Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Is America a Christian Nation, Part IX, The 'Right' of Secession

In this installment of Is America A Christian Nation, we will look at the issue of secession, and whether that is a state's right under the Constitution.  And we do this to establish the principle, once and for all, that the US Constitution, as the United States Supreme Law,  is more than just one document, and that it is three documents, the Constitution by definition, and the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, as well as the Declaration of Independence, by specific reference. As we explore the facts, we will understand that, by that same evidence, not only the is right to secede given up by the states, but we will also confirm that the rights of the people are not established under the Constitution, but rather under the Declaration of Independence, and that the Constitution acknowledges that fact.  That being the case, that means by which the people receive their rights in the Declaration of Independence is codified as Supreme Law, every bit as any specific prescription written into the Constitution.  Let's begin.

The argument for a state's right of secession rests in the notion that the Constitution is silent on that right, and according to the 10th amendment, any rights not
delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
The argument for the right of secession cites that, since there exists no specific language within the text of the Constitution, language by which terms the states specifically delegated their rights of secession to be governed by the the federal government, then those who are of the mind, use that fact to claim that the states retained the right of secession under the Constitution.

But as we have learned in the previous installments in this series, the authority of the Constitution is limited not only by its own terms, but also by principles previously agreed and which served as given conditions under which the Constitution originally receive its authority.  Because there is a flow of 'conditional authority' that runs from the Declaration of Independence, to the Articles of Confederation, that now terminates to presently reside within the Constitution, any conditions placed upon the use of that authority, which may have restricted the parties to the first two agreements, and which have never been removed according to the prescribed manners that the first two documents allow, those conditions still remain alive today, even under the Constitution.

So if the states gave up the right to secede under either of the two agreements which preceded the Constitution, and which serve as the source of authority for the Constitution, those agreements being the Declaration of Independence or the Articles of Confederation, that right is forever forsaken UNLESS some provision of the agreement under which that right was originally surrendered allows it to be restored.

In our last installment, we learned that the union of 'free and independent states,' which union came into being under the Declaration of Independence in 1776, became a perpetual union of states, as agreed under the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, ratified in 1781, which agreement removed the right of secession, agreed unanimously among the states who were parties to the agreement, its Article XIII stipulating
Every State shall abide by the determination of the united States in congress assembled, on all questions which by this confederation are submitted to them. And the Articles of this confederation shall be inviolably observed by every State, and the union shall be perpetual; nor shall any alteration at any time hereafter be made in any of them; unless such alteration be agreed to in a congress of the united States, and be afterwards confirmed by the legislatures of every State. 
So according to the Articles of Confederation, the terms of which when fulfilled serve as the source of authority for the Constitution, those terms do not allow the states to secede from the union.  And so, if the union which existed under the Articles of Confederation, is the same union that now exists under the Constitution, then that stipulation in Article XIII of the AoC must remain fulfilled, even today.  Because one state agreeing to that stipulation served as an inducement for every other state to agree to it as well, which in effect changed the course of history for each other state, each state has the right to enforce that stipulation on every other state.  That is the most basic tenet of contract law.  For this reason, even today, every state in the union is bound to it.  The union which came into being as  'free and independent states' under the Declaration of Independence, contingent on their own abiding preference to remain in the union, however unbound to do so, became 'perpetual,' under the Articles of Confederation, indicating that this union, comprised as it was, shall have no end. In agreeing to that stipulation, the states in the union no longer remained, 'free and independent.' That being the case, no state would possess the right to end it by seceding, that is, unless as the AoC states, agreed "in a congress of the united States, and be afterwards confirmed by the legislatures of every State."  

These principles became the focal point of the debate which raged leading up to the presidential election of 1860.  In March of 1861, before Abraham Lincoln would even take the oath of office as America's 16th president, seven states declared secession from the union, and claimed authority under the Constitution to do so.  Lincoln had some decisions to make.  And whatever decisions he made he would have to support to the new congress, a congress that would not even be seated for several months.  So without an act of congress to back him up, and understanding that 'principle' has its moment before it becomes obsolete, Lincoln acted to save the union.  He commanded a military response to the attack on Fort Sumter. He authorized the war department to begin raising an army.  And he suspended the writ of habeas corpus.

On July 4, 1861, Lincoln addressed a special session of congress.  And using the argument I give you above, he justified his actions to save the union.  In Lincoln's language, here is an excerpt from that speech:
Our States have neither more nor less power than that reserved to them in the Union by the Constitution, no one of them ever having been a State out of the Union. The original ones passed into the Union even before they cast off their British colonial dependence, and the new ones each came into the Union directly from a condition of dependence, excepting Texas; and even Texas, in its temporary independence, was never designated a State. The new ones only took the designation of States on coming into the Union, while that name was first adopted for the old ones in and by the Declaration of Independence. Therein the "United Colonies" were declared to be "free and independent States"; but even then the object plainly was not to declare their independence of one another or of the Union, but directly the contrary, as their mutual pledge and their mutual action before, at the time, and afterwards abundantly show. The express plighting of faith by each and all of the original thirteen in the Articles of Confederation, two years later, that the Union shall be perpetual is most conclusive. Having never been States, either in substance or in name, outside of the Union, whence this magical omnipotence of "State rights," asserting a claim of power to lawfully destroy the Union itself? Much is said about the "sovereignty" of the States, but the word even is not in the National Constitution, nor, as is believed, in any of the State constitutions. What is a "sovereignty" in the political sense of the term? Would it be far wrong to define it "a political community without a political superior"? Tested by this, no one of our States, except Texas, ever was a sovereignty; and even Texas gave up the character on coming into the Union, by which act she acknowledged the Constitution of the United States and the laws and treaties of the United States made in pursuance of the Constitution to be for her the supreme law of the land. The States have their status in the Union, and they have no other legal status. If they break from us, they can only do so against law and by revolution. The Union, and not themselves separately, procured their independence and their liberty. By conquest or purchase the Union gave each of them whatever of independence and liberty it has. The Union is older than any of the States, and, in fact, it created them as States. Originally some dependent colonies made the Union, and in turn the Union threw off their old dependence for them and made them States, such as they are. Not one of them ever had a State constitution independent of the Union. Of course it is not forgotten that all the new States framed their constitutions before they entered the Union, nevertheless dependent upon and preparatory to coming into the Union.
So although we seemed to have made a slight side trip, varying from the matter at hand, which is of course to decide whether America is Christian Nation, that side trip has been for a good reason.  And that reason is that, if Lincoln is correct, then the conditions stipulated in the Declaration of Independence and in Articles of Confederation modify the meaning of the Constitution in such a manner that fulfilling the conditions of each of the first two agreements, is a necessary conditions for the third.  And because Lincoln is universally admired, and the authority of his pronouncements as president are practically universally accepted, I have chosen here to invoke his words and his experiences during the most crucial moments since America's founding.

