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The Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution

What is the relationship between these documents, especially for interpreting the Constitution?  There are several different possibilities.

1. Largely Unrelated. This is the conventional view in constitutional law.  Under this view, one generally can ignore the Declaration when interpreting the Constitution.  One justification is that the Declaration had a limited purpose – announcing to the world that the US was independent – and that was concluded by the end of the Revolutionary War.

2. Significant as a Document. Under this view, the principles announced in the Declaration are important guides to the meaning of the Constitution.  The force of the Declaration comes from the fact that it is one of the foundational documents in US history.  While not the standard view in either  originalist or conventional constitutional law, it does have some adherents.

3. Significant as Evidence of Political Principles. Under this view, the Constitution should be interpreted in accordance with certain important political principles, such as natural law or traditional common law principles.  The Declaration is evidence that natural law principles were widely accepted by the people in the latter part of the 18th. The reason for employing these principles, however, is not that they are in the Declaration, but that they were widely accepted.

I am not entirely sure whether I hold position 1 or 3 (or something in between), but I believe that position 2 is mistaken.

The argument for 2 is that the Declaration of Independence was an operative document that is one of the basic documents of U.S. history.  Under the English system of constitutional law at the end of 18th century, significant documents would have been included in the constitution – documents such as the English Bill of Rights and the Magna Carta.  But the American system departed from the English system by placing the entire constitution in a single document.

Another problem with this argument is that the Articles of Confederation was also a fundamental document of U.S. history, yet we do not interpret the Constitution in accordance with it (which is not to say that it is irrelevant to the interpretation of the Constitution).

Finally, the U.S. Constitution makes no reference to the Declaration, but such reference might have been expected if the Declaration were deemed to be a continuing part of constitutional law.

It is not really clear that people who want to interpret the Constitution in accordance with natural law need the Significant as a Document view.  The natural law content would be much the same under the Significant as Evidence view, and that view could rely upon far more evidence and support.  In the future, I hope to post about this latter view.

Reader Discussion

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on January 19, 2015 at 11:15:06 am

"Under the English system of constitutional law at the end of 18th century, significant documents would have been included in the constitution – documents such as the English Bill of Rights and the Magna Carta. But the American system departed from the English system by placing the entire constitution in a single document."

I am not certain that this is supportive of your argument. British constitution is a somewhat different construct than is the US and most importantly, the British constitution can be changed by a simple Act of Parliament. This is not surprising since the Brits appear to be operating on, as they say, their unwritten constitution, which, in Burkean terms, is prescription. Thus, the Brits DO NOT NEED to have a *significant document* to guide their constitution((al)evolution); whereas, we as a people appear to desire or operate on a more foundational basis.

Whether #2 is correct or not, I am not prepared to say, but one should not be dismissive of it (not you - but some in Ken Masugi's post). I think it is fair to say that it is, in fact, THE expression of the animating principle of the US.

And oh, that was a great game in the rain in Seattle.
GO SEAHAWKS!!!!!

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gabe
on January 19, 2015 at 14:15:14 pm

How about "significant as constitutionalized through the Fourteenth Amendment"? The Declaration was central to Republican political thought and their sense of their historic mission. The idea that the Founders had omitted the Declaration’s principles from the Constitution because of slavery was reiterated time and again in the 39th Congress, and the structure of Section 1 seems to be patterned after the Declaration in an effort to re-affirm those principles beyond any doubt.

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Evan
on January 19, 2015 at 16:00:27 pm

Good point(s)!

Probably should add this comment to Ken Masugi's post of last week as a response to some of the comments.
One might also include the 13th as part o this as well.

take care

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gabe
on January 19, 2015 at 19:52:03 pm

The first eight Amendments could have been taken directly from the list of complaints found in the Declaration. That is where I would say that the Declaration is most valuable in understanding the limits on government.

