Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Road to the Abolition of Slavery

Constitution Study, March 31, 2011

The Road To The Abolition of Slavery

Slavery was a huge issue during the time the U.S. Constitution was written. The word "slavery" actually never appeared in the U.S. Constitution until the addition of the 13th Amendment. It is possible that the Founding Fathers avoided using the word "slavery" because they recognized the contradiction of the idea that "all men are created equal," while many of those same men were also slaveholders. One thing is for sure, the Constitution is filled with many compromises primary because the slave states to the south were needed in order to ratify the Constitution.

There were many at the Constitutional Convention that wanted the new federal government to have the power to abolish slavery immediately, or for the United States to become a nation without the defiant slave states to the south. Instead, the necessary compromises were made, while making sure that neither the free states, or the slave states, had too much power in government.

One of the compromises is found in Article I, Section 9, where it is provided that in 1808 the Congress may pass legislation to prohibit the Atlantic slave trade. True to the Constitution, on January 1, 1808, legislation was passed to do just that. The importation of slaves from other countries was banned, but the selling of slaves within our borders continued.

The northern states had all abolished slavery by 1804, beginning with Rhode Island in 1774, and ending with New Jersey in 1804. By 1820, the worry was that if the free states were to begin to outnumber the slave states, they would use their power to overpower the slave states, and vice versa.

Missouri Compromise of 1820

Population differences produced a disparity in House seats, despite the three-fifths ratio. As long as the number of slave states equaled the number of free states, the Senate would not be lost. The Missouri Compromise would help keep the number even, they figured. Missouri would be added as a slave state, but in the future no slave state could be added north of the parallel 36°30' (the southern boundary of Missouri).

The Fugitive Slave Act 0f 1850

Article IV, Section 2, Clause 3 of the Constitution called for escaped slaves to be returned to their owners, even in the event that the slave escaped to a non-slave state. The northern states, however, were not abiding by this clause, so the southern states appealed to the federal government to ensure that the northern states follow the Constitution. In 1850 Congress passed the Fugitive Slave Act. Its main provision was that any federal marshal who did not arrest an alleged runaway slave could be fined $1,000. A person suspected of being a runaway slave could be arrested and turned over to any person who gave sworn testimony of ownership. A suspected slave could not ask for a jury trial nor testify on his or her own behalf. Any person who aided a runaway slave by providing shelter, food or any other form of assistance would be sentenced to six months' imprisonment and a $1,000 fine. Officers who captured a fugitive slave were entitled to a fee, and this encouraged some officers to kidnap free African Americans and sell them to slaveowners.

Northern States failed to abide by this law, and the federal government failed to enforce it.

The Kansas-Nebraska Act

In 1854, Stephen Douglas introduced his Kansas-Nebraska bill to the Senate. It allowed people in the territories of Kansas and Nebraska to decide for themselves whether or not to allow slavery within their borders. The Act effectively repealed the Missouri Compromise of 1820 which prohibited slavery north of latitude 36°30´. Southerners entered the area with their slaves, while active members of the Antislavery Society also arrived. Henry Ward Beecher condemned the bill from his pulpit and helped to raise funds to supply weapons to those willing to oppose slavery in these territories.

Kansas elected its first legislature in March, 1855. Although less than 2,000 people were qualified to take part in these elections, over 6,000 people voted—mainly Missouri slave-owners who crossed the border to make sure pro-slavery candidates were elected. The new legislature passed laws that imposed the death penalty for anyone helping a slave to escape and two years in jail for possessing abolitionist literature. In 1856, Abraham Lincoln joined the Republican Party and unsuccessfully challenged Stephen Douglas for his seat in the Senate.

In 1858 when he made a speech at Quincy, Illinois. Lincoln argued: "We have in this nation the element of domestic slavery. The Republican Party think it wrong—we think it is a moral, a social, and a political wrong…that affects the existence of the whole nation."

Dred Scott

John Emerson was an Army Doctor that traveled from army base to army base. His slave, Dred Scott, followed him to these army bases in both slave states and free territory. Dr. Emerson died in 1843, at which time the Dred Scott and his wife became the property of his widow Irene Emerson. And in 1846, Dred Scott filed a lawsuit against Irene Emerson in the courthouse in St. Louis, claiming he was a free man by virtue of the fact that Dr. Emerson had, for extended periods of time, taken him to parts of the country where slavery was outlawed.

