Fourth of July Weekend Free Fire Zone

Liberty Enlightening the World

As we always do on this occasion, we ask our non-US readers to indulge us as we celebrate America’s Independence Day.

There wasn’t much news today, and there won’t be much over the weekend, but if we find something, we’ll certainly post about it. One thing we always watch for is when the Discoveroids, as they usually do on the Fourth, continue their gruesome campaign of intellectual body-snatching and quote-mining by hijacking one of America’s Founders and claiming him as one of their own. They did it last year with Jefferson when they wrote On Independence Day, Recalling the Intelligent-Design Views of the Man Who Wrote the Declaration of Independence. They did it the year before too — see Discoveroids Again Hijack the Fourth of July.

Regardless of what creationist websites may claim, there was nothing biblical about the Revolution. Most of the clergy opposed it — divine right of kings, you know. The bible is all about monarchy, on Earth as it is in heaven. It’s not much of a blueprint for the American Revolution, or the Constitution — see Is America a “Christian Nation”?

We always take this occasion to load you up with a bunch of historical links, so we’ll do that once again. Here’s a link to the Declaration of Independence, plus the Articles of Confederation, which — except for a few tweaks — was also drafted in July of 1776, but it wasn’t ratified until 1781. No collection would be complete without Common Sense by Thomas Paine.

Those links are about the Revolution. The time when we were living under the Articles is the often-neglected period when we had ten Presidents before George Washington — see President of the United States in Congress assembled. Finally we come to the Constitution.

Here’s the Federalist Papers — that splendid and still authoritative series of essays by the Constitution’s principal authors, who explain the meaning and purpose of its every clause. The website has a search feature at the bottom of the page. For some wholesome family amusement, invite someone over who insists that the nation was founded on religious principles. Encourage your friend to search through the entire thing for all the religious words he can think of, and then let him ponder the results.

After that, check out our post on Jefferson’s Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, and then our post on The Unknown Bill of Rights.

It’s astounding what you can find at Primary Documents in American History (1763-1815). And you ought to be aware of this: Veto of federal public works bill by James Madison, because pork barrel spending is unconstitutional. Hey –it’s always handy to have a link to Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith. Searchable!

Because we’re not expecting any of our kind of news this weekend, it’s up to us to entertain ourselves. Therefore, we’re declaring another Intellectual Free-Fire Zone. As with all our free-fire zones, we’re open for the discussion of pretty much anything — science, politics, economics, whatever — as long as it’s tasteful and interesting. Banter, babble, bicker, bluster, blubber, blather, blab, blurt, burble, boast — say what you will. But avoid flame-wars and beware of the profanity filters.

We now throw open the comments to you, dear reader. Have at it.

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6 responses to “Fourth of July Weekend Free Fire Zone

  1. Let us remember that, once the Constitution was ratified by New Hampshire (21 June 1788), the First Congress didn’t reach a quorum until 1 April 1789. If that wasn’t an omen, I don’t know what was.

  2. Richard Bond

    I have heard the case made that the Constitution set up the office of President to mimic the function of George III, and that this function has remained essentially unchanged while the British monarchy has evolved with the times. Consequently, today the USA has an elected monarchy while here in the UK we have an hereditary presidency. I am interested in opinions about this view from people who are not professional historians.

  3. Have fun today.

    “Regardless of what creationist websites may claim, there was nothing biblical about the Revolution.”
    Of course not. There was something Dutch about it though.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Act_of_Abjuration

    Guess what? Dutch Rebellion had a lot to do with taxes as well (Alva’s Tenth Penny).

  4. longshadow

    Well worth remembering this charge in the Declaration’s “bill of particulars”:

    He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.

    Some things just don’t seem to change.

  5. wolfwalker

    Richard Bond wrote: “I have heard the case made that the Constitution set up the office of President to mimic the function of George III, and that this function has remained essentially unchanged while the British monarchy has evolved with the times. Consequently, today the USA has an elected monarchy while here in the UK we have an hereditary presidency.”

    An interesting view. Not one I’ve heard before, and one that I emphatically disagree with. The Framers did not want a king, or any officer with equivalent power to a king. The intention of the Constitution was to make Congress and the Presidency co-equal entities, with neither one more powerful than the other, and with strict limits on the power of both. Also, the President was originally supposed to have substantial power over foreign affairs, but little over domestic policy. That doesn’t sound to me like an office “set up to mimic the function of George III.” I thought the British King circa 1770-80 had a great deal more power than that.

  6. Dave Luckett

    Power, not so much. Influence, yes, provided that he didn’t push it too hard. He had long since lost the power to levy taxes. That, essentially, was what the English Civil Wars were about. George III’s lease of Crown lands to Parliament in return for a Civil List allowance had stabilised his personal income at the cost of making him essentially a dependent on Parliament. He could influence the appointment of ministers, but only if they retained the confidence of Parliament. Even George knew that he couldn’t retain a ministry that lost a confidence vote, or even faced a hostile majority.

    He also knew that he couldn’t prorogue Parliament in his own interests – because his income would immediately drop to nothing; and also that his approval of legislation was a formality that he really couldn’t refuse. Advise against, yes. Balk, no.

    That didn’t make Britain a democracy, of course. But it certainly wasn’t effectively a monarchy, in the sense of a State ruled by a monarch, either.