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CLT&G Update: 29 Dec 98

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From: "Chip Ford" <[email protected]>
To: "MassLP Reflector" <[email protected]>,
        "MassGOP Listserv" <[email protected]>
Subject: CLT&G Update: 29 Dec 98
Date: Tue, 29 Dec 1998 14:31:11 -0500
Sender: [email protected]

             Citizens for Limited Taxation & Government
                 PO Box 408 * Peabody, MA 01960
           Phone: (508) 384-0100 * E-Mail: [email protected]
               Visit our website at:  http://cltg.org

                      *** CLT&G Update ***
                   Tuesday, December 29, 1998

  The Boston Globe
  Monday, December 28, 1998

  The US suffered through turmoil in '98 -- 1798, that is
  By Jeff Jacoby, Globe Columnist, 12/28/98

     So shocking were the president's deeds, so extreme were his
  opponents, so furiously did partisan passions roil the public,
  that by the end of '98 some of the nation's most eminent
  leaders were questioning whether America's experiment with
  constitutional democracy was coming undone.

     No, not the Clinton scandals. The year was 1798. John Adams
  was in the White House and the United States was undergoing an
  agony of political turmoil. It was a bitter time, but it
  produced two of the most remarkable statements on liberty and
  limited government in our history - the Kentucky and Virginia
  Resolutions of 1798.

     Americans were sharply divided over a host of issues that
  year, none more so than US-French relations. The Federalists,
  who controlled the presidency and both houses of Congress,
  deeply mistrusted the French revolutionaries and refused to
  support them when France went to war with Britain. Republicans
  led by Thomas Jefferson were sympathetic to the French cause,
  which they identified with America's own revolt against royal
  abuse two decades earlier. The Jeffersonians denounced Adams
  and the Federalists as "monarchists" and "Tories" -
  denunciations echoed by a growing population of anti-British

     Angered by Washington's neutrality, France began seizing
  American vessels. US diplomats in France were snubbed. A
  scandal erupted - the famous XYZ Affair - when agents of the
  French foreign minister, Talleyrand, demanded a bribe from
  President Adams's emissaries. Federalists were outraged; war
  fever swept the country. There were rumors that France was
  planning an invasion - and that Vice President Jefferson, whose
  Republican supporters were violently condemning the federal
  government, would join the invaders and overthrow the Adams

     In this superheated atmosphere, Congress and the president
  enacted a package of grotesquely unconstitutional laws. The
  Alien Enemies Act empowered the president to jail or expel
  without trial any foreigner he deemed "dangerous to the peace."
  The Sedition Act prohibited all criticism of federal officials
  made "with intent to defame." Just seven years after the
  ratification of the First Amendment, editors, printers, and
  politicians were hauled into court and sent to prison for the
  crime of opposing the president.

     Jefferson and James Madison - who called the Sedition Act a
  "monster that must forever disgrace its parents" - resolved to
  strike back. Knowing that a Supreme Court fight would lose (the
  bench was dominated by Federalists), they decided to attack
  through the state legislatures.

     Working with allies in Kentucky and Virginia, Jefferson and
  Madison arranged for each state's general assembly to adopt a
  statement protesting the new laws. Jefferson drafted the
  Kentucky resolution, which was passed on Nov. 16, 1798. Madison
  wrote the Virginia resolution, which was adopted on Christmas

     "Resolved," the Kentucky Legislature declared in its opening
  paragraph, "that whensoever the General Government assumes
  undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of
  no force." Supreme authority in America, it argued, was held
  not by the federal government but by the people and the states,
  and Congress and the president had only those powers clearly
  delegated to them by the Constitution. The Alien and Sedition
  Acts were intolerable above all because the federal government
  had no right to enact them. In the 20th century, the 10th
  Amendment has been largely ignored, but in the Kentucky
  Resolution, Jefferson quoted it repeatedly:

     "It is true as a general principle, and is also expressly
  declared by one of the amendments to the Constitution, that
  ‘the powers not delegated to the United States by the
  Constitution, nor prohibited to it by the States, are reserved
  to the States respectively, or to the people."' Nothing in the
  Constitution gave federal officials any right to interfere with
  freedom of speech or the press, or to exercise any jurisdiction
  over aliens. "Therefore, the act of Congress passed on the 14th
  day of July, 1798 ... is not law, but is altogether void, and
  of no effect."

     The Virginia Resolution was also blunt. Congress and the
  president, Madison wrote, have only the powers "enumerated in
  that compact [the Constitution]; and that in case of a
  deliberate, palpable, and dangerous exercise of other powers
  not granted by the said compact, the states ... have the right
  and are duty bound to interpose for arresting the progress of
  the evil."

     These resolutions weren't empty theory. They were a forceful
  defense of freedom, and a reminder that when governments are
  allowed to infringe the liberty of A, it is only a matter of
  time before they move on to B's.

     "The friendless alien has indeed been selected as the safest
  subject of a first experiment," declared the Kentucky
  resolution, "but the citizen will soon follow - or rather has
  already followed, for already has a Sedition Act marked him as
  its prey."

     Jefferson and Madison were fearful, as more Americans should
  be today, of allowing power to be concentrated in the central
  government. They won the battle: Americans came to hate the
  Alien and Sedition Acts, and the Federalists were thrown out in
  the election of 1800. But did they win the war? In our day, the
  federal government has grown monstrous, strangling Americans'
  freedom through endless regulations, restrictions, and taxes.
  The bicentennial of the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions
  reminds us how much we have lost - and points the way to win it

  Jeff Jacoby is a Globe columnist. You can write Jeff at
  [email protected].com.

  * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
  NOTE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this
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      "The Only Alternative to Limited Taxation and Government
                is Unlimited Taxation and Government"

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Robert A. Hettinga <mailto: [email protected]>
Philodox Financial Technology Evangelism <http://www.philodox.com/>
44 Farquhar Street, Boston, MA 02131 USA
"... however it may deserve respect for its usefulness and antiquity,
[predicting the end of the world] has not been found agreeable to
experience." -- Edward Gibbon, 'Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire'