by Charley Reese
Jefferson Davis, one of America’s greatest statesmen, said that a question settled
by violence would inevitably arise again, though at a different time and in a
And so it has. Lovers and sycophants of the great empire on the Potomac must
be feeling uneasy that at least some Americans are again questioning the efficacy
of a gargantuan central government.
Perhaps the recent shift of control of Congress to the Democrats has made them
nervous, though God knows there are precious few Jeffersonian Democrats in the
modern Democratic Party.
And what, you might well ask, is a Jeffersonian Democrat? He’s a person who
hasn’t forgotten that the sovereign states created the federal government, not
the reverse, as some today seem to assume. He believes that what the Constitution
created was a republic of sovereign states, and that the carefully limited powers
assigned to the federal government were all the powers it had, in peace or in
war. He believes the Constitution is a binding contract, not a rubbery document
that can mean anything a judge or a politician says it means. He believes in
a system of checks and balances. In short, he believes in the Declaration of
That document, you might recall, says that the only purpose of government is
to protect rights already granted by God, and that when a government fails to
protect those rights and begins to abuse them, the people have the right to
alter or overthrow it. "Sounds communistic to me," grumbles old Jack
Jingoist. "That guy Jefferson must have been some kind of a pinko."
Why else would Lord Acton, the great British philosopher of liberty, have written
to Robert E. Lee, America’s greatest soldier, that, "I grieve more for
what was lost at Appomattox than I rejoice at what was gained at Waterloo."
Lord Acton saw clearly what many American professors of history do not –
that the defeat of the South was the end of America’s experiment in liberty
and self-government and a conscious choice to emulate the central governments
H.L. Mencken, the Baltimore journalist, in his usually blunt way said the only
thing wrong with Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address was that it was the South,
not the North, that was fighting for government "of the people, by the
people and for the people."
Davis had said, "I love the Union and the Constitution, but I would rather
leave the Union with the Constitution than remain in the Union without it."
On another occasion, he said: "We feel our cause is just and holy; we
protest solemnly in the face of mankind that we desire peace at any sacrifice
save that of our honor and independence. We ask no conquest, no aggrandizement,
no concession of any kind from the states with which we were lately confederated;
all we ask is to be let alone; that those who never held power over us shall
not now attempt our subjugation by arms."
A newspaper in New Hampshire said: "The Southern Confederacy will not
employ our ships or buy our goods. What is our shipping without it? We must
not let the South go."
So to add to the definition of Jeffersonian Democrats, they were a majority
of the Founding Fathers, a majority who fought the American Revolution, a majority
who wrote the Constitution, and a majority who fought for Southern independence.
No wonder the precious few still extant make big-government lovers so nervous.
© 2006 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.
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