NToddcast RSS Feed

Monday, July 02, 2018

The Nation is wholly composed of Nobles and Serfs

Those princes, whom the ostentation of gratitude or generosity permitted for a while to hold a precarious sceptre, were dismissed from their thrones, as soon as they had per formed their appointed task of fashioning to the yoke the vanquished nations.

 - Edward Gibbon, The History of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

Before President Putin, there was George III:

Resolved, That these United Colonies are, and, of right, ought to be, Free and Independent States; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British crown, and that all political connexion between them, and the state of Great Britain, is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.

Agreeable to the order of the day, the Congress resolved itself into a committee of the whole; ∥and, after some time,∥ the president resumed the chair. Mr. [Benjamin] Harrison reported, that the committee have had under consideration the declaration to them referred; but, not having had time to go through ∥the same,∥ desired leave to sit again:

Resolved, That this Congress will, to morrow, again resolve itself into a committee of the whole, to take into their farther consideration the declaration on independence.

It still took a couple more days of resolving into a committee of the whole to finally approve Thomas Jefferson's declaration of principles to announce and justify the separation, but today's when we committed, which is why John Adams thought the 2nd would have all the glory and celebration.  

Thus we see proven once again that the Founders were fallible and could not see into the future.  You know, like when our empire would fall just like all those written about in the classical texts they'd read.  SAD!


Contribute to keep this blog fading for another 15 years! *  

July 2, 2018 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0)

NToddcast RSS Feed

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

"Liberty presumes an autonomy of self that includes freedom of...certain intimate conduct."

Lawrence v Texas (June 26, 2003):

Had those who drew and ratified the Due Process Clauses of the Fifth Amendment or the Fourteenth Amendment known the components of liberty in its manifold possibilities, they might have been more specific. They did not presume to have this insight. They knew times can blind us to certain truths and later generations can see that laws once thought necessary and proper in fact serve only to oppress. As the Constitution endures, persons in every generation can invoke its principles in their own search for greater freedom.

Clearly the only protections afforded by V and XIV were guarantees that white people could eat whereever they want without feeling uncomfortable.

So please just ignore the other great opinions revealed on this date:

  • 2013: Windsor.
  • 2015: Obergefell.

Way better than today's bullshit...


Contribute to keep this blog fading for another 15 years! *  

June 26, 2018 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0)

NToddcast RSS Feed

Friday, June 15, 2018

We Live Here Now

US Senate, June 18, 1846:

The Senate proceeded, as in Committee of the Whole, to consider the treaty between the United States of America and Her Majesty the Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, concluded at Washington the 15th day of June, 1846; and no amendment being made thereto, it was reported to the Senate.

Mr. McDuffie submitted the following resolution for consideration:

Resolved (two-thirds of the Senators present concurring), That the Senate advise and consent to the ratification of the treaty between the United States of America and Her Majesty the Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, concluded at Washington the 15th day of June, eighteen hundred and forty-six.

The Senate, by unanimous consent, proceeded to consider the said resolution...

On the question to agree to the resolution,

  • It was determined in the affirmative,
  • Yeas ... 41
  • Nays ... 14

So it was

Resolved (two-thirds of the Senate present concurring), That the Senate advise and consent to the ratification of the treaty between the United States of America and Her Majesty the Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, concluded at Washington the 15th day June, eighteen hundred and forty-six.

Ordered, That the Secretary lay the said resolution before the President of the United States.

And here we are...


Contribute to keep this blog fading for another 15 years! *  

June 15, 2018 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0)

NToddcast RSS Feed

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Remember, The Bible Can Justify Anything

Remember when the Bible meant a woman couldn't be preznit?  And now it's all good to justify ripping families apart, just like Founding Father PGT Beauregard meant.  Nice to know that NOW, gummint is good and one should always follow the law to the absolute letter.


Contribute to keep this blog fading for another 15 years! *   

June 14, 2018 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (3)

NToddcast RSS Feed

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

George Mason Would've Gotten An 'F' Rating From The NRA

From the Fifth Virginia Convention's journal:

Wednesday, June 12, 1776.

THE Declaration of Rights having been fairly transcribed, was read a third time, and passed, as follows, nem. con.:

A DECLARATION of RIGHTS made by the Representatives of the good people of VIRGINIA, assembled in full and free Convention; which rights do pertain to them and their posterity, as the basis and foundation of Government.

