Articles of Confederation

Today’s Civics reminders

Since they don’t appear to include civics in today’s educational curriculum I feel the need to pass on these, let’s call them “Helpful Hints”, so that people don’t say, or do, things that make them seem at best, ill-informed, and at worst just plain dumb, about how the country in which they claim citizenship is supposed to actually operate.

First, the Constitution of these United States (yes, you should read it, it’s yours!).

Second, the Bill of Rights (again, yes, read it!).

And, for a quick reminder of how it all got started, the Declaration of Independence.

Seriously, if you feel you are informed enough to cast a ballot you should have read, and when needed re-read, these documents before making up your mind about any issue or candidate, imo of course.

Key items you may want to note during your reading or at least know where these probably important phrases come from.:

“We the People…..”

“….hold these truths to be self-evident…”

“A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state…” Huh, not Federal (National) Government?  Don’t you wonder why the Founding Fathers, in the face of a massive British Monarchy (National) army, were so particular about maintaining the security of the states?

The Original Thirteen States and their initial Congressional House Representatives:

New Hampshire three, Massachusetts eight, Providence Plantations one, Connecticut five, New York six, New Jersey four, Pennsylvania eight, Delaware one, Maryland six, Virginia ten, North Carolina five, South Carolina five, and Georgia three.

Republic or Democracy?  This article by Walter E. Williams states it pretty well (emphasis mine):

How often do we hear the claim that our nation is a democracy? Was a democratic form of government the vision of the Founders? As it turns out, the word democracy appears nowhere in the two most fundamental founding documents of our nation—the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Instead of a democracy, the Constitution’s Article IV, Section 4, declares “The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government.” Our pledge of allegiance to the flag says not to “the democracy for which it stands,” but to “the republic for which it stands.” Is the song that emerged during the War of 1861 “The Battle Hymn of the Democracy” or “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”?

So what is the difference between republican and democratic forms of government? John Adams captured the essence of the difference when he said, “You have rights antecedent to all earthly governments; rights that cannot be repealed or restrained by human laws; rights derived from the Great Legislator of the Universe.” Nothing in our Constitution suggests that government is a grantor of rights. Instead, government is envisioned as a protector of rights.

In recognition that it is government that poses the gravest threat to our liberties, the framers used negative phrases in reference to Congress throughout the first ten amendments to the Constitution, such as shall not abridge, infringe, deny, disparage, and shall not be violated, nor be denied. In a republican form of government, there is rule of law. All citizens, including government officials, are accountable to the same laws. Government power is limited and decentralized through a system of checks and balances. Government intervenes in civil society to protect its citizens against force and fraud, but does not intervene in the cases of peaceable, voluntary exchange.

Contrast the framers’ vision of a republic with that of a democracy. According to Webster’s dictionary, a democracy is defined as “government by the people; especially: rule of the majority.” In a democracy the majority rules either directly or through its elected representatives. As in a monarchy, the law is whatever the government determines it to be. Laws do not represent reason. They represent power. The restraint is upon the individual instead of government. Unlike the rights envisioned under a republican form of government, rights in a democracy are seen as privileges and permissions that are granted by government and can be rescinded by government.

I won’t copy the entire article but it makes more points with which I agree and would encourage you to read it while keeping in mind your previous reading of the above documents.

If you do that work, instead of relying on some 15 minute TV news loop for how you should think and feel, and still believe you should vote for candidates and issues that want to take away your rights or, maybe more importantly, those of your neighbors, that is your right and I will fight to protect it in spite of my respectful disagreement that any Government or Legislative Body at any level can do a better job of running my life than I can. Just sayin…..

Advertisements

File under: Things we should all know

What they learned after only seven years is worth remembering (or learning, as the case may be).

The Articles of Confederation versus the US Constitution:

The United States has operated under two constitutions. The first, The Articles of Confederation, was in effect from March 1, 1781, when Maryland ratified it. The second, The Constitution, replaced the Articles when it was ratified by New Hampshire on June 21, 1788.

The two documents have much in common – they were established by the same people (sometimes literally the same exact people, though mostly just in terms of contemporaries). But they differ more than they do resemble each other, when one looks at the details. Comparing them can give us insight into what the Framers found important in 1781, and what they changed their minds on by 1788.

They might have been onto something here:

Term limit for legislative office
Articles: No more than three out of every six years
Constitution: None

Interesting but guessing they haven’t much regretted not using the special exemption:

New States
Articles: Admitted upon agreement of nine states (special exemption provided for Canada)
Constitution: Admitted upon agreement of Congress

For those seeking advanced knowledge only: The Preamble was several full clauses in the Articles of Confederation.  Perhaps using the abbreviated version in the Preamble was saving too much paper. Just sayin….

The Preamble

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

From the Articles of Confederacy:

Article II. 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.

Provide for common defence was:

Article III. The said States hereby severally enter into a firm league of friendship with each other, for their common defense, the security of their liberties, and their mutual and general welfare, binding themselves to assist each other, against all force offered to, or attacks made upon them, or any of them, on account of religion, sovereignty, trade, or any other pretense whatever.

On raising armies:

Article VII. When land forces are raised by any State for the common defense, all officers of or under the rank of colonel, shall be appointed by the legislature of each State respectively, by whom such forces shall be raised, or in such manner as such State shall direct, and all vacancies shall be filled up by the State which first made the appointment.

Good documents to reread often. Just sayin….