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No. 105 "The Constitution - The Fortress of Liberty" Speech of Hon. James A. Reed, Member of the National Lawyers Committee of the American Liberty League before the Farmers Grain Dealers Association of Illinois, February 11, 1936.
No. 105 "The Constitution - The Fortress of Liberty" Speech of Hon. James A. Reed, Member of the National Lawyers Committee of the American Liberty League before the Farmers Grain Dealers Association of Illinois, February 11, 1936. American Liberty League. 400dpi TIFF G4 page images Digital Library Services, University of Kentucky Libraries Lexington, Kentucky Am_Lib_Leag_105 These pages may freely searched and displayed. Permission must be received for subsequent distribution in print or electronically. No. 105 "The Constitution - The Fortress of Liberty" Speech of Hon. James A. Reed, Member of the National Lawyers Committee of the American Liberty League before the Farmers Grain Dealers Association of Illinois, February 11, 1936. American Liberty League. American Liberty League. Washington, D.C. 1936. This electronic text file was created by Optical Character Recognition (OCR). No corrections have been made to the OCR-ed text and no editing has been done to the content of the original document. Encoding has been done through an automated process using the recommendations for Level 1 of the TEI in Libraries Guidelines. Digital page images are linked to the text file. AMERICAN LIBERTY LEAGUE Leaflets The American Liberty League has prepared for popular distribution a series of four page leaflets which deal briefly and simply with vital political and economic questions of the day. Some of these leaflets are illustrated all are written expressly for the layman and are in graphic and easily understood language. the League will gladly send any of these little leaflets to individuals interested. If you would like to help the educational work of the League by distributing a quantity of this type of literature, please indicate your desires on the attached blank. Leaflets Available The President Wants More Power A graphic story of steps already taken in the United States towards that breakdown of constitutional government which paves the road to dictatorship. The Townsend Nightmare Explaining for the average worker just how much of his time and wages would be taken away from him if the Townsend Plan were adopted. The New Deal Works Program Boondoggling as seen by Raymond Clapper, eminent journalist and Washington political observer. The American Liberty League A simple explanation of the League as a nation-wide organization devoted to sanity in government. This leaflet was written by Dr. Ray Bert Westerfield, famous American educator. THE AMERICAN LIBERTY LEAGUE National Headquarters NATIONAL PRESS BUILDING WASHINGTON, D. C. I can make good use of the following leaflets, and have indicated below the number I will distribute of each The President Wants More Power.............. The Townsend Nightmare..................... The New Deal Works Program................. The American Liberty League.................. Name ................................................ Street ................................................ Town ........................ State.................. â˜… â˜… The Constitution The Fortress of Liberty â˜… â˜… â˜… Speech of HON. JAMES A. REED Member of the National Lawyers Committee of the American Liberty League before the Farmers Grain Dealers Association of Illinois, Chicago, Illinois February 11, 1936 AMERICAN LIBERTY LEAGUE National Headquarters NATIONAL PRESS BUILDING WASHINGTON, D. C. Document No. 105 The Constitution The Fortress of Liberty â˜… J\. HUNDRED and sixty years ago the forests of America echoed to the marching feet of thousands of men. They came from forest and farms, from frontier settlements, virgin villages, and little cities. Many were dressed in homespun, in the furs and skins of animals. They wore coonskin caps. They carried rifles; they knew how to shoot, and they knew how to fight and die. They were without ships of war, without forts or cannon, without military training, without experienced leaders, without a treasury on which to draw or the authority to levy taxes. Their sole equipment was long rifles, powder horns, and bullet moulds. But their hearts thrilled with the drum beat of courage and their eyes blazed with the fires of liberty. They gathered in little groups along the roads of the forests, in the streets of villages, in the fastness of the wilderness. They began to concentrate in companies and to consolidate in regiments. They selected their own leaders leaders as untrained as themselves. Betsy Ross made them a flag out of her petticoats, and a Virginia farmer took command George Washington, the immortal. thus EQUIPPED and marshalled, the men of the Colonies dared defy the greatest Power of Earth. England was mistress of the seas; her warships ploughed the waves of every ocean; her fortresses, bristling with cannon, frowned above the strategic points of America. Her satellites, servants and mercenaries swarmed in every colony. Her trained veterans, armed, disciplined, fed and clothed, were upon our soil. Her hand of steel clutched the throat of America, and she summoned to her aid the tomahawk and the scalping knife of the savage. But the men of the new world did not hesitate 3 to strike and in the dark years to come did not falter or turn craven. Soon came the Battle of the Bridge of Concord more immortal than Thermopylae, than Salamis, than Austerlitz, than Waterloo, than the Marne; canonized forever in the glorious verse of Emerson: "By the rude bridge that arched the flood Their flag to April breeze unfurled, Here once the embattled farmers stood And fired the shot heard 'round the World." What were they fighting for? Why were they dying? Why grimly holding fast as the red line of British Regulars advanced with fixed bayonets? They were fighting for Liberty, for the independence of the individual, for