The Roosevelt Coup D´etat of 1933-40
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THE HISTORY OF THE MOST SUCCESSFUL EXPERIMENT EVER MADE BY MAN TO GOVERN HIMSELF WITHOUT A MASTER
By STERLING E. EDMUNDS
Of the St. Louis Bar
Originally printed in 1940
Legislative Steps toward Executive Control of the Social and Economic Life of the States
Coup detat (koo detah) a sudden decisive exercise of power whereby existing government is subverted without the consent of the people.
- Websters New International Dictionary
The people of the United States have been too close to the political drama that has been unfolding in the affairs of their government, and too bewildered by phrases deliberately chosen to delude them, to understand the cataclysmic significance of what has happened, but to the future historian the period of 1933-1940 will clearly mark the end of a political cycle for the North Americans, in the final failure of the most successful experiment ever made by man in civil society to govern himself without a master.
The historian will trace its beginnings in the revolt of a few million colonists against the oppressions of the English Crown in the late Eighteenth Century, and their erection of a unique system of government, having for its primary object a realization of the innate worth and dignity of the individual, by emancipating him from the inveterate ambition, vanity, and folly of his rulers, through substituting freedom for force as the underlying principle of the system. The results will be recorded as having excited the hope and envy of the world as an example in which a small and sturdy group, favorably situated geographically in a new land, wrought themselves into the mightiest and most prosperous nation on earth and governed themselves as freemen for a century and a half.
Those who formed this peculiar system of government had earnestly studied the history of the rise and fall of civil societies in search of a formula for a permanent order of freedom. They saw that man invariably counted for little more than the beasts of the field under all political forms in which power was centralized in his rulers, whether they appeared as autocracies, aristocracies, oligarchies, theocracies or democracies. And they will be credited by the historian with having deducted the political maxim, that the freedom of the individual is possible only under a polity in which governmental power is limited and divided and kept so. Not centralization but decentralization was the great essential principle. As Thomas Jefferson wrote in a spirit of warning, in 1816:
"What has destroyed the liberty and rights of man in every government that has ever existed under the sun? The generalizing and concentrating all cares and powers into one body, no matter whether of the autocrats of Russia and France or of the aristocrats of a Venetian Senate."
In the system constructed by the Americans were thirteen independent States, just freed by arms from alien rule as colonies, which formed a Union. Then they delegated to a common federal government certain of their powers to deal with matters concerning their interrelations and with foreign affairs. And these certain powers which the federal government might exercise were reduced to writing and enumerated in a Constitution of the United States, with provision for a solemn oath to be taken by the Chief Executive "before he enter upon the execution of his office," to "preserve, protect and defend" it.
Thus the powers of the federal government were not only limited, in the hope of escaping the common degradation of other peoples, but the powers that were delegated were divided and allocated to three co-ordinate, co-equal and independent branches. All power to enact the laws, dealing with but twenty enumerated subjects, to be found in Section 8 of Article I, was placed with the legislative branch, or Congress, exclusively; all power to enforce or execute the laws thus enacted was placed with the Executive exclusively; and all power to interpret and to decide the intent and meaning of the laws under the limited grants of power, was placed with the judiciary branch, or the federal courts. Such was the framework erected upon the principles of decentralization, limitation, and division of governmental power over the citizen. In a note written in his Annals, in 1792, Jefferson recorded:
"I said to President Washington that if the equilibrium of the three great bodies, the Legislative, Executive and Judiciary, could be preserved, if the Legislature could be kept independent, I should never fear the result of such a government; but that I could not but be uneasy when I saw the Executive had swallowed up the Legislative branch."
But it was not enough to erect a government of limited authority over the citizen as a mere paper instrument, as will be noted from the examples of failure of the score of American republics to the south that were formed in imitation and on the constitutional patten of the government of the United States. From the time of their independence from European rule, in spite of their constitutional forms, they oscillated between anarchy and despotism, remaining republics in name only.
Obviously, if man is to restrain the control which government may exercise over him, and escape anarchy in liberty becoming license, he must assume the high moral duties and practice the difficult virtues of self-control and self-reliance, to make possible self-government in the mass. And the same capacity and willingness to control ambition and greed must be practiced by those who are chosen to wield governmental power over him. That is the hard price that man must pay for ordered freedom in civil society.
It will be written for the instruction of those who come after us, that in the years 1933-1940, the outstanding experiment of the North Americans in seeking to preserve a free political system by means of limitation and division, or decentralization of governmental authority, came to an end, and that a new cycle began in which they again found themselves the mere pawns and playthings of centralized power. And in the analysis of the failure, the impartial historian will not hesitate to ascribe it to the loss of those qualities of character in the mass and in government, without which the constitutional paper forms are lifeless and vain.
He will note many social and political phenomena that are familiar accompaniments in the record of like vicissitudes among other peoples whose civilizations have flourished and declined, particularly among the Romans. He will first mark what Ferrero declares to be "the disease that killed the Roman Empire," which he terms "excessive urbanization," the piling up of population in great cities, drawn from the peace and quiet industry of the country by the infinite but frivolous attractions of urban life. Then came the periodic economic crises, and the impoverishment of large numbers of the improvident classes, in the midst of continuing luxury, with widespread discontent.
Before the Roosevelt era this problem was met without danger. It was localized in the cities and, while relieved to some extent by private charity, was allowed to solve itself in the natural way, of forcing those unable to find employment of free support to return to work in the fields, whence they came. It was a hard solution for many, but it preserved the spirit of self-respect and self-reliance in all who thus surrounded their own difficulties. It was implicit in the free system that each man, through the exercise of prudence, must care for himself; that society needed the active cooperation and productive energy of each citizen, and that the provision which a man made for himself and his family was the measure of his worth and self-respect. His failure so to provide, while provoking pity, also carried the stigma of neglect of obligations to himself and to the community.
In the great economic depression in the third decade of this century, the central government, recognizing the millions of unemployed to be voting citizens, who, through public largess, might be permanently attached to the new course the Roosevelt administration had embarked upon, proclaimed it the duty of the federal government to feed, house and clothe all unable to care for themselves. "The people must not be allowed to starve" had a kind-hearted meaning, which all politicians readily approved.
This was the artificial expedient adopted by declining Rome, of treating poverty as a national, instead of as an individual concern, with vast public works for the unemployed, regardless of their utility, and the distribution of money and food for all who applied. There was no inducement to look carefully into the qualifications of recipients, since numbers were important. The evil was thus only intensified by reversing the current and stimulating a continuing exodus from country to city, until almost one-fifth of the population was exempted from the necessity of seeking self-support.
The corrupting effects were seen not only in the making of chronic paupers of millions of citizens congested in the cities, but in demoralizing the Mayors of cities and the Governors of State, in their constant journeyings to the capital, like mendicants, to solicit of the President as large portions as possible of the immense sums which he was permitted to dole out. Excessive taxation supplied barely a half of the demands of this profligacy, the remainder was supplied regularly by new borrowing and new public debt, with no concern over future repayment.
