The Constitution: The God That Failed (To Liberate Us From Big Government)

Publisher’s Note: I thought to conduct my annual savaging of the Constitution on this day. My colleague Paul Bonneau thinks thrashing the slave creed is the wrong idea.  We have a gentleman’s disagreement.

Happy Constitution Day, fellow Helots.

So government is restrained and smaller now?

Constitution Day is the annual homage to one of the most devilishly clever instruments to make a slave people think they are free in Western history. The political coup occurred a mere three years after the divorce proceedings from the United Kingdom in 1783 where thirteen separate nations sat across from the King’s legation in Paris. Imagine such a legation of vassal states today after fighting the central power in DC. We can only dream. The land of the free and home of the brave under current Constitutional constraints solved the question of individual sovereignty at the individual and state level with Lincoln’s clarification on Constitutional totalitarianism in 1865 and further cemented it in the years to follow. The 13th Amendment removed chattel slavery and the 14th Amendment promptly put every human on the landmass in eternal slavery and obeisance to a strong central government. America is just one big happy plantation now.

A quick thought experiment is in order. If the Second Amendment has any meaning, how does one explain the Constitutional imprimatur and stamp of approval on the 1934 NFA, 1939 US v. Miller, 1968 GCA, 1986 FOPA, 1989 Bush prohibition on the importation of cosmetically offensive weapons and the very existence of the BATFE? All government approved and enforced; move along citizen, no infringement here.

The answer is elegantly simple: limited government is impossible and the rulers do as they please using the document that destroyed the state’s individual presumptions and nationalized the edict and issue of executive regulation to the atomistic level. The Federalist project was a means to effectively manage tax cattle and when possible invade the rest of the planet with the contagion the document created to put every human being under its power on a permanent feed lot for the zookeepers in government to harvest as they wish.

There’s a handy chart in my original LRC essay that compares the two documents here.

One additional observation: is it not instructive that in every case where an individual seeks redress against government abuse, they never use the body of the Constitution but the anemic Bill of Rights the Federalists objected to? Read Hamilton’s weak arguments against the Bill of Rights in Federalist #84 for a clue where these scoundrels were headed. Hamilton, who may be appropriately labeled the Original Gangster in the pantheon of home-grown violence brokers who have labeled themselves politicians is Exhibit A in why government should never exist in the first place.

Boston T. Party was a great inspiration to the ideas here. I count Boston as a personal friend and his contribution to the jeremiads against the infernal Constitution are much appreciated. Boston’s brilliantly titled Hologram of Liberty (revised in 2012) is now available on Kindle.

Gary North does a great job tackling the germination the leviathan state in the USSA here.

The government tyranny you witness everyday is what the Anti-Federalists warned you about. But what do they know?

Constitution Day is not a day of celebration but a day of mourning for what could have been. Every tyrant of every stripe across the USSA smiles when they see the American booboisee clamoring to get the Constitution recognized in whatever fictional representation that haunts the aggrieved party advancing the idea. Everyone is getting it good and hard, have no doubt. –BB

“By rendering the labor of one, the property of the other, they cherish pride, luxury, and vanity on one side; on the other, vice and servility, or hatred and revolt.”

~ James Madison

“But whether the Constitution really be one thing, or another, this much is certain — that it has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it. In either case, it is unfit to exist.”

~ Lysander Spooner

Today, 17 September 2014, is Constitution Day. There will be paeans, abundant commentary and church-like observances of the glories of this document in making us the most blessed nation on planet earth. This essay suggests a contrarian thesis. The Constitution is an enabling document for big government. Much like the Wizard of Oz, the man behind the curtain is a fraud. In this case, for all the sanctimonious hand-wringing and the obsequious idolatry of the parchment, it sealed the fate of our liberties and freedoms and has operated for more than 200 years as a cover for massive expansion of the tools and infrastructure of statist expansion and oppression. Among the many intellectual travels I have undertaken, this is one of the most heart-breaking I have ventured on. I want to acknowledge the compass-bearers who sent me on this journey: Kenneth W. Royce (aka Boston T. Party) and his seminal book, The Hologram of Liberty and Kevin Gutzman’s Politically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution. For most of the political spectrum in America, the document represents their interpretation of how to make this mortal coil paradise. Even in libertarian circles, it is taken as an article of faith the Constitution is a brilliant mechanism to enlarge liberty and keep government at bay. That is a lie.

