‘Reconstruction’, or just another bloody revolution?
the Last Crusades - Book XVIII
By Cliff Jones
A lot of people are aware that a necrotic smell wafted out of Washington, D.C during the period known as "the reconstruction." Specifics abound, there's a mass of "laws" passed during the period that raise serious questions as to whether there was a functional constitution in place at the time or not. (turns out no) Banking comes to mind, look into what "double standard" really means for instance, you'll see the term was slandered, given a major bum rap for all time. The "double standard" would have made you and me rich beyond our wildest dreams, but then the central bank crowd would have had to find new work.
Still, all protestations I hear about the reconstruction miss one glaring mark, which we will get to later. In the mean time, a slew of clearly unconstitutional laws were passed, (off) but since the 'checks and balances' system "allowed" them to stand, one who protests them is reduced to whiner status; they are laws you merely dislike, but "the law's the law!" You often hear "if you don't like it get your own guy elected and pass a different one" coming from officials who benefit from unconstitutional laws. The IRS comes to mind, they've told me that verbatim more than a few times.
A lot of folks labor under the pretense that things were fairly well hunky-dory prior to the "civil war," after which everything started to slide downhill. Indeed, the rot accelerated immensely during the later half of the 19th century, but have a look at Andy Jackson's and Thomas Jefferson's presidencies, you'll see things were far from peaceable. There's a deeper problem with the reconstruction which I don't see too many folks are aware of. First things first though, let's have a look at a few of the smelly laws from that very smelly time.
The Civil Rights Act of 1866 was vetoed by President Andrew Johnson. It was one of a series of vetoes he issued based on the simple grounds that he was sworn to uphold the constitution, and that act was unconstitutional in two ways. The act declared "all persons born in the United States and not subject to any foreign power, excluding Indians not taxed," were citizens. Johnson pointed out the constitution contains no clause allowing the government to regulate citizenship. Furthermore, in technically making blacks citizens, the act contradicted the "three fifths" compromise incorporated in Article I, Section 2 Clause 3 of the constitution, meaning an amendment, not a law, was required in order to have the desired effect. Indeed we shall see the 14th amendment came along a bit later for this very purpose, but the "radical Republicans" in congress needed blacks voting NOW, not later. Congress overrode the veto on April 9, 1866.
The Supreme Court, the entire judiciary in fact, can be considered to be out of the picture entirely during the reconstruction. The chief justice, Salmon Chase, openly met with and was more than sympathetic to the radical Republican agenda, a clear failure of separation of powers. He even aided the massive unconstitutionality of much of the reconstruction by refusing to 'open' the courts in the former confederacy, denying everybody down there anything other than military courts martial. One reason there was no hope of checking congress in the courts was that on July 23, 1866, rather than approve Johnson's appointment to a vacancy on the supreme court, congress instead 'passed a law' reducing the number of justices on the court from 10 to 8. Johnson had no hope of getting 'constitutionalists' on the court, not that he could find any. This was not the first time the number of justices was jiggered in order to put forth a political agenda, Thomas Jefferson got even on that score in fact. But this proves beyond doubt that the Supreme Court is a political, not a judicial, entity.
Unconstitutional acts of "law" poured out of congress like the Mississippi river in spring, unchecked. On July 19, 1867 Congress removed the constitutional power of the president to appoint and remove his military officers, thus eviscerating his command of the military. (Article II Section 2 Clause 1) Congress vested it by law, not by amendment as would be required, into the hands of the radical Republican sympathizer serving as his General of the Army. (it turns out everybody surrounding Johnson was on page with the agenda, he stood alone in defense of the constitution) This was on top of the Command of the Army Act of March 2, 1867 which also served to remove command of the military from the president by requiring that all military orders must issue from the General of the Army, and even added he could not be removed by the president but only upon the consent of congress. That's also not in the constitution. In other words, the congress took control of the military by insuring it would be 'their boy' and not the president's in that office. Even the Army Appropriation Act of March 2, 1867 (a busy day) was loaded with language beyond mere appropriation of money, geared toward insuring the radical Republicans in congress would control the Army completely. Johnson's Attorney General, Henry Stanbery, was undermining his boss all along, and in this case failed to seek an appropriation bill for the single purpose of funding the Army, without the unconstitutional language it contained toward removing the
president's control over the Army. Alas, this Act stood and further eroded the constitutional functions of the president.
