First things first. And this is probably the understatement of the year:
I can’t thank you enough for being part of this movement for the Constitution and liberty with me. Whether you’ve been here for just one day, or every single day since day one. Whether you’ve shared links to our articles, blogs and podcasts, or you’ve joined us as a member – thank you.
As John Dickinson, the “Penman of the Revolution,” put it in the first of his 1767 “Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania,”
“Concordia res parvae crescunt.”
It’s a Latin phrase meaning “small things grow great by concord.”
With that in mind, I wanted to share with you some thoughts as we kick off our 16th year here at the Tenth Amendment Center. Using the words of the Founders and Old Revolutionaries, I hope this will give you some insight on what we do, what we work to accomplish – and how we approach things strategically.
Let’s start with the “Father of the American Revolution.” Here’s Samuel Adams writing as Candidus in the Boston Gazette on Oct. 14, 1771:
“The truth is, All might be free if they valued freedom, and defended it as they ought.”
If people understand and want freedom, they’re not going to have it if they don’t know how to protect and defend it. And vice versa.
With a government-run school system that’s not teaching people how to limit government power, we’re facing a pretty massive education obstacle today.
In an 1816 letter to Charles Yancy, Thomas Jefferson warned us what this would lead to:
“If a nation expects to be ignorant & free, in a state of civilisation, it expects what never was & never will be.”
We certainly can’t rely on the traditional systems of education and media to push this society out of the darkness of ignorance and into the light of liberty. Abigail Adams knew it would take work, and pointed this out in a 1780 letter to her 12-year-old son, John Quincy:
“Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for with ardour and attended to with diligence.”
As I noted in an article and Path to Liberty podcast episode earlier this week, our foundation to move forward starts with natural rights – and as Patrick Henry put it, liberty is “the primary object.”
But, living under the largest government in the history of the world, we face some pretty massive roadblocks – starting with centralization of power, or, as the founders called it, “consolidation.”
In one of his many long speeches in the Virginia Ratifying Convention, Patrick Henry warned us:
“Dangers are to be apprehended in whatever manner we proceed; but those of a consolidation are the most destructive.”
On the other end of the spectrum, George Washington agreed in his Farewell Address:
“The spirit of encroachment tends to consolidate the powers of all the departments in one, and thus to create, whatever the form of government, a real despotism.”
When one branch of government exercises power meant to be held elsewhere, it “encroaches.”
Legislating from the judicial bench provides a pretty prominent example. And so does legislating by executive order. But Congress encroaches all the time as well. When it legislates in areas not delegated to them by the Constitution, it encroaches on the powers reserved to the states or to the people.
As Washington warned, this will lead to consolidation – and despotism.
In the Massachusetts Ratifying Convention of 1788, Fisher Ames really emphasized the dangers when he said, “too much provision cannot be made against a consolidation.”
And the great anti-federalist writer Brutus detailed the dangers of consolidation in his first paper of 1787. I covered that in some detail in a podcast episode here.
The education we do isn’t just based on book smarts, remembering names and dates, and the like. It’s heavily focused on practical applications of these principles today.
But how do we get from where we are today – living under the monster state – to a “land of liberty, the seat of virtue, the asylum of the oppressed, a name and a praise in the whole earth,” that the great Patriot Joseph Warren called for in 1772.
Since, as the Founders predicted, centralization leads to despotism, decentralization is then the true path to liberty.
In late 1787, Roger Sherman put it this way:
“All acts of the Congress not warranted by the constitution would be void. Nor could they be enforced contrary to the sense of a majority of the States.”
And James Madison more famously made the case for a “refusal to cooperate with officers of the Union,” in Federalist No. 46.
We work to put these principles into practice every single day of the year. And we publish an annual “State of the Nullification Movement Report” to share our progress. (we’ll be updating for 2021 in the fall)
Many, if not most, of the steps we take forward are small. And this is exactly what Thomas Jefferson prescribed in a 1790 letter to his friend, the Rev. Charles Clay:
“The ground of liberty is to be gained by inches, that we must be contented to secure what we can get from time to time, and eternally press forward for what is yet to get. It takes time to persuade men to do even what is for their own good.” [emphasis added]
That brings us back to Samuel Adams, who at the end of that same 1771 article mentioned above, closed out with the best summary of how I view our first 15 years – and how we’re thinking about things going forward:
“Instead of sitting down satisfied with the efforts we have already made, which is the wish of our enemies, the necessity of the times, more than ever, calls for our utmost circumspection, deliberation, fortitude and perseverance.” [emphasis added]
We’ve already gotten much more accomplished than I ever thought possible, but we’re still just getting started.
Thank you so much for being here with us. Thank you for being a part of our first 15 years. And thank you for any consideration you can give to helping us do much, much more in the next 15 by becoming a TAC member today.
Concordia res parvae crescunt
(small things grow great by concord)
Michael Boldin, TAC
- Just Getting Started: 15 Year Anniversary for the TAC - June 26, 2021
- Natural Rights and Liberty: The Foundation and the Goal - June 23, 2021
- Despite Tax Day in May, U.S. Government Runs Another Massive Deficit - June 17, 2021