The Constitution is not law, at least not in the sense that it is enforced. We treat it as if it were law, because doing so is useful. As law we can adjudicate it. As law it provides social stability. But at heart it is a gentleman’s agreement, one that defines the form, power and limits of a government. As a gentleman’s agreement we tend to ignore certain parts of it when they cease to be useful and to make exceptions when we are in a state of emergency. We are the gentlemen of the agreement, so we can do that, and occasionally we do so.

The first Americans, I think, understood that about the Constitution, so they added the first ten amendments to affirm that certain governmental practices known to be particularly malignant were not to be excepted or ignored.

In understanding the complaints about government abuses, we can better understand the first ten amendments and why they should be taken most seriously.

Today we do not take the Second Amendment very seriously. It provides the citizens with the ability to go to war, with their own government if necessary. Today we see the ghosts at Gettysburg, and we recognize how harmful that practice can be. Plus we see report fairly regularly about someone with a semiautomatic rifle taking out some school kids or a crowd at a shopping mall and we wonder what might have happened if they murderer had a fully automatic weapon and a backpack full of grenades. We also recognize the absurdity of idea of going to war against the modern US military. Within these contexts, and the context of the Declaration, we understand what to do. We keep the Second for the reasons it symbolizes, while minimizing it to protect the innocent. (I do agree with Gabe’s comments from another topic, that it would be nice if we would formalize our actual relationship to the Constitution.)

Where the Constitution provides structure, we are pretty good at following it. Where it tries to become enforceable law, it gets messy real fast because it is so easy for the gentleman of the agreement to ignore or reinterpret parts of it. The Declaration provides us some historical guidance and some political motivation in following our agreement.

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Scott Amorian
on January 19, 2015 at 20:05:45 pm

By "gentlemen's agreement" I am referring in part to this:

"That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."

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Scott Amorian
on January 19, 2015 at 20:49:39 pm

Scott, I'd hardly call a legal paper that created the power to write, enforce and administer statute, dictated how that was to be done, dictated the scope of the powers, and specified limits to those powers--I don't see how you can call that "not a law" or "a gentlemen's agreement." If it isn't binding, why bother? Now we have those who deign to defy that binding nature, thus making a joke of the whole concept of amendment, also contained in the Constitution. In other words, if it wasn't intended to be binding, no provision for amendments would have been included.

Mike, one thing to remember is that the Constitution came about as effectively an insurgency against the Articles of Confederation, a sneak attack by those who wanted a strong federal power, and an upending of the Convention itself by defying the Convention's scoping statements--the justifications by which it was agreed to hold a convention at all. I think this kinda kills #2.

This is most meaningful in the sense that one can see clearly a change in direction from the confederate Articles to the current Constitution's Federalist mindset; I see the Declaration as a vision statement with teeth (enough, I hope) to keep the future (that day's but also today's future) from getting too far afield of Revolutionary principles which actually were (and are) the motive force and meaning of the United states, by virtue of being what drove all the willingness to all that trouble gaining independence in the first place. I think I'd therefore go with #3. #1 is too dismissive of the Revolution itself--convenient for those who strongly favor a powerful federal unit.

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kldimond
on January 19, 2015 at 21:52:53 pm

Foundational (or organic) laws can be foundational in different ways--the Northwest Ordinance differs from the Declaration, and it from the Articles. They are key steps in forming constitutionalism. Before there can be a constitution there has to be a moral-political consensus. In other words the mere positive law of the Constitution is not sufficient on its own terms for its understanding. Jaffa raises the basic question: Is this Constitution pro or anti- slavery? Before there can be any respect for the Constituton, this is a key answer to have. After all, why respect a Constitution that might result in your becoming a slave?

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Ken Masugi
on January 20, 2015 at 09:17:32 am

[…] The Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution […]

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Chamber of Commerce Defends Rentseekers United - Freedom's Floodgates
on January 20, 2015 at 13:16:54 pm

Ken--

Your post here speaks directly to why it is so important to get the American conversation over slavery right. The founder's understanding of slavery continues to be relevant to understanding what they achieved, and what the aspired to achieve, in 1787 and 1788.