But in the next installment, as I promised earlier in the series, we will examine what George Washington, the universally admired father of the America nation, had to say on the subject of God, and Christianity, in the context treated by this series of articles.  And then, just to set the stage, we will investigate just what our founding fathers had in mind as they stood in line to endorse the Declaration of Independence.  So please come back as you have time and once again I thank you for taking the time to read and understand the information I present in these articles.

Hank

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Is America A Christian Nation, Part VIII, Dispelling the Supporting Arguments Against God In America's National and Governmental Institutions Under the Constitution

As if we did not know this before, in the last installment we demonstrated conclusively that, according to the Constitution (ratified 1789), and indeed the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union (ratified 1781), the United States of America, a nation among nations, has been in continuous operation, under the same national identity, since the year 1776, presumably July 4th of that year, the date the Declaration of Independence took effect.  Supporting that conclusion is the Constitution, which in Article VII indicates that the ratification of that document was proposed
the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven and of the Independence of the United States of America the Twelfth.
And serving as the supreme law governing the United States of America while the Constitutional convention occurred, and which indeed authorized that convention, and thus conveying sovereign authority to the Constitution, even to this day, is the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, which according to it's terms was proposed for ratification
the ninth Day of July in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven Hundred and Seventy-eight, and in the Third Year of the independence of America.
So it is conclusive that each of these documents, both codified as 'Supreme Law,' indicate that the nation for which they applied, began operation in the year 1776.  It therefore is a small leap to understand that both documents refer to the certain sovereign authority reasoned into being under the terms of the Declaration of Independence as their own respective sources of authority.

But today there are certain highly respected legal scholars, who occupy elevated positions within the 'contemporary' American constitutional law community, scholars who dispute the direct implications contained in these documents, and instead offer that the nation that existed once the Constitution became ratified, is not the same nation at all that existed under the Declaration of Independence, or the Articles of Confederation.  And so at this point in the series, we are looking at those arguments, and examining their veracity.  And the reason that this issue is important is that the answer to the question before us, whether America is a Christian nation, hinges, at least partly, upon the truth of these matters.

Stepping once again within the pages of the book, America's Constitution: A Biography, authored by esteemed Yale constitutional law professor, Akhil Reed Amar, let's dispel a few more of the author's supporting arguments. On page 9 Professor Amar attempts to destroy the credibility of the Declaration of Independence itself, as an imperfect tool to fulfill its stated objectives, writing
Yet the Declaration only imperfectly acted out its bold script.  Its fifty-six acclaimed signers never put the document to any sort of popular vote. 
In a similar reference on that same page, Professor Amar indicts the credibility of Articles of Confederation, maintaining that
This document was then sent out to be ratified by the thirteen state legislatures, none of which asked the citizens themselves to vote in any special way on the matter.
Now Professor Amar draws no specific conclusions from those statements.  Even so, viewed in his context, the author attempts to plant the implication that, by some unnamed standard, a vote of popular opinion was necessary in order to ratify each those documents.  And according to that theory, because these documents were not put to a democratic vote among all the citizens of the colonies or states represented, he questions the validity of any authority that sprang from each.

But both of these documents plainly state that ratification by the people by popular vote was not necessary, and that the individuals who signed those documents did so with authority.  In the case of the Declaration, that document plainly states its source of authority, each signer acting with the “authority of the good People of the Colonies.”  Today, we must assume that those people the signers represented duly authorized their representatives to do what they did in July of 1776.  If that were not the case, then of course the independence of the United States of America never happened and America is still under the authority of the crown of England.  And according to the AoC, the signers who affixed their names to that document claimed to be, "the undersigned Delegates of the States."  There is no evidence to the contrary, and only evidence supporting, that those signers were duly authorized to act for their respective states. And each state legislature, representing every state citizen, acted to ratify the signatures on both documents.  Therefore, any statement implying that as a result of a presumed lack of standing of its signers, the Declaration of Independence, or the Articles of Confederation, were not fully legitimate, necessarily draws on standards that do not apply to those documents.  Both documents indicate that the respective peoples represented at these proceedings authorized their representatives to act in their place, which is exactly what they did.  And in neither instance is there any supporting evidence which indicates that representation of the people was not fully authorized.  And indeed, no question ever was, or ever has been, called on the authority if these documents, which question, answered in the author's favor, might place the truth on the side of Professor Amar's position.

Delving further into Professor Amar's supporting arguments, on page 12, regarding the Constitution he states,
In deed as well as word, the Preamble stood for ongoing popular sovereignty…Even more dramatically, the Preamble by its very deed implicitly affirmed that the People’s right to amend ultimately required only a simple majority vote.
Very simply, that statement is unsupported.  No reasonable and unbiased person reading the Preamble of the Constitution would necessarily draw that inference.

