LEXINGTON GREEN, APRIL 19, 2009
Dr. Edwin Vieira, Jr., Ph.D., J.D.
May 5, 2009
What follows is an address, delivered in my absence by Tom Moor, at the Committees of Safety rally held at Lexington Green on 19 April 2009. I have also appended an afterword.
Ladies and gentlemen:
Lexington Green does not merely recall an historic event. More importantly, it also teaches a profound lesson in the philosophy and practice of popular self-government.
Observe the statue standing there at the head of the green. And recall the statue at the North Bridge in Concord. Each of them depicts but a single individual. Yet, in each case, that one individual represents many more than himself alone: A single Minuteman, representing all of the Minutemen.
Even more importantly, the Minutemen were no happenstance bunch of individuals some of whom accidentally gravitated to Lexington Green and the North Bridge on the 19th of April in 1775. They were no mere crowd of farmers, artisans, and tradesmen who stumbled together with no coherence, no general self-consciousness, no collective purpose or resolve.
To the contrary: They were members of an organization which included all free adult able-bodied men throughout Massachusetts, with like organizations in each of the other twelve American Colonies. An organization which had existed in Massachusetts herself for almost 150 years. An organization with legal—indeed, governmental—authority: The Militia of Massachusetts.
And they assembled here, not to break the law, but to witness to it, to defend it, and if possible to enforce it against British troops who were, they rightly believed, breaking the laws of Massachusetts, abridging the Colonists’ rights as Englishmen, and flouting what the Declaration of Independence later called “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God”.
Here at Lexington, the Militiamen did not at first intend to fight—they meant only to demonstrate their disapproval of the incursion into their town by General Gage’s troops, to embody in their own persons on this green their legal authority, and to present a living remonstrance through a muster of physical—but even more importantly, of legal and moral—strength, rather than an act of outright forcible resistance.
As Pastor Jonas Clark wrote in The Battle of Lexington: An Eyewitness Narrative of That Day, the Militia of Lexington
was alarmed and ordered to meet on the usual place of parade; not with any design of commencing hostilities upon the king’s troops, but to consult what might be done for our own and the people’s safety: And also to be ready for whatever service providence might call us out to upon this alarming occasion, in case overt acts of violence or open hostilities should be committed
by the British. So, recalled Reverend Parker,
alarm guns were fired and the drums beat to arms; and the militia was collecting together. Some, to the number of about 50 or 60, or possibly more, were on the parade, others were coming toward it. In the meantime, the [British] troops, having * * * stolen a march upon us * * * , seemed to come determined for MURDER and BLOODSHED; and that whether provoked to it, or not! When within about half a quarter of a mile of the meetinghouse, they halted and the command was given to prime and load; which, being done, they marched on ’till they came * * * in sight of our militia * * * . Immediately upon their appearing so suddenly and so nigh, Capt. [John] Parker, who commanded the militia company, ordered the men to disperse and take care of themselves, and not to fire. Upon this, our men dispersed; but many of them, not so speedily as they might have done, not having the most distant idea of such brutal barbarity and more than savage CRUELTY from the troops of a British KING as they immediately experienced! For no sooner did they come in sight of our company, but one of them, supposed to be an officer of rank, was heard to say to the troops, “Damn them; we will have them!” Upon which the troops shouted aloud, huzza’d, and rushed furiously towards our men. About the same time, three officers * * * advanced on horseback to the front of the body and * * * one of them cried out, “Ye villains, ye Rebels, disperse; damn you, disperse!” or words to that effect. One of them * * * said “Lay down your arms; damn you, why don’t you lay down your arms!” The second of these officers about this time fired a pistol towards the militia as it was dispersing. The foremost, who was in a few yards of our men, brandishing his sword and then pointing it towards them, with a loud voice said to the troops, “Fire! By God, fire!” which was instantly followed by a discharge of arms from the said troops, succeeded by a very heavy and close fire upon our party, dispersing, so long as any of them were within reach. Eight were left dead upon the ground! Ten were wounded. The rest of the company, through divine goodness, were (to a miracle) preserved unhurt in this murderous action!
We learn from this account that, pursuant to orders, Lexington’s Militiamen were in fact dispersing when the British opened fire on them. Dispersing, but not laying down their arms. They knew that, by themselves alone, they could not effectively resist the overwhelming force the British had amassed against them in the field. Nevertheless, they refused to surrender their legal and moral authority. And later, they—along with Militiamen from Concord and other towns throughout the surrounding area—combined that authority with sufficient force, and drove the British back into Boston.