Your comment that "before there can be a constitution there has to be a moral-political consensus" reminds me of the teaching of Don Lutz, and strikes me as fundamentally right. I would only add to this that the causality can run in both directions--moral-political consensus is necessary to create a constitution, but it also can shape moral-political values. This is one of the reasons guys like George Mason, Patrick Henry, and the New York writers Cato and Brutus favored a bill of rights that looked something like the Virginia Declaration of Rights: such a bill of rights represented a normative source of instruction for the people.

I do not think the second half of your post, however, gets it quite right. The argument that I might become a slave undermines support for the constitution was advanced by abolitionists in the decades after 1830, but to my knowledge not prior to then. Rather, there did exist throughout most of the states in the late 18th century--not just those of the South--a broad consensus that, first, blacks represented a racially inferior people incapable of meaningful self-government, and second, that slavery was an appropriate status for such a people. Whites thus did not imagine that they might become slaves, because they perceived the vast majority of people like themselves as people who were fit for self government and thus capable of being republican citizens. Sadly, people like Witherspoon or Franklin, who held correct views of slavery, were in a distinct minority. The dominant position was that of the Upper South: slavery is bad, but not because it denies civil rights or dignity to blacks, but rather because it shapes the character of slaveowners in a fashion inimical to sustaining a commonwealth, and secondarily because it renders a society vulnerable to attack by external enemies. You can find these kinds of arguments as early as the 1760s, in the writings of George Mason, Richard Henry Lee, and Arthur Lee, among others.

Among other things, a systemic racism permitted racist whites throught the union, north and south, to reconcile slavery with republicanism. Following Locke, Sydney, and other republican theorists, the American founders grounded citizenship in possession of adult rationality. Thus, the paternalism of southern pro-slavery thought permitted slave owners to argue that slavery was completely compatible with Lockean liberalism. If blacks are people who will never possess adult rationality, then it is much easier to claim that slavery is an appropriate status for them. This kind of argument appeared very early--for example in the congressional debates over reception of anti-slave trade petitions in the 1790s.

There have been several works published in recent years that support the argument I make above--by scholars like David Waldstreicher, Paul Finkelman, and William Van Cleve. All three are good, but by far the best in my judgment is Van Cleve's A Slaveholder's Union: Slavery, Politics, and the Constitution in the Early American Republic. Van Cleve holds both a J.D. and a Ph.D., and completed his docterate under the direction of Peter Onuf. When I teach this subject to my graduate students, this is the work I assign.

All best wishes,
Kevin

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Kevin R. Hardwick
on January 20, 2015 at 14:30:48 pm

" the causality can run in both directions.....such a bill of rights represented a normative source of instruction for the people."

Or perhaps, this is simply a means of "reinforcing" the pre-existing moral political normative?

Good analysis on the "adult-rationality" argument.

A question if you would.

I am aware of the effect and the prevalence of this particular strategy / tactic post - 1820 and that it was a predominant mode of thinking in both North and South. However, I must ask how prevalent this sentiment was pre-Constitution. I do not recall seeing many instances of this in debates, etc.
Or is it very absence from those discussions evidence of its predominance as if there were no need to even discuss it?

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gabe
on January 20, 2015 at 15:51:33 pm

"The Constitution is not law, at least not in the sense that it is enforced."

Show me the Constitution police please.

Show me the Constitutional court please. (Not the court appointed by the Executive, because the Executive is one of the parties that would be policed. You can't have the criminals appointing their own judges.)

Show me the Constitutional prison for violating the terms of the Constitution please.

The only power enforcing the Constitution is the will of the democracy. It is bound by the consent of the governed. The members of the democracy are the gentlemen of the agreement.

If there were an agency of justice enforcing the Constitution we would not have a liberal government (in the classic sense). We would have a state of tyranny. The enforcers of a constitution are the actual government. Any centralized body charged with enforcing the Constitution would by our rulers. Once a Constitution becomes enforced, society becomes the political subjects of the enforcers.