And on page 12, Professor Amar attempts to make the case that the Declaration of Independence only sanctions “the Right of the People to alter or abolish a government” if that government had “grossly abused their powers.”  A plain reading of the terms of the declaration demonstrates that this assertion is not true.  Under the Declaration, the People have the endowed right, from God, to “institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”  Under that principle, the People’s “Safety and Happiness” is a primary concern for government to consider. Therefore, any government that is destructive of the People’s safety or happiness can justifiably be “altered or abolished” as well.  In the particular case before them, merely because the founders only cited instances in which the King’s government had grossly abused its powers, thus becoming tyrannical, the founders in no manner ruled out the People’s Right to alter governments for lesser offenses.  Therefore, Dr. Amar's statement in the next paragraph, “Unlike the Declaration, the Constitution did not purport to show—because it did not need to show—that the regime it was amending was tyrannical,” follows a false premise.  And for that reason, any and all of his arguments that build on that remark are left unsupported.

A final argument against a continuity of America's national identity that we will explore is Professor Amar's notion that the Articles of Confederation was NOT a constitution of sorts, but was instead a treaty among sovereign states. If it can be shown that the Articles of Confederation was a treaty, rather than a constitution, then that information would support the claim that the United States of America rebooted as a new and different nation than any that had ever existed, noting that it would have sprang forth from a non-nation and become a new nation under the terms of the Constitution.

To dispute any notion that the AoC was a treaty document, one only needs to read the document.  A treaty document would state that it is a treaty.  The Articles of Confederation makes no such statement.  The term, 'treaty' cannot be found within its terms.

And secondly, to save us from even inferring that the AoC was a de facto treaty, although not directly stated, is the requirement that a treaty be enacted between or among sovereign states, states which are free and independent to act, to form alliances, to enact treaties, and thus also to remove themselves from treaties enacted.  However, under the terms of the AoC, agreed among all of the thirteen states, those states forever left behind the sovereignty that they possessed prior to that time.  Under the terms of that document, the union formed under the Declaration of Independence, became "perpetual," each state forever plighting troth to all others in the union.  Article XIII confirms that the states which came together under the AoC no longer were fully sovereign states, free and independent to go their own ways, stating the following:
Article XIII. Every State shall abide by the determination of the united States in congress assembled, on all questions which by this confederation are submitted to them. And the Articles of this confederation shall be inviolably observed by every State, and the union shall be perpetual; nor shall any alteration at any time hereafter be made in any of them; unless such alteration be agreed to in a congress of the united States, and be afterwards confirmed by the legislatures of every State.

Article XIII of the AoC confirms that the union existing under its terms could not be broken; it would live in perpetuity, and no state would in the future would possess the authority necessary to leave that union, unless it first received permission by the sitting congress, which permission must then be confirmed by the legislatures of every other state in the union.  Because, as we have learned in this series of articles, the authority of the Constitution depends upon authority conveyed to it from the Articles of Confederation, those articles must be fulfilled, even today.  If that were not to occur, a breach of contract would manifest, and the union would dissolve as a result.  But because ultimately, the Constitution WAS ratified unanimously, as the AoC required, and because no state that has come into the union has ever successfully left without permission, there has never been a breach of the terms of the Articles of Confederation, and the union today is the same union, under the same national identity, as it was since 1776.

And because the states which entered into the Articles of Confederation lost certain of their sovereignty in the process, and agreed to become subject to the authority of each and every other state within that union, that fact disqualifies the notion that the Articles of Confederation was a treaty document.  That fact leaves us with the understanding that the union that existed under the terms of the Articles of Confederation could not have been a multilateral treaty organization. And that fact disproves Professor Amar's most significant and straight-forward argument that a breach of contract occurred as the Constitution became ratified, which if so would have lead to a discontinuity in national identity under the new Constitution.

And incidentally, it was the language of Article XIII of the Articles of Confederation on which President Lincoln would at least partially rely when he assumed authority to save the union after hostilities broke out, which hostilities ramped into the American Civil War.  President Lincoln explains that theory to congress, in special session, on July 4, 1861.  That address, the validity of which supports the conclusion of continuous national identity for the United States America since 1776, will be the subject of our next installment.

Are we learning anything folks?

Hank

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Is America A Christian Nation, Part VII, Analysis of the Case Against God In America's National and Governmental Institutions Under the Constitution

To understand your place in the discussion here, please refer to the segments previously published in this series, and then review the segment entitled Part VI, the summary to date.  This present segment assumes that the reader is brought up to date on the information that lays its foundation.

Analysis of the Thesis, that America was Born-Again, Without God, Under the Constitution

This segment of the series which asks the question, whether America is a Christian nation, will refute the arguments cited previously that America essentially "rebooted" as a new and different nation under the Constitution, than it was under the Declaration of Independence and Articles of Confederation.  To demonstrate the false nature of the thesis in question, all one really needs is the language of the Articles of Confederation and Constitution, which conclusively denies that argument directly, and which also directly supports the conclusion that the United States of America today, is the same United States which existed under the AoC, and which existed under the Declaration of Independence.  Furthermore, the Constitution certifies that conclusion and adopts it as the Supreme Law of the Land.

The argument that America rebooted its national sovereignty under the Constitution is grounded upon assertions concerning the transformational “process” by which a nation was born in 1776, and by which that nation subsequently worked to craft an enduring national governmental structure.  Dr. Amar's evaluation of the events and circumstances surrounding this “process” only deals with the “process” itself, as it progressed, rather than understanding in retrospect what the authors of the Constitution plainly intended, and documented as the outcome of the “process,” an outcome to which the affected parties in question would ultimately agree unanimously.  Those parties documented their agreement to the final  product of the “process” in Article VII of the Constitution itself, thus codifying the outcome as “supreme Law,” regardless of any particular “process” through which that outcome was determined. 

