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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Vote for Your Favorite Painting from my American Soldier Series

Poll is now open until next Wednesday, April 16, 2014.  Make your selection on the right side >>>>
Results will be shared after 2 p.m. on Wednesday, April 16, 2014. Thanks for participating!

The Predecessor - Militia

American Revolution

War of 1812

Mexican War

Civil War

Spanish American War







The Last Chapter

*All Art is Copyright under Trehan's Treasures Studios/AK Fielding, 2014.  All rights reserved.

Monday, April 7, 2014

What is Good Government? Thomas Jefferson Explains

The 1800 presidential election was full of surprises.  The growing rift between the Federalists and the Republicans brought forth Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr, knocking down John Adams from the equation.  Jefferson and Burr both received 73 electoral votes and the tie was only broken following a heavy debate in the House of Representatives (and with some help from Alexander Hamilton).  Jefferson finally emerged victorious as the third president of the United States and gave his inaugural address on March 4, 1801 where he famously stated, “We are all Republicans, we are all Federalists.”  Below is an excerpt from Jefferson’s speech where he discusses the best form of government:

“Still one thing more, fellow-citizens – a wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned.  This is the sum of good government, and this is necessary to close the circle of our felicities.”

Jefferson further explains the basic principles of good government-note for Jefferson republican principles and good government is interchangeable:

“Equal and exact justice to all men, of whatever state or persuasion, religious, or political; peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none; the support of the state governments in all their rights, as the most competent administrations for our domestic concerns and the surest bulwarks against antirepublican tendencies; the preservation of the general government in its whole constitutional vigor, as the sheet anchor of our peace at home and safety abroad; a jealous care of the right of election by the people – a mild and safe corrective of abuses which are lopped by the sword of revolution where peaceable remedies are unprovided; absolute acquiescence in the decisions of the majority, the vital principles of republics, from which is no appeal but to force, the vital principle and immediate parent of despotism; a well disciplined militia, our best reliance in peace and for the first moments of war, till regulars may relieve them; the supremacy of the civil over the military authority; economy in the public expense, that labor may be lightly burthened; the honest payment of our debts and sacred preservation of the public faith; encouragement of agriculture, and of commerce as its handmaid; the diffusion of information and arraignment of all abuses at the bar of the public reason; freedom of religion; freedom of the press; and freedom of person under the protection of the habeas corpus, and trial by juries impartially selected

Jefferson closes by adding that these republican principles of good government formed our nation and must guide us in the future because only through them can we sustain America’s greatness:

“These principles form the bright constellation which has gone before us and guided our steps through an age of revolution and reformation.  The wisdom of our sages and blood of our heroes have been devoted to their attainment.  They should be the creed of our political faith, the text of civic instruction, the touchstone by which to try the services of those we trust; and should we wander from them in moments of error or of alarm, let us hasten to retrace our steps and to regain the road which alone leads to peace, liberty, and safety.”

*My emphasis added.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Federalism Explained by Alexander Hamilton

One of the toughest fights for the Constitution during the ratification process took place in Alexander Hamilton’s home state of New York.  With a majority of anti-federalists in power, Hamilton worked diligently to convince many of them to consider the new Constitution.  Often noted by people today as a strong proponent of a massive centralized government, Hamilton favored a strong united nation against the European superpowers of the world but he recognized the importance of state(s) rights.  Here is an excerpt from Hamilton’s speech given in New York on June 1788 where he advances a federal (not national) government for the new nation:

“The state governments are essentially necessary to the form and spirit of the general system.  As long, therefore, as Congress has full conviction of this necessity, they must, even upon principles purely national, have as firm an attachment to the one as to the other.  This conviction can never leave them, unless they become madmen.  While the Constitution continues to be read and its principle known, the states must, by every rational man, be considered as essential, component parts of the Union; and therefore the idea of sacrificing the former to the latter is wholly inadmissible….”

Hamilton then notes that the power of the states and the liberties of Americans remain intertwined:

The states can never lose their powers till the whole people of America are robbed of their libertiesThese must go together; they must support each other, or meet one common fate.” 

