This week I find myself looking at: what is Prudence in Governance? I am addressing this from the hoopla that has not only occurred in Ohio but also across the Nation. The May 1764 Letter of Instruction is critical for all to read. Follow the link in the last sentence or in the References below.
This Letter of Instruction is so relevant to this very moment in time that it is uncanny. The situation in Boston is the present issues in the whole United States: Economic issues, Trade impacting local manufacturing and epidemic crushing upon it all.
I will be bold and dare you to read this Letter of Instruction if you have the courage to reflect on history and then apply the lessons to the present.
I implore you to read your State Constitution!
My first reflection
After a foray into the discussion of the manufactured Crisis in Ohio, I have withdrawn making any further comments since it is evident that there is no Prudence in Governance. The various parties that are clamoring for the attention of the citizenry to pressure the Legislature and the Governor are not acting with Prudence either. It appears that emotionalism over-reaches rational approaches and then the cycle of impudence is a regurgitation of similar actions.
In this I will again ask all to read their State Constitutions. I was going to ask a lot of questions on this program in reference to how the Ohio Constitution was Amended in particular since 1970. The barking about the postponement of a Primary Election is the least of the despotism that has been inflicted by literal instantiation of “Bond – age” in Article VIII of the Ohio Constitution.
Where was the barking over the last forty years? Where was Prudence in Governance even fifteen years ago?
With that off my chest, onward!
Sam Adams 1764 Instructions
There is a cry by many to call or fax your elected to deal with the disaster we are found in. Granted, when numbers of individuals make those calls, send emails or s fax it does have some impact on the elected. Petitions seem to be so – so in having an impact. The key element is attempting to influence those that are elected into office. Since the general Citizenry does not have a daily lobbyist acting on their behalf, the next best thing is individual action.
Foundationally, the course of action was to send the Legislator in to session with ‘Letters of Instruction.’ Those leaders of the town or county would hold public meetings and the interests of the citizenry would be placed into a written instrument that would have not only instructions but also would be held as the scale to measure the effectiveness of the elected.
We do not formally do this any longer. In fact we have no real mechanism of ‘Instructing’ the elected. As they go to office we hope and pray they will act on their morals, virtue and prudence. Unfortunately they get caught in the political play of the legislative game. Their motivations are not always sound and are more often for the purposes of being elected over and over. With that in mind, Never will the political party leadership engage the citizenry as a whole in a manner that will develop instructions for the elected. Nor will the political parties hold the elected to the Foundational principles as did Sam Adams with those elected in his day.
This measurable scale of the ‘letter of instruction’ was called accountability.
Establishing accountability by the citizenry of the elected began with confirming the rights of the Citizenry before the eyes of the Representative. Remember, the Representatives had to read the letter therefore it was before their eyes. They then had to go to the ‘Town Hall’ and report out how they followed those instruction as well as what else occurred during a Legislative Session.
The beginning of a letter would go like:
“Your being chosen by the Freeholders & Inhabitants of the Town of Boston to represent them in the General Assembly the ensuing year, affords you the strongest Testimony of that Confidence which they place in your Integrity & Capacity. By this Choice they have delegated to you the Power of acting in their publick Concerns in general as your own Prudence shall direct you ; always reserving to themselves the constitutional Right of expressing their mind & giving you fresh Instruction upon particular Matters as they at any time shall judge proper.”
Time to consider some key points that are in most citizens minds these days: 1st is Integrity and Capacity. 2nd is Prudence.
I discuss the mechanisms of Letters of Instruction and what is Prudence in Governance during this weeks program.
Sam Adams Wisdom: Beginning of the Boston Letter of Instruction 1764
“We therefore your Constituents take this opportunity to declare our just Expectations from you. That you will constantly use your Power & Influence in maintaining the invaluable Rights & Privileges of the Province, of which this Town is so great a Part : As well those Rights which are derivd to us by the royal Charter, as those which being prior to & independent on it, we hold essentially as free born Subjects of Great Brittain.
That you will endeavor as far as you shall be able to preserve that Independence in the House of Representatives, which characterizes a free People, & the want of which may in a great Measure prevent the happy Effects of a free Government : Cultivating as you shall have Opportunity that Harmony & Union there which is ever desirable to good men when founded in Principles of Virtue & publick Spirit; & guarding against any undue weight Avhich may tend to disadjust that critical Ballance upon which our happy Constitution & the Blessings of it do depend.”
1. Ohio State Constitution Article VIII
2. Instructions Of He Town Of Boston To Its Representatives In The General Court. MAY, 1764. The Writings of Samuel Adams Volume I, page 1.
3. Inaccurate Virus Models Are Panicking Officials Into Ill-Advised Lockdowns, The Federalist
5. Ohio Primary Elections Insights, Ballotpedia
6. Primary Elections created by Progressives, Ohio History Connection