King John signs the Magna Carta. Got this from here. Doyle, James William Edmund (1864)
King John signs the Magna Carta. Got this from here. Doyle, James William Edmund (1864) “John” in A Chronicle of England: B.C. 55 – A.D. 1485, London: Longman, Green, Longman, Roberts & Green, pp. p. 226 Retrieved on 12 November 2010.

When I considered the controversy over Kim Davis’ refusal to issue same-sex “marriage” licenses and the comments I received on the post, “THE LAW” VERSUS A CLEAR CONSCIENCE — reblogging Your Sister is in Jail, two things occurred to me:

  • The people of the United States profoundly disagree on the definition of “the law of the land.” We have lost whatever consensus we once had on the purpose of government.  If we had to reconstitute our government, we would probably be unable to agree upon a legitimate government. At best, we would be frightened into supporting a tyranny, which perhaps is happening even now.
  • The People of the United States no longer share a common set of ideas and beliefs. We differ substantially with respect to philosophy (logos), cultural background (ethos), and what moves each of us emotionally (pathos). Therefore, instead of having some ability  to persuade each other, we speak pass each other (see Ethos, Pathos, and Logos and Aristotle’s Rhetorical Situation).

When a People differs with each other over  the definition of “the law of the land,” especially its purpose, that can lead to civil war. When a People cannot negotiate with each other, compromise is not possible. All that is left is tyranny, a tyrant who divides a People, conquers a People, rules a People, and abuses a People.

Defining The Law Of The Land

So how did we once define “the law of the the land”? Wikipedia’s article on the Magna Carta refers to the depiction above as romanticized. Perhaps they are right. Yet, this statement, Article 39, appears in the Magna Carta.

No free man shall be arrested, or imprisoned, or deprived of his property, or outlawed, or exiled, or in any way destroyed, nor shall we go against him or send against him, unless by legal judgement of his peers, or by the law of the land. (from here)

For whatever reason, it appears the barons opposing King John understood that they needed the support of the People to oppose King John. So they mustered support for the Rule of Law.

What exactly is “the law of the land”? Wikipedia, which seemingly has an article on almost everything, has this article, Law of the land. The Law of the land references the citation above and defines the phrase this way.

The phrase law of the land is a legal term, equivalent to the Latin lex terrae, or legem terrae in the accusative case. It refers to all of the laws in force within a country or region, including common law. (from here)

Findlaw Legal Dictionary provides a deceptively simple definition.

law of the land

  1. the established law of a nation or region
  2. due process

What is the “deception”? In its definition, Findlaw uses an equally complex phrase to define “the law of the land.” What is “due process”? In many respects, it is what earlier generations referred to as “the law of the land.” It is because “due process” is so difficult to define that we have lawyers. Fortunately, Findlaw defines”due process” here and provides a longer article on the subject here.

Findlaw’s definition of “due process” references the Fifth Amendment to our Constitution. That amendment provides our counterpart to Article 39 of the Magna Carta.

Amendment V

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law (emphasis added); nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation. (from here)

Before our government can use the law against any citizen, our leaders must comply with the due process of the law.

So what is “the law of the land” of the United States? There is no one document that we can point to as “the law of the land.” However, Article VI of our Constitution contains the following paragraph.

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land (emphasis added); and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding. (from here)

Note that the Constitution does not call a man, a legislative body, or a court the supreme Law of the Land. The Constitution points to written documents as the Law of the Land. Thus, in the next paragraph of Article VI, we understand that public officials swear to uphold the Rule of Law, not men.

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

What is to follow in this series?

  • The Purpose Of The Law Of The Land
  • The Means of Persuasion — Ethos, Pathos, Logos
  • Why Must We Choose A New Leadership?

36 thoughts on “WHAT IS THE LAW OF THE LAND? — PART 1

  1. Very good and important post Citizen Tom. You’re absolutely right that we the people have lost our way when it comes to the rule of law and what it means. People like to define it by how they feel but this is the road to tyranny. The strong will always overpower the weak in such a system of ruling by feelings as the protections of private property, freedom of religion and due process go out the window. What a mess we have and yes, I would say the popularity of Bernie Sanders perfectly encapsulates this. Too many people in America, in the West as whole I’d argue, would rather be controlled by a strong government than taken on the responsibilities required for living in freedom.

