“If this be treason, make the most of it.” ~ Patrick Henry
In 1765 the King of England decided that the Colonies needed to help pay a portion of the debt that the Crown had incurred defending them in the French and Indian war, so Parliament instituted a tax on printed goods; The Stamp Act. It was his right to tax them for this, and any other reason. After all, they were HIS Colonies, they were HIS subjects, and he could tax them for whatever reason tickled his fancy.
On the other side, the Colonists felt these taxes were unjust, and they reacted, sometimes violently in opposition to them. One of the things they did do, which proved quite effective, was to boycott all English goods sold in the Colonies. This caused British merchants to put pressure on Parliament to repeal the Stamp Act so that the Colonists would once again begin purchasing their goods. So, in 1766 an act was passed in Parliament repealing the Stamp Act, and it was given the royal approval on March 18 where it became official; the Stamp Act was no more.
The Colonists, however, were not free from British taxes and regulations. The same year that the Stamp Act was imposed, Chancellor of the Exchequer Charles Townshend proposed a series of measures which would strengthen English control in the Colonies. These came to be known as the Townshend Acts, named after the man who proposed them to Parliament.
Opposition to these Acts began with a series of Articles by John Dickinson of Pennsylvania. Titled Letters From A Farmer In Pennsylvania, Dickinson argued against the constitutionality of the taxes being imposed upon the Colonies. Dickinson also sent copies of his letters to James Otis in Boston. As Boston had been chosen to be the headquarters for the Board of Customs Commissioners, it became the hotbed for protests against the taxes.
Word of the unrest in Boston reached London, and Lord Hillsborough, The Colonial Secretary, decided to send four regiments of British Regulars, (Redcoats), to Boston to restore order and enforce the taxes. Well we all know what happened after the King authorized the sending of his military to enforce his laws; the Boston Massacre and then Lexington and Concord which provided enough impetus for the American Revolution to gain support throughout all the Colonies.
Less than a quarter century later, newly elected president George Washington was faced with the problem of paying off the debt the federal government had assumed from the States relating to the fighting of the revolution. At the advice and urging of his Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, Washington signed a bill imposing a direct tax, an excise on the sale of whiskey.
Opposition to this tax was widespread, but it was nowhere more opposed than in some regions of Pennsylvania where whiskey was used as payment in a form of barter for goods. Some Pennsylvanians flat out refused to pay, and others harassed and attacked the collectors of these taxes. From the onset of opposition, Alexander Hamilton was there at Washington’s side, urging that he use the military to quell opposition to federal law. Finally, Washington consented, and a force consisting of 17,000 troops was sent to Pennsylvania to quell this ‘Whiskey Rebellion.’
The aftermath of this military expedition was that 20 of the so-called rebels were captured and returned to Philadelphia to stand trial. Of them, Philip Wigle and John Mitchell were the only two to be convicted of treason and sentenced to death. However, Washington pardoned them; which infuriated Alexander Hamilton. But the Whiskey Rebellion established the precedent that the government can, and will use force when it feels that obedience to the laws it passes is warranted. However, what historians don’t tell us is that even though the military expedition was viewed as a success for the Washington administration, whiskey taxes remained difficult to collect in Pennsylvania.
I’m curious, after telling these two little snippets from our history, do you see the similarity between the two events, or did it slip right past you without you noticing it? In both instances the military was used as a means to enforce the supremacy of the government AND to collect the taxes that government had imposed upon the governed.
It is said that Winston Churchill once said that history is written by the victors of any conflict. I wonder, how would historians have viewed men like Thomas Jefferson, John and Samuel Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Paul Revere and Patrick Henry, had the Colonies LOST the revolution? I’m pretty sure our history books would not label them as patriots and heroes; rather they would be labeled as traitors who attempted to overthrow the legitimate authority of their government.
Just like how history books today, that is if they even mention the Whiskey Rebellion, label those who protested the tax on whiskey, as being rebels who opposed the legitimacy of taxes imposed upon them by their government. These rebels are portrayed as the ‘bad guys’ while Washington and his army of 17,000 troops are portrayed as the ‘good guys’ who restored order in Pennsylvania.