When Dred Scott originally filed his lawsuit asking for his freedom, due to the fact that many other similar lawsuits had been filed before, Scott and his lawyer were convinced that Dred Scott would win his case. In 1850 the judge ruled that Scott was free and that Mrs. Emerson even owed him the money she had received from "leasing him out."

However, Irene Emerson appealed the case to the Missouri Supreme Court. Two years later, in 1852, the Missouri high court struck down the lower court ruling -- deciding, in effect, that Scott was still a slave and that it didn't matter that he had been taken into free territory.

Another group of attorneys came forward and decided to continue fighting on behalf of Dred Scott. Irene Emerson then transferred her ownership of Dred Scott to her brother, a New Yorker named John Sanford. Since the case now involved people from two different states, it shifted from the Missouri state court to U.S. federal court.

In 1856 the Supreme Court heard the case and rendered its decision in March 1857. The court ruled that Dred Scott was still a slave, that any person descended from black Africans, whether slave or free, could not be a citizen of the United States, and it also ruled that the Missouri Compromise of 1820 was unconstitutional.

This verdict affected a lot more people than Dred Scott. It effectively meant that the series of compromises that had been worked out over the previous generation regarding the issue of slavery were no more. Southern slaveholders could take their slaves wherever they wanted, and they could take legal action to have runaway slaves from years past returned to them. Most importantly, it opened up the entire American west to slavery.

The American People, primarily in the north, were opposed to the verdict in the Dred Scott case. The issue became a key factor in the 1860 presidential election.

After the Dred Scott case finally concluded, Taylor Blow stepped forward and purchased Scott, his wife and his two daughters from John Sanford. He then took the legal steps to set them free.


Special Thanks to: Faith Armory, 27498 Enterprise Cir. W #2, Temecula, CA 92562; 951-699-7500, - For providing us with a classroom to meet in.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Temecula Constitution Study: Amendment XII, and the Lost 13th Amendment

Constitution Study with Douglas V. Gibbs, March 24, 2011

The Twelfth Amendment, and the Lost Thirteenth Amendment

Amendment XII

Text of the 12th Amendment: Electors shall meet in their respective states, and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves; they shall name in their ballots the person voted for as President, and in distinct ballots the person voted for as Vice-President, and they shall make distinct lists of all persons voted for as President, and all persons voted for as Vice-President and of the number of votes for each, which lists they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the seat of the government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate. The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted. The person having the greatest Number of votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed; and if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote; a quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two-thirds of the states, and a majority of all the states shall be necessary to a choice. And if the House of Representatives shall not choose a President whenever the right of choice shall devolve upon them, before the fourth day of March next following, then the Vice-President shall act as President, as in the case of the death or other constitutional disability of the President. The person having the greatest number of votes as Vice-President, shall be the Vice-President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed, and if no person have a majority, then from the two highest numbers on the list, the Senate shall choose the Vice-President; a quorum for the purpose shall consist of two-thirds of the whole number of Senators, and a majority of the whole number shall be necessary to a choice. But no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States.

The Twelfth Amendment changes the procedure for electing the President and Vice President originally provided for in Article II, Section 1, Clause 3. The procedure has remained the same since its ratification, save for the States changing their procedures from appointing the electors by the choice of the state legislatures, thus following the instructions of the state legislatures, to the citizens voting for who the electors are expected to vote for. Though the electors are free to vote for anyone eligible to be President, in practice they usually vote for the candidates chosen by the voters in their state. 1824 is the last election in which electors were appointed by their state legislature. In that election, six states followed that procedure.

Each state is constitutionally allowed to choose how to appoint or elect their electors, and the methods vary state to state. Generally, electors are nominated by their state political parties in the months prior to Election Day. In some states, the electors are nominated in primaries, the same way that other candidates are nominated. Other states nominate their electors in party conventions.

The need for the Twelfth Amendment became apparent after the problems that arose in the elections of 1796 and 1800. The Twelfth Amendment was proposed by the Congress on December 9, 1803, and was ratified by the requisite number of state legislatures on June 15, 1804.

Before the Twelfth Amendment, electors could vote for two candidates, though at least one had to be from a state different from that of the elector. A majority of the vote needed to be received in order to win the presidency. If more than one candidate received a majority vote, then the House of Representatives chose the President.

