Thursday, May 5, 2016

Judicial Interpretation of Constitutional Provisions, by Frank Johnson Goodnow

Judicial Interpretation of Constitutional Provisions

By Frank Johnson Goodnow, October 26, 1912

WHEN the constitution of the United States was adopted at the end of the eighteenth century, the conditions to which it was intended to apply were marked by three distinguishing characteristics. The first was geographical in its nature; the second was economic; the third intellectual. In the first place, the United States for which the constitution was framed, consisted of a series of communities, lying along the Atlantic seaboard of North America, largely engaged in agricultural pursuits and occupying sparsely populated districts which as compared with their population were richly endowed with natural resources. These communities were in the main connected one with another only by the sea and by the rivers and estuaries which in many instances penetrated far into the interior. Their social conditions were as diverse as their geographical condition was isolated. In some slave labor, in others free labor was the rule. In some one racial element or one religious confession was most pronounced; in others another. Their comparative geographical isolation and their difference in economic and social conditions naturally had the effect of causing the states, as these communities had come to be called, to regard the maintenance of a large degree of local independence as of the greatest importance.

In the second place, the economic conditions of the time were comparatively simple. Even the countries of Western Europe which were most advanced from an industrial point of view were only just beginning to make use of the factory system in their industrial organization. The hand tool had not as yet generally given place to steam-driven machinery. The industrial worker in most instances still followed his livelihood within the narrow confines of his own dwelling and regulated the hours of his labor by his desires or necessities. The steam locomotive was just about taking shape in the imaginative minds of such men as George Stephenson. The only means of telegraphing was to be found in the beacon, the heliograph and the semaphore. No human being had even dreamed of the telephone. Such slight change in European industrial conditions as was due to power machinery and the building of factories had not taken place in North America, which as has been said was predominantly agricultural in character.

Finally, the philosophy of the time was based upon the conception that society was static rather than dynamic or progressive in character. Belief in verities eternal and absolute under all conditions was almost universal among educated men. Nowhere was this confidence in absolute and eternal truth more marked than in the domain of political thought. The various utopias which had been outlined by political theorists and philosophical dreamers had held before the mind of man a goal which he should strive to attain. An ideal state was pictured in which, if it were once reached, humanity would cease from striving and finally at rest would contemplate with complacency the hardships of the past and anticipate with satisfaction the joys of the future. It is of course true that political philosophers had not at the end of the eighteenth century, any more than at any other time in the history of man, reached a complete agreement as to the concrete measures whose adoption was necessary for the realization of the perfect state of which all had their visions. It is also true that the concrete measures which were recommended were frequently, if not always, evidently devised in view of the peculiar evils which each such prophet sought to remedy. At the same time while the political doctors disagreed somewhat as to the proper medicine, they all believed that some medicine would be permanently efficacious, and few, if any, of them imagined that the patient would by mere development so change as to make changes of treatment necessary. The proper treatment once discovered was to be continued for all time and would be followed by the desired results.

Under the influence of this static conception of society the political philosophers and lawgivers of the end of the eighteenth century had accepted as a fundamental and everlasting political theory the idea that the state was based upon a compact entered into between governors and governed. The governed - i.e., the mass of mankind - were considered to have reserved at the time of making this compact, certain rights which were often spoken of as natural rights and of which they might not be deprived. This doctrine of natural rights had for its corollary the recognition of a wide sphere of individual liberty which should be unregulated by government action. This corollary ultimately came to be known as the principle of laissez faire.

It was in these conditions and under the influence of these ideas that the constitution of the United States was adopted. This instrument was framed for communities geographically isolated, socially diverse, living a most simple life and in a comparatively low stage of economical development. It was intended to realize through actual application the idea of a social compact, the theory of natural rights and the laissez-faire policy. It was based finally upon the fundamental proposition that man could by searching find out and apply absolute and eternal political truth.

The geographical isolation and social diversity of the states led to the laying of great emphasis in the constitution of the United States upon the necessity of preserving for all time the same degree of state sovereignty and independence as was recognized to exist in the latter part of the eighteenth century. Each state was secured beyond the possibility of change equal representation in the Senate while its consent was made necessary to its division or its union with other states. No serious attempt was made to secure uniformity of law, and subject to the necessity of maintaining a republican form of government, each state was left to arrange its internal organization as it saw fit. Indeed, important matters affecting all the states were left to the determination of each state, such as suffrage and the method of choosing presidential electors.

The social-compact, natural-rights and laissez-faire theories found their expression in the enumeration of governmental powers, the reservation to the people of all powers not granted to the government, certain express denials of powers of government action and the formulation of a series of individual rights which the government was not permitted to infringe.

Finally, the confidence of the fathers in the existence of eternal political verities and the possibility that fallible humanity might ascertain and formulate them is seen in the difficulty if not impossibility of amending the constitution which resulted from the processes of amendment provided. For as Dicey says:

The sovereign of the United States has been roused to serious action but once during the course of ninety years. It needed the thunder of the civil war to break his repose and it may be doubted whether anything short of impending revolution will ever again rouse him into activity.

If we compare with the conditions which existed at the time the constitution was adopted those in which we are now living, what a contrast at once presents itself! The industrial revolution by which the last century and a half of Western European development has been characterized has changed the face of most civilized countries. Power machinery with its attendant factory system has so modified productive processes that in almost all highly developed countries classes of industrial workers have arisen which in numbers and in minute differentiation of occupation surpass anything the world's history has hitherto exhibited. Improved methods of transportation have so facilitated intercourse and so enlarged the sphere of man's activity that what were once regarded as insurmountable obstacles to communication are no longer so considered, and what once seemed to be natural political boundaries have lost their significance.