the right of the citizen to control his own fortunes; to guide his own life; to gain and keep the product of his toil; to be the master of his own fate. They were fighting to break the shackles civil tyrants had forged for arms and brains, and spiritual tyrants had imposed upon souls. And there was not a man among them who held out his hand for a government dole, or who would not have shot the right eye out of any "Brain Truster" who dared to tell him when, where and how he must plant potatoes on his own land. The cry on every tongue was, "Give us Liberty or give us Death." But of course that was a long time ago; it was the "horse and buggy age." While THE soldiers were in the field enduring the horrors of disease, starvation and death, and the women and children at home were exposed to merciless assaults of savages, the great civic leaders and patriots gathered in Independence Hall. There they wrote the creed of America and called it the DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE. That Declaration catalogued and repudiated the practices and abuses of tyrants which had cursed the world throughout the centuries practices and abuses which a hundred and sixty years later have been reincarnated in the New Deal. I shall return to a discussion of that subject later but, for the present, stated in a word the fundamental doctrine of tyrants was that the people were incapable of ordering their own lives or conducting their own business, and accordingly must be protected, guided and made the perpetual wards of the State. Likewise, that is the philosophy of every New Dealer from Stalin of Russia to Tugwell of the "Brain Trust." Against that doctrine the Revolutionary Fathers hurled this defiance: "All men are created free and equal"; "All are endowed with the inalienable right to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness"; "All just governments derive their powers from the consent of the governed." The framers of the Declaration signed their names literally in the shadow of British gibbets, and so they said with the grim humor of courage, "We must all hang together or we will hang separately." That also was said in the "horse and buggy age." the WAR for Liberty was won. The great task then was to preserve that Liberty for themselves and posterity. The Constitution was written 1. To establish a national government sufficiently strong to protect the country from foreign aggression and, to a limited degree, have control over problems of national importance which could not be adequately performed by the several states. 2. To protect and preserve the rights of the several states and the liberties of citizens against the encroachments of the very national government then being created. The latter task presented the greater difficulties. The framers of the Constitution knew that power feeds on power; that unrestrained authority always ends in brutal oppression; that the liberties of the masses are never safe when those possessing power are not held in check by a power greater than their own. Accordingly, they provided for two kinds of laws. First, a Supreme Law, enacted directly by the people themselves which should expressly limit, circumscribe and bind the power of those who might hold office. Second, they granted to those who should hold office only certain specific powers beyond which they could never go without being guilty of usurpation. And then they bound Congress and the President by the most solemn oaths never to violate the Constitution but on the contrary to observe and protect it against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Realizing that the legislature or executive might mistakenly or willfully enact statutes or do acts violative of the rights of the citizen as reserved in the Supreme Law (the Constitution), they established a great court to protect the people against all such violations. The Supreme Court is therefore the high court of the people for its great prerogative is to preserve the law enacted by the people as the Supreme Law of the land. Abolish the Supreme Court and the Constitution is likewise abolished. For the Supreme Law enacted by the people there is substituted the unrestricted will of Congress. The Congress is made omnipotent and the people completely subject to its whims, caprices, ambitions and venalities. The advocates of such a course are the assassins of liberty. i have said you make Congress supreme, but recent experience has shown that the majority of the Congressmen, like cowed spaniels, go "to heel" obedient to the lash and command of the Executive. Thus we have, or may at any future time have, one-man rule rather than the rule of the people by and through their Constitution. When that time comes the fortress of despotism will be erected upon the ruins of the Republic. the ASSAULTS upon the Constitution and upon the courts can no longer be hidden behind hypocritical smiles or protestations of patriotism. The Congressmen and the President are, as I have shown, alike sworn to uphold and protect the Constitution and therefore its chief defense is imposed upon them. Nevertheless Congress is given the shocking advice, "Pass laws even of doubtful constitutionality." The Constitution is sneeringly referred to as belonging to the "horse and buggy age." Thus in substance and effect the Constitution is declared to be an obsolete and dead thing. A member of the Cabinet insolently and blatantly asserts that the Supreme Court has been guilty of the "greatest steal in history." That vindictive and infamous charge is made because the Court said that taxes levied in violation of the Constitution must be restored to those who had been robbed. The shield of the Constitution thus held by the Supreme Court over the "Processors" will in future years protect the high, the low, the rich, and the poor against similar acts of oppression and outrage. The author of the shameless attack to which I have referred demands the "regimentation of farmers," and that he be permitted to dictate