Being grateful to Publius and this group I feel compelled to try to give something in return and as is often necessary to have my understanding improved in the process.
The subject title is partially taken from a series of news articles written by John Adams and the Kings Attorney General in which they debate our claim for independence.
This equivalent to our modern blogs took place in 1774 and 75 and ended with the signing of our Declaration of Independence. As a firsthand account of the struggle that ultimately produced our Constitution it is so far as I know unparalleled. If I step out of bounds please forgive the analogy, this original work is to the Declaration of Independence what the Federalist Papers are to the Constitution.
Here is the LINK to the book. It is free, searchable and downloadable. At the very least take a look at the preface. If you’re not interested in reading at length then use the search tools to explore this work as a reference.
There are some really amazing things in there. When, by whom and to whom it was written gave me an appreciation for the Declaration of Independence like nothing else I’ve seen.
Amazing Find!!! Super Super !!. Thank you so much for sharing this. There are answers here, I can "see and feel" them. You are so correct that history just keeps repeating itself. From Moses' flock to American governance. The monotonous Tytler Cycle of human imprudence. "..until prophesy, became history..."2nd para, page 11.- aside from the style, one would believe he was reading todays headlines.
This letter in particular is what sent me off on my quest into the history leading up to the DOI. To a large degree it illustrates the effects of the “principle points of controversy”.
“The Revolution was effected before the war commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people; a change in their religious sentiments of their duties and obligations.”
“...when they saw those powers renouncing all the principles of authority, and bent upon the destruction of all the securities of their lives, liberties, and properties, they thought it their duty to pray for the continental congress and all the thirteen State congresses.”
“To this end, it is greatly to be desired, that young men... in all the States... would undertake the... task, of searching and collecting all the records, pamphlets, newspapers, and even handbills, which in any way contributed to change the temper and views of the people, and compose them into an independent nation.”
Thank you for posting!
This is kind of interesting. According to NOVANGLUS one of the “principle point(s) of controversy” between the colonists and Parliament was over the justification for the destruction of tea in Boston. The following passages illustrate the issue (the “transaction” mentioned refers to the destruction of tea in Boston).
“Our acute logician [NOVANGLUS’s opponent] then undertakes to prove the destruction of the tea unjustifiable… In order to form a rational judgment of the quality of this transaction, and determine whether it was good or evil, we must go to the bottom of this great controversy.”
“If parliament has a right to tax us and legislate for us, in all cases, the destruction of the tea was unjustifiable; but if the people of America are right in their principle, that parliament has no such right, that the act of parliament is null and void, and it is lawful to oppose and resist it…”
We’ve all heard the no taxation without representation story but notice, “tax us” AND “legislate for us, in all cases”.
What is this “legislate…in all cases” business. Well it turns out this specific language is taken from the “The Declaratory Act” the title of which alone is alarming.
“AN ACT FOR THE BETTER SECURING THE DEPENDENCY OF HIS MAJESTY'S DOMINIONS IN AMERICA UPON THE CROWN AND PARLIAMENT OF GREAT BRITAIN”
Here’s the portion of the act NOVANGLUS referred to when he wrote, “the act of parliament” and “in all cases”. The act concludes with the following declaration.
“…[Parliament] had, hath, and of right ought to have, full power and authority to make laws and statutes of sufficient force and validity to bind the colonies and people of America, subjects of the crown of Great Britain, in all cases whatsoever.”
So to summarize all of this; Parliament imposed a small tea tax, repealed it, and coincident with the repeal declared it could make laws “in all cases whatsoever”.
How interesting, could it be the point of controversy was over whether the government could make laws in all cases whatsoever? Nah couldn’t be, after all millions of us have been taught the dispute was over taxation without representation, right?
Maybe we should have been taught it was both because the funny thing is both issues found their way into the Declaration of Independence as causes for the Revolution.
“For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:” AND “For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever:”
Gee now that I think about it, isn’t that what the Federal government is doing to us today? Nah…
"...if the people of America are right in their principle, that parliament has no such right (to tax us and legislate for us, in all cases), that the act of parliament is null and void, and it is lawful to oppose and resist it…”
That pretty well sums up how Americans should be operating right now. As our government has assumed the "right" to tax the heck out of us and impose endless and burdensome, unconstitutional laws and regulations on us; our remedy (since neither the Congress nor the Courts are doing anything about it) is to use the true right of nullification (declare the action to be "null and void") and to exercise our lawful (Constitutional) right to "oppose and resist it".
It is interesting that our government is doing exactly what Parliment was doing back then: Congress has full power and authority to make laws of sufficient force to bind the states and people of America, in all cases whatsoever. That is exactly what they believe they have the right to do to us, today. And, notice the intention; "to bind" us, the exact opposite of liberty.
As Washington continues to crank out 2,000+ page laws which require multiple thousands of pages of rules and regulations to implment, our economic engine has come to a grinding halt. The financial gears are in a bind, the housing industry is in a bind, personal finances are in a bind, businesses are in a bind; and no one appears to be bringing any release from the burden and bind.
Jon or PH, where does individual nullification fit into the picture? Is it what we consider to be "civil disobedience"?
Yes, this is appropriate for individual nullification. However, let me first say: it is not for me to say where others should "draw the line". As a lawyer, I can not advise anyone to "break the law".