In other words, classes have developed whose relations cannot be defined in accordance with the rubrics of a once almost universally accepted legal lore and centralization is necessary if the political system is to be in accord with recognized economic facts. Just as once the privilege of the baron fell before the rights of the merchant, and local law gave way to national law, so at the present time the rights of labor are being emphasized at the expense of the employer and a political organization based on more or less local isolation is being forced to succumb to the needs of an economic system founded upon more general intercommunication.

This development has not failed to exercise an effect on the United States. The improvement in the means of transportation has, for example, been most marked on this side of the water. The digging of waterways, the building of railways, and the spread of the telegraph and telephone have caused the geographical isolation of the once separated states to disappear. The development of American industry and commerce, notwithstanding the acquisition of the fertile fields of the West and the attendant agricultural development, has caused the former overwhelmingly predominant rural character of the population to disappear. The gradual spread of the English language has brought about an almost complete unity of speech while the greatly diminished influence of religious differences taken together with the complete separation of church and state has prevented the centrifugal force of creeds from making itself felt.

Finally it is to be noticed that the intellectual attitude of what are usually considered the more intelligent classes is quite different from that which was noticeable in the latter part of the eighteenth century. The formulation of the evolutionary theory of development in the world of science has not failed to have its' influence on political thought. Students of politics are coming more and more to the conviction that a static society is impossible and that absolute political theories are incapable of application in the changing conditions which have become so noticeable since scientific methods have been applied to the conduct of life. More and more political thinkers and social students are recognizing that a policy of intelligent opportunism is the policy most likely to be followed by desirable results and that adherence to general theories which are to be applied at all times and under all conditions is productive of harm rather than good.

This common attitude of skepticism with regard to the desirability of attempting to postulate fundamental political principles of universal application has naturally caused questions to be raised as to the applicability under present conditions of the two great theories so commonly accepted at the end of the eighteenth century, viz., the theories of the social compact and of natural rights. Furthermore, the discovery that through the application of scientific methods man has a much greater influence over his environment than was formerly regarded as possible has opened the way to so many apparently effective methods of governmental regulation that a serious blow has been dealt to the laissez-faire theory.

The question which has been chosen for discussion this morning is: Can a practically unamendable constitution, adopted in the conditions and under the influences of the political thought prevailing at the end of the eighteenth century, be adapted by judicial interpretation to the needs and thought of the twentieth century without causing us to lose the advantages which are commonly regarded as attached to a written constitution? Before the attempt is made to answer this question attention must be called to two things.

In the first place, it is now an accepted doctrine of American constitutional law that it is both the right and the duty of the courts to declare in cases which come before them in the ordinary exercise of their jurisdiction that any act of the legislature is unconstitutional which clearly violates a provision of the constitution. It would be unprofitable for us to enter upon the discussion of the question which has recently been made the subject of considerable debate, whether the courts in exercising this power have been guilty or not of usurpation. However a this may be, it is difficult to imagine that the federal courts at this day will relinquish the exercise of a power whose existence has been recognized so long, except as the result of some sort of personal pressure brought to bear upon the judges which will diminish greatly the independence they now enjoy. It is commonly believed that the judges of the United States courts may constitutionally be removed only through the process of impeachment, which as provided for in the constitution is not a method of removal adapted for use in influencing judicial decisions on constitutional questions. The constitution, however, has no word to say as to the impeachment of judges as judges. It is only as civil officers of the United States that they have been made subject to this process of removal from office. The constitution does, however, contain a specific and express provision with regard to the tenure of judges. It says that they shall hold their office during good behavior. It does not define good behavior nor does it provide a method, outside of the method of impeachment applicable to all civil officers, for determining when a judge is guilty of misbehavior. It has been claimed more than once in Congress that it is within the power of the legislative authority of the United States by law to define what is misbehavior and to provide a method by which misbehavior may be ascertained which is less cumbersome than the present method of impeachment. Until such action is taken, it is naturally impossible to say what would be the decision of the Supreme Court as to its propriety. If, however, such action were regarded as constitutional it would be possible for Congress through the exercise of a power of removal similar to that now possessed by the legislature of Massachusetts over the judges of that state to bring a pressure to bear upon the judges of the federal courts which would have an important influence on the judicial interpretation of the constitution.

In the second place, it is to be noted that the doctrines of the social compact and of natural rights while regarded as truths were not actually made a part of our constitutional law except in so far as specific rights conceived of as natural rights were incorporated into the constitution and were thus accorded judicial protection. At the same time the tendency of our courts has been to read into such general provisions as that preventing the government from depriving a person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, quite a number of natural-rights ideas, and to endeavor, in their efforts to deny the right of the government to exercise particular powers, to obtain aid and comfort from the theory of laissez faire. A good example of such action is to be found in an opinion of the supreme court of Missouri which said in declaring unconstitutional a law levying a progressive inheritance tax to provide scholarships for indigent students at the state university:

Paternalism, whether state or federal, as the derivation of the term implies, is an assumption by the government of a quasi-fatherly relation to the citizen and his family, involving excessive governmental regulation of the private affairs and business methods and interests of the people, upon the theory that the people are incapable of managing their own affairs, and is pernicious in its tendencies. In a word, it minimizes the citizen and maximizes the government. Our federal and state governments are founded upon a principle wholly antagonistic to such a doctrine. Our fathers believed the people of these free and independent states were capable of self-government; a system in which the people are the sovereigns and the government their creature to carry out their commands. Such a government is founded on the willingness and right of the people to take care of their own affairs and an indisposition to look to the government for everything. The citizen is the unit. It is his province to support the government and not the government's to support him. Under self-government we have advanced in all the elements of a great people more rapidly than any nation that has ever existed upon the earth, and there is greater need now than ever before in our history of adhering to it. Paternalism is a plant which should receive no nourishment upon the soil of Missouri.

