Comment: Patrick Henry: They Have Been "ENSLAVED" by their "OWN PEOPLE"

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Patrick Henry: They Have Been "ENSLAVED" by their "OWN PEOPLE"

Virginia Ratifying Convention 6-16-1788:

In Full:

Patrick Henry's and George Mason's Warning this day convention results in the BILL OF RIGHTS:

Mr. HENRY (WARNS) thought it necessary and proper that they should take a collective view of this whole section, and revert again to the first clause. He adverted to the clause which gives Congress the power of raising armies, and proceeded as follows:

"To me this appears a very alarming power, when unlimited.

They are not only to raise, but to support, armies; and this support is to go to the utmost abilities of the United States.

If Congress shall say that the "GENERAL WELFARE" requires it, they may keep armies "continually on foot".

There is no control on Congress in raising or stationing them.

They may billet them on the people at pleasure.

This unlimited authority is a most dangerous power:

its principles are despotic.

If it be unbounded (i.e. Allowed outside the limited DELEGATED POWERS), it "MUST" lead to "DESPOTISM";

for the power of a people in a free government is supposed to be "paramount" to the existing power.

We shall be told that, in England, the king, lords, and commons, have this power; that armies can be raised by the prince alone, without the "consent" of the people.

How does this apply here? Is this government to place us in the situation of the English?

Should we suppose this government to resemble king, lords, and commons, we of this state {411} should be like an English county.

An English county Cannot control the government.

Virginia cannot control the government of Congress any more than the county of Kent can control that of England.

Advert to the power thoroughly.

One of our first complaints, under the former government,was the quartering of troops upon us.

This was one of the "PRINCIPLE REASONS" for DISSOLVING the connection with GREAT BRITAIN.

Here we may have troops in time of peace.

They may be billeted in any manner to tyrannize, oppress, and "CRUSH US".

We are told, we are afraid to trust ourselves; that our own representatives Congress will not exercise their powers oppressively;

that we shall not enslave ourselves;

that the (CITIZEN) militia cannot enslave themselves, &c.

WHO has enslaved France, Spain, Germany, Turkey, and other countries which groan under tyranny?

They have been "ENSLAVED" by the hands of their "OWN PEOPLE".

If it will be so in America, it will be only as it has been every where else.

I am still persuaded that the power of calling forth the militia, to execute the laws of the Union, is dangerous. We requested the gentleman to show the cases where the militia would be wanting to execute the laws.

Have we received a satisfactory answer? When we consider this part, and compare it to other parts, which declare that Congress may declare war, and that the President shall command the regular troops, militia, and navy, we shall find great danger. Under the order of Congress, they shall suppress insurrections.

Under the order of Congress, they shall be called to execute the "laws".

It will result, of course, that this is to be a government of force. Look at the part which speaks of excises, and you will recollect that those who are to collect excises and duties are to be aided by military force.

They have power to call them out, and to provide for arming, organizing, disciplining, them. Consequently, they are to make militia laws for this state.

The honorable gentleman said that the militia should be called forth to quell riots. Have we not seen this business go on very well to-day without military force?

It is a long-established principle of the common law of England, that civil force is sufficient to quell riots. To what length may it not be carried?

A law may be made that, if twelve men assemble, if they do not disperse, they may be fired upon. {412} I think it is so in England.Does not this part of the paper bear a strong aspect?

The honorable gentleman, from his knowledge, was called upon to show the instances, and he told us the militia may be called out to quell riots. They may make the militia travel, and act under a colonel, or perhaps under a constable. Who are to determine whether it be a riot or not? Those who are to execute the laws of the Union?

If they have power to execute their laws in this manner, in what situation are we placed!

Your men who go to Congress are not restrained by a bill of rights. They are not restrained from inflicting unusual and severe punishments, though the bill of rights of Virginia forbids it. What will be the consequence?

They may inflict the most cruel and ignominious punishments on the militia, and they will tell you that it is necessary for their discipline.

Give me leave to ask another thing.

Suppose an exciseman will demand leave to enter your cellar, or house, by virtue of his office; perhaps he may call on the militia to enable him to go.

If Congress be informed of it, will they give you redress? They will tell you that he is executing the laws under the authority of the continent at large, which must be obeyed, for that the government cannot be carried on without exercising severity.

It, without any reservation of rights or control,

"you" are contented to give up "your" rights, "I am not".

There is no principle to guide the legislature to restrain them from inflicting the utmost severity of punishment. Will gentlemen voluntarily give up their liberty?

With respect to calling the militia to enforce every execution indiscriminately, it is unprecedented. Have we ever seen it done in any free country?

Was it ever so in the mother country?

It never was so in any well-regulated country.

It is a government of force, and the genius of despotism expressly. It is not proved that this power is necessary, and if it be unnecessary, shall we give it up?"

American Patriot Party.CC

Educate Yourself. Educate Others.


RichardTaylorAPP - Chair - American Patriot Party.CC

John Locke #201, 202, 212 to 232; Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions 1798; Virginia Ratifying Convention 6-16-1788; Rights of the Colonists 1772.