There is a common thread between these two events; that being that an army was used to enforce the laws of the government upon those who are governed. You may not be aware of this, but prior to our Constitution going into effect, Alexander Hamilton spoke of this coercive power of government to enforce its laws in one of his essays written under the pseudonym of Publius. In Federalist 15 Hamilton writes, “It is essential to the idea of a law, that it be attended with a sanction; or, in other words, a penalty or punishment for disobedience. If there be no penalty annexed to disobedience, the resolutions or commands which pretend to be laws will, in fact, amount to nothing more than advice or recommendation. This penalty, whatever it may be, can only be inflicted in two ways: by the agency of the courts and ministers of justice, or by military force; by the COERCION of the magistracy, or by the COERCION of arms.” (His emphasis)
One of the biggest fears of those we call our Founding Fathers was the implementation of a standing army; a group of full time professional soldiers at the beck and call of their government. They remembered the lessons from their own past too well to allow any government they created to provide for a standing army. That is why the Constitution only authorizes the expenditure of funds for an army for 2 years; after which a measure must be submitted to Congress and voted upon which re-approved of a full time military.
Don’t get me wrong, I fully realize that in today’s modern times, with all the technological advances humans have made in how they might kill each other, a reserve army, or the militias might not be able to defend our country from attack, and that a standing, fully trained army might be necessary. But one must take great caution in supporting such an army to be used in the enforcement of the laws passed by our government upon the people of this country, lest it become the enforcing arm of tyrants.
How many of you were alive in 1970? Do you recall the shootings at Kent State University where the Ohio National Guard opened fire upon unarmed students protesting the Vietnam War? Do you see the similarity between that event, and another event 200 years prior when British Regulars fired into an unarmed crowd in Boston? Although it was proven that the mob in Boston was assaulting a sentry at his post, both incidents show how things can go terribly wrong when the people are faced with armed soldiers who are simply following orders.
And since I mentioned ‘simply following orders‘ I feel it is time I introduced some of you to the Nuremberg Trials. The Nuremberg Trials were a series of trials held in Nuremberg, Germany after World War II where war criminals were brought to trial for their crimes; that is those who weren’t granted citizenship in the U.S. because of their expertise in certain fields of science that the U.S. government wanted to exploit. (See Operation Paperclip if you don’t believe me)
One of the findings of these trials was that ‘simply following orders’ does not relieve a person of guilt when those orders violate the basic human rights we all have. The Court’s ruling stated it as follows, “The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.”
How many of you remember Hurricane Katrina? How many of you know that New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin ordered the police, along with New Orleans National Guardsmen, to go house to house and force everyone to leave their homes; confiscating any weapons they found along the way.
I understand that the forced evacuations were for their own safety, but the whole idea of liberty is that a person is free to make their own choices; along with accepting the consequences of those choices. If people in New Orleans wanted to stay, that was their right. However, they should not then turn around after disaster strikes and cry for government assistance for their plight. As for the military and police confiscating their arms; I find that to be a violation of their right to defend themselves and their property. I even saw a YouTube video of a Guardsman who said he felt that what he was doing was wrong, but that he was ordered to do so, so he was going to follow orders.
With that mindset in our military, I wonder how many would fire upon civilians if ordered to do so by their superiors? Let’s just say for the purpose of speculation, what if the government sent troops to suburban communities and began rounding people up to move them to centralized camps or internment centers in the case of some national crisis. What if people refused to leave their homes? Would the military then fire upon them if they resisted, or confronted by armed citizens who refused to leave their homes?
Where do our rights end and the legitimate use of force by our government begin? Today we not only have a standing army, we have numerous governmental agencies who are all equipped with military style weaponry that we the people are denied the right to own by our government. We also have local law enforcement that has increasingly become militarized; having many of the same weapons as our fighting men and women, and having received training from either the military or the Department of Homeland Security.
How many of those thus employed would JUST FOLLOW ORDERS without questioning the legality of the orders they were following? Now do you begin to see why our Founders feared the establishment of a standing army; how it could quickly become the tool by which tyrants imposed their will upon those they tyrannize?
You know there is another time in our nation’s history when an army was raised to impose the will of our government upon those who, not only resisted its authority, but chose to leave the Union entirely; thereby exercising their right as outlined in the Declaration of Independence, “That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it…“
I find it quite ironic that the President who raised an army to prevent the South from seceding is quoted as saying, “Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up and shake off the existing government and form a new one that suits them better. This is a most valuable, most sacred right- a right which we hope and believe is to liberate the world. Nor is this right confined to cases in which the whole people of an existing government may choose to excercise it. Any portion of such people that can, may revolutionize and make their own, of so much territory as the inhabit.”