In 1800, after a tie in the Electoral College, the House tied 36 times. That particular election was marked by a battle between the Federalists, and Jefferson’s Democratic-Republicans. Even though Burr was Jefferson’s running mate, Aaron Burr wound up Jefferson’s adversary when the vote went to the House. The lame-duck House controlled by the Federalists threw their support behind Burr, because they did not trust Jefferson’s philosophy of a limited government.

Before the Twelfth Amendment, the choice of the Vice President went to the second place winner. The Vice President, unlike the President, did not require the votes of a majority of electors. If a tie arose, the Vice President was chosen by the Senate, with each Senator casting one vote. Though it was not specified in the Constitution whether the sitting Vice President could cast a tie-breaking vote for Vice President, because the sitting Vice President is President of the Senate and casts the tie-breaking vote, it is assumed that if that situation had arisen, the sitting Vice President would indeed be the deciding vote for his successor. Because the second place winner became Vice President, it was very possible for the President and the Vice President to be from different parties. In fact, that is what happened in the 1796 election. John Adams won that election as the Federalist Party candidate, and Jefferson became the Vice President as a Democratic-Republican candidate. The fear was that by the two men being of different parties, the Vice President may do what he could to impede the ability of the President, or could even launch an effort to remove the President from office so that the Vice President could succeed to the office of the President.

The Twelfth Amendment eliminated the possibility of problems arising between the President and Vice President due to them being from different parties by having the President and Vice President elected as a ticket, thus lessening the Vice President's motivation for staging a coup.

The Twelfth Amendment also eliminated the “two votes for presidential candidates” method, changing it instead to the electors casting distinct votes for President and Vice President.

The Twelfth Amendment indicates that no elector may vote for both candidates of a presidential ticket if both candidates inhabit the same state as that elector.

The Twelfth Amendment also clarified language to not allow those constitutionally ineligible to be President from being Vice President.

A majority of electoral votes is still required for one to be elected President or Vice President. As in the case before the Twelfth Amendment, when nobody has a majority, the House of Representatives, voting by states and with the same quorum requirements as under the original procedure, chooses a President. The Twelfth Amendment requires the House to choose from the three highest receivers of electoral votes, rather than the top five as was the process under Article II, Section 1, Clause 3.

The Senate chooses the Vice President if no candidate receives a majority of electoral votes.

The Twelfth Amendment requires a quorum requirement of two-thirds for balloting.


The Lost 13th Amendment

"If any citizen of the United States shall accept, claim, receive, or retain any title of nobility or honor, or shall without the consent of Congress, accept and retain any present pension, office, or emolument of any kind whatever, from any emperor, king, prince, or foreign power, such person shall cease to be a citizen of the United States, and shall be incapable of holding any office of trust or profit under them, or either of them."

The original 13th Amendment was proposed in December of 1809, and ratified March 12, 1819. The amendment addressed the founders distrust of nobility.

The original Thirteenth Amendment instituted a penalty of the loss of citizenship for accepting or using a "Title of Nobility or Honor" to set oneself apart from, or superior to, or possessing of any special privileges or immunities not available to any other citizen of the United States, and to eliminate the widespread use of "emoluments" as bribery and of the legislatures and judiciary used to further the causes and positions of "Special Interests". It was an attempt to keep politicians and civil servants "Honest" in their service to the citizens. It added to Article I, Section 9, Clause 8, which disallowed any person holding office to accept any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State. The original Thirteenth Amendment, however, applied the penalty to “any citizen of the United States.”

The original Thirteenth Amendment was proposed and properly ratified. Yet, over the years, it disappeared. The amendment was deleted without ever being repealed. Quietly faded out. It is believed it was finally completely stamped out in 1865, just in time for the new 13th Amendment.

The very existence of the original amendment was unknown until it was discovered in 1983 when researchers discovered in the public library at Belfast, Maine an 1825 copy of the U. S. Constitution, which included the lost amendment. More research since then has revealed numerous records listing the ratifying states, and showing the original Thirteenth Amendment in various state and territory records. In fact, the 1867 Colorado Territory edition of the Constitution actually includes both the "missing" Thirteenth Amendment and the current 13th Amendment, on the same page. The current 13th Amendment is listed as the 14th Amendment in the 1867 Colorado edition.