Dr. Amar's entire thesis finds specific basis in the notion that the “process,” what he refers as the “process of ordainment” by which the goal of crafting an enduring government was ultimately accomplished (and agreed leaving no grieved parties), was not as “smooth” (my term) as required for this “final” emerging nation to have maintained its original national identity all the while this “process” was ongoing.  And because the “process” was not as smooth as required by the standards he attaches to his analysis, then all of the meaning and historical significance that underwrites the Declaration of Independence is necessarily lost to the Constitution, relegated to remain forever as prose from a bygone era, passé expressions of idealism from an extinct nation, possibly no more significant to us today than the the nations of the Incas or Mayas. 

But in his book, America's Constitution: A Biography, taking the approach that Dr. Amar does, neither does he judge the overall results of this transformational “process,” nor does he judge the actual stated intentions of the Articles of Confederation, nor the intentions as stated and codified in the Preamble and in Article VII of the Constitution.  But conceding for the sake of argument, as Dr. Amar's analysis would require, that the authors of the Articles of Confederation, simply forgot to  dissolve the nation created under the Declaration of Independence; and conceding, as his analysis would require, that the authors of the Constitution, neglected to mention, or therefore even possibly notice, that this “new” forming union would completely expunge the "old" union, and even conceding the remote possibility that these founders actually meant to void the agreement which begot the union already in place as the Constitution moved toward ratification, this much we know for certain: As of the date of the AoC's proposed ratification, those Articles express that the "United States of America," a nation (Amar admits), was in its “third year.”  Carried with that expression,  is a necessary implication that after the AoC's ratification, that nation would continue with the same national identity that existed since July 4, 1776.  The Constitution’s Article VII certifies the presence of that implication, allowing that by 1787, as the authors of the Constitution moved to ratify that document, the same national body of sovereign authority known as the "United States of America" had been in continuous operation well into its "twelfth year," thus bridging the entire period of transition and governmental transformation between the dates of the Declaration of Independence and the Articles of Confederation.  And because the authors of the Constitution employed that very same time convention as the authors of the Article's of Confederation, the Constitution's Article VII necessarily implies an identical conveyance of a continuous national identity straight through the period of the Constitution, a document that boasts being proposed in the "twelfth year" of the "United States of America."  Because both the AoC and the Constitution use the very same time convention to document the respective dates of their proposed ratification, that language certifies that the nation existing under the Declaration of Independence, that same nation that carried over to the time period of the Articles of Confederation, would necessarily continue to operate under the Constitution and could in no authoritative manner morph into a “new” and different nation than had ever before existed.

But just to make sure that we give his position and fair chance, let's test Dr. Amar's theory against the language of the Constitution.  According to this test, if his language is consistent with the Constitution, then it is a possible interpretation.  If not, then it is not.  If, upon its ratification, the Constitution’s authors had meant for America’s sovereign identity to die or to transform into some new animal, then why did they feel it necessary to state that the Constitution of this “new” nation was proposed in the “twelfth year” of some organized entity that, if Professor Amar's theory is correct, had not existed for nearly nine years? Think about that. Because that theory does not make any sense with the clear terms of the Constitution, Dr. Amar's theory, and any assertion that finds basis in that theory, cannot be correct.

In the next segment we will look at some very specific arguments used to bolster the case that America 'rebooted' under the Constitution, and demonstrate the errors in each.  And then a little further into the discussion we will explore what some early statesmen, George Washington for one, had to say about all this at the time.  After all, George should know.

So we will talk again soon...

Hank



Saturday, August 27, 2011

Is America a Christian Nation, Part VI, A Summary of the Issue to This Point

This series on American history asks the question, whether America is a Christian nation. To summarize the series to date, so far we have learned that the treaty which ended the American Revolutionary War,known as the Treaty of Paris of 1783, lists both countries agreeing to its terms, as subject to the authority of the "most holy and undivided Trinity."  So in that respect, it is conclusive to assume that both of these parties, Great Britain and specifically the United States of America, as they existed in 1783, were Christian nations, under the authority of God of the Bible including the New Testament.  If that were not true, then the sitting congress of the US, representing each citizen of every state, could not have ratified that treaty as written.  And if that might be the case, then officially, the American revolutionary war never concluded.

But in the succeeding segments of this series we have learned that there is a major question posed within the community of contemporary United States Constitutional Law scholars. That question is whether the nation whose representatives signed that treaty in 1783, and whose sitting congress ratified the same, was in reality a nation in the first place, but rather a treaty organization, and whether the nation known as the "United States of America," living under the US Constitution ratified in 1789, is truly that same nation, or organization, that agreed to the Treaty of Paris of 1783, and whether as a result the present nation, in effect, "rebooted" its sovereignty upon ratifying that Constitution, and for that reason became an entirely different nation, one which owes its sovereignty to an completely different set of reasons than any nation, or organization, that may have existed with the same name prior to that time, a brand new nation that was, and is, not beholden to the Treaty of Paris of 1783, nor beholden to any agreements previously agreed among the states, states which prior to 1789, agreed among themselves to be known collectively as the "United States of America."  (I know that was a long sentence.)

Now the issue here is apparent.  If the United States of America, agreed a nation today, is (1) the same nation  that came into being under the Declaration of Independence in 1776, under the reasons cited and agreed in that document, and (2) subsequently agreed to form a "perpetual union" of states under the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, ratified in 1781, and (3) in 1783 also agreed to the terms of the Treaty of Paris of that year, agreeing to all of the terms of that treaty, then regardless of any terms that have been written since, into any successive Constitutions, or amendments to the same, the conditions which existed and which underwrote the authority of the sitting congress to construct and ratify that new Constitution, are the same conditions which authorize that agreement today.  (Another long sentence, I know, stay with me) And if that is the case, then one condition that still authorizes the Constitution today is the condition that the "United States of America" remains a nation under the authority of the "most holy and undivided Trinity."  So if America (meaning the United States of America) today, is the same America which has existed since 1776, and therefore since 1783, then in that major respect, America is a "Christian nation," a term defined as a nation that owes its sovereign authority to an endowment from God, the same God of the Bible and New Testament.

