as justification to wage war against the south. Lincoln’s actions clearly violated the tenth amendment to the Constitution that states,
“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
Legal experts, ad nauseum, can debate this argument but one seemingly indisputable fact stands out like a Times Square billboard. By almost all legal interpretations, the Constitution is fundamentally a treaty between separate and sovereign nation-states, which those states agreed to support, as opposed to being bound to obey by law. This is a very important point that illustrates the rape of the Constitution commencing with the administration of Lincoln. There are thousands of legal interpretations that are both pro and con on this issue, so consult your library (or the Internet) if you wish to pursue this matter in greater depth.
Lincoln suspended habeas corpus (a writ to release a party from unlawful restraint) and people were seized and confined on the possible suspicion of disloyalty. At least 13,000 civilians were held as political prisoners, often without trial or with minimal hearings before a military tribunal. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court ruled that the suspension of habeas corpus was unconstitutional, but was overruled by Lincoln. Does this not ring a bell? The Patriot Act was not the first instance of suspension of the people’s rights under the Constitution.
Once Lincoln and his supporters had made the decision that states had surrendered their sovereignty, the Civil War caused a tremendous expansion of the size and power of the Federal government. A progressive income tax was imposed on the people to pay for the war, the start of the extortion of our paychecks that we live with today.
One of the key provisions of the Constitution is that it is a “living” document. Our Founding Fathers recognized that they could not foresee the needs of the people 100 or 200 years in the future, so they developed the system of amendments to permit continual update of the document. However, a very important point must be emphasized in that two-thirds of the states must ratify any change. Obviously since the south represented about one-half of the states in the Union, Lincoln would not have been able to modify any provision of the Constitution dealing with states rights – he would not have obtained approval on this issue.
Frank Meyer, in the August, 1965, issue of National Review, wrote an article that in part stated,
“Lincoln’s pivotal role in our history was essentially negative to the genius and freedom of our country.”
Pretty harsh words I would have to say. He also wrote:
“Lincoln…moved at every point …to consolidate central power and render nugatory (of little importance) the autonomy of the states…It is on his shoulders that the responsibility for the war must be placed.”
Many historians would agree with the following statement,
“If the premise upon which the US broke from England is legitimate then the ENTIRE PREMISE upon which Lincoln prosecuted the war against the Confederacy was ILLEGAL AND CRIMINAL.”
There is no question the Lincoln freed the slaves, a terrible blot on the country, but “does the means justify the end?”
As un-American and contrary as this may sound, an argument can be made that if this democracy falls within the next 50 years because of excessive Federal government control and taxation, Lincoln’s freeing of the slaves by fighting the war may have been too high a price to pay for his usurpation of the Constitution.
The Reconstruction period is generally considered the years from 1865 to 1876. This period is also referred to as the “Second Civil War.”
Government did not intervene much in people’s lives during this era, other than in the repressive rebuilding of the south, a period of unprecedented growth in the country. Gee, I wonder if the two are related.
The onset of big government, however, commenced with the introduction of the Income Tax in 1913. The maximum tax rate in 1913 was 7%. Today it is close to 70%.
According to Walter Prescott Webb, “Coolidge ruined his health and brought himself to the edge of the grave with the sheer intensity of his inactivity.”
Liberal historians paint the Coolidge years as a “do nothing” period prior to Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal, while conservatives cheer the results he did attain. Coolidge reduced the top income tax rates to spur the economy, reduced the national debt, and vetoed the McNary-Haugen agricultural bill.
As Governor, Coolidge gained national acclaim for his firm handling of the 1919 Boston police strike, during which he wrote the American Federation of Labor’s Samuel Gompers, “there is no right to strike against the public safety, by anybody, anywhere, any time,” frustrating liberal-minded people.
Coolidge advocated individualism and viewed government intervention in people’s lives as a problem instead of a solution.
Some of the quotes attributed to Coolidge are:
Coolidge is specifically mentioned in this chapter as he was the last president who wanted government to mind it’s own business.
If it were not for the precedence established by Lincoln in usurping the Constitution, Franklin Delano Roosevelt would have been unable to develop his grandiose welfare state in the 1930s.