Hopefully, that explains why America's form of constitutional government is properly called liberal government. We are considered free because we are not bound to our Constitution by an agency of enforcement. We are our own enforcers, and we can, and occasionally do, choose to not follow the terms of our agreement. Do you need more proofs of this than my Second Amendment example? More can be provided.

I am concerned that many conservatives and libertarians don't understand this about their system government. Leftists certainly do, and they take full advantage of it. Conservatives generally address the issue by denying the reality of it and insisting that the Constitution is bound more firmly that it actually is, while leftists generally recognize the nature of the Constitution and use the denial of the conservatives to their advantage. That, I believe, is one of the reasons we see government always drifting to the left.

To address issues of constitutionality, one must start with square one, and understand the sense in which the Constitution is law and the sense in which it is not. Otherwise the causes of constitutional failures cannot be properly addressed. Is the constitutional issue one of enforcement (the will or desire of the democracy), or is it an issue of architecture, or is it an issue of interpretation, or is it an issue of execution?

If we refuse to acknowledge the "gentleman's agreement" character of the Constitution as law, we can never address corrections to that area; now can we.

Sorry, but I must reject your dictatorial theory of Constitutional law.

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Scott Amorian
on January 20, 2015 at 16:05:06 pm

Excellent topic, Mike. When you ask questions like this the topic seems to produce the most interesting discussions. Thank you.

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Scott Amorian
on January 20, 2015 at 16:12:13 pm

Gabe--

I and two of my Political Science colleagues are under contract to produce a document collection tracing the developing public conversation in the US (prior to 1776, of course, some but not all of the mainland British colonies, that ultimately seceded from the British empire) in the century from 1760 to 1860. With any luck at all, it will be published later this year.

The earliest example with which I am familiar of the Souther paternalist pro-slavery argument dates from a series of petitions to the Virginia legislature in 1784. There, it was a subordinate argument--the dominant themes in those petitions were "we fought the Revolution to protect our property rights, and the slaves are property," and "slavery is sanctioned both by the bible and by the example of the classical republics." Elsewhere in the larger conversation, the argument that slavery renders a society weak because it enables foreign powers to encourage the slaves to revolt--what I term a "reason of state" argument--was salient, in part because of the direct experience of the war in South Carolina, Virginia, and New York.

You can also see the paternalist argument extended by Congressmen and Senators from South Carolina and Georgia in a series of debates in the 1790s over reception of petitions requesting congressional action to discourage the slave trade. One of the propositions put forward by George William Van Cleve (I got his name wrong, in my post above) in his excellent study is that criticism of the slave trade is not necessarily criticism of slavery, and is fully consistent with racism.

Anyway, I think that you are completely correct that full blown paternalistic defenses of slavery emerged most forcefully in the decades after 1820, as humanistic arguments against slavery (many of those stemming from the self-improvement ethic of the Second Great Awakening) gained increasing traction. But I find it fascinating to find them in more or less well developed form several decades earlier.

This is really great stuff. I hope I have done justice to your question!

All best wishes,
Kevin

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Kevin R. Hardwick
on January 20, 2015 at 16:24:26 pm

Scott--

Founders like Madison and Hamilton believed that a viable federal government had to be able to exercise effective coercive power. Initially, that power was exercised by the United States army, and by the state militias, when nationalized by the federal executive. So a good example of exercise of this police power is the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794. It was very rarely used after that--but another example is the "Force Act" of 1833, passed by congress at Andrew Jackson's request in response to the nullification crisis.

All best wishes,
Kevin

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Kevin R. Hardwick
on January 20, 2015 at 16:29:25 pm

Another example of the federal police power is the United States Marshals Service, created in 1789 as part of the congressional legislation creating the United States Justice system. I think you would be hard pressed to argue that the people who passed this law believed that their authority to do stemmed from any place other than the US Constitution. Many of them, of course, have to be counted as among the "founders," and more than a few had helped draft the Constitution in Philadelphia two years earlier.

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Kevin R. Hardwick
on January 20, 2015 at 16:30:46 pm

Kevin:

Thanks much - and yes, you definitely did justice to the question.