    I wrote a brief post on Magna Carta on her recent big birthday celebration you might like, https://freedomthroughempowerment.wordpress.com/2015/06/15/happy-800th-birthday-magna-carta/

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Interesting and timely subject. The term “a priori” in law might be a factor to explore in your posts. I have often wondered if the legal use may continue on for a long period before it is recognized to be a bad precedent. For example slavery was considered legal for a long period. Seems some lawyer came up with the idea of using previous law decisions as a basis for interpreting a similar legal matter.

    Who determines if a previous decision was a bad legal interpretation? The Supreme Court who once made the bad decision that slavery was legal to begin with. The same Supreme Court that just interpreted gay marriage is a constitution right. Just think in the future how well that is going to work out after the Kim Davis fiasco. Good luck.

    Regards and goodwill blogging.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The Supreme Court was suppose to be the weakest branch of government. Congress was suppose to be the strongest. Congress is slowly becoming the weakest.

      Consider that public officials swear an oath to the Constitution. At one time that Constitution affirmed the right to own slaves. Abraham Lincoln conceded as much. Nevertheless, because government is necessary and even a bad government is better than none, he swore an oath to the Constitution. Therefore, he defended the “right” of Southerners to own slaves, but he fought the spread of slavery, invoking states rights. Lincoln did not swear an oath to the Dred Scott decision.

      Lincoln hoped to end slavery by following the practice of constitutional law. Because southern slave owners were willing to use whatever means they could to spread slavery, including lying about what the Constitutions says, we fought a civil war.


      1. Great explanation. When you consider Obama’s recent executive actions to circumvent the Constitution and laws of the USA, your explanation really displays the differences in the characters of the two Presidents in regards to swearing on a Bible to abide by and uphold the Constitution and the laws of our nation..

        Regards and goodwill blogging..

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Tom, you said:

        “Congress was suppose to be the strongest. Congress is slowly becoming the weakest.”

        I agree. The darkest recent years were those 2 years when Reid and Pelosi were both in the majority, and rolling over to EVERYTHING Obama wanted. Then 2 years of a divided Congress wasn’t much better, because Obama pulled out his pen and his phone, and also declared “if they won’t do something, then obviously I must do my duty to Americans by doing everything myself.” Now we’re in the middle of the last 2 years where we’re finding out how little Congress still can do, with the pen-and-phone armed bully still in the White House, and the pesky filibuster tradition in the Senate. These 6 years have really tested Conservatives’ devotion to our Constitutional system.

        James Madison wrote about this in Federalist #10. I’d like to share a paragraph from an old article of mine:

        In the Federalist #10 (“The Union as a Safeguard Against Domestic Faction and Insurrection”), James Madison asserted that a government founded upon liberty and freedom will inevitably encounter spirited disagreements between factions. He said that to cure this by squelching our liberty or homogenizing the opinions of Americans by discouraging individualism would be a fate worse than the disease. Madison said that “the CAUSES of faction cannot be removed, and that relief is only to be sought in the means of controlling its EFFECTS.” He went on to point out that, whether a faction’s views are within the majority or the minority, the faction would be “unable to concert and carry into effect schemes of oppression.” Madison even pointed out that this sorting-out process may, at times, “clog the administration, it may convulse the society….” Yet he was confident that even a Republic that has grown very large will still be well served by the representative form of government established by our Constitution.

        Unfortunately, what I’ve seen since I wrote that 3 years ago has spoiled my confidence in the longevity of Madison’s tremendous vision. He and other Founders thoroughly believed that each branch of government would vigilantly watch for, and jealously defend against, intrusions into their branch’s turf from blatant acts of overreach by the other branches.

        Here’s an analogy that just came to mind. Most of us have heard the saying (paraphrased here), “In a democratic society, once the voters learn they can vote themselves largess from the public treasury, the nation is doomed.”

        I have a similar observation: “Once the members of Congress and the Federal Bench become overwhelmingly loyal to their Party at the exclusion of their oath-sworn allegiance to the Constitutional role of their own branch of government, the nation is doomed.”

        We have learned the hard way that the Constitution really has no practical “enforcement mechanism” in the face of such organized and open warfare against the separation of powers by the anti-tradition Progressives. Impeachment of judges and presidents is politically impossible.

        Sheesh, I need a drink.

        – Jeff

        Liked by 2 people

        1. @Necessary and Proper

          Interesting comment. Thank you.

          John Adams was hardly a saint. To a large extent, because the Federalist Party threaten the rights of freedom speech and freedom of the press, Thomas Jefferson fought the Federalist Party and the Adams administration. Fortunately, Jefferson took over from Adams.