Among the people themselves there naturally resulted a spirit of carelessness and indolence, with no interest more serious than the pursuit of entertainment and amusement, in the theaters and at games, as an escape from boredom.
History discloses the apparent paradox that the periods in which man has most lavishly adorned his great cities are not periods of continued healthy growth, but are periods of decline. The magnificent temples and other buildings of the ancients are, in fact, symbols of decadence. So the years 1933-1940 will be mentioned as a time of splendid adornment of the capital of Washington, with great new public buildings displacing private structures throughout the city to house the hundreds of thousands of new federal officials appointed to enforce the new order of universal regulation and care of the affairs of the people.
The old simplicity of a federal government going about its limited duties without fuss will be seen to have given way to stir and bustle in the assumption of new powers, and repeated harangues by radio, arraigning as popular enemies every element of opposition to the full realization of presidential supremacy. This was accompanied by preferment for the sycophant and exclusion from all appointive offices of citizens of independence and worth.
And the chronicler will record, too, a remarkable coincidence in which almost simultaneously, a like experiment on the American model, made by another great and numerous people in Europe, came to a like end after a brief trial. And the immediate instruments in both transformations will be identified as two magnetic and ambitious men, who carried out coups detat against the republic of which they were the elected constitutional heads, strangely coupling the names of Franklin Roosevelt and Adolf Hitler as the two chief actors in this historical human drama.
In each of the two countries in 1933, there were present the same disintegrating forces among the peoples themselves making for success in any attempted coup detat unsettled economic conditions and economic distress, class division and factionalism, unbalanced budgets and accumulating debt, unsound currencies, and a cleverly encouraged and accepted delusion that a strong one-man government could bestow happiness and do for the people what they felt hopeless to do for themselves. In Germany there was the added factor of a national feeling of impotence under injustice arising out of the harsh terms imposed upon her in the late treaty of peace of 1919.
Hitler, leading a people enjoying constitutional liberty, but who for centuries were accustomed to authoritarian rule, could and did destroy limited constitutional government in Germany by one open and daring stroke. His National Socialist party won almost complete control of the Reichstag in the election of March 5, 1933, with a popular vote of 17,269,629 to 13,590,258. On the same day this "rubber stamp" legislative body of his creatures, passed on enabling act clothing him with supreme power as Reichs chancellor, thus putting an end to the fourteen-year-old Weimar Constitution and the German Republic. All constitutional rights of the people were swallowed up in the new "Third Reich."
Roosevelt, head of the Democratic party, was elected to the Presidency of the United States in 1932 by a popular vote of 22,821,857 to Mr. Hoovers 15,761,841, and his partys candidates won 322 of the 435 seats in the lower House, with 68 of the 96 seats in the Senate. He appointed no man of recognized ability or attachment to our free institutions to his Cabinet posts. Among those he did appoint were four not of his party, who were associated with the elder La Follette, in his Progressive and Socialist campaign for the Presidency in 1924. He also surrounded himself with a group of young radicals as a sort of inner Cabinet, as his special personal advisers. It was they who secretly concerted and drafted the plan for the overthrow of constitutional government, which he put into execution.
Being the elected head of a people long practiced in and the hereditary possessors of personal and political freedom, he could not proceed in the forthright manner chosen by Hitler, but adopted the more adroit course of disguise and pretense.
There were three principal obstacles to any successful assault upon the existing limited constitutional system. First was the Constitution itself, which contained provisions for its own further limitation or expansion of power by amendments proposed by Congress to the legislatures or to conventions in the States, requiring the approval of three-fourths for ratification; or by the calling of a national constitutional convention on the application of the legislatures of two-thirds of the States, to propose amendments to be similarly ratified. The very purpose of the amending clause was to provide a peaceable way to make any change urgently desired by the people and to obviate revolution and violence, the only alternative left to other peoples, and customarily used to right their grievances against the oppressions of government.
Second, there was the Supreme Court of the United States constantly on guard to prevent usurpation of power by declaring null and void all acts of Congress and all executive acts outside of the written authority permitted in the Constitution.
And finally, there was the economic system of private industry and commerce, which it was intended to subject to political control, from which no complaint submission could be expected.
The first step in the plot was a "smearing" campaign by hundreds of administration press agents, to disparage and discredit the Constitution, the Supreme Court, and business generally. Hence, we heard much of the Constitution being "antiquated" and "outmoded," and "slush over the Constitution." The President himself joined in this assault at a press conference by terming the Constitution something suited to "the horse and buggy days." The Supreme Court was held up to public view as "Nine Old Men," equally out of step with the times. And the great institutions of private industry, the source of livelihood to our millions of workers at wages paid nowhere else in the world, became "economic royalists" and an "economic autocracy," actuated solely by greed in its exploitation of the workers. Those persons who came to the defense of the Constitution and the Court were called "old fogies" and "reactionaries."
And to gain the popular ear, new catch-phrases such as "emergency," "social justice," "social security," "planned economy," "collective bargaining," "ever-normal granary" filled the press and masked the course of the revolutionary change. It was with Roosevelt as Gibbons relates of Augustus, that mankind is governed by names, and he was not deceived in his expectation that the Senate and people would submit to slavery, provided they were respectfully assured that they still enjoyed their ancient freedom.
By 1933 the stage was set for the series of legislative acts, drafted behind the backs of the people by the young radical advisers, which were so to change the nature of our limited dual system as to release the federal government from the restraints of the Constitution, and to subordinate the States and the people to an all-embracing central executive authority. In rapid succession bills were sent to Congress for presidential control of banking, public utilities, the security exchanges, and in the deceptively-named National Industrial Recovery Act and the Agricultural Adjustment Act, the President was given complete power over the industrial and agricultural life of the nation, with authority to compel cooperation in industry, to fix prices and wages and hours, in place of the former free, competitive system. In the N.I.R.A. was also provision for $3,000,000,000 to be given to the President to use in his discretion in relief and public works. And, in the "Emergency Agricultural Relief" act, levying taxes on processors of agricultural commodities, to be paid to farmers, was a further provision empowering the President to issue $3,000,000,000 of unsecured paper money.
Under the N.I.R.A., the Administrator, the appointee of the President, was empowered to set aside the anti-trust laws and compel industry to enter into regulated combinations in restraint of trade. When Representative Edward W. Pou of North Carolina reported the bill for passage in the House on May 25, 1933, he said, not in shame, but with a note of satisfaction:
"It is very true that under this bill and I shall not attempt to discuss its merits the President of the United States is made a dictator over industry for the time being, but it is a benign dictatorship; it is a dictatorship dedicated to the welfare of all the American people."
