Happy Birthday, Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson, third president of the United States of America, was an architect, a philosopher, a Deist and an impeccable prose stylist. His passionate appeal to dissolve ties with England—the Declaration of Independence—led the early colonies to war and ultimately freedom. As president, he earned respect for his sound principles and industrious nature, though his private life has been subjected to intense scrutiny.

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Rethinking the Constitution, Completely

by David Gordon, Mises.org

[The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution. By Kevin R.C. Gutzman. Regnery Publishing, 2007. Xiii + 258 pgs.]

Kevin Gutzman gives his readers much more than they had a right to expect. The “Politically Incorrect Guide” series in which his book appears aims at a popular audience: its goal is to correct commonly held myths of leftist propaganda.

Gutzman eminently fulfills this goal, but his book cannot be called an elementary work. Quite the contrary, The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution is a major contribution to American constitutional history.

Gutzman is a leading authority on the Virginia ratification debates on the Constitution, and he uses his research to great effect. He has been much influenced by the pioneering originalist scholar Raoul Berger, but he strengthens and extends Berger’s views.

The principal thesis of the book is that the Jeffersonian, states’ rights understanding of America’s founding and the Constitution is correct. When the American colonies assembled in the Continental Congress and adopted the Declaration of Independence in 1776, they did not create a new nation, Abraham Lincoln to the contrary notwithstanding.

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Virginia Resolution Redux

On 02-26-09, a number of Virginia State Representative intrduced House Resolution 61, which reads:

RESOLVED by the House of Delegates, That the Congress of the United States be urged to honor state sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States. The Commonwealth of Virginia hereby claims sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States over all powers not otherwise enumerated and granted to the federal government by the Constitution of the United States. The Commonwealth by this resolution serves notice to the federal government, as our agent, to cease and desist, effective immediately, mandates that are beyond the scope of these constitutionally delegated powers. Further, the Commonwealth urges that all compulsory federal legislation that directs states to comply under threat of civil or criminal penalties or sanctions or requires states to pass legislation or lose federal funding shall be prohibited or repealed.

For those history buffs out there, Virginia (along with Kentucky) was at the forefront in asserting the principles of State Sovereignty and limited government in the early days of the Republic. The Virginia Resolution of 1798, authored by James Madison in collaboration with Thomas Jefferson, took what some consider to be the strongest position on this issue in our history.

Here’s an excerpt:

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