But George Mason, Co-author of the Second Amendment, appears to have really fucked up:

12. That the freedom of the Press is one of the greatest bulwarks of liberty, and can never be restrained but by despotick Governments.

13. That a well-regulated Militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defence of a free State; that Standing Armies, in time of peace, should be avoided as dangerous to liberty; and that, in all cases, the military should be under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power.

Weird that the Militia was meant to defend the State, not the People from the State, and wasn't identified as one of the greatest bulwarks of liberty.


Contribute to keep this blog fading for another 15 years! *   

June 12, 2018 in Constitution, Schmonstitution, RKBA | Permalink | Comments (0)

NToddcast RSS Feed

Friday, June 08, 2018

Parchment Barriers Were Made To Be Trumped

A motion was made and seconded, that the House do come to a resolution, stating certain specific amendments, proper to be proposed by Congress to the Legislatures of the States, to become, if ratified by three-fourths thereof, part of the Constitution of the United States.

 - Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States, Monday, June 8, 1789

Father of the Constitution, James Madison, made some notes other than the famous ones he took in Philly.  These were for his introduction of what would become the Bill of Rights in the First Congress:

Objectns. of 3 kinds vs the Constn:
1. vs. the theory of its structure
2. vs. the substance of its powers—elections & direct taxes
3. vs omission of guards in favr. of rights & liberts
The last most urged & easiest obviated.
Read the amendments-
They relate 1st. to private rights-
Bill of Rights-useful-not essential-

Jemmy actually had announced his intentions on May 4, but when his target of May 25 rolled around, there was too much other stuff going on.  That's a major objection to Madison's move: we have, you know, a bunch of stuff to bootstrap this government under your precious Constitution, so why you bothering us with this crap now?

So he was given the blow off before he could started by several other Representatives with varying levels of disdain for the idea of amending the Constitution (some were for it, but not so early):

  • Smith (MD) was not inclined to interrupt the measures which the public were so anxiously expecting
  • Jackson was of the opinion we ought not to be in a hurry with respect to altering the constitution
  • Goodhue was opposed to the consideration of the amendments altogether
  • Burke thought amendments to the constitution necessary, but this was not the proper time
  • [Madison gets a word in]
  • Sherman was willing that this matter should be brought before the House at a proper tiume
  • White hoped the House would not spend much time on this subject, till the more pressing business is dispatched
  • Smith (SC) thought the important and pressing business of the Government prevents their entering upon that subject at present
  • Page thought those who dread the assembling of a convention would do well to acquiesce to the present motion
  • Vining said it was not the most facile subject that can come before the Legislature of the Union

Yet Madison kept at it.  Here's how he finally set the stage in June:

I am sorry to be accessary to the loss of a single moment of time by the House...

I will state my reasons why I think it proper to propose amendments, and state the amendments themselves, so far as I think they ought to be proposed. If I thought I could fulfil the duty which I owe to myself and my constituents, to let the subject pass over in silence, I most certainly should not trespass upon the indulgence of this House. But I cannot do this, and am therefore compelled to beg a patient hearing to what I have to lay before you. And I do most sincerely believe, that if Congress will devote but one day to this subject, so far as to satisfy the public that we do not disregard their wishes, it will have a salutary influence on the public councils, and prepare the way for a favorable reception of our future measures. It appears to me that this House is bound by every motive of prudence, not to let the first session pass over without proposing to the State Legislatures some things to be incorporated into the constitution, that will render it as acceptable to the whole people of the United States, as it has been found acceptable to a majority of them.

His colleagues still didn't buy what he was selling for a while.  But, duh, Congress eventually put a proposed slate of amendments to the Several States and it was ratified and everything was perfect in all the land.  Though we shouldn't forget, once again, acceptance of the Constitution and the BoR was not universal, nor does it confer unlimited rights.  Or these days, any rights..