The document was drafted in the summer of 1787 behind closed doors in tremendous secrecy because if word leaked out of the actual contents and intent, the revolution that had just concluded would have been set ablaze again. They were in a race against time and did everything in their power to ensure that the adoption took place as quickly as possible to avoid reflection and contemplation in the public square that would kill the proposal once the consequences of its agenda became apparent. They were insisting that the states ratify first and then propose amendments later. It was a political coup d’état. It was nothing less than an oligarchical coup to ensure that the moneyed interests, banksters and aristocrats could cement their positions and mimic the United Kingdom from which they had been recently divorced.


The original charter of the drafters was to pen improvements to the existing Articles of Confederation. Instead, they chose to hijack the process and create a document which enslaved the nation. Federalist in the old parlance meant states rights and subsidiarity but the three authors of the fabled Federalist Papers supported everything but that. Their intent and commitment was to create a National government with the ability to make war on its constituent parts if these states failed to submit themselves to the central government.

As Austrian economists have discovered, bigger is not necessarily better. The brilliant and oft-dismissed Articles of Confederation (AoC) and Perpetual Union are a testament to voluntarism and cooperation through persuasion that the Constitution disposed of with its adoption. Penned in 1776 and ratified in 1781, the spirit and context of the Articles live on in the Swiss canton system and are everywhere evident in the marketplace where confederationist sentiments are practiced daily. The confederation’s design divines its mechanism from what an unfettered market does every day: voluntary cooperation, spontaneous information signals and the parts always being smarter than the sum A. confederation according to the Webster’s 1828 dictionary is:

  1. The act of confederating; a league; a compact for mutual support; alliance; particularly of princes, nations or states.

I would advise the readership to use the 1828 Webster’s dictionary to accompany any primary source research you may undertake to understand American (& British) letters in the eighteenth century. It is the source for the contemporary lexicon. It is even available online now.

Note that the precept of individual taxation was an end-run against state sovereignty from the very beginning. If the Congress does not wish to violate state sovereignty, then they will simply prey on the individuals in the states. It should be obvious that the AoC was not a recipe for government employees from top to bottom to use the office to enrich themselves so a scheme was afoot to precipitate and manufacture dissent over the present configuration of the central government apparatus which for all intents and purposes barely existed. The AoC was intolerable to a narrow panoply of interests and the Federalist Papers appeared between October 1787 and August 1788 to plead the case for a newer form of “Republic” authored by three individuals: James Madison, John Jay, and Alexander Hamilton. The British had sued for peace in 1783 and the AoC were still in effect until 1790. Time was ticking to erect the new government apparatus that would strengthen the central government to eventually mimic the very tyranny which caused British North America to put the English Crown in the hazard. The Anti-Federalists rose up in response and provided what I consider one of the most splendid and eloquent defenses of small government penned in our history.

Then the Constitutional Convention convened on 1787, 55 delegates came but 14 later quit as the Convention eventually abused its mandate and scrapped the AoC instead of revising it. The notes and proceedings of the cloistered meeting were to be secret as long as 53 years later when Madison’s edited notes were published in 1840.

The Anti-Federalist Brutus avers in Essay I in October 1787:

“But what is meant is, that the legislature of the United States are vested with the great and uncontroulable powers, of laying and collecting taxes, duties, imposts, and excises; of regulating trade, raising and supporting armies, organizing, arming, and disciplining the militia, instituting courts, and other general powers. And are by this clause invested with the power of making all laws, proper and necessary, for carrying all these into execution; and they may so exercise this power as entirely to annihilate all the state governments, and reduce this country to one single government. And if they may do it, it is pretty certain they will; for it will be found that the power retained by individual states, small as it is, will be a clog upon the wheels of the government of the United States; the latter therefore will be naturally inclined to remove it out of the way. Besides, it is a truth confirmed by the unerring experience of ages, that every man, and every body of men, invested with power, are ever disposed to increase it, and to acquire a superiority over every thing that stands in their way.”