In a way, therefore, it may be said that the political thought prevalent at the end of the eighteenth century has been read into our constitution by the courts. But unless we consider the doctrine of stare decisis just as controlling in constitutional as in other cases it may not be said of our constitutions and particularly of the United States constitution that they adopted as a permanent guide for future action any of the theories which have been mentioned. It is only because of judicial interpretation that they have legal force. By a further process of judicial interpretation they may lose their authority.

So far as concerns the effect of the laissez-faire theory on the judicial interpretation of the constitution, even the application of the doctrine of stare decisis to constitutional cases will not interfere with a considerable enlargement of the powers of the federal government. In a number of instances, among which the attempted exercise of the power to regulate commerce is perhaps the most marked, the federal courts through the denial of the propriety of the exercise of state powers laid the basis for the exercise of federal power. However they may have been influenced in their decisions by the laissez-faire theory, their actual decisions recognized the existence of federal power. For state power was denied because the power attempted to be exercised had been conferred by the constitution upon the federal government. When in the course of our economic development it came to be believed that Congress should take positive action, the decisions denying state power were thus at the same time precedents in favor of the propriety of federal action. On the other hand, not all the decisions recognizing that state action was proper may be regarded as precedents in favor of the proposition that Congress is without jurisdiction. For through the adoption of the rule that state action is in many cases proper only because the federal government has not acted, the question as to the propriety of federal action is left open for determination, to be influenced if not controlled by the conditions existing at the time the determination is made.

In the discussion of the possibility by judicial interpretation of adapting the constitution to changing economic and social needs we must then remember: first, that it has not been as yet determined how much pressure may constitutionally be brought by Congress upon the federal judiciary to interpret the constitution in the way desired by Congress; and second, that our constitution has been made by past judicial interpretation to take on a meaning which is not necessarily the only meaning which may be given to it. Finally, attention should be called to the fact that the present interpretation which is popularly given to the constitution is in many cases a political rather than a judicial interpretation. Political parties as well as courts have been influenced by the political and economic theories of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Under their influence Congress has not even considered the question whether it may exercise powers which a careful study of the constitution might reveal that Congress possessed. An historical tradition with regard to the constitution has sprung up which finds its basis in political expediency rather than in constitutional power. For example, Congress has only just begun to exercise its power to regulate commerce among the several states. What the limits of that power are no one can with safety say, but that they transcend those assigned to that power by the accepted political interpretation would be denied by few who have made a careful study of the constitution itself. Now this political interpretation of the constitution may easily change. It is not in any way influenced by the doctrine of stare decisis. For Congress is not bound by the decisions of its predecessors even on constitutional questions.

If, however, we leave out of consideration the possibility that Congress may diminish the independence of the federal judiciary, if we put out of our minds the expectation that the courts will adopt any new method of constitutional interpretation, and if we confine ourselves to the consideration of the present judicial interpretation of the constitution, how shall we answer the question? In other words, are the courts through their powers of interpretation at the present time adapting the constitution to changing economic and social conditions?

To answer this question adequately would of necessity involve an exhaustive examination of almost our entire constitutional law from the point of view of its historical development. Such an examination would, however, be both impossible and out of place on this occasion. Resort to some other less thorough and less satisfactory method is thus unavoidable. It might be suggested that citations from opinions might be made which would show the attitude of the Supreme Court with regard to the constitution. But any citations which might be made as indicative of the attitude of the court, in addition to lacking the authority of judicial decision, might be met by other citations taking the opposite point of view. For in the century and a quarter of its history the Supreme Court has been subject to a variety of influences and has inevitably expressed conflicting opinions.

The only method which is applicable on this occasion would seem to be to consider certain important lines of decisions in the hope of finding from a consideration of the law developed by them an answer to the question which has been propounded.

Let us take in the first place the decisions which have dealt with the powers of the federal government and particularly those having to do with navigation and commerce. The constitution does not treat of navigation apart from commerce except in so far as it confers admiralty and maritime jurisdiction upon the federal courts. In the early days when local differentiation made state independence more important than at present - for state lines now bear little relation to our economic system - the court was inclined to distinguish intrastate from interstate navigation, and to recognize a very narrow admiralty jurisdiction based upon British precedents. At the present time, however, the distinction between a navigation subject to state and one subject to federal regulation has practically ceased to exist, and an admiralty jurisdiction suited to the geographical conditions of the North American continent has been developed out of that which originated in such different conditions as were presented by Great Britain.

The way in which this result was reached is interesting as evidencing the methods of judicial interpretation through whose application the constitution has in this particular been adapted to new social and economic conditions. Originally the Supreme Court was of the opinion that the admiralty and maritime jurisdiction intended to be conferred upon the federal courts was geographically limited to waters affected by the ebb and flow of the tide. The case which laid down this rule was decided at a time when navigation on the Great Lakes and western rivers had not developed to an important extent. Later on Congress by statute extended the jurisdiction to the Great Lakes and the Supreme Court declared the statute constitutional. Still later the Supreme Court without any action by Congress extended the admiralty jurisdiction to all the important western rivers and finally based on the admiralty clause, which merely gives power to the courts, the power of Congress to regulate the operations of all vessels on navigable waters regardless of the fact that they may not be engaged in commerce.

Somewhat similar has been the judicial interpretation of the constitutional power of Congress to regulate commerce on land. While the Supreme Court has based the power of Congress to regulate navigation in large degree on a clause in the constitution which merely gave the courts the power to fix the substantive law of admiralty, in the case of commerce by land the Supreme Court has based the power of Congress to regulate part at any rate of the substantive law of master and servant upon the power given in the constitution to Congress to regulate commerce among the several states. The safety-appliance and the employer's-liability cases have thus recognized that Congress in cases involving interstate commerce may modify the assumption-of-risk and the contributory-negligence doctrines of the common law.