A servile Congress, like Hitlers Reichstag, permitted the immediate enactment of these measures, practically without debate. Then followed the gold control act, repudiating and annulling public and private contracts to pay debts in gold, and devaluing the dollar; the federal emergency relief act, home owners loan corporation act, revival of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, subsistence homestead act, the Tennessee Valley public utility government monopoly act, crop credit loans to farmers act, communications act, compulsory railroad pension act, tobacco control act, the Guffey coal act, to fix prices and wages and hours in mining; the creation of the farm mortgage corporation with authority to borrow $2,000,000,000 to relieve farm debtors; national housing act, loans to industry act, as part of 714 acts approved by Congress in that year. The authority of Congress had sunk into such contempt that these legislative acts centering despotic power in the President, were, in effect, executive decrees sent to Congress for mere registration. The Executive had swallowed up the Legislative branch.
In the gold control act, the first of the series, the President was given dictatorial power over all forms of money and authority to devalue the dollar as much as fifty percent. All gold was called in from the people, with severe penalties for hoarding and exportation. The execution of contracts payable in gold was prohibited, and promises in United States bonds so to pay were repudiated. Meantime the content of the dollars we had previously known, with 25.8 grains of gold, was reduced to 15-5/21 grains, giving the government all of the gold and a paper profit of about $15 an ounce on all the gold called in, or a total of about $2,000,000,000. This $2,000,000,000 was turned over to the Treasury Department as a "Stabilization Fund" to be used to support the price of government bonds and to rig the market in maintaining prices, during a period of reckless borrowing.
All of these acts were calculated to attach and render acquiescent certain large classes of voters through subsidies in various forms, and to confuse and strangle the private activities and enterprise of citizens in various fields of industry and commerce which their intelligence and energies had built up under out traditional free system. To execute these several new powers conferred on the President, new boards or commissions were created, to be filled by his appointees. Invariably they were staffed with persons who were known to be hostile to the system of free enterprise and favorable to political control of private industry and commerce, under what was termed "a planned national economy."
The Tennessee Valley Authority was created in 1933 as a government utility monopoly, operating in Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Kentucky, in competition with private utility plants. Being financed out of the federal Treasury with hundreds of millions of dollars, paying no taxes and caring nothing for deficits, it has already compelled one great private utility to sell out or go broke, and is a like menace to other private utilities in those six States.
It will illuminate the utterly alien character of this government enterprise to refer to a decision of the Supreme Court of the United States, handed down in 1905, in the case of South Caroline vs. U.S. South Carolina established a State liquor monopoly, and the question was on the right of the federal government to tax its operations. The court held that, when a State engaged in business ordinarily of a private character it could be taxed; that if this were not so, a State might take over all private business and defeat taxation for the support of the government in the whole field of internal revenue. Continuing, it said:
"There is a large and growing movement in the country in favor of the acquisition and management by the public of what are termed public utilities, including not merely therein, the supply of gas and water, but the entire railroad system. Would a State by taking into possession these public utilities lose its republican form of government?
"Moreover, at the time of the adoption of the Constitution, there probably was not one person in the country, who seriously contemplated the possibility of government, whether State or national, ever descending from its primitive plant of a body politic, to take up the work of the individual as a body corporate . Certain it is that if the possibility of a government usurping the ordinary business of individuals, driving them out of the market, and maintaining place and power by means of what would have been called, in heated invective of the time, a legion of mercenaries, had been in the public mind, the Constitution would not have been adopted, or an inhibition of such power would have been placed among Madisons amendments . If we look upon the Constitution in the light of the common law we are led to the same conclusion. All avenues of trade were open to the individual The government did not attempt to exclude him from any. Whatever restraints were put upon him were police regulations to control his conduct in business and not to exclude him therefrom. The government was no competitor, nor did it assume to carry on any business, which ordinarily is carried on by individuals. Indeed, every attempt at monopoly arose, whether from the government of the Sovereign or otherwise. The framers of the Constitution were not anticipating that a State would attempt to monopolize any business heretofore carried on by individuals."
Yet the federal government is now engaged in many businesses, ordinarily considered of a private character, in competition with the citizen. An investigation into the subject by the Shannon Committee of the lower House of Congress in 1932 revealed this competition is carried on in not less than two hundred fields of business. Two outstanding instances are in water transportation and in the manufacture and sale of electricity. The Inland Waterways Corporation is thus depriving the railroads of tonnage which it carries at lower rates on the Mississippi River and its tributaries, while the huge electrical project, the Tennessee Valley Authority, is purposely seeking to destroy private utility plants in its territory.
But when it comes to the matter of taxation by the States of these federal ventures into private business the Supreme Court forbids it. In a recent T.V.A. case it was held that the federal government was engaged in "flood control" on navigable streams, and that the incidental production and sale of electrical power from dams was the excuse of a governmental function and not subject to taxation by the States. Thus the federal government may tax any venture into Socialism by the states but may itself strip the States of taxable property in displacing private enterprise with no right in the States to tax such operations.
The ventures of the federal government into house-building, called "slum-clearance," is another field in which private industry is suffering from government competition, with the building projects now held to be proper government functions.
In the Securities and Exchange act of 1933, under the pretext of protecting the purchaser of securities, a new commission is given power to starve industry and prevent the raising of new capital for extension of plant. All manufacturing and other concerns desiring to raise additional capital through the issuance of new securities must first obtain the approval of this commission. The stock exchange and brokerage houses likewise come in for regulation in the handling, and the buying and selling of any securities. In addition, there is particular provision for control by the commission in the matter of public utility corporations, both as to their finances and to their corporate interrelations.
In the Federal Communications act of 1934, the President assumed control over interstate communications by wire and radio, through a commission to which all radio stations must apply regularly for rents of six-months licenses to operate. The result has been a censorship on whatever opponents of the President and his policies may wish freely to broadcast, with none upon the President, who may use the radio at his pleasure and without cost.
That the Federal Communications Commission has been guilty of a glaring act of oppression and repression of private enterprise is seen in its decision in March, 1940, forbidding the Radio Corporation of America to manufacture and sell television sets to the public, which would open up an entire new industry based upon years of costly research and provide new employment for an incalculable number of persons now wishing employment.
In 1933 came the National Labor Relations act to enforce "collective bargaining," giving a partisan federal Labor Board arbitrary power over employers, in behalf of organized workers, with the power to summon, prosecute and decide, and impose heavy financial burdens in the form of "back pay," in cases of its own charges of vague "unfair" practices; and, further, to compel workers to join the unions of favored labor leaders.
The act, following a campaign of vituperation painting the employer as the enemy and sordid exploiter of the employees, forbids any intercourse or discussion of their relations between them, which might be initiated by the employer, as an "unfair" practice. Thus a condition of permanent hostility is legally imposed upon their relations. Meantime the law defines an "employee" as "any individual, whose work has ceased in consequence of or in connection with any current labor dispute or because of any unfair labor practice and who has not obtained any other regular and substantially equivalent employment." The employee is thus given a property right in his job, even after striking, in connection with which he is entitled to "back pay."