This is a stirring story. But what does it offer to us today? Is what happened here in Lexington on the 19th of April in 1775 merely an historical incident with no contemporary value other than as an excuse for a spring holiday? To imagine as much is to forget the admonition that those who refuse to learn from history will find themselves repeating history—and generally the hard way.
All too many Americans have become all too much forgetful of the real meaning of the 19th of April, 1775. Today, except for a few ceremonial vestiges here and there, the true Militia of Massachusetts, as well as the true Militia of all the other States, are almost entirely disbanded.
Disbanded in fact, but not under “the supreme Law of the Land”. For—
The Constitution of the United States still declares that “[a] well regulated Militia” is “necessary to the security of a free State”. Indeed, “[a] well regulated Militia” is the one and only institution that the Constitution recognizes as “necessary” for any purpose.
The Constitution still incorporates “the Militia of the several States”—according to the principles under which they existed in 1788—into its federal structure.
The Constitution still delegates to Congress, and in default of Congress to the States, and in default of Congress and the States to WE THE PEOPLE themselves, the power and the duty to organize, arm, discipline, and train the Militia.
Yet, notwithstanding the Constitution, nowhere in America are “the Militia of the several States”, or of any State, organized in the manner and to the degree “the supreme Law of the Land” expressly, unequivocally, and emphatically commands.
This is not because our country faces no grave dangers against which the Militia are the first, and the best, and perhaps in the final analysis the only means to provide true “homeland security”. To the contrary: Today, more than ever before in America’s existence, “well regulated Militia” are urgently “necessary to the security of a free State”, everywhere throughout the United States.
“[T]he Militia of the several States” are effectively disbanded, and the Constitution flouted, and America’s “homeland security” imperilled, because WE THE PEOPLE are not doing their part. WE THE PEOPLE are not standing forth today, as the Minutemen of Lexington stood forth in 1775, in defense of their country against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Unlike the Minutemen of Lexington, who mustered on this green, muskets in hand, to perform their possibly fatal duties as Militiamen in the face of armed oppressors, all too many contemporary Americans refuse to acknowledge, let alone to fulfill, even their simplest and safest responsibilities as self-governing citizens of “a free State”.
“[A] free State” is a state in which the people actually govern themselves. “A well regulated Militia” is composed of every able-bodied resident of the State from sixteen to sixty years of age. The Militia consists of the people; and the people control the Militia. So, of course “[a] well regulated Militia” is “necessary to the security of a free State”. It could not possibly be otherwise.
More than that: Because “a free State” is one in which the people govern themselves—and because “[a] well regulated Militia” is “necessary to the security of a free State”—therefore, without “[a] well regulated Militia”, popular self-government cannot long endure. Let me repeat that, so there can be no mistake: Without “[a] well regulated Militia”, popular self-government cannot long endure. This is what the Constitution declares. This is what History teaches. This is what current events are proving. This is what all Americans will soon learn, to their everlasting sorrow, if they fail to follow in the footsteps of the men from Lexington.
Here today, an enthusiastic throng of patriots has gathered. Yet it is only a congregation, not an organization. Its participants sense their potential political power to bring about fundamental, and desperately needed, reforms in this country. For strength lies in numbers; and tens of millions of Americans share their sentiments. But potential is not actual power. And actual political power this great mass of Americans cannot yet exercise, because its members lack, not simply the means, but more importantly the legal authority, to do so.
That legal authority can—and must—be regained, by revitalizing in every one of “the several States” the institutions that the monument on Lexington Green recalls, rightly glorifies, and recommends to us today. Not just the solitary man with his musket, but the hundreds and thousands, even millions, of men and women who should muster in “the Militia of the several States”.
With their muskets? Surely so, because being armed is the hallmark of free citizens and of a proper constitutional Militia. But armed not with muskets alone, or even primarily. Because today the most important work of political and economic reform in American can be undertaken without muskets:
There must be fundamental monetary and banking reform before a total collapse of the Federal Reserve System plunges this country into economic, political, and social chaos.
There must be adequate preparations for dealing with natural disasters, epidemics, and other like catastrophes.There must be provision of food and medical security for all Americans.
And the list goes on.