Another instance of the adaptation by judicial interpretation of the constitution to changing social and economic conditions is to be seen in the lottery and pure-food-law cases which have recognized that Congress through the exercise of its commerce power may take the privilege of engaging in interstate commerce from articles, commerce in which is in the opinion of Congress either productive of immorality or liable to endanger the public health. This result has been reached although it is recognized that Congress is not by the constitution the guardian of either the public morals or the public health.

The Supreme Court has in the second place expressed its belief that such general provisions of the constitution as that contained in the fourteenth amendment prohibiting a state from depriving any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, are to be interpreted in view of local conditions. Thus it has been held that, in the conditions existing in New England where manufacturing is of great importance, the power of eminent domain may be used in order to take property for the purposes of a dam used by a private manufacturing company. In the mountainous regions of the West it has been held proper to make use of the same power to take property for the purposes of an aerial railway used only by a private mining company. Finally, in the arid regions of the Pacific States it is regarded as constitutional to make use of both the taxing power and the power of eminent domain to further the irrigation of privately owned lands.

Indeed it may be said in a general way that the judicial interpretation which has already been given to the constitution has shown itself capable of adapting that instrument to most of the varied geographical conditions which exist in a continent as diversified as is North America and to permit of the most advantageous development of its economic resources.

It is true that as yet the Supreme Court has not through the judicial interpretation of the constitution adapted it so fully to the changes in economic and social conditions which have been due to the industrial revolution of the last one hundred and fifty years. American courts rather generally, and the Supreme Court to a certain but after all on the whole rather small extent, have not been able to divest themselves of the idea that legal liberty is the only liberty which is protected by the constitution and have sometimes forgotten that legal liberty in the absence of economic liberty is a shadow without substance, under which there is little if any protection from the burning heat of economic struggle.

A case in Pennsylvania has thus laid down the proposition that an employer is denied his constitutional right to the pursuit of happiness by a law which requires him to pay his employes once in two weeks. In the volume of the digest in which this case is mentioned the very next case referred is to the effect that, one is not denied the right to the pursuit of happiness by a law forbidding the smoking of opium. The immediate juxtaposition of these two cases is interesting as emphasizing the tendency of American courts to recognize that while individual rights are not violated by laws regulating conduct regarded as inconsistent with prevailing ethical views, they are infringed by any attempt to protect the classes weaker in economic power by diminishing their sphere of legal liberty.

It must be admitted, however, that the Supreme Court has not as yet, largely because of a defect in our appellate procedure, been in a position to express itself upon some of the most important phases of the liberty guaranteed to the individual by the constitution. But in most of the cases which have come before it where it was possible to prove that legal liberty must be curtailed in the interest of health and safety its decisions have recognized that under the economic conditions in which we live the liberty which we may have is much less than would have been recognized a century ago as our due. It may be added also that in a number of cases the Supreme Court has expressed itself in such a way as to show clearly that it is aware that the economic liberty of vast classes of persons at the present time has been so curtailed that the sphere of legal liberty for which the advocates of a laissez-faire policy contend must also be seriously curtailed if we are to protect the economically weak from their own really involuntary acts. Thus in the case of sailors the court has held constitutional an act of Congress prohibiting under a penalty any payment of wages in advance, and in the case of miners has upheld state statutes which have regulated the method of paying employes by providing for the cashing of coal orders when presented to their employers, and for the weighing of coal without screening where miners are paid by the weight of coal. In one of these cases the court refers to the necessity of protecting the sailor against his own improvidence, and in another cites with apparent approval from the decision of the state court appealed from where it is said:

The legislature evidently deemed the laborer at some disadvantage under existing laws and customs, and by this act undertook to ameliorate his condition in some measure by enabling him or his bona fide transferee, at his election and at a proper time to demand and receive his unpaid wages in money rather than in something less valuable. Its tendency, though slight it may be, is to place the employer and employe on equal ground, and, so far as it accomplishes that end, is commendable.

It is, of course, true that a very few of the decisions of the Supreme Court have been a grevious disappointment to some of the most ardent advocates of social reform, but it is to be remembered that these decisions were usually made by a divided court, that the personnel of the court is seldom the same for a very long period, that its members are appointed by an officer who is being brought day by day closer to the people and finally, that the Supreme Court has been known to reverse its opinions, and is not impervious to criticisms and to public demands.

There would seem therefore to be really no serious danger that judicial interpretation as seen in the long series of decisions of the Supreme Court is unable to adapt our practically unamendable constitution to changing economic and social conditions. If this may not be said of all the state courts our remedy is close at hand and may be applied without abandoning the traditions of the past.

If state courts are, because of their adherence to precedent, unable or unwilling to adapt the provisions of state constitutions to changes in economic conditions, we may amend the state constitutions. Whether that is done by the ordinary methods of constitutional amendment or by the method which has come to be spoken of as "the recall of judicial decisions" is quite immaterial from the viewpoint of the question under consideration. If we regard the "recall of judicial decisions" with suspicion and at the same time consider the present method of constitutional amendment as too difficult, too slow, or too cumbersome, it is a comparatively easy matter to adopt an easier, quicker, and more simple method. The various methods of amendment provided by different state constitutions offer us a choice of methods wide enough to suit almost any taste.