That’s right, Abraham Lincoln himself spoke those words not 13 years earlier in a speech on the floor of the House of Representatives. Funny how politicians have a way of changing positions on the issues when it suits their needs. Kind of like how Trump campaigned on repealing Obamacare then turned around and offered a better and improved version of government mandated health care.
The entire point I have been trying to make is that history has shown that governments tend to use military force when the laws they pass are resisted, or when their authority over their subjects is threatened. If government were to respect the limits to its powers and the rights of those it governs, then there would most likely be no need of the use of the power of military coercion to enforce its mandates. It is only when government oversteps its authority and makes a tyrannical use of its power that people resist.
The problem today is that the news media are working from the same script as our government operates off of. They report the news with a clearly biased slant in favor of government. Sure, they may take sides when covering Republican vs Democratic issues, but they rarely ever report upon the legality of the laws our government passes; and they always label those who resist governmental authority as extremists and radicals.
Ask the Bundy’s how they felt they were portrayed by the media. Ask the family of LaVoy Finicum. Ask Randy Weaver and his wife Vicki. Oh, that’s right, you can’t ask her; she was killed by an FBI sniper holding an infant in her arms. Ask the Branch Davidians whether the media’s portrayal of them was accurate. In short, ask anyone who sought to free themselves from the excess of power wielded over them by their government; they will all tell you that they only sought to regain the liberty that government was instituted to protect.
And I would be remiss if I did not broach the subject of how this standing army is used. Are you aware that the United States currently has 1.4 million people actively serving in the military; and that’s not including military contractors and others who support the mission of the military? Are you also aware that our current budget for military expenditures sits at $601 billion? And did you know that the U.S. maintains approximately 800 military bases in somewhere around 80 foreign countries?
If I didn’t know better, I’d think the United States was an empire, not a country. (And that’s sarcasm by the way)
Off the top of your head, when was the last time Congress issued a formal declaration of war? If you said World War II, BINGO, you get the prize. However, even our entry into World War II was engineered by our government. Our government wanted an excuse to become involved in the European conflict but knew that after World War I, the war to end all wars, the people were weary of war and wouldn’t support U.S. forces being deployed to fight the Nazis.
What people fail to realize is that Germany and Japan had made an agreement that if one were attacked, of if one nation declared war upon one of them, the other would join in their support. This gave the U.S. a back door to become involved in the war in Europe; if they could only provoke Japan into attacking us first that is.
Through a series of embargos and trade restrictions against Japan, the U.S. government got their wish when Japan attacked our naval installation at Pearl Harbor. BINGO, the U.S. declared war on Japan and Germany declared war against the U.S. giving us all the excuse we needed to go to war in Europe.
We knew Japan was going to attack; their codes had been broken. Some historians claim that they didn’t know when and where the attack was to hit, while others say they did know. Being the ultimate cynic and pessimist, I think they knew exactly where the attack was to hit, and they allowed all those men to die at Pearl Harbor just so they could gain entry into a war the American people wanted nothing to do with. Kind of like how 9-11 went down if you believe in these kinds of coincidences.
Why would our government want to become engulfed in a war…any war? As an answer I will pose another question; why does any empire conquer other peoples; to gain power and control and to gain access to resources those people might be in possession of. Plus, war is a huge money maker.
Do you know how much war costs? As of 2017 the U.S. has spent $5.6 trillion on the war on terror. Some of that money goes to the salaries of our troops, but much of it goes to those who make the bullets and the bombs; the military industrial complex.
In 1961 President Dwight Eisenhower delivered a speech in which he said, “Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.
This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.
In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the militaryindustrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”
It is my belief that the military industrial complex sets American Foreign Policy; it decides who will become our next enemy, and if no enemy is present, it creates one to justify the continued state of war that has plagued our nation almost since Vietnam. There are those who claim that the U.S. military are nothing more than the pawns of Zionist Jews in a huge game of global chess; although I’m not completely sold on that idea….YET, that is.
There is one thing for certain, the U.S. military has been sent all over the globe; from everything to fighting conflicts to enforcing United Nations Resolutions…all without a formal declaration of war by Congress. Somebody is getting awfully rich off all these wars, and it certainly isn’t the American public who is shouldered with the debt these wars create.