how much corn, or cotton, or hogs, or potatoes, or grain any farmer shall be permitted to raise upon his own land. Think of Wallace as the Boss of 40 million farmers, each of whom has more sense than his "Boss." It is interesting to note that while Mr. Wallace was demanding that farmers should reduce their corn acreage 20 per cent, as a side line there was put upon the market the "Wallace Hibred Seed Corn," guaranteed to increase production per acre as much as 20 per cent. That is a racket rather beyond the genius of Al Capone. MR. WALLACE has, as chief assistant, the Honorable Professor Tugwell, who, in an address to the Institute of American Economics, said: "Planning will necessarily become a function of the Federal Government, either that or the planning agencies will supersede that Government. . . . Business will logically be required to disappear. This is not an over-statement for the sake of emphasis; it is literally meant. The essence of business is its free venture profits in an unregulated economy. Planning implies guidance of capital uses . . . adjustment of production to consumption ... new industries will not just happen as the automobile industry did; they wiB have to be foreseen, to be argued for, or seem probably desirable features of the whole economy before they can be entered upon . . . The future is becoming visible in Russia . . . Perhaps our statesmen will give way or be more or less gently removed from duty . . . perhaps our constitutions and statutes will be revised . . . perhaps our vested interests will submit to control without too violent resistance. Yet the new kind of economic machinery we have in prospect cannot function in our present economy" That language is nothing less than an endorsement of the basic principles of Bolshevistic Russia coupled with a threat of revolution by force. Despite his red mouthings, Tugwell is the advisor of the Secretary of Agriculture, and has been the advisor of others greater than Wallace. An indignant people ought to invite Mr. Tug-well and aU of his ilk to emigrate to Russia where they can enjoy the congenial companionship of Stalin and his "Brain Trusters." L ET US RETURN for a moment to the proposed regimentation of farmers. Reduced to the concrete "regimentation" means that a set of gentlemen at Washington (and the Lord knows who they may be) shall determine First, the amount of food the people of the United States ought to have. Second, how much they will be able to buy. Third, the kind of rations they are to be served. That is to say, the amount and various kinds of meat and bread they are to eat, and the amount of vegetables necessary to constitute a "balanced diet." What an alluring field for the advocates of spinach! Fourth, having fixed just what and how much the people are to eat, the task remains to decree the amount of each product each farmer shall be permitted to raise. Accordingly, under that beneficent system the farmer may expect to be served with a Federal notice commanding him to plant a specified amount of potatoes, of corn, of wheat, of barley and of rye, and ordering him not to dare raise more than a certain number of pigs, or to milk more than a specified number of cows upon pain of fine and imprisonment. This is no idle dream; it has been, as I have shown, seriously advocated by the Secretary of Agriculture and by his able assistant. Establish such a system, and our farmers will be reduced to a serfdom more obnoxious than was inflicted in the days of Louis XIV. Indeed it will be much worse, for the French nobles who controlled the peasants occasionally manifested some slight symptoms of common sense. Ij ARMERS of America if you submit to such a tyranny then you are the degenerate sons of the Revolutionary Fathers and deserve an ignominious fate. The man who does not resist chains ought to wear them. Shall we adopt such a system in America? Shall we destroy the civilization we have created? For nearly a hundred and fifty years we have lived under the Constitution. We have swept from the Atlantic to the Pacific, conquered forest and plain, built magical cities, adorned countless hills and valleys with temples of learning and tabernacles of religion. Above millions of homes ascends the smoke from family altars where husbands and wives reigning as kings and queens gather their children about them and dream of the day when their sons and daughters, with minds and limbs unfettered, shall run the road of opportunity gaining fortune and perhaps renown. We have outstripped the world in wealth, in culture, in happiness. Above all other achievements we have created the "American spirit," exemplified in the expression, "I take my hat off to no master; I bow the knee only to God." Our history has had its dark spots, but the blackest day of American history is resplendent with glory in comparison with the best day of any other country on earth. We HAD an era of wild speculation, nearly everybody wanted to get rich overnight; and nearly everybody managed to get into debt. Basically the vast majority of the people were to blame. There were aggravating causes. One cause easily corrected was that two Presidents of the United States who during the boom, figuratively speaking, stood at the doors of the great brokerage houses and invited the people to "plunge" by advising them "not to sell their country short," and vociferously proclaiming "prosperity is here to stay." That will hardly occur again. These were but evanescent and passing phenomena. The stability and resources of America can no more be measured in terms of the panic of 1930 than America's weather can be estimated by the conditions existing during the destructive sweep of an occasional tornado. What we suffered, every country of earth to a greater degree suffered. What we should have done was to sit steady in the boat, renew our activities, reinspire confidence and give free play to the energies and resources of the American people! Energies that have never failed in any crisis of our history to restore any damage done and recover any losses sustained. It is to the energies and genius of the American people we must look for restoration. It can come from no other source. 