BTW: let me know when the document collection is done. I suspect it would be worthwhile for me to read it.

BTW 2: Re: my earlier post about *reinforcing vs causality* Am currently going through Phillip Hamburgers book on Admin Law. Am struck by the *rectitude* of our early judges and their insistence on rule by and through law - the fact that they have the Constitution and the BOR as their North Star does give credence to your causality argument as well. Great book by the way and one that one can use to measure how much the anti-Feds got right.

take care
gabe

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gabe
on January 20, 2015 at 18:44:39 pm

The Constitution has been so amended,misinterpreted,ignored and twisted that it is,in essence,a dead letter. With that said,in reality the Constitution has been set aside and we have,since 1933 and Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal, been living under marshal law and executive orders. In essence we,as citizens,are walking corporations with out corporate charter being our birth certificates and our registration and corporate numbers being our Social Security numbers. The Declaration of Independence,the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are nothing but a dog and pony show to make you think you are free. You're not.

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libertarian jerry
on January 20, 2015 at 18:49:08 pm

In the above comment I misspelled the word martial. Sorry.

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libertarian jerry
on January 20, 2015 at 20:28:06 pm

Two good points, thank you, but misdirected.

One of the roles of government is to provide for police powers. That certainly is a proper role of a government under a Constitution.

My point though is that the authority of the Constitution itself does not rely on police powers for its authority, nor should it. It relies on the authority of the democratic public. If the Constitution relied on a policing power for its authority it would form a dictatorship.

The police powers you mentioned stand on the authority of the Constitution. The power of the Constitution stands on the authority of the free choices of the democracy, the gentlemen of the agreement. Even the Civil War to keep the Union whole required the support of the gentlemen. Lincoln was not a tyrant, contrary to the famous claim by Booth.

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Scott Amorian
on January 20, 2015 at 21:00:51 pm

Thanks for that tip on Van Cleave. I know a different one.

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Ken Masugi
on January 20, 2015 at 23:26:44 pm

First, that Jefferson, to take the most prominent example, believed that blacks were inferior in many respects did not lead him to conclude they were not moral equals. Second, keep in mind the denunciations of slavery in America--hurled against the King. How are the two forms of slavery related. Finally, most important, the real case against slavery is that it corrupted the master and made republican government less likely. Slaveholders cannot be good republicans. (See Tocqueville)

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Ken Masugi
on January 21, 2015 at 09:33:54 am

Scott--

My apologies, I misunderstood. I agree with you completely that the police powers take their authority from the constitution, which in turn is grounded in the sovereign authority of the people.

Thanks for the clarification.

Well wishes,
Kevin

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Kevin R. Hardwick
on January 21, 2015 at 15:27:11 pm

Jerry, the American ideal of liberty is not founded on having absolute freedom. The Framers referred to absolute freedom as "a state of nature." They created the Constitution to avoid that.

We freely trade some freedoms, such as the freedom from taxes, in exchange for government. We hope that the benefits of government are greater than the cost of liberties we freely give up to have government. Its in the freedom to choose to have, keep and define a government that we have liberal government. When we can no longer choose to have government, when it is forced upon us, when we no longer have the ability to reform or replace it, only then we are no longer free.

(But you already knew that. Right?)

In that respect we have a common concern. The parties dominate the means to amending the Constitution, both in the federal and state legislatures. When I read the press, it seems like we, the people, are becoming more willing make improvements to our form of government. Unfortunately, most of the reforms being proposed, the BBA proposals for example, are efforts to use the Constitution to create law which is an improper use of a constitution. The public should, instead, be focused on examining and correcting the form of government. That is the proper use of a constitution. Our government depends on a system of checks and balances. If we have constitutional failures, that indicates the system is not working as desired. Where is the system of checks and balances working, and where is it not? How can we make corrections given that the party system has a firm control over government, and that the party system is part of the problem of government? To me, those are the most important questions of today.

