7-14-18 Swamp Update and Sam Adams on Voting

This week is simple: In the first segment I give a quick update from the founders perspective on the Supreme Court Nomination and the hellacious noises from the Court steps to the main stream media. The last two segments are regarding ‘What’ Sam Adams had to say about voting and how we should vet candidates as well as develop future leaders through morality in education. He said this: “As Piety, Religion and Morality have a happy influence on the minds of men, in their public as well as private transactions, you will not think it unseasonable, although I have frequently done it, to bring to your remembrance the great importance of encouraging our University, town schools, and other seminaries of education, that our children and youth while they are engaged in the pursuit of useful science, may have their minds impressed with a strong sense of the duties they owe to their God, their instructors and each other, so that when they arrive to a state of manhood, and take a part in any public transactions, their hearts having been deeply impressed in the course of their education with the moral feelings—such feelings may continue and have their due weight through the whole of their future lives.”

References for today are the four volumes of Sam Adams writings:

Voting and judiciary

On voting : 1764 through 1769 focus on the Free Elections of the American Citizenry with local representatives and taxing authority by charter Not of Parliament.

  1. 1766: We were summoned and convened here to give our free suffrages at the general election, directed to be annually made by the royal charter. We have given our suffrages according to the dictates of our consciences, and the best light of our understanding. It was certainly our right to choose, and as clearly a constitutional power in your Excellency to disapprove, without assigning a reason either before or after your dissent.. Your Excellency has thought proper to disapprove of some. We are far even from suggesting that the country has by this means been deprived of its best and ablest servants. We have released those of the Judges of the Superior Court who had the honor of a seat at the Board, from the cares and perplexities of politics, and given them opportunity to make still farther advances in the knowledge of the law, and to administer right and justice within this jurisdiction.
  2. We hold ourselves to be quite free in our suffrages ; and provided we observe the directions of our charter, and the laws of the land, both which we have strictly adhered to, we are by no means accountable but to God and our own consciences for the manner in which we give them. We believe your Excellency is the first Governor of this province that ever form ally called the two Houses of Assembly to account for their suffrages, and accused them of ingratitude and disaffection to the Crown, because they had not bestowed them on such persons as in the opinion of the Governor, were quite necessary to the administration of government. Had your Excellency been pleased in season to have favored us with a list, and positive orders whom to choose, we should, on your principles have been without excuse. But even the most abject slaves are not to be blamed for disobey ing their master s will and pleasure when it is wholly unknown to them.
  3. We would hope that your Excellency does not mean open and publicly to threaten us with a deprivation of our charter privileges, merely for exercising them according to our best judgment and discretion. As to us, as our charter is, we should think it of very little value, if it should be adjudged that the sense and spirit of it require the electors should be under the absolute direction and control of the Chair, even in giving their suffrages. For what ever may be our ideas of the wisdom, prudence, mild ness and moderation of your administration, of your forgiving spirit, yet we are not sure your successor will possess those shining virtues.
  4. We are very sensible that be our right of election ever so clear and absolute, there is a distinction between a right and the propriety of exercising it. This distinction we hope, will apply itself with full force, and all its advantage to your Excellency s reluctant exertion of the prerogative in disapproving six of the gentlemen chosen by the two Houses of Assembly. But this being a matter of discretion, is solely within your Excellency s breast, and we are taught by your just distinction, that such is the gift of suffrages. It therefore gives us great pain to have our discretion questioned, and our public conduct thus repeatedly arraigned.
  5. PETITION OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF MASSACHUSETTS TO THE KING.1 JUNE 27, 1769. Complaints regarding Governor Bernard:
    3. He has from time to time indiscreetly and wantonly exercised the prerogative of the Crown, in the repeated negative of Councellors of an unblemished reputation, and duly elected by a great majority ; some of them by the unanimous suffrage of both Houses of Assembly. 4. He has declared that certain seats at the Council board shall be kept vacant, till certain Gentlemen, who are his favourites, shall be re-elected. 5. He has unconstitutionally interfered with and unduly influenced elections, particularly in the choice of an Agent for the Colony. 6. He has very abruptly displaced divers Gentlemen of worth, for no apparent reason, but because they voted in the General Assembly with freedom and against his measures.