Surely, men and women who know and are determined to assert their rights will prove capable of performing these tasks, even without muskets in their hands. If they are properly organized. So now, just as did the Minutemen on Lexington Green, patriots “must consult what might be done for our own and the people’s safety” and make themselves “ready for whatever service providence might call us out to”—in and through the organizations that the Constitution declares to be “necessary to the security of a free State”: “the Militia of the several States”.
How is this to be accomplished? In the selfsame manner in which all fundamental political reform must be brought about in “a free State”. WE THE PEOPLE, by themselves and for themselves, must employ democratic self-government to save, strengthen, and extend democratic self-government by revitalizing what the Constitution itself declares to be “necessary” to preserve democratic self-government: “the Militia of the several States”. The proper path is through each of the States’ legislatures, one by one. The good people in each State must enact statutes that will revitalize their Militia along strict constitutional lines and for constitutional purposes. Immediately, if not sooner.
In this effort, proponents of revitalizing the Militia should seek and welcome support from members and veterans of the regular Armed Forces, and of State and Local police, sheriffs’ departments, and emergency-services agencies. One need simply read the Constitution to realize that the Militia’s responsibilities—“to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions”—overlap the duties of the Armed Forces and embrace those of State and Local police, sheriffs’ departments, and kindred agencies. Therefore, when the Militia are revitalized, they will complement the regular Armed Forces, and supplement the police and emergency-services personnel. The Militia, the Armed Forces, the police, and so on will be the closest of allies, never competitors, let alone antagonists—because they will all share the very same goal: the preservation of popular self-government against all enemies, foreign and domestic.
The enemies of “a free State” know this. Which is why they belittle the movement for revitalization of the Militia with the contention that “revitalization of the Militia is useless, because the Militia cannot effectively fight the Armed Forces”. This is black propaganda broadcast in order to sow dissension, to create distrust, and to engender defeatism. And it is obviously wrongheaded, because it rests on the demonstrably false assumption of an inherent conflict between the Militia and the Armed Forces.
Precisely where does the Constitution say that the Militia and the regular Armed Forces must, or will, or should, or even might fight, one against another? Are not the Militia and the Armed Forces components of the very same constitutional plan? Are not they equally dedicated to securing the same “common defence” and “general Welfare” that the Constitution’s Preamble promises to all Americans?
Perhaps the dark day will dawn when aspiring usurpers and tyrants will attempt to seize power in the United States. But one cannot assume that, on that day, the Armed Forces, in whole or in a major part, will consist of traitors who will aid and abet such a conspiracy by taking up arms against their own people. Perhaps, too, a few rogue elements in the Armed Forces might provide those usurpers with some aid and comfort. After all, every barrel contains a few bad apples. But, even then, would not the better part of the Armed Forces and the Militia concert their efforts in order to restore and preserve constitutional government? Why should Americans expect any other outcome?
We are reminded here today that the members of the Armed Forces, sheriffs, the police, and other public-service personnel take an oath to support the Constitution. What, though, must be the consequence of this oath? The Constitution recognizes and empowers “the Militia of the several States” as fundamentally important parts of its federal system. In fact, the Constitution devotes more words to setting out Congress’s and the States’ powers with respect to the Militia than it does to setting out Congress’s powers with respect to the Army and the Navy. And the Constitution appoints the President of the United States as Commander in Chief of both “the Army and Navy of the United States, and * * * the Militia of the several States”. Thus, constitutionally, “the Militia of the several States” are at least as important as the regular Armed Forces. For that reason, when the members of the Armed Forces take an oath to support the Constitution—all of the Constitution, without any exception—they take an oath to support “the Militia of the several States” as component parts of the Constitution, too. Today, however, “the Militia of the several States” are not properly organized anywhere within the United States. So the oath that members of the Armed Forces take to support the Constitution as it should be enforced in its entirety must translate into an oath to support revitalization of the Militia, so that the entirety of the Constitution can be enforced. One cannot take an oath to support the Constitution as a whole while at the same time acquiescing in the neglect, failure, or intentional refusal of public officials to put into operation the very institutions that the Constitution itself declares are “necessary to the security of a free State”.