Contribute to keep this blog fading for another 15 years! * 

June 8, 2018 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0)

NToddcast RSS Feed

Thursday, June 07, 2018

Make America Independent Again

So it began:    

Friday June 7. 1776. The Delegates from Virginia moved in obedience to instructions from their constituents that the Congress should declare that these United colonies are & of right ought to be free & independant states, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain is & ought to be totally dissolved; that measures should be immediately taken for procuring the assistance of foreign powers, and a Confederation be formed to bind the colonies more closely together. 

Introduction of the Lee Resolution, as written in Jefferson's notes...


Contribute to keep this blog fading for another 15 years! * 

June 7, 2018 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0)

NToddcast RSS Feed

Friday, June 01, 2018

It Is My Understanding Trump Can Pardon Himself After His Own Impeachment

Why can't we impeach Trump for exercising his pardon power?  Charging a preznit with preznittin' is as American as apple pie and structural racism.


Contribute to keep this blog fading for another 15 years! * 

June 1, 2018 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (1)

NToddcast RSS Feed

Monday, May 07, 2018

Now We Love The Courts

Trump: Courts exist to protect me, not the rule of law.


May 7, 2018 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0)

NToddcast RSS Feed

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Now, I don't claim to be an "A" student

I must study Politicks and War that my sons may have liberty to study...Mathematicks and Philosophy, Geography, natural History, Naval Architecture, navigation, Commerce and Agriculture, in order to give their Children a right to study Painting, Poetry, Musick, Architecture, Statuary, Tapestry and Porcelaine.

 - John Adams to Abigail Adams (May 12, 1780)

One of my favorite days to recognize.In the House of Representatives, 1800:

On motion,

Resolved, That Mr. Waln, Mr. Evans, and Mr. Powell, be a committee, jointly, with such committee as may be appointed on the part of the Senate, for the purpose of making out a catalogue of books, and adopting the best mode of procuring a Library for the use of Congress, at the City of Washington, and for establishing a system of rules and regulations relative thereto.

Ordered, That the Clerk of this House do acquaint the Senate therewith.

The Senate followed suit the following Monday.  The legislation--an act to move the Federal government to Washington, which contained one section about establishing a library--had been approved the day before:

[F]or the purchase of such books as may be necessary for the use of Congress at the said city of Washington, and for fitting up a suitable apartment for containing them and for placing them therein, the sum of five thousand dollars shall be, and hereby is appropriated; and that the said purchase shall be made by the Secretary of the Senate and the Clerk of the House of Representatives, pursuant to such directions as shall be given, and such catalogue as shall be furnished by a joint committee of both houses of Congress to be appointed for that purpose; and that the said books shall be placed in one suitable apartment in the capitol in the said city, for the use of both houses of Congress and the members thereof, according to such regulations as the committee aforesaid shall devise and establish.

Anyway, it's fitting that all this bloggy information comes from the Library of Congress through the miracle of a network first developed by a US government agency that is not mentioned in the Constitution.  And equally fitting they named its legislative information site after Thomas Jefferson, who made his book collection available to Congress after the British burned Washington:

Jefferson offered to sell his library to Congress as a replacement for the collection destroyed by the British during the War of 1812. Congress purchased Jefferson's library for $23,950 in 1815. A second fire on Christmas Eve of 1851, destroyed nearly two thirds of the 6,487 volumes Congress had purchased from Jefferson.

The LoC is much more than just a collection of books today.  Perhaps that is why Adams (and Jefferson) studied War...


April 24, 2018 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0)

NToddcast RSS Feed

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Wonder If His Descendants Would Be Available For Trump's Cabinet?

House Journal, April 22, 1862:

The Speaker, by unanimous consent, laid before the House the following message, received yesterday from the President of the United States, viz:

To the Senate and House of Representatives:

I transmit to Congress a copy of a correspondence between the Secretary of State and Benjamin E. Brewster, of Philadelphia, relative to the arrest in that city of Simon Cameron, late Secretary of War, at the suit of Pierce Butler, for trespass vi et armiś, assault and battery, and false imprisonment.


This is an interesting little glimpse at the impact of Lincon's habeas suspension:

After the Secretary of War, Mr. Simon Cameron, resigned in January, he was appointed minister to Russia. When he was nearly ready to embark for that country, on April 15th, a writ from the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania was served upon him at the suit of Mr. Pierce Butler for trespass, assault and battery, and. false imprisonment on the 19th of August previous.

