Alternate quote of the day – Samuel Adams

“A general Dissolution of Principles & Manners will more surely overthrow the Liberties of America than the whole Force of the Common Enemy. While the People are virtuous they cannot be subdued; but when once they lose their Virtue they will be ready to surrender their Liberties to the first external or internal Invader. How necessary then is it for those who are determind to transmit the Blessings of Liberty as a fair Inheritance to Posterity, to associate on publick Principles in Support of publick virtue.”
Samuel Adams, Letter to James Warren (February 12, 1779)

Those old dead white guys seemed to talking about us (here in 2016) all the way back in 1779. Gosh; how did they know?

But they made a horrific error. They understood the importance of the non establishment clause, religious freedom clause, freedom of speech, of assembly and redress of grievances, AND the importance of education, but somehow they failed to make the connection between religion and education when it came to the importance of non establishment. He continues;

“I do verily believe, and I may say it inter Nos, that the Principles & Manners of N Engd, producd that Spirit which finally has establishd the Independence of America; and Nothing but opposite Principles and Manners can overthrow it. If you are of my Mind, and I think you are, the Necessity of supporting the Education of our Country must be strongly impressd on your Mind. It gives me the greatest Concern to hear that some of our Gentlemen in the Country begin to think the Maintenance of Schools too great a Burden.”

He’s right of course, but this argument has led to the making of law to establish education, rather than the free exercise thereof. It’s one or the other, which is why the first amendment included both the non establishment and the free exercise clauses with regard to religion.

That they (and we) seem to have failed utterly to understand the similarities between religion and education is surprising– Both are highly influential to a culture and it’s fundamental beliefs. That is precisely WHY they kept federal government out of religion and, tragically, why we got government into education.

The founders didn’t seem to contemplate the enemies of the American Founding Principles being in charge of a government education system, hostile to knowledge and truth, desiring a pliable, ignorant society ripe for the picking.

Therefore I once again put forth a recommendation for an addition to the first amendment to the U.S. constitution;

“…nor make any law respecting the establishment of education, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,…”

It belongs there for exactly the same reasons that religion belongs there, and it always did. I see the failure to include it (to allow such a thing as public education at all) as being one of the greatest failings of the Republic, possibly THE fatal mistake.

6 thoughts on “Alternate quote of the day – Samuel Adams

  1. I wonder, did anyone at that time even contemplate the possibility of government run schools? I think education, like charity, was almost always organised through the churches. Both of these functions have been largely taken over by government, with many negative consequences. I doubt that anyone was even thinking about the possibility of schools being controlled by the central national government.

    The rights that were codified in the first ten amendments, were mostly things of which they had recent examples of government infringements. In contrast to those who now want to reduce the protections in the Bill of Rights for such things as speech, religion, and the right to keep and bear arms, I wonder if there are other rights which we ought to be adding to the enumeration.

  2. Of course the argument can be made for this amendment, as it has been made for the existing Bill of Rights, that it is redundant. The Federal government currently has no Constitutional power to meddle in education. Saying it a second time (or rather a fourth, because the 9th and 10th amendments already cover it along with Article 1 Section 8) won’t make the lawless government any more obedient to the Constitution than they are today.
    This is the fatal flaw in the “Conventions of the States” movement — the notion that an Article V Convention would allow the adoption of new amendments that will cure the overreach we have today. No, of course it won’t, no more than the Bill of Rights did.

  3. Good points. I guess I could distil the second part of the post down to;
    “If religion and speech were considered important enough (and I believe they were) to lead in the first amendment, then surely education should be there too, if not in the foremost clause.”

    We could argue the bits about having a Bill of Rights at all, and how effective it’s been, in another discussion. We could go on to discuss government interference in energy, transportation, medicine, agriculture, communication, et al too, the over-arching concern being government interference and how to minimize it or prevent it.

    The first part of the post I think stands on its own.

  4. The other reason to add or modify an amendment should be to address the personal penalties to any and all politicians and bureaucrats and judges and any others being paid to deal with the rights of the citizens, for any violations thereof.

    Most of what the .gov gets away with is due to a near total lack of personal liability for bad actions. A nation shouldn’t have to wait for a revolution to tar and feather a bunch of politicrats. That should be the first thing they should research before attempting to do more than warm a chair. Every .gov action should be recorded with the names of all who voted or endorsed it, and the public should be able to go back and retroactively tar them if the action is found to be incorrect/unconstitutional. There needs to be direct, quick, and painful/costly teeth in this.

    • Yes, L. Neil Smith for years has advocated a “Bill of Rights Enforcement Amendment”. The main thing needed is that everyone should have standing to bring such an action, unlike the current situation with 18 USC 241 and the like, which are paper tigers because no DA will ever bring action under those laws against his friends and partners in crime.

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