The coup de grace was an unconstitutional law that was in fact a setup for the eventual impeachment of President Johnson; the Tenure of Office Act of, guess when? ...March 2, 1867. This removed from the president, not merely the power to hire and fire military officers, but to hire and fire ANYONE in the entire executive branch, including (especially) his cabinet. The single reason for this unconstitutional act was to force Johnson to retain his Secretary of War, Edwin M. Stanton. Stanton had openly met with the radicals and was entirely supportive, the constitution be damned. Congress knew Johnson would be inclined to fire Stanton when he'd had enough of his treachery. So they shredded Article II Section I Clause I with the Tenure of Office Act, clearly unconstitutional both In it's opposition to Article II and in that the change it allegedly made should have been accomplished by amending the constitution as put forth in Article V. (that last goes for all the other "laws" that altered the constitution in fact) Attorney General Stanbery slept, Johnson did have enough and eventually fired Stanton.
Congress then impeached the president on the grounds he'd violated a clearly unconstitutional law. His real crime was he was 100% insistent on upholding the constitution.
The impeachment vote actually failed by a contrived one-vote-shy of the required two thirds majority. The lawyers in congress had no real compunction to remove him. (why bother? they were getting everything they wanted) They knew the "law" upon which impeachment was pursued was entirely bogus, that hiring and firing the cabinet and others was the sole constitutional purview of the president. The damage, and desired effect, had been done however. The president was rendered weak in the public mind, and having been bogged down in his defense, (not to mention being surrounded by traitors) couldn't effectively go on the offensive in the name of proper checks and balances. History doesn't treat Johnson well, but in fact he was one of the best, merely upholding the constitution was his entire agenda.
Stanbery, Stanton and the majority of the "radical Republicans," I MUST point out, were all lawyers.
So what? What's done is done, it's all a big meat grinder anyway, life's good so who cares? Well hold on here, there's something everybody's missing. What do you know of the thirteenth amendment? Section I states "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, (except for convicts) shall exist in the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction." What else you know is that it was ratified. After the Civil War, from
August 1865 to March 1866, constitutional conventions were held in all of the seven 'unreconstructed' states. They formally abolished slavery, elected state legislatures, executives and judiciaries and then most proceeded to pass the thirteenth amendment. What does this mean? In ratifying the thirteenth amendment, which never could have happened without the southern states, the south agreed secession to have been a failure. Here's the glaring fact gone missing: the fact of the ratification of the 13th amendment completely reinstated the constitutional compact and utterly and for all time restored the union. ...that is until December 4, 1865, we'll get to this in a moment ... But by passage of the 13th amendment, the south had again become a full constitutional partner with the north, millions of slaves were now free but without constitutional or political status.
However, in violation of Article V of the constitution, a Republican caucus in congress, on December 4, 1865, instructed the clerks to ignore the 'seceded' states in the roll call. Article V states in part "no state without it's consent shall be deprived of equal suffrage in the senate." The south's vote was good enough for the ratification of the thirteenth amendment, but they were then immediately tossed right back out of the union again, on their ears, and this by mere clerks on orders from a few lawyers.
I'll let that sink in.
Getting back to our real day of infamy, March 2, 1867, the First Reconstruction Act divided the southern states into 5 military districts called "conquered provinces." We have seen they were already considered states again, enough to pass the thirteenth amendment. Yet this act declared no legal governments existed in the south except Tennessee, I guess the Gore family saw to that deal. Of course the southern states balked, they had been good enough to amend the constitution, but were now deprived of all constitutional powers again by Republican clerical fiat. Reconstruction required the presence of a military occupying force for the purpose of keeping the rightly P.O.’d folks down there in line while their rights were being shredded in their own names. Congress had declared the south "politically dead," yet insisted they ratify the new 14th amendment as a condition of "readmission to congress." How could a state allegedly without any constitutional status be having anything to do with amending the constitution? How's THAT grab you for "unconstitutional act!" The southern states allegedly had no rights, but at the same time were supposed to do the most important thing a state can do; amend the constitution. The 14th amendment does not stand, but not for this reason alone.