At that time Mr. Butler was suspected of a correspondence with the Confederate States unfavorable to the cause of the Union, and during a moment of public excitement was arrested by order of Mr. Cameron, without process of law, and without any assigned cause, his trunks, drawers, wardrobe, and entire apartments searched, and private papers taken possession of by the United States marshal and four assistants. His office was also examined, his books and papers taken, and in one hour from the arrest he was on his way to New York, with the marshal and his assistants, all armed with revolvers, who conducted him that evening to Fort Lafayette. A subsequent application on the part of Mr. Butler's friends to tho Secretary of War, to ascertain the reason of his action, though in a measure answered, induced no satisfactory response.

He asserted that nothing was found among his papers to call in question his loyalty to the Government, and in obtaining the writ he refrained from arrest and the demand for security from Mr. Cameron, as his wish was merely to test the constitutionality of his imprisonment. He was liberated five weeks from his imprisonment, without a reason being given for his discharge any more than for his arrest.

Secretary Cameron was dogged by corruption, and his fellow Pennsylvania man, Representative Thaddeus Stevens, was not a fan:

Stevens’s anger gave rise to the story of his alleged conversation with Lincoln about Cameron’s dishonesty, told by Samuel McCall, one of his early biographers. Supposedly the president-elect, hearing of Stevens’s negative opinion about Cameron, asked, “You don’t mean that Cameron would steal?,” only to be told, “No, I don’t think he would steal a red hot stove.” Lincoln then retailed this remark to Cameron, who reacted furiously and demanded a retraction. Thereupon Stevens told Lincoln he would retract. “I told you that I didn’t think he would steal a red hot stove. I now take that back.” No confirmation of the story has ever been found, but at the time, Stevens was furious at his rival and considered him dishonest...



April 22, 2018 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0)

NToddcast RSS Feed

Friday, April 20, 2018

A Traitor Sez Wut?

Such a sincerely devoted states' righter:

Arlington, Washington City, P.O
20 Apr 1861

Lt. Genl Winfield Scott
Commd U.S. Army

Since my interview with you on the 18th Inst: I have felt that I ought not longer to retain any Commission in the Army. I therefore tender my resignation which I request you will recommend for acceptance. It would have been presented at once but for the struggle it has Cost me to separate myself from a Service to which I have divoted all the best years of my life, & all the ability I possessed.

During the whole of that time, more than a quarter of a century, I have experienced nothing but kindness from my superiors & the most Cordial friendships from any Comrades. To no one Genl have I been as much indebted as to yourself for kindness & Consideration & it has always been my ardent desire to merit your approbation. I shall carry with me, to the grave the most grateful recollections of your kind Consideration, & your name & fame will always be dear to me. Save in the defense of my native state shall I ever again draw my sword. Be pleased to accept any more [illegible] wishes for “the Continuance of your happiness & prosperity & believe me

Most truly yours
R E Lee

But you know, different time, love for State over Country, etc, etc.


April 20, 2018 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0)

NToddcast RSS Feed

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Only The Best Judges

Ah yes, another mind-reading Scalia in the making, just noting that the Framers all agreed unanimously on everything 100%.


April 19, 2018 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0)

NToddcast RSS Feed

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The people will waken and listen to hear the hurrying hoof-beats of that steed

Let us revere what actually happened in 1775:

The story of "Paul Revere's ride" needs not only correction but perspective.  One hundred twenty-two people lost their lives within hours of Revere's heroics, and almost twice that number were wounded.  Revere's ride was not the major event of that day, nor was Revere's warning so critical in triggering the bloodbath.  Patriotic farmers had been preparing to oppose the British for the better part of a year.  Paul Revere himself had contributed to those preparations with other important rides...

Paul Revere was one among tens of thousands of patriot from Massachusetts who rose to fight the British.  Most of those people lived outside of Boston, and, contrary to the traditional telling, these people were not country cousins to their urban counterparts.  They were rebels in their own right, although their story is rarely told...