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Scott Amorian
on January 21, 2015 at 15:27:45 pm

I have read that Lincoln defended the Civil War as being constitutional based on his reading of the Declaration. I've never read a satisfactory explanation of this story. Is it true? If so, how did Lincoln tie the Declaration and Constitution?

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Scott Amorian
on January 21, 2015 at 15:54:09 pm

Scott:

Harry Jaffa attempts this in Crisis of the House Divided and also, although with a slightly different cast, "New Birth of Freedom." I rather enjoyed both of them. As to the truth of these assertions, I would leave that to you.

Also, for your post of 1/21 at 3:27 pm (the upper one) let me suggest Phillip Hamburgers book on Administrative Law - it provides a very interesting take on the loss of constitutional limits and the return to extralegal power.
I'm luvvin it!!!

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gabe
on January 21, 2015 at 17:44:06 pm

Do you know Erik Root's book on Jefferson and the slavery debate in antebellum Virginia?

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Ken Masugi
on January 21, 2015 at 17:46:59 pm

Read my post on Jaffa for the Declaration-Constituton connection and especially my exchanges with John in the comments. http://www.libertylawsite.org/2015/01/15/harry-v-jaffa-an-inconvenient-thinker/

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Ken Masugi
on January 21, 2015 at 17:57:06 pm

Scott, your thesis is interesting but there are no "parties" but simply one party,a bird of prey,with two wings. Behind this bird of prey party is the "Deep State" or the powers behind the throne. The real owners of America. Basically consisting of the power elites and their central banker enablers. This is the real power in America. With that said,the Constitution is a dead letter for we no longer live in a nation of laws but a nation under the control of a few powerful men. To deny this fact is lying to oneself. To reiterate what I said in my original comments, America declared bankruptcy in 1933,suspended the Constitution and has been living under martial law ever since. Your nothing but a walking,numbered,certified corporation operating under maritime admiralty laws and jurisdiction. Its not a matter of Constitutional "failures" but a lack of a valid working Constitution. That dream ended with the 14th,16th,17th Amendments,the New Deal,the UN Treaty,the Great Society,the Patriot Act and all the other legislation calling for functions not specifically listed in the Constitution plus all of the unconstitutional,undeclared wars. This is one of the reasons why Mr.Obama can have a war without Congressional approval but by executive order. In essence we elect a dictator who serves for 4 or 8 years and then is succeeded by another elected dictator. In the end,what does "absolute freedom" have anything to do with a functioning Constitutional Republic. That Republic died by a thousand cuts and has been buried for decades.

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libertarian jerry
on January 23, 2015 at 16:28:44 pm

Thank you! Just bought it from Amazon.

The work by Root that I know well is his brilliant reconstruction of the Va legislative debate over slavery in (I think) 1831-2. The only way we know what happened there is from newspaper accounts, taken from short hand transcriptions that no longer survive. Root carefully edited and annotated the accounts from, if I recall correctly, more than a dozen papers, in order to reconstruct the best account possible of the debate there. Its a painstaking effort, but a godsend to subsequent scholars.

I did not, however, know of his monograph. I really look forward to reading it. Thank you much for bringing it to my attention.

Well wishes,
Kevin

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Kevin R. Hardwick
on January 28, 2015 at 16:57:17 pm

The Declaration was a covenantal lawsuit. The Consttitution is a covenant. http://blackstoneinitiative.com/2013/05/28/the-u-s-constitution-our-national-covenant/.

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David Linton
on January 29, 2015 at 21:27:59 pm

Please let me know what you think.

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Ken Masugi
on May 11, 2015 at 19:34:38 pm

People also had feet in that time.