The 1876 Laws of Wyoming also shows the "missing" Thirteenth Amendment, the current 13th Amendment on the same page. The current 13th Amendment is listed as the 14th, the current 14th amendment is omitted, and the current 15th Amendment is in its proper place.

More amazingly, there was yet a third 13th Amendment tucked in between the original, and the current amendment, signed by President Buchanan on March 2, 1861, two days before Lincoln's inauguration, which would have permanently legalized slavery. Not enough states ratified it, however, and the onslaught of the Civil War kept it from going any further.

On December 18, 1865, the "new" 13th Amendment prohibiting and abolishing slavery (and according to some surrendering states rights to the federal government) was proclaimed adopted by Secretary of State Seward, replacing and effectively erasing the original Thirteenth Amendment that had prohibited acceptance of "titles of nobility" and "honors" and "emoluments."

Part of the reason for the amendment was to stop foreign influence on the American court system, which under John Marshall had been seizing power and growing as a political influence on the law. The fear was that a judicial oligarchy was forming, and that the lawyers would act as the henchmen of an activist judiciary.

The lawyers realized, it is theorized, that the original 13th Amendment would keep them in check; therefore, the lawyers saw the need to eliminate the amendment. Coincidentally, it was not until after the Civil War and after the disappearance of the original 13th Amendment, that the American Bar Association began to appear and exercise political power.

After the deletion of the original 13th Amendment, the newly developing Bar Associations began working diligently to create a system wherein lawyers took on a title of privilege and nobility as "Esquires" and receive the "honor" of offices and positions (like District Attorney or Judge) that only lawyers may now hold. By virtue of these titles, honors, and special privileges, lawyers have assumed political and economic advantages over the majority of U.S. Citizens. These privileges have given to the lawyers a two-tiered citizenship in this Nation where a majority may vote, but only the minority of lawyers may hold the afore mentioned political offices (often used to launch them into other political offices). This two-tiered system is contrary to America's political interests, economic welfare, and the Constitution's spirit of equal protection and uniform opportunities.

The lost 13th Amendment demonstrates that the Founding Fathers recognized the danger of an activist judiciary, and how the conniving methods of lawyers made the members of the legal community enemies of the people and of the United States.


Special Thanks to: Faith Armory, 27498 Enterprise Cir. W #2, Temecula, CA 92562
951-699-7500, - For providing us with a classroom to meet in.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Amendment XI

Constitution Study with Douglas V. Gibbs, March 17, 2011

Amendment 11

The Judicial Branch was added almost as an after thought. The judiciary was originally designed to be the weakest of the three branches of government. The Anti-Federalists feared the judicial branch becoming a judicial oligarchy, and therefore the judicial branch was constructed to only apply the law to cases they hear. All opinions the judges may have of the law after reviewing the law was considered to be only opinion. Any changes to law, regardless of what the courts felt about the law, could only be made legislatively. However, soon after the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, fears of a tyrannical court arose, and so additional limits were placed on the federal courts by the 11th Amendment. No case against a state by citizens of another state, or by the citizens or subjects of a foreign state, shall be heard by a federal court.

The 11th Amendment changes the intent of Article III. As limited as the courts were supposed to be, the Founding Fathers realized the courts weren't limited enough, and as a result, the 11th Amendment wound up being ratified in 1795.

Federal judges maintained that the federal courts should have the power of judicial review, or the power to determine the constitutionality of laws. In response to the judicial urgings for the powers to judge the extent of the federal government's powers, in the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions of 1798, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison warned us that giving the federal government through its courts the power of judicial review would be a power that would continue to grow, regardless of elections, putting at risk the all important separation of powers, and other much-touted limits on power. The final arbiters of the Constitution are not supposed to be the courts, argued these Founding Fathers who were believers in the limiting principles of the U.S. Constitution. The power of the federal government must be checked by state governments, and the people. The States and the People are the enforcers and protectors of the U.S. Constitution.

The problems of federal intrusion on the states via the federal court system arose in the case of Chisholm v. Georgia in 1793, which eventually led to the proposal, and ratification, of the 11th Amendment. A citizen of South Carolina sued Georgia for the value of clothing supplied by the merchant during the Revolutionary War. After Georgia refused to appear, claiming immunity as a sovereign state, as per the Constitution (Article III, Section 2) the federal courts took the case. The nationalist view of by the judges deemed that in this case Georgia was not a sovereign state, therefore the Supreme Court entered a default judgment against Georgia. What ensued was a conflict between federal jurisdiction and state sovereignty that reminded the anti-federalists of their fears of a centralized federal government consolidating the states, and destroying their right to individual sovereignty.