In truth, the country folk...staged their own Revolution more than a half a year before.
The Massachusetts Revolution of 1774 was the most successful popular uprising in the nation's history, the only one to remove existing political authority.  Despite its power--or possibly because of its power--this momentous event has been virtually lost to history.
The very strengths of the Revolution of 1774 have insured its anonymity.  The force of the people was so overwhelming that violence became unnecessary.  The handful of Crown-appointed officials...when confronted by 4,622 angry militiamen, had no choice but to submit.  Had opposition been stronger, there might have been violence; that would have made for a bloodier tale but a weaker revolution.
The United States owes its very existence to the premise that all authority resides with the people, yet our standard telling of history does not reflect this fundamental principle.  The story of the revolution before the Revolution can remind us of what we are all about.

And about that successful, bloodless revolution in Mass the year before:

For ordinary citizens, the most visible sign of direct British rule under [1774's Coercive] Acts was to be seen in each county’s Court of Common Pleas. These courts, in session four times a year, heard hundreds of cases, most involving the nonpayment of debts. The courts, with their power to foreclose on property, would now be presided over by new judges, appointed by the royal governor and answerable only to him. Understandably, the county courthouses became the focus of the colonists’ resistance to the new regime:

    * When the governor’s new judges arrived at the Worcester County courthouse, they were met by a crowd of five or six thousand citizens, including one thousand armed militamen. The judges, sheriffs, and lawyers were forced to process in front of the crowd and repeatedly promise not to hold court under the terms of the Acts.

    * In Great Barrington, 1500 unarmed men packed the courthouse so full that the judges literally could not take their seats.

    * In Springfield, a crowd of about 3000 forced the judges and other officials to resign their positions.

In addition to closing the courts, crowds throughout the colony forced the resignations (or escapes into Boston) of all thirty-six of the governor’s councilors, including Thomas Oliver, the lieutentant governor of the colony. They also ignored the prohibition against nonapproved town meetings; they not only met, they held elections, and began to assemble an armed colonial militia. In short, they simply ignored the royal government and proceeded to set up their own.

In a period of about thirty days, from mid-August to mid-September of 1774, the ordinary people of rural Massachusetts, mostly farmers, ended British rule over themselves and their countryside forever. With no real organization, no official leaders, no fixed institutions – and no bloodshed – they went up against the most powerful empire on earth, and won. Their victory resulted from the sheer force of their numbers, along with their unshakable determination to be their own rulers. As one British loyalist unhappily put it at the time: “Government has now devolved upon the people; and they seem to be for using it.”

How come Longfellow wrote about The Ride and The Arsenal at Springfield, but not about bloodless revolution?


April 18, 2018 in Constitution, Schmonstitution, Pax Americana | Permalink | Comments (0)

NToddcast RSS Feed

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The Cudjo Power

Virginia's secession ordinance:

The people of Virginia, in their ratification of the Constitution of the United States of America, adopted by them in Convention on the twenty-fifth day of June, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty-eight, having declared that the powers granted under the said Constitution were derived from the people of the United States, and might be resumed whensoever the same should be perverted to their injury and oppression; and the Federal Government, having perverted said powers, not only to the injury of the people of Virginia, but to the oppression of the Southern Slaveholding States.

Now, therefore, we, the people of Virginia, do declare and ordain that the ordinance adopted by the people of this State in Convention, on the twenty-fifth day of June, eighty-eight, whereby the Constitution of the United States of America was ratified, and all acts of the General Assembly of this State, ratifying or adopting amendments to said Constitution, are hereby repealed and abrogated; that the Union between the State of Virginia and the other States under the Constitution aforesaid, is hereby dissolved, and that the State of Virginia is in the full possession and exercise of all the rights of sovereignty which belong and appertain to a free and independent State. And they do further declare that the said Constitution of the United States of America is no longer binding on any of the citizens of this State.

This ordinance shall take effect and be an act of this day when ratified by a majority of the votes of the people of this State, cast at a poll to be taken thereon on the fourth Thursday in May next, in pursuance of a schedule to be hereafter enacted [Spoiler: the secesh won].