But I stand on the supreme Law - the Constitution - and have no legal or moral obligation to obey Laws which flout Our Constitution.
See also the Discussion on Jury Nullification. Must run - be back later.
I almost spit coffee on my keyboard when you posed a question including me with PH. First let me say while PH is eminently qualified to answer that question, I assure you I am not. Second I suspect she already has something out here on nullification.
I would also like to say I’m very mindful that PH holds to a strict fact based discipline. In that regard I’m trying to limit my comments to the form of a book review of the “facts” as presented in NOVANGLUS. Having said that, I realize I have speculated about the possible connections between the book, the DOI and the source of our rights. To that end perhaps I should not have included any leading questions and comparisons to today.
My purpose here is not to pose what I think rather it’s twofold. First, my hope is to provoke others interest in history, to really dig into why they believe what they believe and in the process become more determined to defend our Constitution and Republic. Second, I pursue the first goal because today the research technology and historical content is freely available to us. I hope to help others learn that it is possible to use that technology, not only reach out to others but to reach back in into our history and learn for ourselves.
Twenty five years ago I had to buy a hard copy of the Federalist Papers. Today I’m able to cross reference untold numbers of documents searching key phrases like “in all cases whatsoever” and sift out possible connections between documents like the one I presented here. If not for the tools we have today I almost certainly would have never even noticed the phrase “in all cases whatsoever”.
Concerning nullification, it is not my place to tell others what to think. I know the concept of nullification exists, where the line is, is for each free citizen of the United States to decide for themselves. Each one of us aught to get the facts for ourselves and make the determination for ourselves.
Thanks for the reply. You under estimate yourself. As you can see, I posted my comments late last night and then went to bed. Before falling asleep, it dawned on me what I had just done. Yep, I crossed the line from dealing with the facts and getting into speculation. Sorry, PH!
Jon, I want you to know how much many of us appreciate what you post on this web site. You do inspire us to read these older documents, etc.
You are certainly welcome. My wife says I stink at accepting complements (and she IS always right) so before I go on, thank you for the complement. For the sake of those who might read this I still feel compelled to take some exception.
The possibility that someone thinks more of any man (especially me) than he ought troubles me a great deal. Adulation can destroy even the most upright among us and should be in my estimation be shunned by one and all.
Very rarely (I hope) will you see me declare what others should regard as right vrs wrong. I am old enough now that the desire to prove myself right has thankfully given way to the desire to effective. As for me, if even one person here takes up those “older documents” AND decides for themselves what they believe then I would count myself effective. If anyone were to take my brief observations as right or wrong and NOT make their own investigation then I would count myself as having failed.
Too often, I’m afraid we accept the contemporary views of others without first having established our own foundation. This is what attracted me to PH’s study group. I will declare I believe her to be “right” but most importantly “effective” in her dogged insistence they we use primary sources while trying to come to terms with today’s events.
See, my wife was right, I stink at taking complements :)
I failed to mention that this book also includes a number of John Adams letters to the:
“Hon. WM. Tudor and Others on the Events of the American Revolution”
They begin on page 229 and it appears Adams wrote about and selected these “events” after being asked to further explain what he believed to be the causes of the American Revolution. I’ve read the opening and closing remarks of all and can say you won’t be disappointed in doing the same.
From the beginning of the very first letter he uses the phrase “in all cases”. I’ve previously noted this phrase appears among many documents not the least of which is the DOI.
IN a former letter I hazarded an opinion, that the true history of the American Revolution could not be recovered. I had many reasons for that apprehension; one of which I will attempt to explain.
Of the determination of the British cabinet to assert and maintain the sovereign authority of parliament over the colonies, in all cases of taxation and internal policy…”
I’d like to take a moment to explain why I’m so attracted to this “in all cases” phrase and the idea that taxation wasn’t the only or possibly major cause of the Revolution.
I’ve been reading school curriculum to determine what is being taught and how to either offset or augment what my children will be told of history and government in school. Often the reason for the American Revolution is reduced to the simple phrase, no “taxation without representation”. Of course the instruction points out we have representation today which in turn implies the causes have been laid to rest.
However if the problem was the government believed to could legislate in all cases whatever, well then we may still to this day have a problem. I suspect Mr. Adams would agree.
“But I am wearied to death by digging in this mud; with searching among this trash, chaff, rubbish of acts of parliament; of that parliament which declared it had a right to legislate for us, as sovereign, absolute and supreme, in all cases whatsoever. But I deny that they ever had any right to legislate for us, in any case whatsoever. And on this point we are and were at issue, before God and the world.” (pg 294)
Continuing the examination of the causes for independence and the previous emphasis on the offense of Parliaments declaration it could “bind” the colonies “in all cases whatsoever” I found this interesting.
Everyone should be familiar with the quote “These are the times that try men’s souls”. I didn’t really know who said it. Turns out it was written by Thomas Paine in 1776, here’s the full text of the opening paragraph. I underlined the words he emphasized by writing them in capital letters. His emphasis was really interesting.
"THESE are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives everything its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated. Britain, with an army to enforce her tyranny, has declared that she has a right (not only to TAX) but "to BIND us in ALL CASES WHATSOEVER," and if being bound in that manner, is not slavery, then is there not such a thing as slavery upon earth. Even the expression is impious; for so unlimited a power can belong only to God."