Are you aware that in the earliest years of our nation’s history Thomas Jefferson was in favor of the cost of war being applied to the public via direct taxes upon them rather than in the borrowing of money to be paid by future generations. Jefferson felt that the lust for war might be better controlled if the people immediately felt the costs of supporting one.
Unfortunately Jefferson’s ideas were not widely accepted; and that is why we have a skyrocketing national debt; which currently stands at $20.8 trillion; or $172,000 for every taxpaying citizen such as you and me.
When the debt created by war can be shielded from the eyes of those who shoulder the burden of paying for it, it can be hid in the form of taxes which then go towards paying off the debt. But if you were sent a bill at the end of each year, demanding your share of paying for the cost of a standing army scattered all over the globe, you would call for all military forces to be recalled and no further use of them be authorized unless the United States was directly attacked. Of that, I can assure you!
I know this is getting rather long, but I have only two more subjects to discuss and then I’ll be done.
Some of you may be familiar with the name Smedley Butler, while others may not. Butler was, at the time of his death in 1904, was the highest ranking and most heavily decorated Marine in the history of the United States. Butler served his country in conflicts all over the globe, including the Philippines, China, Central America and the Caribbean. Butler received 16 medals, five for heroism, and is one of few men to have ever won the Congressional Medal of Honor twice.
If anyone defines what it means to be a true soldier and an American patriot, it is Smedley Butler. Why then would Butler write a book entailing how the U.S. military is a racket which “…the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.”
I would suggest that anyone who wants to know who truly profits from war read Butler’s book, War is a Racket; it is a huge eye opener when it comes to explaining why the U.S. is always involved in one conflict or another. To put it simply, our economy thrives in wartime, and it languishes without war. War is profitable for all; except those who serve in them and come home broken and mangled. But hey, we gotta keep stock prices up, right? And those who question these wars are tagged with the label of unpatriotic and become outcasts from the politically correct mainstream.
But war serves another purpose, it allows government to enact measures which ordinarily would not be accepted. The threat of war alone was enough to justify John Adams signing into law the Alien and Sedition Acts; which proved wildly unpopular and even led his own Vice President Thomas Jefferson to pen the Kentucky Resolutions in opposition to them.
During the debates which ultimately produced our Constitution, James Madison spoke the following words which should serve as a warning to all about the dangers of a standing army and the constant state of war against real or imagined enemies, “A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty. The means of defence agst. foreign danger, have been always the instruments of tyranny at home.”
Madison reiterated that sentiment in a letter to Thomas Jefferson, dated May 3, 1798, “Perhaps it is a universal truth that the loss of liberty at home is to be charged to provisions agst. danger real or pretended from abroad.”
How many of you would have willingly accepted the passage of the Patriot Act had 9-11 not happened? You can call it whatever you want; you can wrap it all up in the American Flag and call it patriotism, but tyranny is tyranny no matter how it is disguised…and that’s what we have in America today…TYRANNY.
I am, by nature a pessimist, and I tend to doubt the integrity and motives of everyone. So forgive me if I come across as sounding just a bit harsh and negative; it’s just how I am. But there is one final quote I’d like to leave you pondering before I go. This comes from St George Tucker in Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England, and states, “Wherever standing armies are kept up, and when the right of the people to keep and bear arms is, under any color or pretext whatsoever, prohibited, liberty, if not already annihilated, is on the brink of destruction.”
You may not care; liberty may not mean that much to you. But there are those of us to whom it means everything, and we grow weary of your government continually passing measures which limit it. There will come a time when either you, or your government backs us into a corner where our only choice is to either bow down and accept slavery, or rise up and fight to restore the liberty we have seen taken from us. We may not win, and historians may portray us in a bad light, but to quote Patrick Henry, “Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!“
~ The Author ~
Neal Ross, Student of history, politics, patriot and staunch supporter of the 2nd Amendment. Send all comments to: email@example.com.
If you liked Neal’s latest column, maybe you’ll like his latest booklet: The Civil War: (The Truth You Have Not Been Told) AND don’t forget to pick up your copy of ROSS: Unmasked – An Angry American Speaks Out – and stay tuned – Neal has a new, greatly expanded book coming soon dealing with the harsh truths about the so-called American Civil War of 1861-1865. Life continues to expand for this prolific writer and guardian of TRUE American history.