In 1938 a companion piece to the Labor Board act was passed under the title, the Wages and Hours act, fixing minimum wages and maximum hours for large classes of workers in the States, alleging in the preamble of the act that the existence of living conditions below certain standards is a burden on interstate commerce, and "interferes with the orderly marketing of goods."
For the year of October, 1938 to October, 1939, the act provided for minimum wages of 25 cents an hour and a 44-hour week; for 1940-1941, 30 cents an hour and a 42-hour week, and thereafter, 40 cents an hour and a 40-hour week, with time-and-a-half for overtime, or 60 cents an hour. The act caused an immediate loss of jobs to thousands of workers in small concerns which could not meet the new burden upon the payroll in addition to the payroll taxes imposed by the Social Security act.
The National Labor Relations act and the Wages and Hours act are both given the semblance of being constitutional by limiting their application to workers engaged in "interstate commerce," as a means of removing burdens upon such commerce by preventing labor disputes, which they, in fact, have fostered. But this limitation of the acts has been rendered nugatory by the Roosevelt Supreme Court, in construing "interstate commerce" to include manufacturing as well as transportation. Thus, in the case of Labor Board vs Fainblatt, a womens clothing manufacturer, decided in October, 1939, the court said that an "employer is subject to the National Labor Relations Board although not himself engaged in commerce," and that the power of Congress over interstate commerce is one for "the protection of interstate commerce from interference due to activities which are wholly intrastate;" wherefore, all business activities in the States are brought under federal control.
In a vigorous dissenting opinion Mr. Justice McReynolds pointed out that the court had long held that manufacturing is not commerce but transformation; that buying and selling and transportation among the States constituted interstate commerce. By such attenuated reasoning, he said, the court "permits a disruption of the federal system." And then he added this remarkable indictment of the new court:
"The present decision and the reasoning offered to support it will inevitably intensify bewilderment. The resulting curtailment of the independence of the States and the tremendous enlargement of federal power denote the serious impairment of the very foundation of our federated system. Perhaps the change of direction, no longer capable of concealment, will give potency to the efforts of those who apparently hope to end a system of government found inhospitable to their ultimate designs."
And even where employers have signed contracts with local unions for a longer hour week at a flat rate, suits are now being instigated claiming enormous sums as "back pay" calculated on the hours worked beyond the 44 or 42 hours, as overtime with time-and-a-half-pay.
The fixing of wages and hours by government has always tended to create unemployment in enforcing new economies upon employers, thus creating an evil outweighing any benefits conferred. Its greatest evil, however, lies in denying to free men the right freely to make their own contracts of employment.
The "Social Security" act comprehends ten separate programs for levying and distributing new taxes on industry and the workers, namely, old age and survivors insurance, unemployment pensions, aid to the blind, aid to mothers and children, maternal and child welfare, material and child health services, services to crippled children, child welfare services, public health services, vocational rehabilitation. These new taxes amounted to $631,223,715.09 in 1939, and to $703,400,000 in 1940.
The word "services" means the personal attention to mothers and children and others by a new army of federal agents specializing in various social, recreational and health fields, sent out into the States.
The old age and survivors insurance and the unemployment compensation plans are patterned after the social legislation devised by Bismarck between 1883 and 1889, in an attempt to allay socialist agitation in Germany, by partly meeting their demands. In the old age plan the employer and employee are taxed an equal percentage on the payroll and on the wage, respectively, starting at 1% and rising to 3%. These sums are remitted quarterly by the employer to the federal government, and, presumably, constitute a trust fund to be guarded for future application to pensions for those who reach 65 years of age or for payments at death. Actually, this trust fund of millions has been used largely to meet a part of the current deficit spending by the federal government.
The unemployment compensation plan levies a straight federal payroll tax of 3% on the employer, in addition to all other taxes. As a means of inducing the States to levy a like payroll tax on the employers for the same purpose, the act provides that any State setting up a Social Security Board which meets federal standards, will have its administrative expenses paid by the federal government. This means much more easy money and more patronage for the politicians of the States and has been readily adopted by all.
The act further provides that if a State has an employment tax law approved by the National Social Security Board, each employer may credit against his federal tax the taxes levied by the State for its unemployment fund up to 90% of the federal tax. These taxes must be paid whether the employer is making a profit or losing money. Meantime, the powers of the Federal Trade Commission to harass business with questionnaires and investigations, were expanded to include the field of advertising, and to suppress whatever it considered "unfair."
In 1938, in connection with the alleged "strike" of capital and his "spending for prosperity" campaign, President Roosevelt asked for $3,000,000,000; and, in further pursuit of his policy to discredit private enterprise, he requested an investigation of "concentrated economic power" and monopoly in the United States. Congress promptly constituted a body, known as the Temporary National Economic Committee, with twelve members: three of the Senate, three of the House, and six of the executive departments. The course of the investigation, largely guided by radical Roosevelt appointees from the departments, is showing deep interest in the billions of assets of the great insurance companies, invested as security for their millions of policy-holders. The report, which is yet to be made, can scarcely be anything but a further condemnation of the citizen in his right freely to labor end trade and pursue his own material well-being, known as the system of "free enterprise." Common prudence should prompt the citizen to manifest far greater alarm over "concentrated political power" than over concentrated economic power. The latter is plainly necessary in large assets for large undertakings: The former usually means their confiscation.
At the same time, through the taxing power and the billions of dollars borrowed and voted to the President for use in his discretion for "Relief," from which he distributed subsidies and pensions, he announced that he was seeking "the redistribution of wealth" to bring about "the more abundant life." Among these subsidies are those to farmers to effectuate crop control, amounting to about $1,000,000,000 a year.
All students know that these two aspects of Roosevelts program government control of industrial production and commerce and labor, and the exercise of the power to take from one and give to another, constitute the two main pillars of State Socialism. The common definition of Socialism or Social Democracy is:
" a political and economic theory of social reorganization, the essential feature of which is governmental control of economic activities, to the end that competition shall give way to cooperation and that the opportunities of life and the rewards of labor shall be equitably apportioned."
Yet the President was probably not intentionally becoming the great American Socialist leader, however much his policies won for him the active support of Socialists and Communists. Having never been under the necessity of earning a living or paying a wage he had had no experience with the practical operation of our system of private economy and its cooperative demands. He was a theorist like all the professors and young college graduates with whom he surrounded himself.
In his attitude of hostility toward all successor business men, the psychologist would probably find it based upon the common vice of envy and a desire to exhibit what he conceived to be his own superiority, through his exercise of political power over them, however questionably obtained. That in arraying the mass of employees against their employers in the process, he was wrecking the best example of self-government ever built up by the free men, to satisfy his ambitions, was of no concern.