However, if the facts demonstrate that America is no longer the same "America" that existed prior to the Constitution's ratification, and instead came into being as a brand new nation under the terms of that document, then the present United States of America owes it's sovereignty only to that authority that is  implied between and among parties who agree to abide by a certain contract, that contract being the Constitution, a contract instituted and agreed by the duly-authorized representative of the group of individuals cited within that document's terms as, "We the people of the United States." If that might be the case, that the American sovereignty arises purely out of agreement among men, rather than endowment from God, then America is NOT a Christian nation, by any respect, but instead a republic whose only sovereign authority arose out of certain democratic efforts exerted by its people, resulting in a contract among those same people, regardless of the circumstances and conditions that brought those people to that point.

The issues of this series being summarized above, in the next installment we will begin to uncover which scenario depicted above is true, and which is false.  So please be looking for the next installment, which will be coming online soon...

Hank

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Is America a Christian Nation, Part V

In the last installment in this series, Is America A Christian Nation, we learned that in America there is a burgeoning school of contemporary legal thinking, one which holds that the Declaration of Independence is no longer valid, and is merely an historical document once written to declare independence for a nation that no longer exists, and has not existed since 1781.  We learned that, within the contemporary constitutional law community in the United States, this opinion is seriously considered and is one held by highly esteemed professors in major law schools, schools such as Yale University.  We learned that one such professor is Akhil Reed Amar, awarded as Yale's Sterling Professor of Law in 2008, and who has had work cited by the US Supreme Court 20 times including the landmark decision which declared the line-item veto unconstitutional.  So Professor Amar is considered an esteemed legal thinker by those who should understand what legal thinking is all about. 

In his book, America's Constitution: A Biography, Professor Amar contends that under the terms of the Declaration of Independence, the "United States of America" came into being as a sovereign nation, complete with a requisite source of national sovereign authority.  However, Professor Amar then also holds that once the states ratified the Articles of Confederation in 1781, that nation which came to be in 1776 no longer held its status as a "nation."  Instead, according to Professor Amar, at that moment the United States of America became, as he describes, a "multi-lateral treaty regime, as opposed to a truly national regime founded on a truly national people."  So if the professor is correct in both of these counts, a "nation," once known as the United States of America, which nation came into being in 1776 with the signing of the Declaration of Independence, became extinct once the states ratified the Articles of Confederation in 1781.  And at that very moment, birthed a new organization he refers as a multi-lateral treaty regime, which organization just happened to bear the same name as the former but now extinct nation. Professor Amar's writing is unclear regarding whether the multi-lateral treaty regime was itself once this then extinct nation, and that the extinct nation somehow morphed to become the multi-lateral treaty regime, somewhat as Darwin might conceive, or if the extinct nation simply disintegrated into nothing and the multi-lateral treaty regime arose from the darkness, created by the stroke of a pen.  But for the sake of this discussion, clarifying that point really won't matter.

Accordingly, subsequently in 1789, as the states ratified the Constitution, in somewhat reverse fashion, a new and different nation, one that had never existed before, came into being, however once again, almost by coincidence, bearing the same name as the nation previously born under the Declaration of Independence, and the same name as the multi-lateral treaty regime which previously morphed from that original but now extinct nation, (or otherwise arose from the abyss), under the Articles of Confederation.  Simultaneous to the beginning of this new and different nation in 1789, referred in all three documents as "the United States of America", this multi-lateral treaty regime became expunged, we can suppose either by a process of 'reverse morphing' or perhaps descending once again into the abyss from whence it had originally arisen.

So to be clear, if what Professor Amar suggests is true, then between the years 1781-1789, there existed no nation on earth known as the "United States of America," only a multi-lateral treaty regime by the same name.  And so in summary, all this means that in 1781 a nation known as the "United States of America," one which came into being in 1776, morphed into the "United States of America," a multi-lateral treaty regime, and subsequently in 1789 morphed into a new and different nation than the one that existed between 1776 and 1781, a nation that had never existed before, all the while however, each of these organizations bearing the same name.  And as a result, when the Constitution was ratified in 1789, the multi-lateral treaty regime known as the "United States of America" died the death of a un-adjudicated violated treaty....

Now I ask, reasonably, is what I describe above really what the Founders and early authorized congresses envisioned?  Is what I describe what you, the reader, thought to be the case?  Each year on July 4th do Americans celebrate the birth of a nation that no longer exists???  If what Professor Amar and other similar-minded legal thinkers who agree with him say is true, then why is it so important that the United States National Archives spend so much of our precious resources to preserve and protect the original Declaration of Independence and Articles of Confederation, documents which no longer apply to our nation?

In the next installment in this series, we will begin to uncover the layers of errors in Professor Amar's esteemed thinking, and we will use the source documents under consideration as our evidence.  And in the process we will discover the reason that legal thinkers such as Professor Amar believe it is important to make the case such as the one he attempts in his book.

And just a personal note here: I appreciate the time it takes to fully understand what I am writing in this series.  The material I cover here did not come without lengthy consideration on my part either.  You are reading the American History that your high school text books never covered.  I thank the reader for considering my remarks and pledge that it will be worth it to stay until the series is complete.

-Hank

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Is America a Christian Nation, Part IV

From our last installment in this series, we understand that the sitting United States confederation congress, which operated under the authority of the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, ratified by that document's terms in 1781, unquestionably possessed the authority to change or amend those terms, in whole or in part, but only as long as those terms were adhered in the process.  We further understand that in order to affect such a change in terms, in whole, the attendees of the constitutional convention of 1787 submitted the product of their deliberations, a newly proposed Supreme Law of the Land, the Constitution. And thus we know that any such change, from one agreed supreme law, to the next, had to be proposed and agreed according to the terms of the supreme law at the time, the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union.  That only makes sense.  That is because until the new law of the land might become ratified, the old law would still remain in effect.  And because the AoC was supreme law, there was no authority previously agreed among the states which could override its terms.  The confederation congress had to adhere to its terms, or a breach of that contract would occur, the outcome of which would have caused the demise and downfall of their fledgling nation.

But did a breach occur?  Some constitutional scholars say that indeed it did, and perhaps on purpose.  One such scholar is Yale University Law Professor, Dr. Akhil Reed Amar, author of the book, America's Constitution: A Biography.  In his biography of the Constitution, Amar submits that the intent behind the terms of the Constitution, was to completely replace the nation known as the United States of America, as it might have been under the Articles of Confederation and Declaration of Independence, with an entirely 'new' nation, one which would possess no political or authoritative ties to that previous, but afterward extinct, organization.  On page 27 Dr. Amar writes:
...so the phrase, "United States," in the Constitution meant something different and much stronger than did the same syllables in the earlier document.  It is only a happy coincidence that the same thirteen "United States" from the Declaration and the Articles became the first thirteen "United States" in the Constitution...Thus the preamble spoke precisely of its new purpose to "form" a new--more perfect--union rather than simply "continue" or "improve" the old union.
 And on page 33, Dr. Amar writes:
...so now a new United States Constitution--the new supreme law of the land--would shape a new continental nation whose sovereign would be a truly continental people.
So according to Dr. Amar, a man whom many of his peers recognize 'among the 20 top contemporary US legal thinkers,' the Declaration of Independence was a revolutionary document for a now extinct nation.  According to Dr. Amar, there is no sovereign authority under the Constitution which derives from the Declaration of Independence, one result plainly being that, instead of God's sovereignty over the United States, the sovereign is a 'truly continental people.' 

Next time we will delve further into Dr. Amar's profound thinking, and begin to unravel its pitfalls.

Stay tuned...don't change that channel.

Hank

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Is America A Christian Nation, Part III

From the last installment of this series, we understand that the authority to consider a new constitution arose from the terms previously agreed under the existing constitution, specifically from articles X and XII of the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union (AoC). Also from the last installment, we understand that without authority in place to begin the discussions at the constitutional convention, no authorized actions arising from the constitutional convention could have resulted.  But because the outcome of the proceedings were authorized under the the AoC, as long as the AoC's provisions were adhered, the results of their actions, a proposed new constitution, and the authority for congress to consider it, carried the sovereign authority of the United States of America, as that nation existed in 1787.

In keeping with its assignment from congress, out of the constitutional convention emerged the final draft of the Constitution, which document came as a proposal for consideration by the sitting congress operating under the Articles of Confederation.  Each member of the congress understood that for the new Constitution to carry authority, the principles of the AoC had to be fulfilled without error. Any new constitution, proposed or ratified without first fulfilling the AoC, would either be null and void, or, if ultimately adopted and followed, would comprise a revolutionary document, equal in stature to the Declaration of Independence, one which would have severed the line of authority back to the Declaration, and severed the basis of that authority, and begun a new line of authority based upon a new set of reasons. If that were to occur, that action would practically destroy the old nation and the principles on which it stands, and in the process create a new nation, establishing it on new and different principles. 

So if the American Declaration of Independence were to carry authority beyond the ratification of the new Constitution, that ratification had to be done in such a manner that no principles of the sitting agreement between the states be violated.  Any violation would have been a breach of contract between and among the states, causing it to become null and void, requiring adjudication in an appropriate court of jurisdiction, which of course under the AoC there was none.  So there was no recourse here.

Ratifying the Constitution without a breach of the AoC was not a simple matter.  Comparing the two, and with respect to the ratification process, reasonable people could easily construe them written with conflicting language. If these documents in fact conflicted in the manner that one ultimately might properly supersede the other, or if the process that followed did not follow the requirements of both documents, then a breach in the flow of authority from the first to the second would result.

Specifically, whereas the Constitution required that its principles would take effect in the ratifying states once nine of the thirteen states ratified, the AoC required that any change to its terms be unanimous, all thirteen must ratify.  Today some constitutional scholars argue that a breach in the terms of the AoC did in fact occur during the ratification process, and that therefore there is no line of authority extending from the United States of America, which has operated under the Constitution since 1789, and the previous USA which operated under the Articles of Confederation, and which operated solely under the principles of the Declaration of Independence prior to that.  AND THIS IS THE CRUX OF THE ARGUMENT BETWEEN THOSE WHO ASSERT THAT AMERICA IS NOT A NATION UNDER GOD AND THOSE WHO ASSERT THAT IT IS.  If there is no line of authority which demonstrates a clear logical link from the Constitution, back through the Articles of Confederation, and from that point back to the Declaration of Independence, then the nation which exists today is not the same nation that declared independence on July 4, 1776!  And if that is true, then that first nation, and the principles which underwrote its sovereign authority in 1776, are no longer valid.  They are dead forever, unauthorized, breached by a lack of adherence to the contract of the AoC as certain states began to operate under the Constitution, a document proposed for ratification in 1787, but not unanimously ratified until 1789.   If a breach occurred, then America is NOT a nation under God, much less a Christian nation.  And to make that argument for breach, and against God in America, and specifically against Christ in America, much is spent annually by those who believe it is in their advantage to do so.

In the next installment in this series, we will begin to uncover what really happened in the ratification process of the Constitution, and whether that set of circumstances constitutes a breach of the Articles of Confederation and a breach in the line of authority which extends from the Constitution back to the Declaration of Independence.

Back soon...

Hank

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Is America a Christian Nation, Part II

In the first installment in this series, I introduced a discussion and asked a question, whether the United States of America is a 'Christian Nation.'  While I didn't fully define such a term, in that discussion I cited certain evidence offered within the terms of the Treaty of Paris of 1783, which terms indicate that both of the nations who entered into that agreement, stated in plain terms that each were subject to the authority of the Holy Trinity.  I offered that that treaty was ratified by the sitting authorized bodies at the time. In America's case, that body is the one the treaty refers as, 'American Congress of the Confederation.'  And so, at least in that respect, I finished by concluding that the two nations who signed that treaty, as agreed between each other, and among their respective peoples, were 'Christian nations.'