The enemies of “a free State” also seek to demoralize patriots by claiming that the restoration of constitutional government throughout the United States is impossible. But it is precisely the revitalization of “the Militia of the several States” that will make such restoration, not only possible, but also relatively easy. We know that it will be possible, because the Constitution itself assures us that “well regulated Militia” are “necessary to the security of a free State”—and, if “necessary”, then surely they will be sufficient for that purpose. We can further rest assured that restoration of constitutional government through revitalization of the Militia will be practicable, because “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God” favor the big battalions—and the good people of America outnumber the enemies of “a free State” by orders of magnitude. Not only that. Once organized in “the Militia of the several States”, Americans will have unquestionable right—in the form of constitutional authority—as well as overwhelming might on their side.
The “embattled farmers” of Lexington choose to meet the British troops on this green because this was the farmers’ own ground that the British were invading and violating. The Minutemen were in rightful possession. And possession, the old saw has it, amounts to nine-tenths of the law. The other one-tenth is enforcement of that possession. Who, though, are better able to enforce, and have the greater incentive to enforce, possession than the people in actual possession—in decisive numbers, with right on their side, and thoroughly organized to convert numbers and right into might?
In sum, the lesson that History sets before us today in bronze, and stone, and greensward is plain enough for anyone to learn, and compelling enough for every patriot, not only to take to heart, but also to put into action. Americans will rest secure in their constitutional freedoms only when they themselves secure those freedoms through the “necessary” constitutional means: namely, “the Militia of the several States”. Nothing less has sufficed in the past; nothing less will do today.
The Militiaman standing at the head of the green reminds us that self-government is not a “spectator sport”. It is a “team effort”. And it is not just a game, either. It is a free people’s vocation—sometimes even a sacrificial vocation. So, with that insight and that inspiration, when we leave this green today let us bear with us a new resolution, and a new understanding of how, to make constitutional self-government a reality throughout America.
Why was this address necessary and proper? Not simply once again to eulogize the Embattled Farmers of 1775—although they deserve unstinting praise on every April 19th. But also, especially, to admonish living Americans—so few of whom either sew or reap in the garden of patriotism that our country can expect to enjoy no harvest of freedom and prosperity, either today or in the foreseeable future.
The Forces of Darkness are intent upon separating America’s regular Armed Forces and professional police departments, sheriffs, and other law-enforcement agencies from her people as a whole. This is hardly surprising, as such a separation is the necessary condition precedent to, if not the very essence of, a para-militarized police state. The evil strategy is simple enough:
First, infect the Armed Forces and police with contempt for patriotism, for constitutionalism, and particularly for any exposure of, dissent from, protest against, and action to counter the oppression and looting of society by the shadow government of factions and special-interest groups that dominate the Disgrace of Columbia.
Second, engender fear among the Armed Forces and police by demonizing all opposition to the shadow government as emanating from ignorant, racist, and violent “militia” groups. If someone correctly points out that the Second Amendment declares “[a] well regulated Militia * * * necessary to the security of a free State”, so much the better—for if a “militia” can be portrayed as the domain of armed crackpots, then “a free State” led by “militia”-types must be even worse!
Third, align the Armed Forces and the police with the shadow government as its agents in systematic, ever-expanding oppression of the people. If the people remonstrate against well-orchestrated threats of “martial law” and unpunished incidents of “police brutality”, they thereby prove themselves enemies of the Armed Forces and the police, closing the logical loop in the Dark Forces’ self-fulfilling prophecy. In the Dark Forces’ estimation, nine-tenths of both the Armed Forces and police, on the one hand, and the people, on the other, will likely prove too dense or too brainwashed to realize that the two groups should be allies, not antagonists, and that they should join forces against their mutual enemies, the Forces of Darkness, rather than savage one another.
Fourth, if the people openly and strenuously resist oppression, then turn the most radicalized rogue elements of Armed Forces and police loose against them—and let the two groups, that should be acting in unison to defend their country, fight amongst themselves in free-fire zones to the bitter end, with the destruction of America the only possible outcome, and the self-selected elitists in the shadow government the only possible winners of the contest.
So, some of the questions members of the Armed Forces, police, sheriffs, and other law-enforcement and emergency-response personnel should be asking themselves right now are:
is actually causing economic collapse, social turmoil, and political
unrest in this country—and in whose interest?
What will happen to this country unless fundamental changes are forthcoming, and soon—particularly, changes in political leadership at every level; and in the economic system, especially with regard to money and banking.
Which public officials have betrayed their oaths of office, and how? (Or, perhaps easier to list, which public officials have consistently been true to their oaths of office?)
Who is trying to subvert the Armed Forces and police so as to transmogrify them into agents of oppression along the lines of the Gestapo and NKVD?