Done in Convention, in the city of Richmond, on the 17th day of April, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-one, and in the eighty-fifth year of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

The day before, an ostensibly anti-secesh delegate from Patrick County, Samuel G Staples, delivered his speech in favor of Vexit:

I announced to my constituents, when I was a candidate for a seat in this body, that while I cordially endorsed the reasons that impelled the seceded States to dissolve their connection with the Federal Government; yet I doubted the propriety of their course, and I hesitated not to declare that sound policy dictated a united movement on the part of all the Southern States, in order to procure from the Northern people an acknowledgment of our absolute equality in this government and of all the rights guaranteed to us by the Constitution.
They declared in the Declaration of Independence that, "when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty to throw off such government and provide new guards for their future security." They did not wait until the King of Great Britain had riveted the chains around them and bound them to slavery; but they took up arms at the first dawning of any attempt at subjugation.

I find it interesting that so many folks in the South were concerned about their equality in Federal government when they were in fact over-represented thanks to the 3/5s clause.  Also, too, how they thought being enslaved was a bad thing worthy of violence to overcome.


April 17, 2018 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0)

NToddcast RSS Feed

Friday, April 13, 2018

May He who has made his Angels encamp around you

Art: II. Sect. 2. "he shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offences against the U. S. &c"

Mr. RANDOLPH moved to "except cases of treason." The prerogative of pardon in these cases was too great a trust. The President may himself be guilty. The Traytors may be his own instruments.

 - Debates of the Constitutional Convention, September 15, 1787

Presidents pardon pretty bad people quite a bit, going back to the first insurrection against our constitutional government. 

George Washington suppressed the Whiskey Rebellion, and many of the traitors were put on trial, though generally there was a lack of evidence despite Alexander Hamilton's best efforts.  A number of people--including the jury that convicted one rebel--implored the President to show mercy.  The Father of Our Country did ultimately issue stays of execution, and grant pardons for the revolutionaries.

As Washington explained in his 7th SOTU on December 8, 1795:

It is a valuable ingredient in the general estimate of our welfare that the part of our country which was lately the scene of disorder and insurrection now enjoys the blessings of quiet and order. The misled have abandoned their errors, and pay the respect to our Constitution and laws which is due from good citizens to the public authorities of the society. These circumstances have induced me to pardon generally the offenders here referred to, and to extend forgiveness to those who had been adjudged to capital punishment. For though I shall always think it a sacred duty to exercise with firmness and energy the constitutional powers with which I am vested, yet it appears to me no less consistent with the public good than it is with my personal feelings to mingle in the operations of Government every degree of moderation and tenderness which the national justice, dignity, and safety may permit.

In conclusion: fuck Donald Trump and Scooter Libby.


April 13, 2018 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0)

NToddcast RSS Feed

Thursday, April 12, 2018

The Cause Of All Those Statues

The genteel South's heritage!

FORT SUMTER, S. C., April 12, 1861 3.20 a. m.

SIR: By authority of Brigadier-General Beauregard, commanding the Provisional Forces of the Confederate States, we have the honor to notify you that he will open the fire of his batteries on Fort Sumter in one hour from this time.

We have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servants,
Captain, C. S. Army, Aide-de-Camp.

Now for the bookend:

On April 12, 1865, a telegram from Lieutenant-General Ulysses S. Grant arrived to inform Major-General William T. Sherman about General Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox.  Sherman congratulated Grant and added, “The terms you have given Lee are magnanimous and liberal.  Should Johnston follow Lee’s example I shall of course grant the same.”
In the Federal camps that evening, Special Field Orders No. 54 was read.  This was the official announcement of Lee’s surrender on April 9th.  Sherman closed that with encouragement to his troops, “A little more labor, a little more toil on our part, the great race is won, and our Government stands regenerated after four long years of bloody war.”

Sadly, we never did resolve the war's root cause of tariffs...


April 12, 2018 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0)

NToddcast RSS Feed

Sunday, April 08, 2018

Dumbocrat Take Of The Day

What we ought not normalize is Trump's corruption.  Impeachment is constitutionalized as a way to rein in hammer blows to our democracy.  It's inherently a political tool.  You tool.


April 8, 2018 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0)

NToddcast RSS Feed

I Am Not A Crackpot

I think the 17th Amendment is just grand, and not just because it's a perennial target for repeal by whackjobs and GOP candidates who claim a deep love for federalism.  I bring it on this 105th birthday because:

Connecticut had the distinction of being the requisite thirty-sixth state to ratify the Seventeenth Amendment, thereby making it a part of the Constitution. The governor, Simeon K. Baldwin, noted in his inaugural address on January 8, 1913, the importance of ratifying the proposed amendment.

