Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Liberty and Union?

Dan Woodard at Fort Worth Business Press doesn’t think much of secession:

“I can think of no more un-American act or deed than for a governor to utter the word ‘secession.’ I would urge any Governor or any citizen with secession on his/her mind to read Daniel Webster’s stirring speech to the United States Senate on March 7, 1850. That’s when orators made great speeches – and without teleprompters.”

Now, I respect Daniel Webster as a great Senator and great orator. When I was in high school, I entered speech contests reciting his Second Reply to Hayne (1830), which ends with the famous words, “Liberty and Union, now and forevermore, one and inseparable! I have great respect for the lessons of history; but lessons are meant to be applied to the present reality. When Sen. Webster delivered this speech, the United States was in its golden age. Except for the slaves in the South, the people were free. The Federal Government generally did not interfere in the government of the States. Enterprise was truly free – if you had a good idea, there were few barriers to carrying it out. The year after Sen. Webster’s speech, Ohio adopted its second, and present, Constitution, which contains a bill of rights far superior even to that of the United States Constitution.

Let’s take a look at part of the speech Mr. Woodard quotes:

“Why, Sir, our ancestors, our fathers and our grandfathers would rebuke and reproach us; and our children and our grandchildren would cry out shame upon us, if we of this generation should dishonor these ensigns of the power of the government and the harmony of that Union which is every day felt among us with
so much joy and gratitude…”

Why, Mr. Woodard, our ancestors would rebuke and reproach us; and our children and grandchildren would cry out shame upon us, if we of this generation persisted in honoring an ensign of the power of a government that has forgotten its principal purpose -- the preservation of our liberties! Surely, Thomas Jefferson would not approve of a Federal Government that continues to expand its control over every State and every individual! Perhaps Mr. Woodard should re-read the Declaration of Independence and compare the grievances the American colonists had with King George III with those we have against the Federal Government today.

“No monarchical throne presses these States together, no iron chain of military power encircles them; they live and stand under a government popular in its form, representative in its character, founded upon principles of equality, and so constructed, we hope, as to last for ever. In all its history it has been beneficent; it has trodden down no man’s liberty; it has crushed no State. Its daily respiration is liberty and patriotism.”

What presses these States together is not a monarchical throne, but an imperial Presidency. A chain of military power does encircle us (ever hear of the Northern Command?). The Federal Government may remain “popular in its form,” but it represents only those who can afford to buy their elected officials with campaign donations. In recent history, it has ceased to benefit those who support it (or agree to be robbed) with their taxes; since 9/11 it is systematically trodding down every man’s liberty. It is crushing the States with unfunded mandates and false promises of “stimulus” funds.

If we can again join Liberty with Union, I will cheerfully put down my secessionist mantle. I support the State sovereignty resolutions in the faint hope that an awakened public will restore that which we have lost; but with each new pronouncement of the President and each new Act of Congress, I lose confidence that this can occur.

How can we invoke Sen. Webster’s memory at a time when liberty and union are turning into contradictory notions? This Saturday, we honor the secession of the thirteen United States from the British Empire. Now, pray tell me, how would we honor our Founding Fathers if we insist on maintaining the American Empire at the expense of the liberty they fought for?

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