Roosevelt assumed office from Herbert Hoover after the crash of the Stock Market in 1929, which triggered a worldwide financial crisis. By 1933, unemployment had soared to 25% of the workforce. During the election campaign, he blasted the incumbent president for incurring a budget deficit, and promised he would balance the budget if elected. So much for campaign promises.
In the 1930s, prior to FDR’s election, the Federal government consumed less than 5 percent of national income in all forms. Today it takes between 20 and 25 percent.
The New Deal was the overall plan for combating the Great Depression. It was widely believed that the depression was a reflection of the instability of the stock market and the economy in general.
While Roosevelt was implementing his New Deal, other governments around the world used restrictive policies such as high tariffs, import quotas and barter agreements to improve their economies. Unlike many of these same world leaders during this period, however, Roosevelt entered office with no concrete plan for dealing with the depression. His approach would often be contradictory and experimental.
The New Deal consisted of many different legal and unconstitutional efforts to end the Great Depression and reform the U.S. economy. Most of these efforts were failures, but there were enough successes to establish it as the most important period in the twentieth century as far as creating the modern all-consuming state.
In the first 100 days of his administration, he took full advantage of the fear in the American people and Democratically-controlled Congress. With Congress willing to try any measures to resurrect the economy, he used his newfound power to ram through passage of a series of measures to prop up the fragile banking system, reform the stock market, provide aid to the unemployed, and induce industrial and agricultural recovery.
During this period:
There was absolutely no constitutional basis for any of this legislation. Roosevelt was able to hammer out this multitude of legislation because: 1) the democratically controlled Congress consisted of liberals and reformers, and 2) there was little resistance from the normally conservative business community, as they were desperate to find any means to achieve economic stability.
The irony of this legislature is these measures did not end, or even cause a significant dent in the economic depression, but instead set in motion the gigantic government bureaucracy we unfortunately live with today.
Subsequent legislation included the National Labor Relations Act that strengthened collective bargaining, and the Works Progress Administration (WPA), which generated thousands of jobs building major construction projects, but the most significant piece of legislature hammered out if the New Deal was the Social Security Act of 1935. This act established a system of old-age pensions, unemployment insurance, and welfare benefits for dependent children and the handicapped. Social Security has become the monster that devours the largest bite out of your paycheck securing just enough dollars to pay for ongoing pensions. The government has “borrowed” the rest of the funds to pay off current debts and the monstrous national debt leaving the Social Security fund a bunch of “IOUs.” As we are all aware, this system is in considerable trouble facing a shortage of monies to pay pensioners in the not too distant future. This single “borrowing” drain of Social Security monies to prop up the government is adequate reason alone why we must balance the budget in the future.
A very important decision by the Supreme Court in 1905 set the tone for eventual conflict between the Court and Roosevelt’s administration during the New Deal. New York had passed a law requiring that baker’s work no more than 60 hours per week. New York maintained that it had an obligation to protect the safety, health, morals and welfare of its citizens. Joseph Lochner, who owned a bakery, challenged this assertion by claiming that the XIV Amendment granted a right to contract as a part of liberty, and that this contract right included the ability for any of his contractors to determine the number of hours that individual wished to work at the bakery. The Court ruled that the state had no authority to regulate the number of hours a baker is permitted to work. The ruling on Lockner was among several significant decisions of the Court in the early 1900’s, which invalidated many state labor laws, and set the tone for the eventual confrontation with Roosevelt’s New Deal in the 1930’s.
One of Roosevelt’s most maligned actions was his attempt to consolidate his power by adding justices to the Supreme Court who were more sympathetic to his cause. Now why would he do this? Simply because the existing justices knew how to read the Constitution and ruled that many of his acts were unconstitutional. The “Four Horsemen” as they were called, were adamantly opposed to the anti-constitutionality of Roosevelt’s legislature. In one of the cases, the Court examined a national mining industry law (Bituminous Coal Conservation Act of 1935) and struck the law down as a coercive penalty beyond the scope of Congress’s tax authority. The Court went so far as to strike down the wage, working conditions, and hour’s sections of the law, too; for those clauses were beyond the scope of Congress’s authority. This decision and other similar decisions by the votes of the “Four Horsemen,” who rightfully envisioned themselves as the preservers of the Constitution, resulted in a clash with the administration comically called “The Great Debate.”