Note how Hamilton explains the balance of powers between the individual states and the one United States; this according to Hamilton is federalism in its essence:

“The laws of the United States are supreme as to all their proper, constitutional objects; the laws of the states are supreme in the same way.  These supreme laws may act on different objects without clashing; or they may operate on different parts of the same common object with perfect harmony.”

Here Hamilton recognizes and emphasizes again the significance of individual liberty over any form of government:

“I have troubled the committee with these observations, to show that it cannot be the wish of any reasonable man to establish a government unfriendly to the liberties of the people.”

* My emphasis added.

Monday, March 24, 2014

President Washington: On God and Country

President George Washington’s First Inaugural Address offers some insight on what he thought about God and Country.  Here is an excerpt from his speech to the Senate and House of Representatives given on April 30, 1789:

Washington’s love and admiration for his country:

“Among the vicissitudes incident to life, no event could have filled me with greater anxieties than that of which the notification was transmitted by your order, and received on the fourteenth day of the present month. On the one hand, I was summoned by my Country, whose voice I can never hear but with veneration and love,* from a retreat which I had chosen with the fondest predilection, and, in my flattering hopes, with an immutable decision, as the asylum of my declining years: a retreat which was rendered every day more necessary as well as more dear to me, by the addition of habit to inclination, and of frequent interruptions in my health to the gradual waste committed on it by time. On the other hand, the magnitude and difficulty of the trust to which the voice of my Country called me, being sufficient to awaken in the wisest and most experienced of her citizens, a distrustful scrutiny into his qualifications, could not but overwhelm with dispondence, one, who, inheriting inferior endowments from nature and unpractised in the duties of civil administration, ought to be peculiarly conscious of his own deficiencies….”

Washington’s recognition of an “Almighty Being” who is the ultimate ruler:

“Such being the impressions under which I have, in obedience to the public summons, repaired to the present station; it would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official Act, my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the Universe, who presides in the Councils of Nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that his benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the People of the United States, a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes: and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success, the functions allotted to his charge. In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every public and private good I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own; nor those of my fellow-citizens at large, less than either. No People can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand, which conducts the Affairs of men more than the People of the United States. Every step, by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation, seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency….”

Washington then adds that America’s success is dependent on God’s blessings:

“I dwell on this prospect with every satisfaction which an ardent love for my Country can inspire: since there is no truth more thoroughly established, than that there exists in the oeconomy and course of nature, an indissoluble union between virtue and happiness, between duty and advantage, between the genuine maxims of an honest and magnanimous policy, and the solid rewards of public prosperity and felicity: Since we ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven, can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right, which Heaven itself has ordained: And since the preservation of the sacred fire of liberty, and the destiny of the Republican model of Government, are justly considered as deeply, perhaps as finally staked, on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people….”

*My emphasis added.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

America: A Democracy or Republic?

What form of government does America have?  Is it a Democracy or a Republic?  In The Federalist No. 39, James Madison discusses the best form of government for America.  The following is an excerpt from his argument:

“The first question that offers itself is, whether the general form and aspect of the government be strictly republican.  It is evident that no other form would be reconcilable with the genius of the people of America; with the fundamental principles of the Revolution; or with that honorable determination which animates every votary of freedom, to rest all our political experiments on the capacity of mankind for self-government.  If the plan of the convention, therefore, be found to depart from the republican character, its advocates must abandon it as no longer defensible.”

Madison then defines the character of a republic:

“If we resort for a criterion to the different principles on which different forms of government are established, we may define a republic to be, or at least may bestow that name on, a government which derives all its powers directly or indirectly from the great body of the people, and is administered by persons holding their offices during pleasure, for a limited period, or during good behavior.  It is essential to such a government that it be derived from the great body of the society, not from an inconsiderable proportion, or a favored class of it; otherwise a handful of tyrannical nobles, exercising their oppressions by a delegation of their powers, might aspire to the rank of republicans and claim for their government the honorable title of republic.  It is sufficient for such a government that the persons administering it be appointed, either directly or indirectly, by the people; and that they hold their appointments by either of the tenures just specified; otherwise every government in the United States, as well as every other popular government that has been or can be well organized or well executed, would be degraded from the republican character.”