If when our state constitutions are so amended as to make it possible for the state courts to bring their decisions into accord with existing economic conditions, those courts still persist in rendering decisions with regard to the constitutionality of state laws from the viewpoint of the constitution of the United States which are not in accord with the decisions of the United States Supreme Court - in other words, if the state courts refuse to recognize the Supreme Court as the final arbiter as to the meaning of the United States constitution - we should urge upon Congress the necessity of passing the bill introduced at its last session providing for an appeal to the Supreme Court from the decisions of the state courts on federal questions as well in cases in which state laws have been held unconstitutional from the point of view of the federal constitution as in those cases in which they have been held constitutional. If that were done, the final judicial interpretation of the United States constitution would in all cases be made by that court which, whether because of the method of appointing its members, or because of the wide public experience which most of them have had, or because they come from widely different and differing parts of the country, has shown greater capacity than perhaps any other judicial body to treat the constitution of the United States as an instrument, to use the words of its judges, "made for an undefined and expanding future and for a people gathered and to be gathered from many nations and of many tongues," as an instrument whose " unchanging provisions are adaptable to the infinite variety of the changing conditions of our national life."

Open discussion: Was the Republican Party communist for a 30 year period?

I'm seeking input here.

In preparing for another blog posting, I am once again contrasting Progressivism with Communism as competing ideologies.

But every time I do this, I get a barrage of messages about how Progressivism is not different than Communism, and that I should treat them exactly the same. But if I do this, I need to know where the rest of you stand.

Many of the Republicans in the early 20th century, including but not limited to Jane Addams, Learned Hand, Felix Frankfurter, Hiram Johnson, Albert J. Beveridge, Boies Penrose, Alf Landon, Frank Knox, Hamilton Fish, Gifford Pinchot, and Theodore Roosevelt, were all progressives. Many of them were so loving of their progressive ideology, that they openly supported the Progressive Party - the Bull Moose Party - or they directly joined it. (Frankfurter is the only one who was not a republican, but he did support the Bull Moose Party)

So I need to know, what do you believe?

Do you believe that Theodore Roosevelt founded a Communist party in 1912?

There are several National Parks, protected lands, and even a tree in America is named after Gifford Pinchot. Do you believe that these are named after a communist?

Do you believe that the Republican Party ran a communist for the 1936 election?

Do you believe all that Jane Addams did all that she did in devotion to Karl Marx?

Do you believe that in 1924, Calvin Coolidge nominated a communist - a red - to the Supreme Court?

Do you believe that when you stood in front of Mount Rushmore, and you looked at one of the four heads, the one wearing glasses, that you saw the likeness of a devotee of the commune?

These are not the things that I believe. I believe that Progressivism is different than communism, I believe that Progressivism is worse than communism. But that's not what's important here.

For those of you who believe that Progressivism = Communism, I generally believe that you are talking about post 1960's Progressivism. Post 1960's, yes, Progressivism is mostly communist. But we cannot limit ourselves to life beyond the 60's, otherwise the progressives win. Let's just foist a white flag of surrender now, and forever hold our peace. Progressives need the shadows to hide in. I for one will not turn off the light.

But I really want to know what others believe. Do you believe that Progressivism is the same as Communism, and ALL that that implies? Because if this is truely what you believe, then you believe America's first Communist president came into office in 1900, and I don't really think very many people believe that. It also means that the Republican Party from the years of about 1895-ish to about the 1920's-1930's is also fond of the hammer and sickle.

I know I don't believe these things. But I want to know what you believe.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Jefferson's Qu'ran, Glenn Beck, and John Adams - an update

Recently I wrote about Jefferson's Koran, primarily focusing in on the Koran written in 1647 by Sieur du Ryer. Problem is, that wasn't Jefferson's Koran. Had I taken the time to look into Keith Ellison, I probably would've figured that out by lifting all the rocks to see what was underneath them. Since I have absolutely no interest in Ellison, certain questions went unanswered.

They now get answered. At least, to the best of my ability.

First, let's clear up what I mistakenly wrote at the time. Jefferson did not own Sieur du Ryer's Koran. Jefferson owned George Sale's translation.(which I linked to at the bottom of the post, and will again do so now here. Here and here) According to the Library of Congress, Keith Ellison swore in on Jefferson's Koran, which is the edition from George Sale. We can confirm that by looking at this image. As I stated, Sale's Koran is not friendly to Islam. See here for some excerpts.

While much has been stated about Thomas Jefferson owning a Koran, he wasn't the only Founder to do so. John Adams also owned a Koran. Guess which one he owned? Yup, Sieur du Ryer's. Here is Adams' Koran, bearing the stamp of the Adams Library. See page iv, it has the quote on it that started my curiosity in the first place.

Thou wilt wonder that such absurdities have infected the best part of the world, and wilt avouch, that the knowledge of what is contained in this book, will render that law contemptible.

During the process of researching these final pieces of information to set everything straight, I came across this image. It shows Ellison with the book open, flipping through pages.

It is striking, since two things are likely: First, Ellison did not read Sale's work. Otherwise, he likely would not have used it in his swearing. Secondly, if Ellison did read it, as that photo op was being taken he might have been thinking to himself: Thank God Allah more conservatives don't read their history!

At the time of Ellison's swearing in, there was a huge controversy over his use of the Koran. He likely would not have used that Koran if the contents of said Koran had become a part of the national conversation. Likewise, if more people knew the contents of that Koran and its less-than-pristine view of Islam, the controversy itself probably would not have been so controversial. Realistically, Ellison insulted himself and got away with it because nobody knew. Now, that moment is gone. It doesn't matter at this point. However, there are a lot of people who (rightfully) realize that Islam is a threat. You could do no better than to read Ryer's Koran and Sale's Koran. If you want to know the enemy, then know the enemy. Reading these would be to your advantage. The founders read them. And that threat is still very real, note what happened in Brussels. It would be very unwise to not read a Koran. Why not choose to read either of these?