But that was then, and this is now. At the former time, operating under a governing agreement, the United States of America had agreed unanimously to abide with a confederation government, much different than the government of today, which today's government did not come into existence until the Constitution would be written and ratified unanimously, which task did not complete for another six years.

Now the Constitution, proposed for ratification in 1787, and not ratified until 1789, cites no direct reference to God, certainly not the Holy Trinity.  And therefore, the Law of the Land of the United States offers no direct evidence that such a nation is under any authority other than that which can be understood conveyed to it by, "We the people of the United States of America."  And because that is true, those who purport that America is NOT a Christian nation, or even a "nation under God," cite the Constitution as the primary evidence supporting their claim.  On a certain surface, that claim may seem sustainable...yes, on the surface.

But to truly understand the nature of the American sovereignty, one must understand what 'sovereignty' is in the first place.  So let's look at that.  A nation is sovereign, only if it possesses 'the right' to make its own decisions, and without obtaining permission from any other authority.  That 'right' is a nation's sovereign authority.  Clearly, in 1787, as the authors of the Constitution convened to begin discussion of a new government, the terms of which would be detailed under our present constitutional document, the representatives of the 13 states who gathered were authorized to be there.  Without authority to act, any product of their deliberations would have been unauthorized, and therefore null and void.  So some agreement, in place at the time, conveyed authority to each participant to act for the people of the state he represented.  That authority, in place prior to the discussions, and also remaining after the discussions, and indeed which authorized the sitting congress that would subsequently consider the product of the constitutional convention, was the only authority those men had, or would have.  So let's discover where that authority came from prior to the constitutional convention, and the path it took to get there, on its way to us today.

At the time of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, the government in place was that government described under the document entitled, Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union. That document began its journey toward authorization, ultimately becoming the law of the land, shortly after the Declaration of Independence was signed. But that document did not become unanimously ratified, as its terms required, until 1781, the state of Maryland being the last to formerly agree to abide under its authority.  So by agreement of all 13 states, under that document each state ceded certain authority over to a common government.

Under the Articles of Confederation, one authorized principle ceded by each state to this common government was that certain authority could be used to change its original terms, which principle in the most extreme case could even allow a complete rewrite of those terms.  But according to the AoC, for any change or rewrite to carry authority, certain conditions had to be met.  Article X of that document imposes the condition that before a change could even be proposed, 9 of 13 states had to agree to do so.  But article XIII requires that for any proposed change to carry authority, that  change had to carry the unanimous approval of the 13 state legislatures!  So as the representatives of the states came together at the Constitutional convention, common in their understanding was that the Articles of Confederation carried authority; that those articles conveyed authority to the proceedings, and that the existing agreement among the 13 states would remain authorized and in place until some trigger within its terms, previously agreed at it's ratification, allowed certain or all aspects of that agreement to change.  But whatever change or changes might occur, those changes had to be proposed, and authorized, according to the principles already agreed in that document.  Stated another way, each representative to the constitutional convention understood that, because the AoC was 'authorized' by American sovereign authority, and was indeed the only operating agreement among the states represented, then for any change to carry authority, that change had to be proposed and agreed according to the terms that were already authorized and in place.

By now, it might be apparent that authority has a certain flow to it.  Authority can flow from one authorized document to another, from one person or group of people to another; it can be limited in scope, and can also be conditional.  By that  I mean that, just because I might authorize someone to represent me in certain dealings, that does not mean that this person is authorized in all dealings.  So the authority I convey to another only extends subject to the conditions that I agree to, and it never extends to conditions to which I do not agree.

So concluding this juncture of the discussion, we know that the representatives who convened in 1787, and who would subsequently draft a constitution, were at least authorized to sit and discuss its terms.  That authority came to them under the terms of each state constitution which resulted in their authority for them to act for the people of the respective states, and also from the terms of the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, which terms as we have noted, were the operating agreed principles in place as the constitutional convention gavel went down.

Next time, we will delve further into this subject, discover the results of the constitutional convention, and then begin our look backward toward the conditions imposed upon American sovereign authority under the terms of its founding document, the Declaration of Independence.  Thank you for participating.

-Hank


Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Treaty of Paris of 1783, Is America a Christian Nation?

The Treaty of Paris, 1783

Who knows what that treaty is all about? A very small percentage I expect. So just for kicks, let’s do a search for it and see what we can find…

Here’s one, from Answers.com. According to that source:

Answer:

“The Treaty of Paris officially ended the Revolutionary War on September 3, 1783. It was signed in Paris by Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and John Jay, representing the United States, together with David Hartley, representing Great Britain…Under the terms of the treaty, Britain recognized the independent nation of the United States of America. Britain agreed to remove all of its troops from the new nation. The treaty also set new borders for the United States, including all land from the Great Lakes on the north to Florida on the south, and from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mississippi River. The Unites States was also granted access to the fisheries off the coast of Newfoundland.” Yada yada...To read more, you can check out: http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_was_the_Treaty_of_Paris_in_1783#ixzz1VQQJx0y4

And then, according to Socialstudiesforkids.com, the Treaty of Paris of 1783 is the:

“Treaty that officially ended the Revolutionary War on September 3, 1783. It was signed in Paris by Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and John Jay. Under the terms of the treaty, Britain recognized the independent nation of the United States of America. Britain agreed to remove all of its troops from the new nation. The treaty also set new borders for the United States, including all land from the Great Lakes on the north to Florida on the south, and from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mississippi River. The United States agreed to allow British troops still in America to leave and also agreed to pay all existing debts owed to Great Britain. The United States also agreed not to persecute loyalists still in America and allow those that left America to return.” Pretty much the same answer, I’d say. Source: http://www.socialstudiesforkids.com/wwww/us/treatyofparis1783def.htm

What you read above is likely what you will find if you are looking for an opinion of the significance of the Treaty of Paris of 1783. That agreement effectively ended the war for American Independence. But here is something that these sources do not tell you, and few sources discussing this subject will. And that is that under the terms of this treaty, both Great Britain and the United States of America entered into the agreement, "in the name of the most holy and undivided Trinity." Whoa! What’s that you say??? How is that possible? America is a nation that divides church and state, right? Well how could the treaty under which the United States of America came into the world, thereafter universally recognized a nation among nations, possibly have entered into such a landmark agreement, and in the process submit itself to the authority of the Holy Trinity??? Good question, friends. Good question.