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benson
on February 14, 2016 at 10:44:32 am

The Declaration of Independence of the United States Declaration of Independence is the first of a colonial enclave of a force from the outside. A land where people just doomed fate of complete humiliation slavery, the slaves are not precious pet animals by the ladies. No commitment humiliation parts eternal fate, after life, they have the courage to stand up fight to regain self-determination for their own fate. They were life, liberty, they regain their human rights ... That's why the American manifesto was born, the manifesto of the man had just regained freedom. The Declaration of Independence of the United States has an eternal value for the small nation, disadvantaged and vulnerable peoples in the aftermath of war. Perhaps the Declaration of Independence of the United States did not have any value to the new generation, the class of the new States born in the United States or at least force a group on eel country qyen USA. As the United States steps up the podium to receive a ticket to honor emerging empire, what has come to other peoples. All were amazed with what the imperialist United States of any cause, it was cruel, more brutal, more sinister everything that the other imperialist countries had applied to colonies themselves. Cried on the world, now the children of great men, the great man had to struggle to win the freedom of the American people, people who have read the Declaration of Independence American's are those who dare to speak up, "the people have the right to die ...". We are amazed, not perhaps forgot learn the origin of ancestry, they were torn up to the declaration of independence of his father simply that? And until today, not just other peoples, but it continued right on US soil. The people of the United States has also inherited freedom was regained from their fathers or not? The Declaration of Independence of the United States of America also has value or not? The Senate and the US House also has executive powers in the US Constitution as outlined or not ??? Are human rights only valid with a group of American nobility, not for all citizens of the united states?
Therefore, we call on everyone to stand up fight to regain their human rights, to require any dark forces to respect the Declaration of Independence of the United States, to respect the constitution of flowers period as well as respect for human rights of other countries.
Do.net free world

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bacbara mechelin potashop
on April 14, 2020 at 19:51:59 pm

The missing link is the practical purpose of Jefferson who was writing a constitution for Virginia. This Virginia Commonwealth at the same time Jefferson was in Philadelphia as a delegate to the Continental Congress. Jefferson subitted his work to Virginia which accept his prologue, but had already approved a Bill of R

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LEONARD FRIEDMAN
on April 14, 2020 at 20:25:50 pm

Thomas Jefferson was a delegate to the Continental Congress, but writing a constitution for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Part I of Jefferson's work was accepted as a prologue to Col. Mason's Bill of Rights and the Virginia delegates form of government. The first state constitution was adopted. A month later Jefferson submitted his prologue within the Declaration of Independence to the Committee which contained two other men who would write State Constitutions. Benjamin Franklin would preside over the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and John Adams would write the accepted Constitution of Massachusetts after a popular election, Yes, Adams in a rush did some heavy lifting of the ideas for a commonwealth state from Virginia in writing by himself a 3 day Constitution. . Only one other state became a commonwealth state and that was during the split of the Commonwealth of Kentucky from Virginia. Democratic principles illuminate these constitutions for a state government and not a Republic. Washington's constitution from Philadelphia copied the role of Augustus Caesar in his 27 BCE constitution for Rome and the beginning of the Pax Romana. The Roman Republic was restored for Rome, while Washington would rule a senate and a house of tribunes with a veto, power over the military and power over foreign policy. Basically 50 state constitutions as well as foreign constitutions were written with the commonwealth foundational document of Virginia. James Monroe was to write, as Jefferson's law student and alter ego as well as the Chairman of the Northwest Territorial Ordinances with the help of Col. Mason and Jefferson. Jefferson would wave the Commonwealth Constitution at The Marquis de Lafayette who wrote the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man, while Ambassador James Monroe would assist in the French Constitution of 1795 as to a Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Duties of the Citizen. Monroe was granted French Citizenship giving him one up on others in becoming a real estate broker.
An interesting thing is that Monroe, The Marquis, Alexander Hamilton, and later Chief Justice James Marshall were all at Valley Forge and dinner table guests of Mrs. Washington and conversations with Washington over the future of the United States based on the 1776 documents. Some real heavy thinking goes into producing two sovereignties, the states and the Republic over the next eleven years with very different goals as promoted by the Northwest Territorial Ordinances of 1785 and 87, accepted as Federal Law in 1789. Remember Col. Mason's Bill of Rights was rejected in Philadelphia as not needed, but with pressure became an appendage of the Republic in 1791. I hope this helps on the road to understanding two separate ideas.

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LEONARD FRIEDMAN

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