America, anarchy, arms, Constitution, Declaration of Independence, freedom, Hew Hampshire, King George, law, Natural Law, Plato, revolution, Saint Augustine, Saint Thomas Aquinas, Second Amendment, The People, tyranny
I have an affection for New Hampshire. The air is clean. The people are friendly. They have mountains and beaches relatively close together. There’s no income tax. It’s close to Boston. It’s far enough away from Boston. The Granite State is just a beautiful place and bears a beautiful motto – Live Free or Die.
The State Constitution is also unique among written political charters. While generally resembling other such State documents as well as that of the United States this New England version has a stark difference. It’s something I am not aware of, in writing, anywhere else in the world. It contains a “Right of Revolution,” which I, here, call a Right of Rebellion (semantics).
“Government being instituted for the common benefit, protection, and security, of the whole community, and not for the private interest or emolument of any one man, family, or class of men; therefore, whenever the ends of government are perverted, and public liberty manifestly endangered, and all other means of redress are ineffectual, the people may, and of right ought to reform the old, or establish a new government. The doctrine of nonresistance against arbitrary power, and oppression, is absurd, slavish, and destructive of the good and happiness of mankind.” N. H. Const., Sect. I, Art 10 (entirety, as amended, 2007).
(The Old Man of the Mountain [NH natural wonder], Google Images)
Re-read the above and let the meaning sink in. The free people not only have a natural right but a duty to reform a corrupted government. When all other usual and peaceful methods of redress fail, the people are authorized to resist evil. Otherwise the people become subjects – slaves. That’s what “slavish” means: “of or characteristic of a slave; especially : basely or abjectly servile…” Webster’s English Dictionary, http://www.merriam-webster.com.
Further, such acquiescence is “absurd,” being illogical and futile. This is the literary embodiment of that spirit which lead early Americans to cast off the yoke of King George III.
“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.” U.S. Declaration of Independence, Para. 1, July 4, 1776.
The Declaration proceeds with a long list of oppressive grievances committed by the King. A recount of usual redress follows: “We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.”
Then, the Declaration: “That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved…”
Mind you, this is the spirit of the former America. Today such sentiment is almost sacrosanct. Look into the heart of nearly any purported American and one finds either a zealous appreciation for total government or, at the least, a complete resolve to do nothing conducive to the ends of liberty. Worse than the loss of freedom in Columbia is the veneration of the forces which have brought forth the doom of tyranny. There exists in America today a cult of statism.
The New Hampshire Constitution provides an outline for the heretics who would still be free. The entire document is worth reviewing – please click here and read.
Article one artfully defines the sole legitimate reason for government: “All men are born equally free and independent; therefore, all government of right originates from the people, is founded in consent, and instituted for the general good.”
Article two evokes the Natural Law: “All men have certain natural, essential, and inherent rights – among which are, the enjoying and defending life and liberty; acquiring, possessing, and protecting, property; and, in a word, of seeking and obtaining happiness. ” Made-man law is or is supposed to be an expression of the natural law. David Miller, et al., eds, The Blackwell Encyclopedia of political Thought (Oxford 1987).
Plato asserted that freedom from and doubt of human law is the “indispensable” beginning of the search for natural law. Strauss, Natural Right and History, pg. 84, U. Chicago Press, 1953.
St. Thomas Aquinas and Saint Augustine posit that any law “which is not just seems to be no law at all. Hence a law has as much force as it has justice.” St. Thomas, Treatise on Law, R.J. Henle, S.J., editor, pg. 287, U. Notre Dame Press, 1993. St. Thomas goes on to say that a civil or earthly law with conflicts with natural law is a perversion rather than a law. Again, once an entire government loses its claim to justice the people have a duty to reform or disband said non-government.
Article two-a, mimics the Second Amendment and puts teeth behind the other declarations: “All persons have the right to keep and bear arms in defense of themselves, their families, their property and the state.” New Hampshire, with some of the least restrictive gun laws in the nation, has an on-again, off-again habit of allowing carry even inside the State Capital building. N.H. lawmakers allow concealed weapons in House chambers, Boston Globe, Jan. 7, 2015. Note that NH consistently ranks as one of the safest, crime free states in the Union. 101 Reasons to Move to New Hampshire, Free State Project.
Those aiming to reform government or create anew must be able and willing to forcefully defend their cause.
The question arises as to when, exactly, does new for such cause becomes necessary and proper. People acting out individually whenever they are personally slighted does not seem just cause. Such action would inevitably lead to anarchy in the lowest sense of the word.
Article three notes, to this end: “When men enter into a state of society, they surrender up some of their natural rights to that society, in order to ensure the protection of others; and, without such an equivalent, the surrender is void.” However, Article four affirms that “Among the natural rights, some are, in their very nature unalienable, because no equivalent can be given or received for them.”
So, while individuals may not personally rebel without great need, they must retain the means to do so should collective need present itself.
How do or how will we know when this time comes? I do not pretend to be an expert nor arbiter of this process. For now I offer only mental food for thought. I do, however, reserve the right to expand on this theme in the future.
PS: the forgoing is not a paid endorsement of New Hampshire.