Written 1776 : It gives me great satisfaction to be informed, that the members of the house of representatives are possessed of so warm a spirit of patriotism, as that “an enemy to America may as well attempt to scale the regions of bliss, as to insinuate himself into their favour.” Whatever kind of men may be denominated enemies to their country, certainly he is a very injudicious friend to it, who gives his suffrage for office, merely because he is rich; and yet you tell me there are recent instances of this in our government. I confess it mortifies me greatly. The giving such a preference to riches is both dishonourable and dangerous to a government. It is indeed equally dangerous to promote a man to a place of public trust only because he wants bread, but I think it is not so dishonourable; for men may be influenced to the latter from the feelings of humanity, but the other argues a base, degenerate, servile temper of mind. I hope our country will never see the time, when either riches or the want of them will be the leading considerations in the choice of public officers. Whenever riches shall be deemed a necessary qualification, ambition as well as avarice will prompt men most earnestly to thirst for them, and it will be commonly said, as in ancient times of degeneracy,

Quaerenda pecunia primum est, Virtus post nummos.

“Get money, money still, And then let virtue follow if she will.”

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To leg of Massachusetts, 1797

In pursuance of the provision in the Constitution, the people have recently exercised their own sovereign power in the election of another President. Elections to offices, even in the smallest Corporations, are and ought to be deemed highly important; of how much more importance is it, that elections to the highest offices in our extensive Republic, should be conducted in a manner and with a spirit becoming a free, virtuous and enlightened people, who justly estimate the value of their sacred rights. In the late elections, the people have turned their attention to several citizens, who have rendered eminent services to our federal Commonwealth in exalted stations. Upon which ever of the Candidates the lot may have fallen, the people have reason to expect, that his administration will be strictly conformable to the letter and true intent of the Constitution, that it may long continue to be the guarantee of our freely elective Republican Government.— On fair and uncontrouled elections, depend, under God, the whole superstructure of our government— should corruption ever insert itself in our elections, there would be great danger of corruption in our governments.— Although it is not long since the subject of elections was under the consideration of the Legislature, and a law passed for the purpose of further security to the people in the free exercise of this invaluable right; yet give me leave to suggest for your consideration, whether still further securities may not be provided, so that the rightful electors may not be frustrated in their honest intentions. That elections may not be contaminated by strangers, or unqualified persons, may it not be necessary that every man may be known, as far as possible, when he presents himself to give his vote; this may be more especially important in our seaports and other populous towns, in which many foreigners of all sorts frequently reside. I would be far from dictating to you, but I would submit to your judgment whether, considering the liberality of this country to foreigners, and the frequency of their naturalizations, it may not be eligible that such foreigners should be required when they offer their votes to the Selectmen of the towns, to produce authentic certificates from the Courts, by which they were endowed with so high a privilege, as a test of their citizenship. As Piety, Religion and Morality have a happy influence on the minds of men, in their public as well as private transactions, you will not think it unseasonable, although I have frequently done it, to bring to your remembrance the great importance of encouraging our University, town schools, and other seminaries of education, that our children and youth while they are engaged in the pursuit of useful science, may have their minds impressed with a strong sense of the duties they owe to their God, their instructors and each other, so that when they arrive to a state of manhood, and take a part in any public transactions, their hearts having been deeply impressed in the course of their education with the moral feelings—such feelings may continue and have their due weight through the whole of their future lives.