The importance of knowing our history is extremely difficult to overstate. Leave no rock unturned.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Senator Sherman Takes Aim at the Supposed Radicalism of Administration

Senator Sherman Takes Aim at the Supposed Radicalism of Administration(Note: Full Headline Title is not entirely visible)

The Oklahoma Leader (Oklahoma City, Okla.), Vol. 5, No. 14, Ed. 1 Thursday, September 26, 1918

Incidentally He Says Taking Over Industries Was Political, Not Governmental Control, But Concludes With Hidden Plea to Leave Packers Unmolested to Combine Activities and Profits.


WASHINGTON - Poor old Senator Sherman of Illinois has broken out again in an attack on the supposedly liberal elements in the Wilson administration. Sherman has in the past year given a good deal of his attention to these verbal barrages in defense of the Chicago packers and other profiteers, and as Congressman Madden of Chicago beat him to the spotlight last week with a direct denunciation of the federal trade commission for its expose of the Swifts and Armours and other industrial porkers, Sherman was obliged to look about for another object of fire. But it is all to the same end - to extort from the administration a few more concessions to the American junkers.


Denunciation of radicalism, and proscription of men on the ground that they have radical tendencies, has become a favorite political device during this war. Sherman used it in his senate speech the other day. He proscribed Col. House as a Socialistic incendiary. He ridiculed President Wilson as a puppet of House. He exclaimed savage against the supposed plan of these two men to get their grip on the private property interests of the United States, during the war, and make all property the plaything of personal politics.

"What of those," he asked, "who, while the American people are centering thought and effort on our tremendous task, use the war to betray republican government to its undoing? Under the specious pretext of war necessity they are now substituting their obsessions and follies for the institutional liberty that is the birthright of both soldier and civilian. When these men return to victory they will face in civil life a Socialistic state. Vast bureaucracies and centralized departments will have seized the principal occupations of private life. I believe it part of my duty to save for the man at the front the domestic institutions of his country at home while he is making the world safe for democracy abroad.


"Autocratic power never rests. One demand granted becomes the lever to lift its impudent claims to further heights of usurpation. The great climactic of civil government will come with the end of the war. We must then decide whether the American republic remains a government of regulated individualism or be transformed into a civilian autocracy of interrelated boards, bureaus and departments operating the chief instruments of production, distribution, and communication of thought,including the printing press. The newspaper is as much within this subtle and malign power as the telegraph or the bank. The recent order curtailing news columns under the guise of conserving paper stock is an invasion of the right of a privately owned, free press, designed to control the avenues of information.

Not one undertaking seized as a war measure is intended ever to be returned to their owners by the Burlesons, the Bakers, and the Gompers. They know as we do that the war is a handy pretense to embark the government on their fantastic adventure. Physical properties are seized. They are used to exploit payrolls dedicated to the alleged sacred cause of labor. At the very mention of them a complaisant congress falls prostrate. Not a government enterprise but will be a recruiting station to mold votes to continue such a government. It is political, not government, control. It is not government ownership, but political ownership."


"The sincere Socialist is aghast at the rapidity of the advance. The thinkers among them deplore the speed of the movement. They fear a reaction. Government control is a mere name. It deceives some. It misleads many. No such vast delusion ever went so long unchallenged. Government control as now exercised by this administration is the threshold of permanent political ownership and operation.

On all questions directly or indirectly related to labor Gompers is practically president of the United STates. Burleson controls the physical agencies for the communication of thought, and McAdoo the railways and the country's finances. The three can reduce the industrial world to servile obedience or wearied disgust when they will acquiesce in a surrender of their property as a relief. The payrolls will be unionized and the service and voters used to maintain and perpetuate the political party that subscribes to the original prostitution of government and its subsequent usurpations. Strip off the mask of alleged government ownership and see behind it the revealed political ownership and control of Gompers, Burleson and McAdoo for partisan purposes, to be used relentlessly to elect party candidates now, and in 1920 a president. A mediaeval class government by a few who control the political party, is what it is - call it by any name you please"


Thus far Sherman had merely stirred up a dust against the administration form of control of railroads and the wires. Knowing that the issue before congress in the next few months will be the taking over of the stock yards and the means of collecting live stock and shipping and distributing meat, he carefully refrains from touching on the food profiteers. Knowing that Burleson has left the telegraphs and telephones securely in the hands of their profiteering private owners, except in one or two minor details which affect neither the profits nor improves service, he pretends that Burleson has established real public operation of the wires. And with full knowledge that McAdoo has merely changed the control of operation of the railroads from one set of railroad men to another set of railroad company men - so that today the "Santa Fe crowd" is pretty nearly the whole railroad administration - Sherman grimaces over the downfall of the railroad officials. He refuses also to admit that Gompers gets little from the administration for the workers, and that the payrolls are very far from being unionized. What the workers are getting they get through union agitation in the industries, and not through political confabs in Washington.

You can see the packers' fears of commandeering in this sentence of the speech: "It must be remembered that it is on the rights of private property that arbitrary governments usually begin their attack; that outpost taken, the great primary rights of persons can be more readily disintegrated and destroyed."


Coming to Col. House, the Illinois junker discovers that House once wrote an anonymous novel, Phillip Dru, Administrator, setting forth House's ideal of effective government in this country. It is the story of a successful revolution against reactionary government in the United states, with Dru the dictator of a new order of social and industrial justice.

"He indulges in a few remarks," says Sherman, reviewing the book. "Rebellion is justified. The government was defective in machinery, defective in constitution and law. Laws caused all the difference between the few and the many. The constitution and laws are grotesque, obsolete, oppressive, arbitrary, and the source of injustice. The whole federal government is a negation. It restricts efficiency. It is a fair question whether this whole allegory of alleged inefficiency and oppression does not violate the espionage act every time a copy of the book is sold. I believe it does.

The fictitious hero frames a universal code of laws himself. Everybody is given an equal opportunity. Everybody gets justice. Avarice is eliminated. The sting of poverty is removed. Envy, selfishness, extravagance are banished by a few wholesome laws conceived in horse sense and conferred by the colonel on a long-suffering people who are become incapable of self-government.