The Constitution provides in Article V the means of orderly change and to attempt it otherwise is a "high crime and misdemeanor" calling for impeachment. Yet Donald Richberg, a confidant of the President and later Administrator of the N.I.R.A., admitted that the Roosevelt program was of revolutionary character, when he said:
"In this favored nation of ours we are attempting possibly the greatest experiment in history. Revolution by the sword and bayonet is nothing new. Revolution by pen and voice is something different. The violent overthrow of parliaments and rulers is nothing new, but the peaceful transition of all departments of government from one fundamental concept of a politico-economic system to another is different."
But what Mr. Richberg lauded as a "peaceful transition" was, in fact, brought about by the greatest violence to the Constitution itself. In daring alone to bring about a new "politico economic" system through legislation unauthorized by the Constitution, President Roosevelt destroyed the exclusive right of the people themselves to amend the Constitution in any manner they please, and transferred that power to himself. The amending power of the people is now useless, and in its place, new accession of power in the federal government will be made by the government itself by legislative construction, based upon precedents of usurpation which Mr. Roosevelt has established. This peaceable means for change in the fundamental law may now be said to be closed to the people, and we shall have no alternative in the future but that of other peoples for redress of grievances, namely, violence; and we, therefore, enter upon that "endless cycle of oppression, rebellion, reformation; oppression, rebellion, reformation again; and so on forever," which Thomas Jefferson affirmed was the only remaining choice if the avenue of orderly amendment were shut.
Thus step by step, Roosevelt seized power personally which, from the foundation of our government, had been judicially determined as forbidden to the federal government, and compounded the limited dual system into an unlimited unitary one. Flushed with his success he was bold enough to tell Congress, on January 3, 1934, that he had brought about "a permanent readjustment of many of our social and economic arrangements;" and, on January 4, 1935, that he had effected "a new order of things." And, in commenting on the "new order of things," he confessed his work of destroying our constitutional guarantee, with the justification pretended by every man who has overturned a free government, namely, the welfare of the people, saying:
"They (the people) realize that in 34 months we have built up new instruments of public power. In the hands of a peoples government this power is wholesome and proper, but in the hands of political puppets of economic autocracy such power would provide shackles for the liberties of the people."
These "new instruments of public power" are, of course, the numerous new alphabetical boards and commissions, created under his "must" legislation and filled by his appointees as personal agents for his personal rule. Each agency is a petty tyranny in its own particular field, combining within itself the three essential powers of government: the legislative, the executive and the judicial; the power to make rules and regulations with the force of law, the power to enforce its own rules and regulations, and the power to inflict penalties for any failure of the citizen to comply with its decision, free from any right in the victim to obtain redress in the courts. This right is defeated by clauses in the acts creating the agencies, which though permitting appeal, deny to the courts the right to reverse a board decision if there is a scintilla of evidence to support its "findings of facts." As the boards dispatch their examiners charged with the duty of finding certain evidence in support of certain favored interests or policies, a wholly partial decision results which the courts may not disturb.
As the President views it, the United States is divided into two hostile camps engaged in a social and economic war. They are industry, or the employing class, and the worker or employee class. The employing class, which provides wages for the employee and taxes to support the government, constitutes an "economic autocracy" that must be destroyed. And through the "new instruments of public power" the President has put "shackles" on its liberty, through various measures adopted by his administrative lieutenants to blacken its name, to prevent it from obtaining capital to expand and increase employment, and to prevent its normal functioning, while at the same time loading it down with new and crushing taxes.
The conviction is widely held, and with reason, that it is the deliberate purpose thus to make all private business unprofitable, as a prelude to its expropriation by government as the sole operator and employer, under the false plea that the system of free men in a free economy is no longer capable of sustaining the general welfare of the country. However fantastic this may seem, it has been publicly professed by some of the alien-minded and anti-American presidential lieutenants brought in to operate the "new instruments of public power."
The arbitrary, capricious and partial conduct of these new boards and the widespread complaints that have followed, induced the American Bar Association to propose a general statute, applicable to all administrative boards, restoring to the citizen his right of appeal to the courts with power to pass on the law and the facts, and to reverse any decision not based upon a preponderance of the evidence, and to set aside any rule or regulation found contrary to law or violating any constitutional rights of the complaining citizen.
Such a bill was sponsored by the late United States Senator Logan of Kentucky, and introduced in 1939. It was passed without a dissenting vote, but immediate pressure put upon the Senate compelled a hurried recall of the bill and its recommittal to the Judiciary Committee, where it has since remained.
However, the companion bill, exempting the interstate Commerce Commission, the Federal Trade Commission, the Federal Reserve Board and the federal lending agencies, came up for debate in the House in April, 1940, where congressional "yes-men" used every effort to cause its rejection, and predicted that the President would veto it, if it were passed. The President himself let it be known, at a press conference on April 5, that he opposed any interference with his new boards and commissions by the courts, nor did he wish the courts to pass on the legality of their decisions. It would slow up the machinery of government, he said. Yet the House was courageous enough to pass the bill on April 19, by a vote of 280 to 97, and send it on to the Senate for reconsideration.
If the independence of the courts had not been seriously compromised during the Roosevelt era through many appointments of judges who share the Presidents alien philosophy of government, the Logan bill would go a long way toward destroying one-man government and again making ours a government of laws. In the Pottsville Broadcasting case, decided by the Supreme Court in 1939, for example, we find the pedantic new Associate Justice Frankfurter saying:
"To assimilate the relations of these administrative bodies and the courts to the relationship of lower and upper courts is to disregard the origin and purposes of the movement for administrative regulation . Unless these vital differentiations between the functions of judicial and administrative tribunals are observed, courts will stray outside their province and read the laws of Congress through the distorting lenses of inapplicable legal doctrine."
Why this was couched in such bewildering language, only Justice Frankfurter knows. He might have said in simple English for all to understand:
"It is no function of the courts to restrain administrative boards."
And that is the view of the President.
One contemporary historian, and only one, Mr. Mark Sullivan, appeared at the time to understand what was happening in Washington as the Presidents legislative program unfolded in the succession of bills he sent to Congress. In a dispatch to the New York Herald Tribune, he said:
"The country has not even a faint realization of what is taking place at Washington. By laws so numerous that even members of Congress do not follow them, so intricate that only close study can understand them, and in some cases carrying hidden meanings and unrevealed intentions on the part of the writers of the laws, there is being imposed upon our country not merely an enormous number of regulations attended by criminal penalties but actually a new system, a whole new philosophy of society and government."
On May 27, 1935, the Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, declared the National Industrial Recovery Act unconstitutional as an unwarranted attempt on the part of the federal government to reach into the States and control manufacturing and internal commerce, which were reserved to the States in the division of power by the Constitution. And it said particularly:
"If the commerce clause were construed to reach all enterprises and transactions which could be said to have an indirect effect upon interstate commerce, the federal authority would embrace practically all of the activities of the people and the authority of the State over its domestic concerns would exist only by inference of the federal government It is not the province of the court to consider the economic advantages or disadvantages of such a centralized system. It is sufficient to say that the federal Constitution does not provide for it."