10 All of the wealth is the product of toil. For every particle of real wealth there is in the world somebody's arms have ached, somebody has felt the agony of labor. ALL OF THE legislative bodies that have ever assembled on this earth have never created a scintilla of real wealth. Wealth cannot be produced by issuing a decree, or by setting up a thousand boards and bureaus. If wealth could be produced by law, we would have Congress pass a few statutes and all quit work, live in palaces of luxury, and dream away the fleeting years listening to the siren harmonies of the more "Abundant Life." What government can do of a beneficial character is to preserve order and protect the liberty of the citizen in his life and property. But government can do many things of a destructive character. It can by force take from a man the property he has produced and give it to another. It can increase the burdens of government until they eat up the substance of the people, destroy initiative and cripple every form of production. We ARE now told that all of our wonderful history is to be disregarded, that aU of the learning of the past was false and all its achievements failures. Accordingly, it is said that we must enlist under the banner of the "New Deal." I am unable to classify that flag. In 1932 we placed the old Democratic flag of Jefferson, Jackson and Cleveland in the hands of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He bore it through the campaign, and we Democrats followed, shouting our approval. But soon after the inauguration the original colors began to fade and were displaced by varying shades of Bolshevism, Socialism, and Communism, an ungodly conglomerate, with red predominating. I decline to recognize it as the flag of the party I have so long loved and served. 11 They tell us we have a New Deal. Historically it is in essence the oldest deal in the world. It is the resurrection of the doctrine of paternalism which was bottomed upon the infamous dogma that the citizen was incapable of ordering his own life and hence must be made the perpetual ward of the State. That was the creed of every dictator and despot who ever sat upon a throne. But for America it is in truth a New Deal, a crooked deal, a vicious and destructive deal. The slaughter of pigs on the pretense that by making meat scarce we would create a more "Abundant Life" was in truth a New Deal, and likewise an idiotic deal. To destroy fields of cotton that the naked may be more abundantly elothed and that foreign nations may expand vast cotton plantations to permanently supply the market heretofore enjoyed by the cotton producers of America, is a New Deal and an imbecilic deal. To authorize groups of individuals to fix arbitrary prices and rules for production and labor and to give to the mandates of these groups the force of law and send men to prison for refusing to obey and daring to exercise their natural right to work, is a New Deal and an oppressive deal. To send a man to jail for pressing a vest for the price he wanted for his work and the owner of the vest was willing to pay, is a New Deal and an atrocious deal. To fine and imprison a man for selling butter and eggs to the hungry for a price less than was arbitrarily fixed by a group of dealers anxious to rob both producer and consumer, is a New Deal and an infamous deal. To FLOUT the Constitution and to contemptuously refer to it as belonging to the "horse and buggy age," is a New Deal and a regrettable deal. For Congress, sworn to protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, to seek to overcome it by direct 12 attack and when balked in that iniquitous effort to try to avoid its plain inhibitions by false recitals and crooked subterfuges, is a New Deal and a dangerous deal. To confiscate four billion dollars worth of gold owned by the citizens and to give in exchange a depreciated money and to do so under threat of fine and imprisonment, was a New Deal and a dishonest deal. To issue bonds pledging the faith of the nation that they would be paid in gold coin of the then present weight and fineness, and to repudiate that obligation, was a New Deal and a rascally deal. To accuse the Supreme Court of the United States of grand larceny because it ordered the return of monies wrongfully extorted, is a New Deal and a shameless deal. To squander money with the reckless rage of spendthrifts gone mad to pile upon the shoulders of the labor and the industry of the present, and upon generations yet unborn, a debt which, with obligations incurred, will exceed fifty thousand million dollars, and impose an annual interest charge of more than one billion dollars, is a New Deal and a disastrous deal. All these deals are new in our governmental policies as they are likewise new in the realm of ethics and morals. THE PHILOSOPHY of the New Deal has been for a long time known to tyrants and is a part of the creed of rogues who borrow and refuse to pay, and of highwaymen who employ force to take the property others have earned. But we need not entirely despair; the framers of the Constitution charted the way of relief from the mistakes or outrages of government. They provided for frequent elections, for a day when those who are temporarily clothed with power must give an account to the people. I am waiting for that day to come in full confidence that, 13 The pilgrim spirit is not dead; It walks in the noon's broad light, And it guards the bed of the brave who are dead With its holy stars at night. It watches the bed of our holy dead, And will guard them ever more 'Till the waves of the bay Where the Mayflower lay Shall foam and seethe no more. / do not know what course others may pursue but as for me I decline to be herded into a Socialistic, Communistic, Bolshevistic "corral" even though a Democratic banner is falsely hung above the gate.