Although the original resolution calling for ratification was adversely reported from the House committee on federal relations on March 27, the House was able to adopt a substitute resolution on April 8 by a vote of 151 to 77, and, five minutes later, the Senate concurred by a voice vote." While Connecticut was the last requisite state to vote ratification and did so on April 8, the Seventeenth Amendment did not become a part of the fundamental law of the land until May 31, 1913, because of the failure of the proper officials in a number of the states promptly to notify the State Department of the favorable action of their state legislatures.

Of course you're going to have certain inefficiencies in such a clunky mechanism, so it's not suprising that there were delays officially amending the Constitution because of failures on the part of various state officials (see Mississippi and the 13th Amendment).  What's interesting about that in this case is there appear to be some discrepancies between what various records say was the ratification date.

Okay, that might not seem interesting at first blush, but such things fuel conspiracy theories.  I mean, we've got some folks claiming there are "missing" amendments.  Others who assert the 14th Amendment was never ratified.  And let's not forget the 16th and 19th Amendments!

Even the 17th has its nutjob haters (including those who see it as part of a greater conspiracy to destroy America).  For example:

The amendment was declared ratified on April 8, 1913

According to the official documents from the National Archives, Arkansas ratified April 14, 1913; Connecticut ratified April 15, 1913; Wisconsin ratified May 9, 1913.

How is it the ratification process could be completed April 8, 1913, when three states didn't vote until after that date?

All it takes a little bit of misreading and misunderstanding to use such things as evidence of anything nefarious or otherwise faulty.  

First of all, the amendment was declared ratified on May 31, not April 8.  You certainly can read contemporary accounts of what transpired back then which mark April 8 as the date when the 36th state approved, but it's not like the White House announced anything official on Twitter that day.  

But what of this claim that Connecticut didn't actually ratify until April 15?  I've found both a Connecticut government source and a Federal document which suggest that is the case.  Yet the GPO indicates April 8 is correct.

So who's right?  Lemme just observe that the GPO also shows Pennsylvania as having ratified on April 2.  Yet that same Congressional document above says April 15.  A series of typos?  A deliberate attempt to conceal the true dates so we don't see the process as illegitimate?

I suspect it has something to do with delays in reporting to the US Secretary of State.  The history excerpted above seems to bolster that idea, as does Vermont's experience ratifying the Constitution itself.  Our Convention did its work on January 10, 1791, the Secretary transmitted results on January 21, and Congress received the necessary paperwork on February 9.  So on what date did we ratify?

Hardly something to hang your conspiracy on.  But these are the same people who see smudge marks, typos, etc, as indicative of something other than simple errors.  So, you know, whatever.

What's so strange to me is that I've not seen any similar conspiracy theories--the magically "lost" amendment notwithstanding--about the abolition of slavery.  Many years later after the 13th Amendment's passage, Lincoln's secretaries, Nicolay and Hay, collaborated on an article about it:

The ever-vigilant public opinion of the loyal States, intensified by the burdens and anxieties of the war, took up this far-reaching question of abolishing slavery by constitutional amendment with an interest fully as deep as that manifested by Congress. Before the joint resolution had failed in the House of Representatives the issue was already transferred to discussion and prospective decision in a new forum.
The logic of events had become more powerful than party creed or strategy. For fifteen years the Democratic party had stood as sentinel and bulwark to slavery; and yet, despite its alliance and championship, the peculiar institution was being consumed like dry leaves in the fire of war.

For a whole decade it had been defeated in every great contest of congressional debate and legislation. It had withered in popular elections, been paralyzed by confiscation laws, crushed by Executive decrees, trampled upon by marching Union armies. More notable than all, the agony of dissolution had come upon it in its final stronghold--the constitutions of the slave States. Local public opinion had throttled it in West Virginia, in Missouri, in Arkansas, in Louisiana, in Maryland; and the same spirit of change was upon Tennessee, and even showing itself in Kentucky.

Here was a great revolution of ideas, a mighty sweep of sentiment, which could not be explained away by the stale charge of sectional fanaticism, or by alleging technical irregularities of political procedure. Here was a mighty flood of public opinion, overleaping old barriers and rushing into new channels. The Democratic party did not and could not shut its eyes to the accomplished facts.