Realizing that the clause in Article III gave the federal courts too much power over state sovereignty, Congress immediately proposed the 11th Amendment in order to take away federal court jurisdiction in suits commenced against a state by citizens of another state or of a foreign state. This is the first instance in which a Supreme Court decision was superseded by a constitutional amendment, and evidence that the founders saw the legislative branch as being a more powerful part of government over the judiciary.


Special Thanks to: Faith Armory, 27498 Enterprise Cir. W #2, Temecula, CA 92562
951-699-7500, - For providing us with a classroom to meet in.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Amendments IX and X

The Bill of Rights was unnecessary. Each of the first eight amendments were addressed in the text of the first seven articles. However, these rights were so important that the founders felt it necessary to write a bill of rights so as to clarify what the federal could not do in relation to our God-given rights. James Madison wrote the amendments, and they were added to the Constitution in 1791.

Knowing that there would be attempts to misinterpret the Constitution, the Ninth and Tenth Amendments were included.

Amendment IX: The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

In other words, just because a right may not be mentioned here, it does not give the government the allowance to deny such right. All of our God-given rights are protected.

Amendment X: The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

The Tenth Amendment was intended to confirm the understanding of the people at the time the Constitution was adopted that powers not granted to the federal government of the United States were reserved to the States or to the people. The authorities of the federal government are listed in the Constitution in Article I, Section 8, or any amendments. If the authority is not listed as being one that belongs to the federal government, and no place is the issue denied to the States (such as in Article I, Section 10), then the power is retained by the States.


Thank You to Faith Armory, 27498 Enterprise Circle West, #2 in Temecula, California, for the use of their classroom.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Amendments VI, VII, VIII

Amendment VI

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

Rights afforded in all criminal prosecutions are set forth in this amendment. Remember that we have discussed that the Constitution applies only to the federal government, unless it states otherwise. The Sixth Amendment is one of those articles that includes the States. The word "all" provides that this amendment is not only to be applied to the federal courts, but to the State, and lower, courts as well.

This article gives the accused the right to a speedy and public trial, an impartial jury, notice, to be confronted with the witnesses against him as well as obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have counsel afforded for his defense (Remember "Miranda Rights" from last week?).

Amendment VII

In suits at Common Law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

The Seventh Amendment guarantees the right to a jury trial in most civil suits heard in federal court. The goal of the amendment was to create distinction between the work of a judge and that of a jury in operation in Federal civil court. Judges were to instruct juries, determine which evidence could be legally heard, and to advise juries on matters of law. The jury needed to hear the evidence, and determine if the lawsuit brought was viable or not.

In civil court and in common law in England, on which the Seventh Amendment is based, a judge’s responsibility should not include barraging the jury with opinions about the case or instructing jurors how to rule. Both judge and jury had vital roles, which were separate and discrete, and the system worked most fairly when these roles were maintained. The framers of the constitution sought the same distinction in American courts, resulting in inclusion of the Seventh Amendment.

State courts don’t have to honor this provision in the Seventh Amendment, and often don't. People bringing a suit do not have to have a jury trial. Individuals can waive their right to a jury trial if they so choose.

The Seventh Amendment also expressly forbids federal judges to re-examine any "fact tried by a jury" except as allowed by the common law. This means that no court, trial or appellate, may overturn a jury verdict that is reasonably supported by the evidence.

Together with the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment, the Seventh Amendment guarantees civil litigants the right to an impartial jury.

Amendment VIII

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

As a nation founded on principles, the United States legal system is expected to be fair and just. This would mean that Americans should insist upon a due process that protects individuals from excesses and abuses by the judicial system. Such expectations would include that no individual should be singled out, or treated differently, in the eyes of the courts. This means that there should be no excessive bails or fines, or cruel and unusual punishment, for one person while others guilty of similar crimes do not receive similar.

A lack of specific definitions lead us to believe that it was common knowledge what would be considered as excessive, or cruel and unusual. Unfortunately, because of the lack of clear definitions, this provision has been often the subject of "interpretation."


Thank You to Faith Armory, 27498 Enterprise Circle West, #2 in Temecula, California, for the use of their classroom.