          Nevertheless, this quote rings with truth.

          While our country remains untainted with the principles and manners which are now producing desolation in so many parts of the world; while she continues sincere, and incapable of insidious and impious policy, we shall have the strongest reason to rejoice in the local destination assigned us by Providence. But should the people of America once become capable of that deep simulation towards one another, and towards foreign nations, which assumes the language of justice and moderation, while it is practising iniquity and extravagance, and displays in the most captivating manner the charming pictures of candour, frankness, and sincerity, while it is rioting in rapine and insolence, this country will be the most miserable habitation in the world. Because we have no government, armed with power, capable of contending with human passions, unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge and licentiousness would break the strongest cords of our Constitution, as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other. Oaths in this country are as yet universally considered as sacred obligations. That which you have taken, and so solemnly repeated on that venerable ground, is an ample pledge of your sincerity and devotion to your country and its government. — John Adams, Letter to the Officers of the First Brigade of the Third Division of the Militia of Massachusetts, 11 October 1798, in Revolutionary Services and Civil Life of General William Hull (New York, 1848), pp 265-6. There are some differences in the version that appeared in The Works of John Adams (Boston, 1854), vol. 9, pp. 228-9, most notably the words “or gallantry” instead of “and licentiousness”. (from =>https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/John_Adams)

          As your post indicates, we have a moral crisis in this nation. Both the news media and the Democratic Party know Hillary Clinton should not be trusted with power, but she promises promises that seem so immediately pleasing. So with childlike greed, they avoid inquiring (or even wondering) about her motives.

          Liked by 2 people

  3. Good post, Tom.

    Something I have really struggled to help people understand is this word “force,” as it is applied here, “It refers to all of the laws in force within a country or region..” Government is force, the law is force. We are all in deep trouble if we forget that and it seems as if many have. Government is being perceived as benevolent, the law of the land is allegedly a gentle thing no one in their right mind would ever challenge. That’s all well and good for something like murder…but 90 days in jail for violating a sign ordinance or using a styrofoam cup? I really don’t jest here, there are people in government where I live who truly do not recognize that the law of the land is backed up by force and that force is never benevolent. Due process is the other “force” that is put in place to help us combat the first one.

    Just as we have 3 branches of government originally designed to balance out the force of one, to prevent tyranny, the “law of the land” is also supposed to have a series of checks and balances, so that it may be questioned and challenged.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Great post, Tom, and I’m looking forward to the coming installments. Two questions occur to me, though, as we react to the current “crisis”: Are these really the worst problems the USA has faced? Worse than the 1850s and 1860s? Worse than the late 1960s and early 1970s? Really? Second, is it possible that we have greater disagreements among ourselves because there are more of us involved? The original Constitution allowed male land-owners to vote, and they could only vote for Representatives and for the Electors who selected the President. Those were not the good old days, and I would not care to return to them. J.


    1. @Salvageable

      Thank you for your comment and for visiting my blog.

      Worse than the 1850s and 1860s? Have you ever read “Democracy in America” by Alexis De Tocqueville? He talks about the cultural schism between the North and the South. => https://citizentom.com/2010/01/03/a-gap-too-wide-and-too-deep-to-bridge/

      Worse than the late 1960s and early 1970s?I lived through this period of time. Our problems were serious, but we all thought we could still solve them with an election. So we voted for Ronald Reagan. Since then about half the population acts like they hate America and what it once stood for. We celebrate Independence Day, not Constitution Day. Nevertheless, most of the lawyers who run our country don’t think the Declaration of Independence relevant to the formation of our Constitution. If the Declaration of Independence cannot unite us to defend our freedom, what can?

      Look at the current occupant of the White House. Then consider what Abraham Lincoln once said.

      It is to deny what the history of the world tells us is true, to suppose that men of ambition and talents will not continue to spring up amongst us. And when they do, they will as naturally seek the gratification of their ruling passion as others have done before them. The question then is, Can that gratification be found in supporting and maintaining an edifice that has been erected by others? Most certainly it cannot. Many great and good men, sufficiently qualified for any task they should undertake, may ever be found whose ambition would aspire to nothing beyond a seat in Congress, a gubernatorial or a presidential chair; but such belong not to the family of the lion or the tribe of the eagle. What! think you these places would satisfy an Alexander, a Caesar, or a Napoleon? Never! Towering genius disdains a beaten path. It seeks regions hitherto unexplored. It sees no distinction in adding story to story upon the monuments of fame erected to the memory of others. It denies that it is glory enough to serve under any chief. It scorns to tread in the footsteps of any predecessor, however illustrious. It thirsts and burns for distinction; and if possible, it will have it, whether at the expense of emancipating slaves or enslaving freemen. Is it unreasonable, then, to expect that some man possessed of the loftiest genius, coupled with ambition sufficient to push it to its utmost stretch, will at some time spring up among us? And when such an one does, it will require the people to be united with each other, attached to the government and laws, and generally intelligent, to successfully frustrate his designs.Distinction will be his paramount object, and although he would as willingly, perhaps more so, acquire it by doing good as harm, yet, that opportunity being past, and nothing left to be done in the way of building up, he would set boldly to the task of pulling down.