Who is threatening to declare “martial law”, and to what end?
Perhaps the question of immediate importance is: “How is “martial law” even possible under the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution?”
Personally, I am—and I should hope every thinking American is—thoroughly sick and tired of hearing the purveyors of gloom and doom warning this country, over and over in the dire tones of a dirge of despair, that “martial law” will soon be imposed, and the Constitution “set aside”. Are all of these people legal ignoramuses? Or perhaps are some of them agents of influence and agents provocateurs acting on behalf of the Forces of Darkness, to condition Americans to accept defeat before they have even begun to fight?
The answer to the question “How is nationwide ‘martial law’ possible under the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution?” is: NOT AT ALL! And the answer to the further question “Will ‘martial law’ be imposed across America?” is: NOT ON YOUR LIFE, OR IN YOUR LIFETIME, IF YOU VALUE YOUR LIFE!
All Americans should recall—and, these days, perhaps train themselves to recite by heart—what the Founding Fathers learned from their legal mentor, Sir William Blackstone, about “martial law”:
[M]artial law, which is built upon no settled principles, but is entirely arbitrary in it’s decisions is * * * in truth and reality no law, but something indulged, rather than allowed as a law: the necessity of order and discipline in an army is the only thing which can give it countenance; and therefore it ought not to be permitted in time of peace, when the * * * courts are open for all persons to receive justice according to the laws of the land. * * * And the petition of right enacts * * * that no commission shall issue to proceed within this land according to martial law.
Commentaries on the Laws of England (American Edition, 1771), Volume 1, at 412 (footnotes omitted).
Can any rational individual imagine that, knowing what “martial law” was, America’s Founders—let alone the Embattled Farmers who responded under arms to the alarm at Lexington and Concord in 1775—believed that it was, or even could be, among the “just powers” that “Governments * * * deriv[ed] * * * from the consent of the governed” for the purpose of securing men’s “unalienable Rights”?
Can any rational individual imagine that, knowing what “martial law” was, and having just won a long and bloody War of Independence that started with British General Thomas Gage’s military take-over of Boston, America’s Founders included within the Constitution an arcane power to impose “martial law” throughout the country? (For no hint of such a power appears in so many words.) And this, when even in England—from subjection to which they had just freed themselves—“no commission shall issue to proceed within this land according to martial law”?!
And can any rational individual imagine that, knowing what “martial law” was, the Framers of the Bill of Rights could have conceived of “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms”, “well regulated Militia”, and “the security of a free State” all being subordinated to “martial law” on the whim of some President (or, more realistically, the sly courtiers who have his ear and pull his strings)—and We the People left with no recourse but to knuckle under or be ground under by some Praetorian Guard?
Are not the Declaration of Independence—which explicitly rests upon “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God”, and the Constitution—which explicitly sets out the powers and disabilities of government, total and uncompromising rejections of the notion of “law” “built upon no settled principles” or “law” “entirely arbitrary in it’s decisions”?
But these are rhetorical questions, the answers to which are self-evident. Under America’s Declaration of Independence and Constitution, “martial law” is and can only be “martial lawlessness”. It is the antithesis, the antagonist, the assassin of law.
A crime, true enough—but in whose interest? For, as Franklin D. Roosevelt is reputed to have observed (and he would certainly have known): “Nothing happens in politics by accident. If it happens, you can be sure it was planned that way.” “Martial law” is the Dark Forces’ euphemism for their plan to extinguish the rule of all true law. If their revolution can be accomplished without main force—through instilling apathy, fear, resignation, and despair in the people—so much the better. But, if not, then force will be applied, because they expect that the people will exert no significant counterforce. If they thought otherwise, they would be deterred. Because they are few, We the People many. To the extent that We the People assert their constitutional authority, and the power that derives from it, the Dark Forces become powerless.
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This is why revitalization of “the Militia of the several States”—immediately, if not sooner—is so crucial. And why every member of the Armed Forces, policeman, sheriff, and emergency-services worker—everyone who traces whatever authority he claims to exercise back to his oath of office to support and defend the Constitution—needs to rally behind that effort. For what good is an oath to support and defend a “supreme Law” that is not enforced? And what legitimacy does a uniform or a badge confer, when they represent only a “supreme Law” that even their wearers flout?
© 2009 Edwin Vieira, Jr. - All Rights Reserved