The conflict was brewing between the Jeffersonians among the individualists and the Hamiltonian collectivists. The rhetorical lines were drawn and the fate of the nation eventually slid into the camp of the Nationalists.

George Washington wrote to John Jay on 1 August 1786:

“Many are of opinion that Congress have too frequently made use of the suppliant humble tone of requisition, in applications to the States, when they had a right to assume their imperial dignity and command obedience. Be that as it may, requisitions are a perfect nihility, where thirteen sovereign, independent[,] disunited States are in the habit of discussing & refusing compliance with them at their option. Requisitions are actually little better than a jest and a bye word through out the Land. If you tell the Legislatures they have violated the treaty of peace and invaded the prerogatives of the confederacy they will laugh in your face. What then is to be done? Things cannot go on in the same train forever. It is much to be feared, as you observe, that the better kind of people being disgusted with the circumstances will have their minds prepared for any revolution whatever. We are apt to run from one extreme into another. To anticipate & prevent disasterous contingencies would be the part of wisdom & patriotism.”

It appears even the much admired Washington was having none of the talk of independence and wanted a firm hand on the yoke of the states to make them obey their masters on high. Washington’s behavior in the Whiskey Rebellion cast away any doubts of the imperious behavior of the central government a mere four year after the adoption of the Constitution.

Patrick Henry gave the firmest defense of the skeptical posture when he questioned the precarious position the Constitution put to the state’s sovereignty on 5 June 1788 at the Virginia Ratifying Convention (the savvy Founding Lawyers ensured that the process of ratification was sped along by bypassing the bicameral house requirements and simply asking the states to conduct ratifying conventions):

“How were the Congressional rights defined when the people of America united by a confederacy to defend their liberties and rights against the tyrannical attempts of Great-Britain? The States were not then contented with implied reservation. No, Mr. Chairman. It was expressly declared in our Confederation that every right was retained by the States respectively, which was not given up to the Government of the United States. But there is no such thing here. You therefore by a natural and unavoidable implication, give up your rights to the General Government. Your own example furnishes an argument against it. If you give up these powers, without a Bill of Rights, you will exhibit the most absurd thing to mankind that ever the world saw — A Government that has abandoned all its powers — The powers of direct taxation, the sword, and the purse. You have disposed of them to Congress, without a Bill of Rights — without check, limitation, or controul. And still you have checks and guards — still you keep barriers — pointed where? Pointed against your weakened, prostrated, enervated State Government! You have a Bill of Rights to defend you against the State Government, which is bereaved of all power; and yet you have none against Congress, though in full and exclusive possession of all power! You arm youselves against the weak and defenceless, and expose yourselves naked to the armed and powerful. Is not this a conduct of unexampled absurdity? What barriers have you to oppose to this most strong energetic Government? To that Government you have nothing to oppose. All your defence is given up. This is a real actual defect. . . ”

The Bill of Rights as we know them today were first introduced by James Madison in 1789 in response to the fears the emerging Constitution caused among the free men in these united States. They eventually came into effect on December 15, 1791. The Federalists were desperately opposed to the adoption of the Bill of Rights being insisted upon by Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson and other skeptics of central governance. As Brutus again so cleverly pointed out in the Anti-Federalist papers #84:

” This will appear the more necessary, when it is considered, that not only the Constitution and laws made in pursuance thereof, but all treaties made, under the authority of the United States, are the supreme law of the land, and supersede the Constitutions of all the States. The power to make treaties, is vested in the president, by and with the advice and consent of two-thirds of the senate. I do not find any limitation or restriction to the exercise of this power. The most important article in any Constitution may therefore be repealed, even without a legislative act. Ought not a government, vested with such extensive and indefinite authority, to have been restricted by a declaration of rights? It certainly ought.