      Anyway, I still hope. I still blog, and I still try to find time to work for candidates I support. However, I think my prayers matter more. Only God can revive the souls of the people of this nation.


    2. @Salvageable, who wrote:

      The original Constitution allowed male land-owners to vote…

      I don’t think this is true. Could you be confusing the various state statutes, and some federal ones, for Constitutional statements on the voting process?

      The states had considerably larger autonomy then, which is a major loss from those times. Some states had black voters, and New Jersey had women voters a century before this practice edged toward becoming nationwide (or worldwide, for that matter).

      … and they could only vote for Representatives and for the Electors who selected the President.

      While you are overlooking the election of judges and such, I understand what you mean here. To me, this too represents a loss. The progressives have set about for more than a century to consolidate their power into a statist central bureaucracy, and part of this effort was to deny states their Constitutional representation in Congress. This is what the 17th amendment did; states could no longer appoint or recall senators through state legislatures, and lost much of their influence in the federal government. This was pushed by progressives as “a win for democracy” and, of course, had exactly the opposite effect, just as they planned.

      Those were not the good old days, and I would not care to return to them.

      Much has changed since those times. But statist control is arising by gradual creeping incrementalism, and now more than 90% of all legislation is made by faceless bureaucrats in the executive branch with no vulnerability to being redressed by voters. Some of the rest of our laws comes from untouchable and unimpeachable judges who are immune to the public’s reaction to their notions of modern, purpose-driven Constitutional interpretation.

      And the small portion of legislation that actually comes out of the legislative branch is written by aides, lobbyists, fund-raisers, donors, cronies and non-profit groups representing special interests; the actual elected members of Congress never write them and almost never even read them. These poorly crafted statutes, once enacted, are taken as vague guidelines that are then fed into the bureaucratic engine of statism, or ignored, as it suits the executive branch.

      You can read the US Constitution in a few minutes. But no human alive has read, nor even can read, all the laws that now exist at the federal level, let alone state and local jurisdictions. Many of these laws carry fines or jail time, despite almost all of them having originated from people untouched by elections.

      Even a conservative, limited-government chief executive will not help this much; the engine is now too powerful and is populated by hundreds of thousands placed there to further an ideology, which is a mix of flavors of statism. Some think of themselves as noble, some are self-evidently evil, but their damage is often similar and they are not easily reachable.

      So, in some respects, the Constitutional times and interpretations as urged by Madison and Jefferson were indeed the good old days. They did not last all that long; they were under attack by Hamilton by 1792, and by Adams by 1798 (see Madison’s and Jefferson’s “Declarations of Virginia and Kentucky” of that year). The federal government was created for a narrowly defined purpose, but it has been awakened with a voracious appetite to consume our liberties, and needs to be tamed.

      It will clearly take a monumental effort to resurrect such a careful, limited-government, state-centered treatment, but it can be done. The resulting monument — which will involve several amendments to clarify and restore original meaning — will be a beacon that will guide future generations. Or so it seems to me, and so I hope.

      ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

      Liked by 2 people

      1. @keith

        Thanks for keeping us straight on the facts.

        We forget how different each of the states were back at the founding. We also forget that each state served as a laboratory, testing different ideas and throwing out, generally, the ones that turned people’s stomachs.

        Slavery was the grim exception. Unfortunately, the powers that be in Washington would have us remember only that the South abused states rights. They would have us forget how the Northern states used states rights to defend themselves against the spread of slavery. They have us forget the Dred Scott Decision.

        What are the good ole days. A good ole day is just a day when the good guys wins. Some times those good ole days are few and far between. But there have been times in America when the good ole days were more frequent than we have seen of late.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. @Citizen Tom, who wrote:

          Slavery was the grim exception. Unfortunately, the powers that be in Washington would have us remember only that the South abused states rights.