This decision merely confirmed a long line of decisions declaring that the constitutional power of Congress to regulate interstate commerce became operative when an object of interstate commerce began to move in interstate transportation and ceased when the object came to rest at the end of its journey. As Woodrow Wilson had affirmed in his Columbia University lectures in 1907:
"If the federal power (to regulate interstate commerce) does not end with the regulation of the actual movements of trade, it ends nowhere, and the line between State and federal jurisdiction is obliterated."
President Roosevelt was so deeply wounded in his vanity by the decision holding the act unconstitutional that he devoted more than an hour on the radio in a harangue to the people, in further disparagement of the Supreme Court.
On May 18, 1936, the Guffey coal act was declared unconstitutional on the same ground, that mining was also a subject that was exclusively within the reserved powers of the States to regulate, if they wished. But the second decision revealed a division of 5 to 3 in the Court, Justices Cardozo, Brandeis and Stone, upholding the Roosevelt measure. And on June 6, 1936, the Agricultural Adjustment Act was also declared void as an attempted usurpation of the reserved powers of the States. Again Justices Cardoza, Brandeis and Stone dissented. The coup detat appeared to have been defeated.
On the eve of his reelection in 1936, in a campaign radio address to the nation, the President revealed a defiant impatience with those leaders of private industry who had sought a remedy in the Courts against his new and arbitrary power over them, in a multiplicity of suits, and had finally frustrated him in the Supreme Court. He wantonly stigmatized these citizens as "economic royalists." They had "met their match" in the last four years, he declared, and, in the next four years they would meet their master."
To one of President Roosevelts ambition and purpose, his reelection in 1936 by the great majority of 27,476,673 to 16,679,583, constituted a "popular mandate," or a ratification of his setting aside the old limited constitutional order and his inauguration of an unlimited unitary system in its place. In taking the oath of office for his second term, on the main portico of the capitol, his head bared in the rain, he "reconsecrated" his government to leadership of "the American people forward along the road over which they have chosen to advance." And history afforded him what seemed to be a supporting precedent for popular ratification of unconstitutional executive acts, which his young personal advisers had no doubt called to his attention. It was in 1848, on the formation of the Republic of France, that Louis Napoleon was elected constitutional President for a term of four years, and by the Constitution, he was ineligible to reelection. As the end of his term approached in 1851, he dismissed the National Assembly, announced the end of the Republic and inauguration of the Second Empire, with himself as Emperor, which the people of France ratified at an election on December 20 and 21, in voting away their liberties, 7,437,216 to 640,737.
But a persisting majority of "Nine Old Men" of the Supreme Court would ignore the "popular mandate" as a mere fiction and would confirm no change in the government brought about other than by the orderly process prescribed in the Constitution itself. How to overcome this obstacle was the problem of the moment. Another precedent, this time from English history, was available as the solution. It was in the reign of James II, likewise distinguished for a persistent effort to overturn the English Constitution. Although James predecessor, Charles II, had taken an oath in 1672, to abide by the laws concerning the dispensing power (laws forbidding appointment of Catholics to office), James was determined to name Catholics not only to civil and military, but even to spiritual, offices. In 1686, as a first attempt to release himself from the law, he sought an opinion from the courts of common law that he possessed the power to appoint Catholics "in particular cases," and he summoned the judges before him.
As Macaulay relates, four of the judges demurred. Jones, the Chief Justice of Common Pleas, "a man who had never before shrunk from any drudgery, however cruel and servile," now held in the royal closet language which might have become the lips of the purest magistrates in our history. He was plainly told that he must give up his opinion or his place.
"For my place," he answered, "I care little. I am old and worn out in the services of the Crown; but I am mortified to find that your Majesty thinks me capable of giving a judgment which none but an ignorant or a dishonest man can give.
"I am determined,: said the King, "to have twelve judges who will be all of my mind as to this matter."
"Your Majesty," answered Jones, "may find twelve judges of your mind but hardly twelve lawyers."
Jones was dismissed from office, as were Montague, Chief Baron of the Exchequer, and Judges Neville and Charlton, and the court was packed, one of the new judges being Christopher Milton, younger brother of the great poet. The King also dismissed his Solicitor General Finch and his Attorney General Sawyer, who equally refused to endorse his course.
Thomas Powis, "an obscure barrister," was appointed Solicitor General to succeed Finch, and undertook to argue for the dispensing power before the packed court, with mock parties at interest. By a decision of eleven to one, the Kings power to appoint Catholics "in particular cases," was affirmed. The one dissenting judge is stated to have acted collusively, to give some semblance of independence in the court. James lost his throne and fled to France within the same year that records this perfidy to the courts and constitution of England.
But President Roosevelts Attorney General Cummings was more loyal than King James; Attorney General Sawyer. He not only drew the bill to pack the Supreme Court with the addition of six new partisan Justices, but appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 10, 1937, to defend it as necessary, on the ground that the Court was overburdened with work, an argument which the Chief Justice himself proved false in a letter to the Chairman of the Senate Committee a few days later.
To the Presidents surprise, something of a rebellion swept the country against "the forward movement" along the road he assumed "the people had chosen to advance," and Congress failed him. Almost immediately following this failure, however, fate played into the Presidents hands and success came to him through enough vacancies, caused by death and resignation, to give him a majority of the Court through new appointments.
Practically every one of President Roosevelts laws that was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court that he found on taking office in 1932, has been resubmitted and passed by a continuing docile Congress, with a mere change of form or name. And all that have been challenged by citizens and reached the newly-reconstituted Court have been pronounced constitutional. As the result of these recent decisions, the President, through his nominees and administrators, may be said now to control local industry, manufacturing, retail distribution, mining, planting and growing crops, prices and wages, and hours of labor, throughout the country. The coup detat against the States and against the limited constitutional system is finally judicially confirmed, with a minority of two, the valiant survivors of the "Nine Old Men," still holding their ground and dissenting. It is implicit in some of the new Courts decisions, also, that the federal government may apply the public money of the taxpayer to any purpose, public or private, foreign or domestic, it sees fit. The President seems to have made certain that the Constitution may no longer be successfully invoked to limit the unrestrained exercise of national power for the full domestic development of Social Democracy, as the new philosophy of our society and government.
No lawyer can today advise his client with any assurance as to the continuing validity of any principle of constitutional law, and he is even more at sea as to that immense and vague volume enacted, not by Congress, but by administrative boards, with which his main practice is now concerned. Until Congress passed the Federal Register act in 1938, to compile all of these rules and regulations as a code of "administrative law," much of it was unpublished and secret and withheld from both lawyer and client. In April, 1940,, this code was published, embracing all rules and regulations that had legal effect on June 1, 1938. And it consisted of seventeen volumes, each containing between 1000 and 1200 pages.