So clear a point is this, that I cannot help suspecting that persons who attempt to persuade people that such reservations were less necessary under this Constitution than under those of the States, are wilfully endeavoring to deceive, and to lead you into an absolute state of vassalage(emphasis mine).”

The Bill of Rights nominations from the respective sovereign states originally numbered near 200 and the Founding Lawyers saw fit to include twelve (the two concerning apportionment and Congressional pay failed to pass) after much bickering especially by the most monstrous worthy of the time, Alexander Hamilton. A brilliant mind coupled with all the political knife-fighting skills needed to dominate the proceedings, Hamilton made sure that the tools of oppression and a financial yoke would be decorating our necks in perpetuity. Small solace can be taken in the aftermath of the duel between Hamilton and Burr on 11 July 1804 in that it took him close to a day to die.

Alexander Hamilton tipped his intellectual hand in a speech to the Constitutional Convention concerning the United States Senate, 06/18/1787 (quoted in the notes of Judge Yates):

“All communities divide themselves into the few and the many. The first are the rich and the well-born; the other the mass of the people … turbulent and changing, they seldom judge or determine right. Give therefore to the first class a distinct, permanent share in the Government … Nothing but a permanent body can check the imprudence of democracy.”

I am no fan of democracy as I see it as nothing more than a transformational accommodation to tyranny over time but one can infer from this quote that Hamilton fancied a class of people more equal than others who would have a disproportionate access to the levers of power over the great unwashed. Again, I am suggesting that the Constitution was a document designed from the beginning as a means to rob constituent and subsidiary parts of sovereignty and subject these subordinate elements to a national framework which made their position subservient to the Federal government. The desire of the Federalists was to install a national framework and cement the structure through the machinations of national banking, franking of a currency and debt creation. Keep in mind that all of the nattering on about the Federal Reserve today is a complaint against a Constitutional Frankenstein monster in its fourth iteration since the other attempts at national banks failed. You can guess who picked up the tab.

The Bill of Rights was finally passed on 15 December 1791 but it was much diluted and purposefully weaker and more ambiguous about the central government’s implied and explicit powers.

The Constitution took effect on 4 March 1789 with 11 states under it and two states not submitting ratification. North Carolina did ratify it when a promise of a future Bill of Rights was assured. Rhode Island refused and was the only state to put the Constitution to a popular vote where it failed on 24 March 1788 by an 11—1 margin. They eventually ratified it.

Hamilton now had the ways and means to make real his storied dream: “A national debt, if it is not excessive, will be to us a national blessing.” The moneyed interests saw the advantage of monetizing the debt. By assuming the state’s debts at the national government level, a means of controlling commerce and taxation became an implied task of the central government. This may have been the first incident of the debtors from the Revolutionary War convincing their Hamiltonian allies that if they had the national government bear the debt and relieve them of responsibility, this could be used as the means to establish the coveted national bank to start the issuance of government currency not to mention the driver for increased taxation.

All the puzzle pieces had finally locked into place. Royce eloquently explains what has transpired in Hologram of Liberty: “To put a ‘gun’ in the hands of the new national government was the primary object, the great sine qua non, of the Constitution. A comprehensive de jure authority of Congress backed with de facto guns.” The Confederation is defeated and the long train of usurpation, centralization and tyranny leaves the station for what has become American history.

Hamilton’s machinations and influence probably single-handedly turned the product of this secret confab into one of the most successful instruments of political oppression before even the creation of the USSR. What makes it even more sublime as a tool of big government is the sophisticated propaganda and hagiographic enterprise which has both spontaneously and through careful planning suborned the public’s skepticism of the nature of the machine erected to control their behavior, which has resulted in an almost religious observance of all things Constitutional. Carefully cultivated over two hundred years, this religious idolatry had certainly fogged the thinking of this writer for most of his adult life. This sleeper has awakened.

Ask yourself this question: have the robed government employees who read the Constitutional tea leaves for the most part defended individual liberty or have they rubber-stamped the exponential growth of power and control of the colossus that sits astride the Potomac?