          I have always been perplexed by this, from the time I began delving into American history. The only intersection of states’ rights and slavery was that states’ rights were considered a threat by the Southern states, and led them to ultimately secede — with the rationale being that the federal government was inappropriately allowing states the right to nullify fugitive return laws. Their secession documents explicitly declare this, and none take the position that a state had the right to have slavery if it was outlawed at the federal level. It was allowed, thus this was a moot point. They feared a potential amendment, which they would have to either obey or leave the Union. And they left, because they thought they could tell where things were heading.

          At no point were states’ rights the cause of, nor in support of slavery; slavery was legal at the federal level until the 13th amendment. Lincoln only felt empowered to address slavery (through the Emancipation Proclamation) using his war powers on an occupied soil; he did not think (nor did others at the time) that he could outlaw slavery in the Union without an amendment. The Proclamation did not affect slaves in Union states. But this was not a states’ rights issue, it was a purely federal conflict.

          I support the idea of states’ rights, and nullification, as extreme but legal remedies. And I am for empowering the states to restore a balance of power and (more importantly) a re-division back to the originally appropriate spheres of influence. I suspect that progressives have caused the association of states’ rights and slavery to try to taint any possible such return of balance. Washington would have us “remember” what was never true.

          As you point out elsewhere, America used to be land where people generally agreed on the goals for advancing the cause of their state, their country, and liberty in general, but differed sharply on the means to those ends. Now we have noisy segments of the public, academics, media, and politicians who actively espouse the idea that America should be downplayed, degraded, subject to “degrowth” if not destruction. All “for the public good” (which should read “for the benefit of its jealous competitors”). These people are a substantial part of public life, and their ideology infusions everything from education to entertainment.

          That trend, the loss of pro-American sentiments and the rise of their opposite, is not an easy thing to reverse. It coincides with a general loss of education, which has been replaced with indoctrination. Even this morning, the Word a Day email contained a “quote of the day” haranguing readers on what a bad thing it is to think that America is exceptional. Every nation is equal, it suggested, in a very Obama-like (i.e., anti-American) sentiment.

          ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

          Liked by 2 people

        2. You should see the faces whenever I’m at a University “Diversity” gathering and I tell them there is no possible way that all cultures are “equal.”

          Liked by 1 person

        3. @phadde2

          I would imagine they are horrified. Of course, if you are not careful, some in that crowd will try to shame you. Really, what they will do is try to bully you into silence. That’s what political correctness is, an excuse to bully people.

          It is ironic. Every culture thinks itself the best. That includes the diversity crowd. They think their “multicultural culture” is the best. What the denizen of the diversity culture cannot stand is the culture of the people who created this nation. They are not that diverse.

          Such ignorance and behavior is to be pitied. Why do parents put up with it?


        4. Well, this is a bit different but it still catches the element of “political correctness.” I remember a distinct memory when I was talking about the qualities of a leader and having to make the tough call. I basically gave a scenario where if there was a deadly disease I said I’d have no problem making the call to let 200 people die over the risk of exposing 300 million Americans.

          It’s really an easy call, but you should have seen the look on this girl’s face. It was like a strangled a puppy right in front of her the horror that was present in face.

          So I turned to her and said, “And if you can’t make that call, You have no business ever being a leader of people.” I doubt that she will be; however, she’ll still vote for our leaders.

          Liked by 1 person

        5. Look at the current occupant of the White House. Remember the threat of an Ebola epidemic. Every time Obama makes a decision, he makes such a foolish decision I cannot tell whether or not that man is trying to make the problem worse.

          Soft heart? Soft head? Or a devious mind? When we are talking about a politician, who knows?


        6. WOW. Had read Part II, then part I.
          I looked up “the Constitution and secession” via Startpage.com, to confirm my memory that the Constitution provided for secession.
          Far from freeing the slaves, the Lincoln Administration feared the loss of revenue as a result of many states seceding from the Union. The abhorrent Civil War was fought over Revenue. See “The Right of Secession”
          “It appears that the original intent of an unquestioned right of secession was established by the Founders, took root and “flourished for forty years,” then later a “perpetual Union” counter-argument developed out of political necessity when Northern states began realizing their wealth and power was dependent on the Union and its exploitation of the South.”

          “Honest” Abe also abrogated the 4th amendment when he imposed Martial Law.



          Thank you for your comment and for the reblogs.