This same confusion that exists in our system of internal law has been introduced by President Roosevelt into our foreign policies. Until the Roosevelt era the United States had pursued with safety and credit the foreign policies laid down by Washington, Jefferson, Monroe and all of their successors, up to Woodrow Wilson. The two principal ones were (1) "minding our own business," expressed technically as non-intervention in the affairs of other nations, and (2) forbidding European interference in American political affairs. They embraced cultivating impartially peace, commerce and honest friendship with all nations and entangling __________________ there was a third policy of constant striving for the progressive improvement and clarification of the principles of international law in the promotion of peaceable processes in the settlement of international disputes.
The new Roosevelt foreign policies appear to repudiate all of the foregoing. In the place of non-intervention in the affairs of other nations he has adopted the policy of direct interference, even to the point of lending large sums of money to particular favored nations as belligerents, as in the case of China and Finland.
There is nowhere to be found in the Constitution any authority under which the President may lend the money of American taxpayers in gambling upon favorites in foreign wars, but that is what this particular Roosevelt policy consists of. And in the close financial understanding of the Roosevelt administration with Great Britain and France, and in the cooperation that is lent to sustain their financial structures, there exists what is, in fact, a financial alliance that may logically develop into military cooperation when they again call for help, as they did with their "backs to the wall" in 1917. And let it not be forgotten that this is what Great Britain and France confidently calculated upon in their new war against the old enemy.
Instead of pursuing the policy of impartially cultivating peace, commerce and honest friendship with all nations, he and certain heads of his departments have blatantly cultivated enmity in publicly making invidious distinctions between the "totalitarian governments" and the "Democracies." In the place of seeking to promote the progress of law he has placed his reliance upon force in the ordering of international affairs. Such a policy of constant war as a means of promoting peace, was enunciated by President Roosevelt in a radio address to the nation from Chicago, on October 5, 1937, when he said:
"The peace-loving nations must make a concerted effort in opposition to those violations of treaties and those ignorings of humane instincts which are today creating a state of international anarchy and instability from which there is no escape through mere isolation and neutrality . There must be positive endeavors to preserve peace."
Then the President proposed the "quarantine" of "international lawlessness" by concerted action, presumably through boycotts and embargoes on our commerce with "lawless" nations. The President actually lent himself to the solicitation of Great Britain to inject the United States into the Italian was in Ethiopia in 1935, by embargoing the shipment of oil to Italy. This was such unneutral conduct as to amount to an act of war, but it exemplifies one of the Presidents new foreign policies.
At the time of the enunciation of President Roosevelts policy of universal interference in the broils of others, the Brussels Conference aw in session to see what could be done to stop Japanese military action in China. All of the delegations of the other governments represented urged the United States "to take the lead," but the popular reaction to the Presidents Chicago address admonished him that the people would not support him in a war with Japan, and the United States delegation was not committed.
In his report to the House of Commons on December 20, 1937, Prime Minister Chamberlain said that the Brussels Conference proved that "There was only one way the (Sino-Japanese) conflict could be brought to an end that is, not by peace, but by force," that is to say, by war. Mr. Chamberlain added that while the Brussels Conference was disappointing "to all friends of peace," presumably because the United States would not "take the lead" in war against Japan, there was one satisfactory feature "throughout the Conference we found ourselves in complete and harmonious agreement with the delegation of the United States in all matters discussed." And this "complete and harmonious agreement" between the Roosevelt and British policies appears to have continued unbroken, with no public revelation of how far we are involved. It would logically include coming to the aid of the "Democracies," if considered necessary, and thus again "making the world safe" for them.
The prudent and enlightened doctrine of Neutrality, developed largely from our own contributions toward the growth of law, is one of passing no judgment and playing no favorites in the wars of others, while insisting upon our rights. This policy has been scrapped by the President, in favor of a new one of taking sides in all wars, because, as he told Congress in his message in January, 1939:
"We have learned that when we deliberately try to legislate neutrality, our neutrality laws may operate unevenly and unfairly may actually give aid to an aggressor and deny it to his victim. The instinct of self-preservation should warn us that we ought not to let that happen again."
This statement embodies a policy having no relation to any principle of law, but rather scuttles law for an unrestrained course of whim and caprice. The President states unequivocally that he wishes the power to pass judgment upon the justice of all future wars, and to discriminate against the belligerent he doesnt like, whom he calls the "aggressor," in favor of the one he does like, whom he calls the "victim." That is a simple policy of international meddling. Under the universally accepted principles of international law, no neutral State may adjust its attitude of conduct toward either belligerent in any war by any idea it may have of the merits of the controversy, except by frankly and honestly becoming an ally of the one it favors. To play favorites without becoming a co-belligerent is dishonest as well as unlawful, for which the law itself provides both hostile and peaceable remedies. The belligerent thus discriminated against may declare such unneutral conduct an act of war and treat the neutral State accordingly, or it may rightfully claim pecuniary damages, which only a lawless nation could refuse to entertain. We ourselves established this principle of pecuniary liability for unneutral conduct in international law, and, in 1871, in the Alabama claims, collected $15,500,000 in damages from Great Britain for her acts of favoritism to the Confederacy during the Civil War.
It is one of the distinctive glories of our past that, as a young and weak nation, we dated to challenge the might of Englands naval power in defense of the rights of all neutral nations to pursue their peaceful commerce on the high seas, which, from the time of Grotius, were recognized by all but England as the common property of all nations and free for the common use and enjoyment of all. And out of our courageous support of this principle came the doctrine of "the freedom of the seas," finally recognized even by Great Britain, in the great law-making treaties, The Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907. The persistent violations of the principle by Great Britain and Germany in 1914-1918 met with constant protest from our government until we became a co-belligerent and condoned them as a temporary beneficiary of the lawless blockade against the German people.
In the present war renewed violations of "the freedom of the seas" by Great Britain are not only not protested against but under the new Roosevelt policy, the principle is abandoned altogether, and our ships are forbidden to assert it in any seas which Great Britain may unlawfully close. Meantime the government has also supinely submitted to the seizure of our neutral mails, which were declared in The Hague Convention of 1907, to be "inviolable."
In the new Roosevelt policy of "concerted" action, with two or three other great powers to enforce our ideas of international justice always colored by self-interest the whole idea of the progressive development of a system of international law for the rule of a Society of Nations, large and small but legally equal before it, is destroyed. Yet this is the goal toward which all enlightened modern statesmen have striven, with our earnest participation, as giving the only promise of an ultimate international order of peace with justice.
As the rule of law has been displaced by the rule of force and caprice in our national system, so the new reliance in international policy is not upon law but upon superior force. It is a policy which will plant millions of new little white crosses over the graves of young Americans throughout Europe and the Orient in the days ahead.
