On March 4, 1789, 233 years ago, the first Congress met in New York City making the U.S. Constitution operational. Also on that day, the Bill of Rights was written and proposed to Congress.
There is a simple construct of our Constitution which is seldom discussed. The Constitution created the three branches of our government. The Bill of Rights, ten in number at the outset, protects us from our government.
We learn in American History class, our Founding Fathers debated the ratification of the Constitution. The two factions, The Federalists, led by Madison, Hamilton and Jay, supported ratification and the Anti-Federalists, led by Patrick Henry, opposed ratification.
The two sides struck a deal. In exchange for ratification of the Constitution, Patrick Henry secured a promise for the Bill of Rights for citizens because he “smelled a rat.”
We owe a great debt to my favorite Founder, Patrick Henry. The other Founders feared Henry’s debating skills. No one wanted to cross his tongue.
Today, when so many of us fight the infringement of our freedom, liberty and “rights” under the Bill of Rights, remember Henry’s speech he made at St. John’s Church in Richmond, Virginia on March 23, 1775 at the Second Virginia Convention in support of sending troops for the Revolution. The entire speech is worth a read. I give you the final paragraph:
It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace– but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!
Let us not only remember these words, may we act upon them. We should not have needed a reminder of Henry’s plea from Zelensky and his fellow countrymen.