The bill of rights is the framework for liberty but up to the people to keep, enforce and preserve liberty. There has been a long a positive movement to enforce these principles since their singing. Many of our baby boomer friends and family have taken part of that struggle. The responsibility to freedom never ends and it is the task of every generation to do their part. The first step is empowering our selves with the knowledge necessary to act effectively on our own behalf.
“A Bill of rights is what the people are entitled to against every government on earth, general or particular, and what no just government should refuse.” – Thomas Jefferson
“They that give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” Ben Franklin
“The ultimate authority…resides in the people alone.” – James Madison
Know what you have and cherish it
The first ten amendments
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed
No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense
In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people
The powers 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
Why so many Quotes?
On every question of construction, let us carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed. – Thomas Jefferson
More into our founders mind-Age of Enlightenment
“A democracy cannot be both ignorant and free.” – Thomas Jefferson (a post on the subject)
“Nothing could be more irrational than to give the people power, and to withhold from them information without which power is abused. A people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with power which knowledge gives. A popular government without popular information or the means of acquiring it is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy, or perhaps both. – James Madison
“If you wish the sympathy of the broad masses, you must tell them the crudest and most stupid things.” Adolf Hitler Mein Kampf
“When the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe.”
“No class or group or party in Germany could escape its share of responsibility for the abandonment of the democratic Republic and the advent of Adolf Hitler. The cardinal error of the Germans who opposed Nazism was their failure to unite against it. ” ― William L. Shirer
“The great object is that every man be armed.” and “Everyone who is able may have a gun.” Patrick Henry
“Congress has no power to disarm the militia. Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birth-right of an American …the unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments, but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people.” – Tench Coxe (a post on the subject Militia) (American definition)
“Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost. ” – Thomas Jefferson
“…to disarm the people is the best and most effective way to enslave them…” – George Mason (pertaining to England disarming Americans)
Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. C. S. Lewis
“Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the act of depriving a whole nation of arms, as the blackest.” – Mahatma Gandhi
“A free press is not a privilege but an organic necessity in a great society. Without criticism and reliable and intelligent reporting, the government cannot govern. For there is no adequate way in which it can keep itself informed about what the people of the country are thinking and doing and wanting.” Walter Lippmann
“To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of people always possess arms…” – Richard Henry Lee
“As to religion, I hold it to be the indispensable duty of government to protect all conscientious protesters thereof, and I know of no other business government has to do therewith.” – Thomas Paine
“Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freedom of speech.” Benjamin Franklin
I am not a friend to a very energetic government. It is always oppressive. – Thomas Jefferson (a post)
Arbitrary power is most easily established on the ruins of liberty abused to licentiousness.– George Washington
The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but the newspapers. – Thomas Jefferson
A body of men holding themselves accountable to nobody ought not to be trusted by anybody. – Thomas Paine
The policy of the American government is to leave their citizens free, neither restraining nor aiding them in their pursuits. – Thomas Jefferson
I believe the states can best govern our home concerns and the federal government our foreign ones. – Thomas Jefferson (a post)
Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom of Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any body of regular troops that can be, on any pretense, raised in the United States. – Noah Webster
The course of history shows that as a government grows, liberty decreases. – Thomas Jefferson
When the government fears the people, it is liberty. When the people fear the government, it is tyranny. – Thomas Paine
No freeman shall be debarred the use of arms. -Thomas Jefferson
I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them. – Thomas Jefferson (paraphrase)
When all government, in little as in great things, shall be drawn to Washington as the Center of all power, it will render powerless the checks provided of one government on another and will become as venal and oppressive as the government from which we separated. – Thomas Jefferson
There are more instances of the abridgement of the freedom of the people by the gradual and silent encroachment of those in power, than by violent and sudden usurpation. – James Madison
If we were directed from Washington when to sow and when to reap, we would soon want for bread. – Thomas Jefferson
In matters of Power, let no more be heard of confidence in men, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution. – Thomas Jefferson
Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters. – Daniel Webster
“Beware the greedy hand of government, thrusting itself into every corner and crevice of industry.” –Thomas Paine
“The people never give up their liberties but under some delusion.” Edmund Burke
“The greatest danger to American freedom is a government that ignores the Constitution.” Thomas Jefferson
“Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants. It is the creed of slaves.” -William Pitt
“We, the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts — not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow men who pervert the Constitution.” – Abraham Lincoln
“The whole of the Bill is a declaration of the right of the people at large or considered as individuals…It establishes some rights of the individual as unalienable and which consequently, no majority has the right to deprive them of.” – Albert Gallatin (Bill of Rights)
“Government is not reason. It is not eloquence. It is a force, like fire: a dangerous servant and a terrible master.” – George Washington
Understand the context in which this was written concerning Shays’ Rebellion, Jefferson is not being double tongued or inciting violence but rather accepting that it is what it is. And consider which is worse lethargy or the occasional necessity? What are the concerns that we are presented with for this generation? What path are we on? What will we do about it?
“…Yet where does this anarchy exist? Where did it ever exist, except in the single instance of Massachusetts? And can history produce an instance of a rebellion so honourably conducted? I say nothing of it’s motives. They were founded in ignorance, not wickedness. God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions, it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. And what country can preserve its liberties, if it’s rulers are not warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to the facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure…” -Thomas Jefferson
Remember that the debates of our founding fathers were in large over the distrust of the government. We had broken away from tyranny and were careful to set up a form of self-government that would preserve our liberty. With that in mind the founding fathers acknowledged that ultimately freedom was in our hands.
Here are some resources and please feel free to recommend more. The important thing is that even though we can’t believe everything we see and read it’s that we never stop questioning and to educate ourselves to the best of our ability. The best place I can think of to start is in the debates of the fathers themselves.
If we understand that history is now and the best method of predicting the future and understanding current affairs is see through eyes of the investigator, which is to say the historian.
Constitution Society A wonderful site with many historical documents, history, and references as well as the relationship to current issues, legal clarifications and much more 🙂
Thomas Jefferson Encyclopedia James Madison Library Law Notes Natural and legal rights Gun legislation in Germany wiki Cornell Law Genocide Chart Here’s the Formula: Hatred + Government + Disarmed Civilians = Genocide democratic republic Democracy Republic Representative Democracy Checks and balances Socialism Fascism Communism Government wiki Karl Marx Marxism John Adams liberty freedom Gov. Archives Constitution History of the United States Constitution History.com
Some of these may seem simple enough but lets check what we think the correct definition is to what wiki says just to be sure 🙂
I hope you enjoyed and will help add to the resources.