          I was born in the North. Because my father worked at Keesler AFB, MS (military NCO and civil service), we ended up being Northern transplants in the South. Therefore, I acquired considerable sympathy for your arguments. Moreover, because the Rebels fought with extraordinary bravery in defense of their homes and so many Union soldiers died (and bravely too), when someone brings up this subject, I just want to cry. What a waste it was! Why didn’t they just let the South leave the Union?

          So I will just make these observations:

          1. Article VI of our Constitution states the Constitution is the supreme law of the land. When we swear an oath to the support and defend the Constitution, we can only justify walking away from that oath because no government exists that remains obedient to the Constitution. And we must have a stable government. Justice requires it. The safety and security of our family, friends, and neighbors requires it. That is what the Preamble to the Constitution exists to explain.
          2. The Lincoln–Douglas debates (https://citizentom.com/category/lincoln-douglas-debates-2/) leave little doubt as to the reason for the Civil War. I am ashamed to say I waited until my sixties to listen to a reenactment of the Lincoln–Douglas debates (a couple of years ago). Lincoln and Douglas debated slavery and the spread slavery into the territories. The Republican Party exists because that party took up the cause of fighting slavery and its spread into the territories and free states.
          3. Lincoln did his best to avoid the Civil War. Once the nation was at war, he did his best to end it as quickly as possible. He freed the slaves (eventually) in the states that had rebelled. It took a Constitutional Amendment to free the slaves in the states that had not rebelled. Lincoln did not free the slaves in the states that had not rebelled because Constitution gave him no such power.
          4. Here is a good article on the other issues you raised. => http://www.heritage.org/research/lecture/abraham-lincoln-and-civil-liberties-in-wartime. I am not happy with everything Lincoln did, but war is Hell.
          5. To the extent I have studied Lincoln’s life, I have yet to see any indication that he enjoyed warring on the South. Power grab? No. Read the “The Gettysburg Address.” => http://www.abrahamlincolnonline.org/lincoln/speeches/gettysburg.htm

          Liked by 4 people

        8. Be careful reading too much into Libertarian anti-Lincoln screeds. I favor Austrian economics myself, and Tom Woods has the right idea on many economic topics — but he and other Libertarians fiercely insist on a reading of Abraham Lincoln that utterly ignores Lincoln’s campaign, the Lincoln-Douglas debates, and his other writings, and cherry-picks items to try to make him look as bad as possible. They generally despise Reagan as well.

          I don’t think you can read a full history of the Civil War and the lead-up to it, including the actual secession documents put out by the departing states, and maintain the idea that the war was fought over revenue. Anyone alive at the time, from Lincoln to Jefferson Davis to their generals to their legislatures to the people fighting to the people following all of this in the various Union and Democrat/Confederate newspapers, would have been surprised or astounded at this notion.

          The circumstances surrounding the suspension of habeas corpus, for example, made it reasonable — and the Constitution did not specify which branch had the authority to do so. Congress later ratified Lincoln’s action. The ongoing battle between Lincoln and the pro-slavery Democrat Roger Taney who ran the US Supreme Court factored into this as well. Taney was the writer of the Dred Scott opinion denying even free blacks the right of citizenship, and all other rights.

          The concept of martial law was provided for in the Constitution; if you cannot invoke it in the worst war the US has ever fought (“martial” means “of war”), when would it be invoked?

          Tremendous evidence supports the idea that Lincoln despised slavery and had its abolition as a high priority — but also that this was outranked only by his desire to hold the Union together. All of his actions can be traced back to these two priorities, and the specific ranking of them in Lincoln’s mind. He did not want to see the Union self-destruct, and the horrific eruption and destruction of the French Revolution, dated to the same year as the US Constitution, was fresh in his mind.

          Few people by this time thought slavery was a positive good. Most thought of it as an evil necessity that should be ended as quickly as possible, and it may surprise you to know that this included General Robert E. Lee, who was originally Lincoln’s choice to command Union armies. Lee’s (and his wife’s) involvement helping slaves, including freeing his own, is not well known now. Lee had previously had little contact with slavery, serving mostly in Northern states, until suddenly becoming a slaveholder by inheritance. What he did with and to his slaves is under some dispute, but he did free all of them within five years. From Wikipedia:

          The evidence cited in favor of the claim that Lee opposed slavery included his direct statements and his actions before and during the war, including Lee’s support of the work by his wife and her mother to liberate slaves and fund their move to Liberia,[66] the success of his wife and daughter in setting up an illegal school for slaves on the Arlington plantation,[67] the freeing of Custis’ slaves in 1862, and, as the Confederacy’s position in the war became desperate, his petitioning slaveholders in 1864–65 to allow slaves to volunteer for the Army with manumission offered as a reward for outstanding service.[68][69]

          At the start of the Civil War, Lee (like Lincoln) was distraught at seeing the Union ripped apart, but ultimately Lee felt that his loyalty to Virginia drove his final decision rather than accept Lincoln’s offer of commanding Union troops. He did not want to fight his Northern countrymen at first, serving for the first year only as an advisor to Jefferson Davis.