In response, Roosevelt defiantly asked Congress to expand the number of justices so he could appoint a majority of justices sympathetic to his cause regardless of the niceties of constitutional law. He forcefully demanded six new judges on the Supreme Court and up to 44 additional lower Federal judgeships.
Remember that if the President or Congress wants to pass laws they must be legitimate within the constraints of the Constitution. To change or add a new Amendment requires that two-thirds of the states must ratify that change. Roosevelt did not want to slow down his steamroller because of a little problem with legalities. But the “court packing plan,” as it was known, did lasting political damage to Roosevelt and was finally rejected by Congress, as fears arose over a potential Roosevelt dictatorship. Over the course of time, during all of this turbulence, the composition of the court changed, giving Roosevelt the power he wanted all along.
Even the most progressive New Dealers privately held great suspicions about Federal power, expansive welfare benefits, and large-scale government expenditures.
To Roosevelt’s credit, he appointed an unprecedented number of African Americans to low-level positions in his administration, perhaps due to the influence of his wife, Eleanor, a vocal opponent of racial discrimination.
With all of that legislature, the country still went into a degree of a freefall in 1937-1938 as the economy again receded. However, events of World War II from 1941-1945 and war mobilization changed the American economy forever.
In 1939, Roosevelt established the Executive Office of the President (EOP), the hammer of modern presidential Constitutional work-around; Many of Roosevelt’s executive orders were clearly indifferent to civil liberties and democratic values, most notably his February 1942 order that authorized the internment of thousands of Japanese Americans in World War II.
Although the New Deal did not end the depression, for the most part it helped to prevent the economy from further erosion by increasing the regulatory functions of the Federal government in ways that helped stabilize previous trouble areas of the economy: the stock market, the banking system, and others. However, we must now live with the fallout from many of the decisions today in the form of the exponentially expanded Federal government.
Even one of our best presidents, Harry S. Truman, was not exempt from violating the Constitution. He seized the nation’s steel mills in 1952 with Executive Order 10340, a consequential step in itself that became more important when it resulted in the twentieth century’s most important judicial statement on the limits of presidential power. With the order the government took possession of eighty-six of the country’s steel mills, representing well over 80 percent of the industry’s capacity.
It should be noted that virtually all presidents since Lincoln have used the Executive Order to circumvent the Constitution and Congress.
It may seem inconceivable, but President Lyndon Baines Johnson pushed more legislation into law than Franklin Delano Roosevelt, even though he was simultaneously fighting the war in Vietnam. His policies were dubbed “Guns and Butter.”
Although Johnson came from humble origins, he is likely the president most associated with the production of both positive and negative legislation, in that he violated Federal laws in much the same way that people ignore speed limits.
Lyndon Baines Johnson’s rush to madness was characterized as the “Great Society,” or the “Great Socialist Society” by Libertarians, although he managed to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964. He also announced a War On Poverty establishing another government agency, the Office of Economic Opportunity, that we live with today.
Johnson is credited, or defamed, based on your viewpoint, for an entire series of entitlement programs among them Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, public housing and Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC). Regardless of the benefits these programs may have provided to the poor people, once a government program is created, it is much like a snowball rolling down a hill growing daily regardless of the need, even if it outgrows its usefulness.
It is unlikely that we Americans can alter history by asking the court system to reaffirm all that has gone on before. We can only be judicious and carefully scrutinize all subsequent decisions by the state and Federal Supreme Courts and holler bloody murder to anyone who will listen. Now that you have a much better historical perspective, and you are armed with your personal handy-dandy book containing the Constitution and Amendments, you can write letters to your local newspapers and your Congressman and Congresswomen to voice your displeasure. Let them know they’re not pulling the wool over your eyes!
It reality, it is probably too late to change much of the illegal growth of government that has occurred to-date. It’s analogous to closing the door after the horses have bolted from the barn.
But there is one change we can make – remove the power of local and Congressional representatives by voting directly on all issues and removing many laws that trample on the people’s rights. I discuss this perfectly feasible concept in the final chapter, “How Can We Change America?”