“Our constitutions purport to be established by ‘the people,’ and, in theory, ‘all the people’ consent to such government as the constitutions authorize. But this consent of ‘the people’ exists only in theory. It has no existence in fact. Government is in reality established by the few; and these few assume the consent of all the rest, without any such consent being actually given.”

~ Lysander Spooner

21 thoughts on “The Constitution: The God That Failed (To Liberate Us From Big Government)”

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  4. Bill, the link in paragraph 20, regarding the Anti-Feds, seems broken. Didn’t work for me, at least.



  5. Randolph Silliman Bourne: a lifelong enemy of the State and war. His great unfinished work “The State” was discovered after his death.

    Jeffrey Riggenbach has published a great paean on the brilliance of Randolph Bourne at the Mises Institute.

    That this is even being considered is a good sign.

  6. A constitution that limits government is a fine thing, if someone uses force against that government to enforce that constitution. The fault in our case doesn’t lie with the constitution, but with all of us who have failed to respond with force when the government broke free of its restraints.

    The constitution was just a line in the sand. When we let the government cross it without penalty, we lost. The states created the federal government, and we should be requiring our state governments to get it under control.

    1. But what about when state governments cross the line? Or when a states own constitution beholdens itself to the federal government such as the Nevada state constitution? In MY opinion, any sort of “democratic” government is slavery, since it still impedes upon an individual’s true liberty and freedom.

  7. The U.S Con is nothing more than shit paper used to clean feces from ones butt- hole. I’m seeing the lovers of this rag as freedom’s mortal enemies.

  8. Great essay Bill. The greatest con in history is that whatever freedoms we enjoy (which are fewer each day) come from the constitution and by extension the government that operates by it. Schools, politicians and church leaders constantly drone on about the constitution and how wonderful it is. What these people do is communicate a message that our rights come directly from it.

    Right wingers drone on about “returning to the constitution” knowing full well that the situation Americans find themselves in today is authorized by the constitution. You constantly hear people say things like “Obamacare is unconstitutional” or “gay marriage is unconstitutional” or this and that is unconstitutional. The simple fact is that the final arbiter of what is or is not constitutional has stated unequivocally that these things are in fact constitutional. The 16th amendment which authorizes state theft is constitutional.

    The declaration said that our rights are unalienable which means non transferable. The constitution infers exactly the opposite. That our rights come from the state. The bill of rights wasn’t just unnecessary but detrimental to liberty. All the writers had to do – if they were genuinely concerned about rights – was repeat what was articulated in the declaration. But that wasn’t their concern, it was creating a centralized government.

    Finally, for those who worship the constitution I suggest the following exercise: copy and paste the text into a word processor. Highlight the words that pertain to what government can do. Then highlight the words dedicated to the rights of the individual. Now count the words. What you will find is that 95% of the words in the constitution are devoted to what government can do and a mere 5% are devoted to the rights of the individual. And those are mostly conditional. It’s a useless screed.

    1. David,

      I love the copy and paste notion, so true.

      Another thought: the word unconstitutional has zero descriptive value in America in any quarter.


  9. Bill,

    Well done.

    Just as Burr had to defend his honor against Hamilton’s slander and did the world a great favor in the process, a gentlemen on occasion has need to be, well, not so gentle – in spite of Paul’s chiding.


  10. The premise of this article is fundamentally flawed. And I can explain the SCOTUS rulings. If anyone cares to know the reasons please write to

    1) The constitution creates near unlimited government (not limited). It allows the federal government to make, enforce, and interpret statutes, regs, and the constitution.
    2) The article 3 grants the government the ability to decide the outcome of any controversy involving itself and another party.

    This is a prescription for total government, not limited. And it was done intentionally to protect the newly won continent from the world’s super powers of the day.

    1. Not according to the Founders who wrote the Constitution:

      Speaking on this issue in Federalist #81, Alexander Hamilton (a member of the Constitutional Convention, later to become Secretary of the Treasury under President George Washington) stated that “In the first place, there is not a syllable in the plan under consideration [the Constitution] which directly empowers the national courts to construe the laws according to the spirit of the Constitution, or which gives them any greater latitude in this respect than may be claimed by the courts of every State.”