          Back to secession: Secession was clearly contemplated by some of the states during their Constitution ratification debates, and some included this idea in their official approvals of the Constitution and entry into the Union. I agree that this was reasonable, as specified (by Jefferson and Madison, for example) as an extreme last resort. Some Northern states actually contemplated secession several times between the 1790s and 1860, usually over tariffs. Aaron Burr was involved with this.

          It is not at all clear to me, however, how secession applies to the 36 states (and the odd case of West Virginia) admitted to the Union subsequent to its being created. Texas had odd language about retaining the option to split into five states, each of which would petition to join the Union, but that was replaced later. And Texas and Hawaii were the only sovereign nations admitted to the Union as states after its formation; the other states had been created from Union territory.

          Nevertheless, the Constitution was conceived, and ratified, as a limited government that left much power vested with the States. Repealing the sixteenth amendment (income tax) and replacing it with a FairTax, repealing the seventeenth amendment so that the states are once again represented in Congress, would help. So would other amendments to restore the original intent of the Commerce Clause and (hello Jeff Rutherford!) the Necessary and Proper Clause, and getting the executive and judicial branches out of the legislating business.

          Sunsetting of laws, and sunsetting of politicians, would further this cause. One of my proposed amendments is tied to the slogan “Re-Elect No One!” I am still thinking this way.

          ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

          Liked by 4 people

        9. I did not have a firm grasp of Libertarian party positions, and decided to get a good understanding late last year. Since then, I’ve listened to 269 hours so far of educational podcasts, and that’s usually at my normal (for me) 1.5x playback speed.

          It is a decidedly mixed bag. Much to like, but much to be appalled by, including the Libertarian insistence that Iran is completely and utterly harmless, and that any suggestion to the contrary is an outright lie. Though they generally dislike Obama, they are cheering the Iran deal as a triumph.

          They are embarrassed at being lumped in with conservatives, and throw around the “neocon” label quite a bit for anyone unhappy with the Iran deal. Libertarians make common cause with the Left’s anti-war movement, call those folks allies, and have them as radio guests.

          Their champion is, of course, Ron Paul. And this process has given me a snoot-full of his notions of foreign policy; he seems to think that jihadism did not exist prior to US agitation of it.

          A great pity; I do generally like Austrian (i.e., free market) economic principles, which are another major foundation of the Libertarian view.

          ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

          Liked by 2 people

        10. @Keith

          No one is perfect. We are all mixed bags, but how anyone could view Iran as harmless…… None are so blind as those who will not see.

          I think the problem is this multiculturalism thing the government pushes in the public schools. The Libertarians have bought into it. It fits with the rest of their ideology quite well.

          Like Socialists, I believe Libertarians view the world from the perspective of an economic model. Both try to set aside and ignore the problem of good and evil. Both groups tend to be materialist in their thinking. Not all of them, but most.


        11. The Austrian economic viewpoint does indeed treat issues from an economic perspective. But it incorporates a strong free-market perspective that is the best prescription to promote good and reduce evil. One writer encapsulated this idea into a book, called Don’t Hurt People and Don’t Take Their Stuff. They don’t ignore evil, but sometimes make mistakes identifying it.

          One prolific proponent of Libertarian philosophy is author and podcaster Tom Woods, who writes about US history and Austrian economics and their intersection in today’s world. On economics he’s solid, his history is meticulous even if his interpretation can be rather different, and he is also a devout Christian. But he’s in the “Iran just wants to gain the respect of the world” camp, and made this comment in a podcast last year: “I grew up in a conservative household, we liked Reagan and were pro-military. So I have a lot of penance to do.”

          The opening “music” of Woods’ podcasts for the first couple of years portrays the world he is fighting. It begins with a military march and what sounds like children reciting the Pledge of Allegiance (that is only a few seconds in the background and is not clear). But it moves on to Bush’s comment about having to “abandon free market principles to save the free market” and an amusing spiel about taxes, both of which are more appropriate targets. He has interesting guests, good economics, and what strike me as very foolish ideas of foreign policy. And these closely reflect a man he works closely with: Ron Paul.

          ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

          Liked by 2 people

        12. I am not going to dissect Tom Woods. Would miss the point, anyway. What was I guilty of doing when I said the following?

          Like Socialists, I believe Libertarians view the world from the perspective of an economic model. Both try to set aside and ignore the problem of good and evil. Both groups tend to be materialist in their thinking. Not all of them, but most.

          That’s a generalization. However, I attempted to qualify it with “most.”

          Multiculturalism fails on at least two counts.
          1. Proponents refuse to consider the notion that some ideas — some cultures — are better than others.
          2. Proponents refuse to consider the notion that some paths to “salvation” are dead ends.

          Both these refusals stem from an unwillingness to admit Hell exists (even among some of those who call themselves Christians). When we choose to love our self to the exclusion of others, we consign our self to Hell.

          Consider Satan. God is quite real to Satan. Nevertheless, Satan still insists upon being God. What Satan wants is absurd, but he will not settle for — his pride will not allow him to — anything less.

          Like Satan, we are also stiff-necked. We want to believe we don’t need God or anyone else. Even sillier, we want to believe we can fix other people. So we concoct these systems (Socialism and Free Market economics are examples) and look pass their limitations. Socialism doesn’t work because the flesh is sinful. When given the power required to make Socialism work, we abuse it. On the other hand, Free Market economics works because it concedes the flesh is sinful. Unfortunately, because the flesh is sinful, we cheat. Therefore, justice requires regulation of the Free Market.

          Whatever we do, we constantly struggle against our own nature. There is no system that gets us around it. Moreover, there is also no getting around the fact that some peoples are more overcome by the sins of the flesh than others. Such peoples, like Iran, can be extremely hostile. When we run into such a hostile people and refuse to admit their rank hostility, we choose to be blind.

          Why do we blind ourselves? Because admitting such hostility would require us to admit our own sinful nature, we blind ourselves to the sinfulness of others.

          The Socialist blames “sin” on poverty, not a vile heart. Instead of vile people, the Libertarian tend to blame “sin” on too much government (Government is, ironically, composed of people.). Instead of the heart, both Socialists and Libertarians trace the cause of sin to the environment. Unsurprisingly, both Socialists and Libertarians condemn legislation that limits social freedom. Yet both Socialists and Libertarians define social freedom quite oddly. Socialists focus on social freedoms designed to enhance the rights of pleasure seekers. Libertarians focus on economic freedom and the diminution of government.

          Conservatives generally have the object of allowing each individual make what they wish of their own lives. Instead of focusing on fixing people or the economy, Conservatives focus on the purpose of government, that purpose defined in the Declaration of Independence.


  5. @Keith

    And I am for empowering the states to restore a balance of power and (more importantly) a re-division back to the originally appropriate spheres of influence.

    I agree. A start to restore the balance of power is to repeal Amendment XVI. I would argue that Amendment XVI inverted the power of the States. The General Government solely relied on duties, imposts, and excises (Art. 1, Sec. 8; the General Government still relies on aforesaid taxes to this day). Amendment XVI was a strike to State power. Before Amendment XVI, the General Government properly billed the States their respective direct taxes (Art. 1, Sec. 2, Cls. 3; Art. 1, Sec. 9, Cls. 4). In other words, the General Government, as formerly under the Articles of Confederacy, relied on the States for its funding, in fact, its entire existence. This stipulation gave the States an advantage over the General Government. Today, that leverage and power is lost. The General Government does not rely on the States; rather, the States rely on the General Government owing to Amendment XVI. If a State does not go along with the General Government, then the General Government will threaten to cease “federal funding” for whatever purpose in that State. The States are in a hostage situation so-to-speak thanks to Amendment XVI. Sickening.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Another subtlety about the sixteenth amendment was that the KKK, the Women’s Temperance Movement, and other left-wing progressives had joined forces to implement a ban on alcohol. But alcohol was a major revenue source for the government, so they knew they had to work out another source as a substitute. The income tax was an obvious choice to them, so the sixteenth amendment implemented that, the seventeenth defanged the states’ involvement in legislation, and the eighteenth was then rolled out to prohibit alcohol. Or so went the plan, at least. In practice, the eighteenth amendment turned the entire country into lawbreakers.

      ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

      Liked by 2 people

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