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To James Warren, Oct 1780

It ill becomes you, my Friend, to think of retiring into private Life, who can lay your hand on your heart, and say that in your publick Conduct your have in no Instance deviated from virtuous Principles. If ever the Time should come, when vain & aspiring Men shall possess the highest Seats in Government, our Country will stand in Need of its experiencd Patriots to prevent its Ruin. There may be more Danger of this, than some, even of our well disposd Citizens may imagine. If the People should grant their Suffrages to Men, only because they conceive them to have been Friends to the Country, without Regard to the necessary Qualifications for the Places they are to fill, the Administration of Government will become a mere Farce, and our pub-lick Affairs will never be put on the Footing of solid Security. We should inquire into the Tempers of Men, in order to form a Judgment in what Manner the publick Trusts to be reposed in them will be executed. You remember the Character of Pisistratus. He was a Citizen of Athens, supposd to have many excellent Qualities, but he had an insatiable Lust of Pre-eminence. Solon could discover his Vanity, but the People were blinded by a false Glare of Virtues and he was their Idol. Under Pretence of his having escaped imminent Danger from a violent Faction, and the further Insecurity of his Person he artfully obtaind a Guard of Soldiers, by which Means he possessd himself of the Citadel & usurpd the Government. But though he made himself Sovereign, & thus far overthrew the popular Election, the Historian tells us, “that he made no Change in the Magistracy or the Laws.—He was content that others should hold their Places according to the establishd Rules of the Constitution, so that he might continue Archon, independent of the Suffrages of the People. This he effected; for though several Attempts were made, to deprive him of the Sovereignty which he had so violently obtaind, he held it till his Death & left it to his Children.” Such was the Ambition of this Man, who indeed assumd the Government, and such were the Effects of it. Power is intoxicating; and Men legally vested with it, too often discover a Disposition to make an ill Use of it & an Unwillingness to part with it. HOW different was Pisistratus from that Roman Hero and Patriot Lucius Quinctius Cincinatus who, tho vested with the Authority of Dictator, was so moderate in his Desires of a Continuance of Power, that, having in six Weeks fulfilld the Purposes of his Appointment, he resignd the dangerous office, which he might have held till the Expiration of six Months.—When we formerly had weak and wicked Governors & Magistrates, it was our Misfortune; but for the future, while we enjoy and exercise the inestimable Right of chusing them ourselves, it will be our Disgrace. I hope our Countrymen will always keep a watchful Eye over the publick Conduct of those whom they exalt to Power, making at the same time every just Allowance for the Imperfections of human Nature; and I pray God we may never see Men filling the sacred Seats of Government, who are either wanting in adequate Abilities, or influencd by any Views Motives or Feelings seperate from the publick Welfare.

Perversion of Law:

But were there no such Laws of the Province or should our Enemies pervert these & other Laws made for the same Purpose, from their plain and obvious Intent and Meaning, still there is the great and perpetual Law of Self preservation to which every natural Person or corporate Body hath an inherent Right to recur. This being the Law of the Creator, no human Law can be of force against it: And indeed it is an Absurdity to suppose that any such Law could be made by Common Consent, which alone gives validity to human Laws. If then the “MATTER OR THING” viz the fixing Salaries to the Offices of the Judges of the Superior Court as aforesaid, was such as threatned the Lives, Liberties and Properties of the People, which we have the Authority of the greatest Assembly of the Province to affirm, The Inhabitants of this or any other Town had certainly an uncontrovertable right to meet together, either in the Manner the Law has prescribed, or in any other orderly Manner, joyntly to consult the necessary Means of their own Preservation and Safety.

Committee of Correspondence, June 1773

Your Expression is indeed pertinent; for it has as we think abundantly appeard since you wrote, by some extraordinary Letters which have been publishd, that the plan of our Slavery was concerted here, & properly speaking “adopted by the British ministry.” The plan indeed is concise; first to take the people’s money from them without their Consent & then to appropriate that money for the purpose of supporting an Executive independent of them and under the absolute Controul of the Crown or rather the ministry. It was formerly the saying of an English Tyrant “Let me have Judges at my Command & make what Laws you please.” And herein he judgd wisely for his purpose, for what Security can the people expect from the most salutary Laws if they are to be executed by the absolute Dependents of a monarch. The nation cannot then wonder that not only the several Towns of this province in their more private Departments, but the Representative body of the people in General Court assembled, are so greatly alarmd at this finishing Stroke of the System of Tyranny.

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