      On June 12, 1823, Thomas Jefferson wrote to Supreme Court Justice William Johnson “On every question of construction, carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed.”

      James Madison wrote to Henry Lee on June 25, 1824 “I entirely concur in the propriety of resorting to the sense in which the Constitution was accepted and ratified by the nation. In that sense alone it is the legitimate Constitution…What a metamorphosis would be produced in the code of law if all its ancient phraseology were to be taken in the modern sense.”

      The Federalist Papers No. 78, Alexander Hamilton gives us a pretty good idea:

      “There is no position which depends on clearer principles than that every act of a delegated authority, contrary to the tenor of the commission under which it is exercised, is void. No legislative act, therefore, contrary to the Constitution, can be valid. To deny this would be to affirm that the deputy is greater than his principal; that the servant is above his master; that the representatives of the people are superior to the people themselves; that men acting by virtue of powers may do not only what their powers do not authorize, but what they forbid.”

  11. From thru the looking glass: “‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.’

    ‘The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.”

    ‘The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master—that’s all.'”

    Putting it another way. Will all the “slaves” here please post images of the lash marks, or an image of the bill of sale from their former master, or perhaps tell me who owns their children. Maybe we could do a crowd source fund drive to raise money to reunite / purchase said children from their current master and get them back to their parents.

    As Orwell said, the destruction of language and the meaning of words is indicative of tyranny. You know. What is happening on this site

  12. Cumberland Minuteman

    The fact that anyone thinks that a contract signed between peoples almost two centuries dead some how pertains to them is utterly nonsensical, and the worship of such document an example of Stockholm Syndrome in the extreme.

    Like sheep they celebrate the day the gate was placed on their pasture. The same sheep that just 3 months earlier were celebrating their release from the pasture of another shepard.

    As if a bunch of 5th generation negro slaves would be celebrating the bill of sale date of their great, great grandfather to Massa’s Great Grandfather, all the while not questioning how that bill of sale pertained to them today.

    This self attachment to an ancient bill of sale is much like the electrolytes in Brando….

    It’s what plants crave.

    Brando Syndrome= The unexplainable tendency to unquestionably submit to another’s claim over their sovereignty.


  13. For the “Sheep” to give up the Joy of Anarchy for a resolute system of governance is a brave move indeed… resulting from the sure notion that the next green pasture will inevitably need defense from the “wolves and other takers” (which lurk just past your next comfortable moment) in order to prevent Great Loss… And many have entered into that “pasture of confinement” in History for similar reasons… to defend the “sheep’s” property, promote the general welfare, to arbitrate disagreement, etc. For “We The People” to carefully choose the “Manner of confinement” – that it be wholly acceptable in return for the protection and services provided – is essential for the continuing adherence to that “confinement” – in our case a Democratic Republic.

    The Constitution is not about Law. It is about the Human Element, what can be expected from it, and what must be done to prevent it’s influence from causing our Government to fall from Grace – as Humanity always seems to accomplish… “Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely”…. that sort of thing…. The Constitution may be 240 years old, and while laws for murder and rape have changed little – law for commerce, copyright, possessions, and interactions locally and globally have changed greatly. But the Constitution does NOT state “What” must be done… but rather “How”… with respect to individual Liberty. It was – and is – about protecting Government from the Human Element – from ourselves, and the unjust influence of it’s own citizens… and as such, it is every bit as valid NOW as it ever was.

    In fact, it proceeded rather well, until the Robber Barons of the Industrial Age were insulted and diminished through the actions of Teddy Roosevelt – and they began their immediate campaign to take over the Nation – using our own power to vote and pass laws for their own purpose… Their manipulation that began even as Standard Oil was broken up as yet continues… The passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, the 1913 adoption of the 16th Amendment (federal income tax) and Federal Reserve Act – all began the process of their manipulation that continues to this day. The Constitution is not the Cause of it – it is the Blueprint for the ending of it – and the dissolution of the inequity we both (All) despise….. “what plants crave”…. that was a good one… DC will make an excellent Victory Garden.

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