Since the seceded states had not been allowed to draft the 14th amendment, why would any of them want to ratify it? All of the state conventions down there were in fact unconstitutional because the constitution provides "The United States shall guarantee every state in the union a republican form of government." Recall Chief Justice Chase refused to establish a judiciary in the south for two years after the war, and congress denied 'equal suffrage in the senate" and declared them not only "politically dead" but "conquered provinces," hardly sounds like a republican form of government to me. Enter the Civil Rights Act of 1866. This amendment to the constitution by "law" performed as the proposed 14th amendment was eventually intended to. It ordered the registration of black "voters," but if this was a lawful move, why the need for the 14th in the first place? The result was that white southerners were held out of the polls at gunpoint (upholding the blacks' "civil rights," don't you know) whereas blacks, who did not yet possess the constitutional right to vote, did so. And for what? Why, their right to vote! That's called "ass-backward" in non-legal circles.
The lofty words include "that to secure certain rights... governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed." No matter how well meaning, under the terms of the constitution, blacks could not arbitrarily be made citizens and given the right to vote by congress until the 14th and 15th amendments had been proposed and peaceably ratified willingly by the required number of states. The supreme irony is that here was a strong case in favor of that thing we call "judicial activism." It was the judicial activism of the Dred Scott decision which virtually insured the civil war in the first place. Chief Justice Taney had stated for the majority that at the time of the founding of the constitution blacks were "considered to be a subordinate and inferior class of beings, who had been subjugated by the dominant race, and whether emancipated or not, yet remained subject to their authority..." Any rights they may have would be by the good graces of government. But it wasn't necessary for the 14th amendment to provide a second Bill of Rights for the protection of blacks. The Bill of Rights itself had guaranteed basic rights to all persons, it didn't distinguish between race or gender. If the lawyers on the high court had the courage to declare as much in the name of liberty and justice, the entire "civil war" could have been avoided. All they needed to do was reverse Dred Scott.
Let's round it up: immediately after the war the congress was reassembled, the union was reestablished in full force and effect with passage of the thirteenth amendment proving as much. But then congress, without any constitutional authority to do so, tossed the entire south (save Tennessee) back out the door and proceeded to occupy the south militarily. This occupation deprived most southerners any constitutional rights, those as would be limited to matters of governance, by the way. They allowed blacks to vote for their own right to vote, a mind bender in addition to being unconstitutional. Voting rights were either enforced or denied at gunpoint, the decision being made by an Army which had been unconstitutionally removed from the hands of the president and placed under control of congress. States which were otherwise completely denied any functional governmental authority were still called upon to do the big, dirty deed: amend the constitution. An unconstitutional law was used to nearly impeach a president, and was in fact written precisely as a setup for that purpose. The president did everything he could to preserve constitutionally limited government, but was surrounded by lawyers and other traitors, history does not treat him well. And is there any wonder the south was staunchly "Democrat" for years following all this?
The reconstruction never would have happened had it not been for a mere order issued by the majority Republicans to the clerks of the congress. December 4, 1865; the day the republic went brain dead with a whimper. The south was in, the passage of the 13th amendment proved that, then they were tossed back out by mere clerks with their fingers in their ears ("on orders") during the roll call. Constitutional republic indeed! After you come to grips with the "unconstitutionality" of the constitution itself:
http://www.federalobserver.com/archive.php?aid=6190 ...you are then left to ponder that perhaps indeed two wrongs DO make a right... or "rights" as it were. Civil rights, the kind we are now regularly left to beg government to "give" us. Problem is, that's all left up to 'them,' whether you get 'em or not. It's by the grace of government you get "civil rights," as mangled into existence during the reconstruction and ever since.
Cliff Jones and Ralph Boryszewski
Foundation for Rights
PO BOX 17699
Rochester, New York 14617
Send $20 to the Foundation for Rights and request the book The Constitution That Never Was by author Ralph Boryszewski. All the above and more are contained in this book. The Foundation believes proper education of juries and their rightful application of power are the means by which a true constitutional republic can in fact be established among the several states of the union.
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