The usurpations of power the President has practiced have become precedents, upon which new precedents will be built for new usurpations. That is the natural method of expansion of power in all governments. It is possible for some heroic figure, like Kleisthenes, to arise and create in the people and force upon leading politicians "that rare and difficult sentiment which we may term a constitutional morality," as Grote relates of a period of regeneration of the subsidized and demoralized Athenians. But the complaisance of our people toward governmental usurpations setting aside their most cherished rights and contributing to their moral degradation, leaves one wondering whether they are longer capable of that righteous wrath toward representatives who have betrayed them, out of which might come their deliverance. Then, too, there are interested classes of millions of beneficiaries of the sinister policy of attaching great masses of voters through financial dependence upon the public treasury.
The form of constitutional government remains; its substance has all but disappeared. While the violation of law does not repeal law, a series of violations of a Constitution of government, premeditated and lasting over a period of seven years, and submitted to, if not acquiesced in by other departments of government and by a large part of the people, is, in fact, a form of repeal which will be more dearly seen when it becomes complete.
So, too, the States, once self-governing and autonomous in a limited federal dual system, remain in name. But they are fast being reduced to mere geographical divisions under the guidance and direction of thousands of agents sent out by the central authority.
The Republic of Germany was a short-lived experiment among a people not practiced in recent centuries in self-government. It might have changed in time by the choice of its people to an authoritarian form. But it can be said of the Republic of the United States of America, that it lasted longer than any other republic ever set up; that its basic principles of the sovereignty and indefeasible rights of the citizen against government, leaving his energies free, made possible the development of a higher degree of comfort and happiness and virtue in its people than anywhere before found on the earth, and that, like a star falling into the immensity of time, it will be recorded as the most luminous attempt ever made by man to govern himself without an overlord.
In the centralization of unrestrained power over the citizen in the President, the most cherished principle of Anglo-American liberty we once enjoyed, that man may freely labor and trade and acquire and be protected in the fruits of his labor, has, of course, vanished. This principle of limitation upon royal power, came into being for the first time in the worlds history in the Charter of Liberties of Henry I in 1100, and was reaffirmed in a like charter of Henry II in 1154. In 1215 it was embodied in Chapter 39 of Magna Charta, extorted from King John at Runnymede in these words:
"No freeman shall be taken or imprisoned or be disseised of his freehold or of his liberties or his free customs or be outlawed or exiled or otherwise destroyed but by lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land."
And to maintain these rights Englishmen were compelled to force thirty-two written reconfirmations of them by six of their arbitrary Kings before they became fixed in their fundamental law. Many may think that rights protected by law are a free gift from Heaven; actually they can be won and preserved only by manly and constant resistance to the natural aggressive tendency of all government at all times to suppress them. The only means thus far known to political science for a reconciliation of liberty with government lie in the imposition of restraints upon governmental power, embodies in written constitutions, with an alert citizenry watchful to repel encroachments. Writing of the limitations imposed upon the powers of our federal government in the New Constitution, when commending it to the people of the States for ratification in 1788, James Madison said:
"It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature. If men were angels, no government would be necessary.
"In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself."
The expansive English guarantee, found in Chapter 39 of Magna Charta, was transplanted in our federal Constitution in Amendments V and XIV and in the Constitution of every State in the Union. It appears in the phraseology, "no person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law," the term "due process of law" being the equivalent of "the law of the land." Generally, due process of law is defined as a pledge of individual rights and liberties, designed to secure to every person those fundamental and inalienable rights of life, liberty and property, inherent in every man, against the invading power of government.
But the guarantee is also found in our State Constitutions, in some such language as is used in that of Missouri:
"That all persons have a natural right to life, liberty and the enjoyment of the gains of their own industry; that to give security to these things is the principal office of government, and that when government does not confer this security it fails of its chief design."
Mr. Justice Matthews of the Supreme Court, said of the term "due process of law," that it is one of those grand monuments, showing the victorious progress of the race in securing to men the blessings of civilization under the reign of just and equal laws, so that, in the famous language of the Massachusetts Bill of Rights, the Commonwealth "may be a government of laws and not of men." The phrase embraces innumerable protective principles, not the least important of which is the citizens right of access to his independent courts at all times to defeat any arbitrary action of government or its officials.
The apparent conflict between this vital right to life, liberty and property, and the necessary power of the government to tax, was reconciled in that other great complementary Anglo-Saxon principle, that taxes may be levied but the proceeds must be applied, not to private or class interests, but to public purposes only, which also disappeared in the Roosevelt coup detat.
The historic position of our once-free system, as to the citizens immunity against spoliation by government, may be illustrated in a concrete and pertinent case arising in a United States District Court in 1891, in which Richard V. Sauer of Uvalde County, Texas, a German immigrant, sought naturalization as an American citizen. On being interrogated by Judge Paschal, he stated that he was a Socialist, and that he favored the taking of land from all who owned more than 200 acres, and its distribution among those who had none.
"Thereupon," reported Judge Paschal, "I stated that, in the judgment of the court the principles of Socialism are directly at war with and antagonistically to the principles of the Constitution of the United States of America, and absolutely inconsistent with his being well disposed to the good order and happiness of the people and government of the United States."
"I further explained to him that private property could not, under the Constitution, be taken by the government for private use, and that this was a fundamental principle of the government and one of the most sacred and guarded rights of the citizen. He repelled the suggestions with derision and scorn."
And Sauer was denied citizenship.
A full discussion of what has been legislatively superimposed upon our unique system of free government in "economic" control, by all of the new federal corporations, commissions, boards, bureaus, and other administrative agencies created or reformed, would require volumes, but an outstanding interpretative symbol, or germ plasm, in the field of "social readjustment," is to be found in a single bureau, the history of which will illuminate what has happened in the social aspect of "the new order of things." And that symbol is the innocent-sounding and appealingly-named feminist instrumentality, located in the Department of Labor, and known as the Childrens Bureau. The "new order" is, in fact, the fulfillment and triumph of the socialistic aims pursued with unceasing tenacity and intelligence by this Childrens Bureau since the day of its creation by Congress in 1912.
“As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there is a twilight when everything remains seemingly unchanged. And it is in such twilight that we all must be most aware of change in the air – however slight – lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness.”
Judge Learned Hand said: "Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; if it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it."
FEDERAL. Of or pertaining to, or founded upon and organized by a compact or act of union between separate sovereign states, aa (1) by a league for common interest and defense as regards external relations, the internal sovereignty of each member remaining unimpaired, as the Hanseatic League or the German Confederation; or (2) by a permanent act of union founded on the consent of the people duly expressed, constituting a government supreme within the sphere of the powers granted to it by that act of union, as the United States of America. – The constitution of the United States of America is of a very different nature than that of the German Confederation. It is not merely a league of sovereign States for their common defence against external and internal violence, but a supreme federal government or compositive State, acting not only upon the sovereign members of the Union, but directly upon all its citizens in their individual and corporate capacities. Wheaton Elements International Law § 52, p. 78[L. B. & CO. ‘66] – From 1776 to 1789 the United States were a confederation; after 1789 it was a federal nation. A Standard Dictionary of the English Language, Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1903.
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