I particularly like the part about how final emancipation couldn't be "explained away...by alleging technical irregularities of political procedure."  Brings to mind a favorite, goofy ruling by the Utah Supreme Court regarding the subsequent amendment.  After summarizing how regular everything was in passing the Thirteenth, it then went into great detail about just how illegitimate the Fourteenth was.

But maybe everybody was just waiting for the Trump Era to twist Spielberg's movie into a new conspiracy.  Or perhaps they don't need to...


April 8, 2018 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (1)

NToddcast RSS Feed

Thursday, April 05, 2018

I have maturely considered the Act

April 5, 1792:

Gentlemen of the House of Representatives

I have maturely considered the Act passed by the two Houses, intitled, "An Act for an apportionment of Representatives among the several States according to the first enumeration," and I return it to your House, wherein it originated, with the following objections.

First—The Constitution has prescribed that representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers: and there is no one proportion or divisor which, applied to the respective numbers of the States will yield the number and allotment of representatives proposed by the Bill.

Second—The Constitution has also provided that the number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty thousand; which restriction is, by the context, and by fair and obvious construction, to be applied to the seperate and respective numbers of the States: and the bill has allotted to eight of the States, more than one for thirty thousand.

George Washington.

That was 50% of Washington's total vetoes, neither of which were overridden.

Anyway, the apportionment was to be the first post-Census, so clearly a lot was riding on it.  There was quite a split amongst the president's advisors (detailed opinions here, summary notes by Washington's secretary here).  Jefferson recorded:

The President called on me before breakfast first introduced some other matters, then fell on the representn bill which he had now in his possn for the 10th day. I had before given him my opn in writing that the method of apportionmt was contrary to the constn. He agreed that it was contrary to the common understanding of that instrument, to what was understood at the time by the makers of it: that yet it would bear the constn which the bill put, he observed that the vote for against the bill was perfectly geographical, a northern agt a southern vote, he feared he should be thought to be taking side with a southern party. I admitted this motive of delicacy, but that it should not induce him to do wrong: urged the dangers to which the scramble for the fractionary members would always lead. He here expressed his fear that there would ere long, be a separation of the union; that the public mind seemed dissatisfied tending to this.

In the end, not only did Jefferson's ideas sway Washington, but his proposed formula became the standard apportionment for five decades (here's how we do it today).  Interestingly enough, the previous year Jefferson figured in another veto discussion, as former Congressman Abraham Lincoln noted a few score years later:

When the bill chartering the first bank of the United States passed Congress, it's constitutionality was questioned. Mr. Madison, then in the House of Representatives, as well as others, had opposed it on that ground. Gen: Washington, as President, was called on to approve or reject it. He sought and obtained on the constitutional question the separate written opinions of Jefferson, Hamilton, and Edmund Randolph; they then being respectively Secretary of State, Secretary of the Treasury, and Attorney General. Hamilton's opinion was for the power; while Randolph's and Jefferson's were both against it. Mr. Jefferson, after giving his opinion decidedly against the constitutionality of that bill, closes his letter with the paragraph which I now read:

It must be admitted, however, that, unless the President's mind, on a view of every thing, which is urged for and against this bill, is tollerably clear that it is unauthorized by the constitution; if the pro and the con hang so even as to ballance his judgment, a just respect for the wisdom of the legislature, would naturally decide the ballance in favor of their opinion: it is chiefly for cases, where they are clearly misled by error, ambition, or interest, that the constitution has placed a check in the negative of the President.

February 15- 1791- Thomas Jefferson- 

So Jefferson at that point was once again opposed to the controversial measure in question, but advised that the president defer to Congress if he wasn't absolutely sure on the constitutionality.  In this case, though, it would seem there was no threat to Southern power (Jeffersonian distrust of bankers notwithstanding), so maybe that compelled him to be more conciliatory.  

Perhaps I'm being unfair and there were no such calculations in Jefferson's mind.  Yet given the "slave bonus" that arguably helped elect him as the first "Negro President" and ultimately set the stage for the dissolution that Washington feared and Lincoln presided over, I can't help but wonder...


April 5, 2018 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0)