Then he goes into detail as to the social changes which House, as a novelist, proposes. Two-thirds of the courts are abolished, social insurance, old-age pensions, woman suffrage, reclamation of the waste lands, reduction of the hours of labor, elimination of gang politics - all of these things are accomplished, along with many more. The book was published in 1912.

Sherman draws a new alarm from every page of House's book, and it inspires him to ridicule House, and the president's devotion to House, for an hour. He tells how House first picked Mayor Gaynor of New York as his political protege to be led up to the white house; how Gaynor kicked over the traces; how House then picked the New Jersey man, and how Woodrow Wilson acted just as House wanted him to act; how they discovered that they thought alike on all important matters, and finally how the president

(Note: Article ends here)

Friday, March 25, 2016

Theodore Roosevelt to Sir George Otto Trevelyan, June 19, 1908

Theodore Roosevelt to Sir George Otto Trevelyan, June 19, 1908

There is very much to be said in favor of the theory that the public has a right to demand as long service from any man who is doing good service as it thinks will be useful; and during the last year or two I have been rendered extremely uncomfortable both by the exultation of my foes over my announced intention to retire, and by the real uneasiness and chagrin felt by many good men because, as they believed, they were losing quite needlessly the leader in whom they trusted, and who they believed could bring to a successful conclusion certain struggles which they regarded as of vital concern to the national welfare. Moreover, it was of course impossible to foresee, and I did not foresee, when I made my public announcement of my intention, that the leadership I then possessed would continue (so far as I am able to tell) unbroken, as has actually been the case; and that the people who believed in me and trusted me and followed me would three or four years later still feel that I was the man of all others whom they wished to see President. Yet such I think has been the case; and therefore, when I felt obliged to insist on retiring and abandoning the leadership, now and then I felt ugly qualms as to whether I was not refusing to do what I ought to do and abandoning great work on a mere fantastic point of honor.

There are strong reasons why my course should be condemned; yet I think that the countervailing reasons are still stronger. Of course, when I spoke I had in view the precedent set by Washington and continued ever since, the precedent which recognizes the fact that as there inheres in the Presidency more power than in any other office in any great republic or constitutional monarchy of modern times, it can only be saved from abuse by having the people as a whole accept as axiomatic the position that no man has held it for more than a limited time. I don't think that any harm comes from the concentration of power in one man's hands, provided the holder does not keep it for more than a certain, definite time, and then returns to the people from whom he sprang.

In the great days of the Roman Republic no harm whatever came from the dictatorship, because great though the power of the dictator was, after a comparatively short period he surrendered it back to those from whom he gained it. On the other hand, the history of the first and second French Republics, not to speak of the Spanish-American Republics, not to speak of the Commonwealth, in Seventeenth Century England, has shown that the strong man who is good may very readily subvert free institutions if he and the people at large grow to accept his continued possession of vast power as being necessary to good government. It is a very unhealthy thing that any man should be considered necessary to the people as a whole, save in the way of meeting some given crisis. Moreover, in a republic like ours the vital need is that there shall be a general recognition of the moral law, of the law which, as regards public men, means belief in efficient and disinterested service for the public rendered without thought of personal gain, and above all without the thought of self-perpetuation in office.

I regard the memories of Washington and Lincoln as priceless heritages for our people, just because they are the memories of strong men, of men who can not be accused of weakness or timidity, of men who I believe were quite as strong, for instance, as Cromwell or Bismarck, and very much stronger than the Louis Napoleon type, who, nevertheless, led careers marked by disinterestedness just as much as by strength; who, like Timoleon and Hampden, in very deed, and not as a mere matter of oratory or fine writing, sought just the public good, the good of the people as a whole, as the first of all considerations.

Now, my ambition is that, in however small a way, the work I do shall be along the Washington and Lincoln lines. While President I have been President, emphatically; I have used every ounce of power there was in the office and I have not cared a rap for the criticisms of those who spoke of my 'usurpation of power'; for I know that the talk was all nonsense and that there was no usurpation. I believe that the efficiency of this Government depends upon its possessing a strong central executive, and wherever I could establish a precedent for strength in the executive, as I did for instance as regards the external affairs in the case of sending the fleet around the world, taking Panama, settling affairs of Santo Domingo and Cuba; or as I did in internal affairs in settling the anthracite coal strike, in keeping order in Nevada this year when the Federation of Miners threatened anarchy, or as I have done in bringing the big corporations to book—why, in all these cases I have felt not merely that my action was right in itself, but that in showing the strength of, or in giving strength to, the executive, I was establishing a precedent of value. I believe in a strong executive; I believe in power; but I believe that responsibility should go with power, and that it is not well that the strong executive should be a perpetual executive. Above all and beyond all I believe as I have said before that the salvation of this country depends upon Washington and Lincoln representing the type of leader to which we are true. I hope that in my acts I have been a good President, a President who has deserved well of the Republic; but most of all, I believe that whatever value my service may have, comes even more from what I am than from what I do. . . . "A few months ago three old back-country farmers turned up in Washington and after awhile managed to get in to see me. They were rugged old fellows, as hairy as Boers and a good deal of the Boer type. They hadn't a black coat among them, and two of them wore no cravats; that is, they just had on their working clothes, but all cleaned and brushed. When they finally got to see me they explained that they hadn't anything whatever to ask, but that they believed in me, believed that I stood for what they regarded as the American ideal, and as one rugged old fellow put it, 'We want to shake that honest hand.' Now this anecdote seems rather sentimental as I tell it, and I do not know that I can convey to you the effect the incident produced on me; but it was one of the very many incidents which have occurred, and they have made me feel that I am under a big debt of obligation to the good people of this country, and that I am bound not by any unnecessary action of mine to forfeit their respect, not to hurt them by taking away any part of what they have built up as their ideal of me.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Thomas Jefferson's Qu'ran: Where Glenn Beck is right, and where he is wrong

