Monday, July 14, 2014

A Government of Force or A Government of Laws? by Alexander Hamilton

On August 28, 1794, Alexander Hamilton wrote Tully No. III asking the American People what secured America:

“If it were to be asked, What is the most sacred duty and the greatest source of security in a Republic?  The answer would be, An inviolable respect for the Constitution and Laws-the first growing out of the last.”

He indicates that by honoring the Constitution We the People keep “caballers, intriguers, and demagogues…from climbing on the shoulders of faction to the tempting seats of usurpation and tyranny.”

Hamilton then addresses the two forms of government:

“Government is frequently and aptly classed under two descriptions, a government of FORCE and a government of LAWS; the first is the definition of despotism-the last, of liberty.”

Hamilton notes that “those, therefore, who preach doctrines, or set examples, which undermine or subvert the authority of the laws, lead us from freedom to slavery; they incapacitate us for a GOVERNMENT OF LAWS, and consequently prepare the way for one of FORCE, for mankind MUST HAVE GOVERNMENT OF ONE SORT OR ANOTHER.”

Finally, Hamilton agrees that when the Constitution is in jeopardy, the People must act to defend its principles:

“There are indeed great and urgent cases where the bounds of the constitution are manifestly transgressed, or its constitutional authorities are so exercised as to produce unequivocal oppression on the community, and to render resistance justifiable.”

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Laws of Nature by Alexander Hamilton

The Revolutionary Era produced many great writers, among them, a brilliant man named Alexander Hamilton.  In 1774, Hamilton wrote A Full Vindication of the Measures of Congress defending the Congress against attacks led by loyalists.  In this excerpt, Hamilton discusses laws of nature and obligations one society may (or may not) have towards another:

“There is no law, either of nature, or of the civil society in which we live, that obliges us to purchase, and make use of the products and manufactures of a different land, or people.  It is indeed a dictate of humanity to contribute to the support and happiness of our fellow creatures and more especially those who are allied to us by the ties of blood, interest, and mutual protection; but humanity does not require us to sacrifice our own security and welfare to the convenience, or advantage of others.*  Self preservation is the first principle of nature.  When our lives and properties are at stake, it would be foolish and natural to refrain from such measures as might preserve them, because they would be detrimental to others.”

*My emphasis added.