Now let’s look who signed this agreement, none other than the esteemed Benjamin Franklin, and the ‘to be’ second president of the new nation, John Adams, along with statesmen John Jay, all well-known and respected founders, men who represented the United States at the negotiation and signing of the treaty. According to Wikipedia, “The American Congress of the Confederation, which met temporarily in Annapolis, Maryland, ratified the treaty of Paris on January 14, 1784 (Ratification Day).” So this treaty, signed by the duly authorized representatives of the United States of America, became ratified by the sitting congress of the government of the same, agreed by each representative of every state, unanimously, that this new nation was in fact subject to the authority of the Holy Trinity, God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Now what I write here is not open for debate. Anyone reading this can look up the text of the treaty and read it for themselves. So this is not an opinion. What I write here is a statement of fact. And that fact is that the two nations which entered into the aforementioned treaty, in doing so submitted to the authority of the Holy Trinity. Those two nations agreed between each other, and agreed among their people, that in some certain respect, they were "Christian nations." So what does that tell us about these two nations today? And in particular, what does this information tell us about the nature of the United States of America today? Is the America of today any different in its defining character than the nation that entered into the Treaty of Paris in 1783? Because if it is, then that treaty is no longer in effect and this nation is not subject under its provisions.

But if the United States of America is, in fact, the same nation that entered into the Treaty of Paris of 1783, then that nation is a Christian nation, subject to the authority of the Holy Trinity, God of the Bible and New Testament, if for no other reasons, true by definition of the terms of the Treaty to which I refer.

Next time, we will explore further this notion, and search our founding documents for clues that might help us understand better the nature and character of this nation, the United States of America. And as we uncover the layers of truth that these documents have for us to find, we will discover for ourselves the truth of the matter, finally with the goal to understand the authoritative nature of this nation we love.

So stay tuned…

Hank

Welcome Readers

Welcome to my new blog, The Radical Centrist.  I chose that title because it is common that folks who align politically on the far right, or far left, refer to each other as "radicals."  And folks who align more moderately are commonly thought 'indecisive' or perhaps even politically disinterested.

But just because someone does not necessarily agree with the far right, or the far left, but instead derives his or her opinions from the facts that present themselves, filtered through certain applicable principles he or she holds in high regard, thus arriving at a different or opposing opinion than both, that does not mean that he or she is not just as 'radical' as those who many consider 'radical' to the left or right.  Although it can be, political centrism is not necessarily due to a lack of authoritative opinion or strong feeling.  It is simply that one's relevant opinions are founded upon certain criteria or principles that differ from the far right and the far left.  Regardless where those opinions may fall on the political spectrum, those opinions are no less valid.

No one toward either end of the political spectrum owns the truth, or the best way in every instance.  And the true best way today, is not always the best way tomorrow.  That is because circumstances change over time.  A deciding principle that is applicable today may loose its applicability by in the morning.  For this reason, a rigid adherence to any particular ambient opinion or principle, no matter the time or circumstance, is likely ill-founded.  
 
Lincoln tells us that we should not decide on ambient principles or opinions, beyond our abilities to understand the latest facts: 
The pilots on our western rivers steer from point to point as they call it--setting the course of the boat no farther than they can see; and this is all I propose to myself in this great problem.
So according to Lincoln, rigid adherence to any particular opinion, regardless of the latest available information, is a prime mode for human error.  The man who made the decisions that guided America through the American Civil War is one who should know.

And in one of his letters, Abraham Lincoln wrote of the importance of using principle during its appropriate time.  Lincoln wrote:
All honor to Jefferson--to the man who, in the concrete pressure of a struggle for national independence by a single people, had the coolness, forecast, and capacity to introduce into a merely revolutionary document, an abstract truth, applicable to all men and all times, and so to embalm it there, that to-day, and in all coming days, it shall be a rebuke and a stumbling-block to the very harbingers of re-appearing tyranny and oppression.
Had Jefferson been a day late, that abstract truth, applicable to all men and all times, would have missed its time.  I argue that the history of the world from that moment would have been much different, all for the lack of utilizing the correct principle at the proper time.

Regardless of how our opinions might come to us, we all have the right to hold and express them.  God gives us that right. But I believe that an opinion most worth considering, on issues that affect our nation, should derive from some source of legitimate national authority.

In these pages, I will do my best to derive my opinion from beyond any personal feelings I might otherwise possess on a matter at hand, and arrive at it from an appropriate source of authority, beyond myself.  We all have our preferences of the truth.  But my goal here is that my own personal preference will be for the truth itself, whichever way the truth may fall.  That is a tall order, I know.  But that is my goal here.

And I will not confine myself to politics.  That is because to derive an authoritative political opinion, one must connect a pattern of thought back to one's source of authority.  So that source, and all that is related to that source, is fair to consider as well.  Of course, in my mind, the ultimate authority of truth is God. I expect that in these pages, at some juncture I will derive that conclusion for others to consider.  But for now, I simply want to say thank you for considering my remarks, and please feel free to offer your own in return.  And please return to The Radical Centrist often. And please subscribe to updates! We may not agree, and that is OK.  But I promise it will not be dull and we will learn from each other, and the facts.

Hank