For a very long time, Beck has been out there saying that "In Jefferson's Koran", there is contained the following warning: (Saying for a long time now)

Thou wilt wonder that such absurdities have infected the best part of the world, and wilt avouch, that the knowledge of what is contained in this book, will render that law contemptible

If you, like I did, try Googling that quote you'll find a lot of things - but nothing that goes directly to Jefferson's Koran. Now some of you may be content with seeing a bit of information that's contained on a .blogspot.whatever site, but not me. With all of the challenges that we face as a country, as a society, as a culture, we cannot afford to get the facts wrong. We have too many people about us who are selling snake oil, we need to nail them down and flush them out. First, - I swear that this is very likely the 10th time I searched for this, but finally, finally, finally! I struck gold.

The first question before we even get past page one is this: What was Jefferson's Koran? Does anybody believe that Thomas Jefferson spoke nor read Arabic so fluently that he himself was capable of directly translating such a large work? And when, exactly would Jefferson have had the time to undertake such an activity, in between founding a country and sticking his finger in King George's eye? Now, all of this could be true that Jefferson did all of these things, but we do not assume.

Never assume. Always verify. According to Monticello it is believed that Jefferson probably did have some Arabic reading ability, but probably not fluently. With that being the case, he probably did not engage in a translation. So did Jefferson then, buy his copy of the Koran from someone else who did have the time and ability for such a venture?

Yes, Jefferson did get(buy?) his copy of the Koran from someone else. Specifically, he got it from Sieur du Ryer. Actually, he got a copy of Alexander Ross's work. Ross translated Sieur du Ryer's 1647 French translation into English, but who's trying to dig up all the facts anyways. Oh, wait! I am. Good, I'm glad I included that. Alexander Ross completed his French-to-English translation in about two years, in 1649.

So, here is the 1649 book, in all of its old-English glory. The actual quote looks a little less legible to the modern eye: "Thou wilt wonder that fuch abfurdities have infected the beft part of the world, and wilt avouch, that the knowledg of what is contained in this book, will render that Law contemptible."

That's the exact quote, you can see it for yourself. The first few pages are numbered at the bottom of the pages with the letter A, except this page with this quote. But it would be page A 5 if we were counting. Right at the beginning of the book. It should be pretty clear that this is the Koran that Jefferson owned, however he came to own it(as a gift, library rent, bought at a bookstore).

The Alcoran of Mahomet: translated out of Arabique into French

As an aside, George Sale wrote an equally unflattering translation of the work of Mohammed in 1734. "The Alcoran of MOHAMMED, Translated into English immediately from the Original Arabic", here and here.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

No, Mr. Roosevelt. What you did was establish American tyranny

The progressingamerica project exists primarily, for more than any other reason, to show just how dangerous progressivism is. The progressives own history is one of the best weapons we have against these people. Read this, this is Obama. He could have very well said this in our time.
Now, my ambition is that, in however small a way, the work I do shall be along the Washington and Lincoln lines. While President I have been President, emphatically; I have used every ounce of power there was in the office and I have not cared a rap for the criticisms of those who spoke of my 'usurpation of power'; for I know that the talk was all nonsense and that there was no usurpation. I believe that the efficiency of this Government depends upon its possessing a strong central executive, and wherever I could establish a precedent for strength in the executive, as I did for instance as regards the external affairs in the case of sending the fleet around the world, taking Panama, settling affairs of Santo Domingo and Cuba; or as I did in internal affairs in settling the anthracite coal strike, in keeping order in Nevada this year when the Federation of Miners threatened anarchy, or as I have done in bringing the big corporations to book—why, in all these cases I have felt not merely that my action was right in itself, but that in showing the strength of, or in giving strength to, the executive, I was establishing a precedent of value.

Theodore Roosevelt spat upon George Washington with his presidency. GW and the rest of the Founders tried to prevent the very thing TR let loose. Madison's notes are replete with discussions and warnings and worries that are very much the embodiment of progressivism in general, with Obama, FDR, Wilson, and TR in particular. The precedent TR set only has value to the Obamas and the Alinsky's of the world. It's our job to try to undo this damage.

Yes, I know, I'm going to get flamed for being "anti Theodore Roosevelt". Listen to this:

In the great days of the Roman Republic no harm whatever came from the dictatorship, because great though the power of the dictator was, after a comparatively short period he surrendered it back to those from whom he gained it.

To my knowledge, during the Republic the dictator was term limited. That's a far cry from "surrendering" it. But that's not really the point. I don't want to get stuck on Roman history here, because to do that would be to let the progressives get away with it, and I don't want to let progressives get away with it. Every progressive has some dictator that they love. That's a big problem for a free society. TR made clear that he loved the embodiment of a dictator, that much cannot be denied. And it's not just that he had dreams of being an American dictator, he tries to be an apologist for his usurpations. Dreaming of a day when there would be no constitution to stand in his way. That pesky constitution, Yes! Those Roman dictators, though, they were so lucky! They didn't have to worry about getting around such obstacles.

This comes from a letter Roosevelt wrote to Sir George Otto Trevelyan on June, 1908. (pages 92-95)

This is absolutely indefensible, what TR wrote and believed, and acted upon those beliefs. Obama's Che is TR's Caesar. I know I shouldn't get mad when I see progressives glorifying totalitarianism since the progressives are themselves totalitarians - but I'm an American. My promise is that of Liberty. Why shouldn't it upset me? The constant barrage and theft of our liberties from progressives makes me sick.