The Best Statement Respecting American Liberty
I have been studying the Constitution of the State of New Hampshire in detail since 2006. This study has required me to investigate its origins: its predecessors in 1776 and 1784, the Constitutions of the other States, The Declaration of Independence and The Constitution for the United States as well. My study of these documents has led me to the following observations:
The State of Rhode Island has no immediate post colonial Constitution;
The Constitutions of Delaware, Georgia, New Jersey and New Hampshire in 1776 have no declarations of rights;
The 1784 Constitution of New Hampshire was the last of the Constitutions of the first thirteen States, and was probably written as a distillation of the previous Constitutions;
Only the 1784 Constitution of New Hampshire has all of the fundamental rights that are enumerated in the several Constitutions;
The Constitution of Vermont, written two years after the Constitution of New Hampshire, is less respectful of liberty, including the recognition and apparent approval of slavery; and
The Constitution of New Hampshire, as a fundamental document, is probably the best statement respecting American Liberty.
Capitalization and Punctuation
The writers of the fundamental documents endeavored to include as much content in as few words as possible. Therefore, they made extensive use of punctuation and grammar. The capitalization was not random. In the Constitution of New Hampshire, two types of words are capitalized: proper nouns whose understanding or definition precede the Constitution; and proper nouns that are defined in the Constitution. Therefore, when reading the quotations, especially those from the Constitutions, the reader ought to pay particular attention to the capitalization and punctuation.
You will find several references to God in this book. They are there because I believe that to understand the foundational documents of our country, you must understand the world view, the perspective, of those who wrote them. The references to God are within quotations of our founders, or Constitutions, or in discussing quotations. Though in full disclosure, I believe that I generally share their world view.
This book is, in fact, a treatise of American government, or what American government was intended to be. American government finds its genesis in the Geneva Bible. Shortly after I wrote my commentary on the Constitution of the State of New Hampshire, I was confronted with the original wording of Part 1, Article 6:
Morality and piety, rightly grounded on evangelical principles, will give the best and greatest security to government, and lay in the hearts of men the strongest obligations to due subjection.”
I had difficulty resolving this with the Articles around it which spoke of sovereignty, natural rights, government by consent, power in government derived from the People, the obligation of revolution against tyranny. Comparing evangelical churches to canon law churches, I came to understand that they were speaking of "evangelical" governments, church and civil. That is to say bottom up government. The subjection referred to was not of the governed to government, but of those in government to the governed, and to God; and aware of that subjection, those in government would not make or enforce laws that would inspire the people to rebel; and hence, government would be secure and enduring.
A little more than two short years later, during the summer of 2008, I was working on my part as James Madison in a skit on States Powers for the Constitution Day celebration of the National Heritage Center for Constitutional Studies, and Dianne Gilbert suggested that I review the Kentucky Resolutions of 1798 for material. When I read the Resolutions, I recognized them as the real deal and determined to submit them as a resolution for the General Court of New Hampshire (the Legislature). It was, for all intents and purposes, a cut and paste. I added the federal crimes that were a consequence of amendments to the Constitution for the United States of America. I also removed those items that were too specific to 1798 to be relevant today. The draft Resolution was submitted in September of 2008, before the Democratic Convention.
Little more was said of the resolution during the fall. I worked to get cosponsors. I could only get Rep. Ingbretson and Rep. Comerford in the House of Representatives, and Sen. Denley in the House of the Senate to sign on. House Concurrent Resolution (HCR) 6 affirming State’s rights based on Jeffersonian principles was introduced to the House on January 8, 2009, with absolutely no fanfare.