Benjamin Rush, Fiery Founding Father

In the preface to the 1942 Pocket History of the United States co-authored by Allan Nevins and Henry Steele Commager, one reads that

from its earliest beginnings, [America's] people have been conscious of a peculiar destiny, because upon it have been fastened the hopes and aspirations of the human race, and because it has not failed to fulfill that destiny or to justify those hopes." 

Consequently, "America became the most ambitious experiment ever undertaken in the intermingling of people, in religious toleration, social equality, economic opportunity, and political democracy" (vi). Nevins and Commager contend that "there is something exhilarating in the story of the tenacious exaltation of liberty and the steady growth of democracy in the history of America."  The authors explain that the theme in their short book is "the development here of a people intelligent enough to want freedom and willing to work for it and to fight for it" (vii).

Aye, there's the rub -- "people intelligent enough to want freedom and willing to work for it and to fight for it."

Clearly the forces alluded to in the Pocket History are currently being battered in Obama's America.  With this in mind, it is vital to reacquaint ourselves with the ideas of Dr. Benjamin Rush.  In his 1947 Selected Writings of Benjamin Rush, editor Dagobert D. Runes writes that there were very "few as fiery as [Benjamin Rush] ... in the vehemence of protest that brought this country into being; and few held the standards of its early learning and culture as high as he held them" (v).

A physician by trade, Rush was born on December 24, 1745. Rush's pamphlets, articles, letters, and speeches number in the thousands.  He wished to abolish slavery, and he urged the removal of the death penalty.  He decried the plight of the debtors prison and advocated the establishment of special hospitals for the insane. 

Runes writes that "there can be no doubt as to the depth of Benjamin Rush's burning patriotism, his hatred of the British oppression, -- of all tyranny."  Rush "stands... among the early patriots who with clear eye and unflagging zeal saw, and worked to achieve, the goals of human freedom" (ix).

In 1792 in his "On Securities for Liberty" Benjamin Rush wrote that

The objections, which have been urged against the Federal Constitution, from its wanting a Bill of Rights, have been reasoned and ridiculed out of credit in every state that has adopted it.  There can be only two securities for liberty in any government, viz. representation and checks. By the first, the rights of the people, and by the second, the rights of representation are effectually secured. Every part of a free constitution hangs upon these two points; and these form the two capital features of the proposed Constitution of the United States. Without them, a volume of rights would avail nothing; and with them, a declaration of rights is absurd and unnecessary.

It is heartening that the current House of Representatives has finally "passed the first of a pair of bills aimed at reining in ... a pattern of overreach by the executive branch under President Obama."  But so much more needs to be done as Obama continues to act as an imperial president.  An updated report by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor cites 24 instances of this administration unilaterally acting and bypassing Congress.

Benjamin Rush emphasized that the elected representatives are the servants of the people, not the other way around when he wrote that "[t]o be held at the mercy of their servants, is disgraceful to the dignity of freemen."

And yet we have a tawdry display of arrogance by the Democrats and a spineless and passive acceptance by some Republicans who have completely forgotten their duty to the people.

Dr. Rush reminds his 18th century readers that

Men, who call for a Bill of Rights, have not recovered from the habits they acquired under the monarchical government of Great Britain. I have the same opinion with the Antifederalists, of the danger of trusting arbitrary power to any single body of men: but no such power will be committed to our new rulers.

If only that were true. Instead, we have a body politic who is nonchalantly willing to bypass those very Bill of Rights which have protected Americans.  Thus,

the Obama administration’s vision of America is inherently in conflict with the Bill of Rights. Recent scandals [IRS, NSA, AP phone records, Benghazi] are merely the latest skirmish in this ongoing battle.

This makes perfect sense when you put it in context. Authoritarian statists despise the Bill of Rights because of the plainness of its language and the clarity of its intent; it’s meant to protect us from them. And when government transgresses the protection the Amendments afford U.S. citizens, it is obvious that our freedoms are in jeopardy.

In fact, the Obama's administration "to cede control of the internet to an international group" is an absolute outrage and will be the death-blow to the First Amendment.

Dr. Rush wrote that "neither the House of Representatives, the Senate, or the President, can perform a single legislative" [because a] "hundred principles in man will lead them to watch, to check, and to oppose each other, should an attempt be made by either of them upon the liberties of the people.”

How far have we fallen when the restrictions placed upon these separate entities have become blurred, ignored, and trampled.  And worse still, when the people do not rise up in protest.

Benjamin Rush held the people accountable as well when he wrote

But are we to consider men entrusted with power, as the receptacles of all the depravity of human nature? by no means. The people do not part with their full proportions of it. Reason and revelation both deceive us, if they are all wise and virtuous. Is not history as full of the vices of the people, as it is of the crimes of the kings? what is the present moral character of the citizens of the United States? I need not describe it. It proves too plainly that the people are as much disposed to vice as their rulers.

Indeed, we have far too many Americans who are willing to give up their freedom for a phony promise, and an appeal to their baser emotions. Moreover, there is a mental lethargy and indifference among too many of our citizens.  We have a media that has not a shred of decency and truth finding when it comes to investigating the news.  Thus Buck Sexton of the Blaze asserts that

There is no question now that President Obama, his senior-most advisors, and his left-wing base share an ideology that is inimical to individualism, liberty, and limited government. The Bill of Rights, as written by the Founders, stands athwart that agenda, which is why the Obama administration seeks to render it obsolete. What remains to be determined is whether the American people, presented with irrefutable evidence of an authoritarian trajectory, will take to the bully pulpit and the polling booth to retrieve our liberties before it is too late.

Thus, "[o]ur Founders created a series of checks and balances for our democracy to prevent any one of the three branches of government from becoming too powerful. Today, this system is under threat as the executive branch continues to bypass Congress and use executive action to promote its own agenda."

Wake up, America.  Please!

Eileen can be reached at middlemarch18@gmail.com

In the preface to the 1942 Pocket History of the United States co-authored by Allan Nevins and Henry Steele Commager, one reads that

from its earliest beginnings, [America's] people have been conscious of a peculiar destiny, because upon it have been fastened the hopes and aspirations of the human race, and because it has not failed to fulfill that destiny or to justify those hopes." 

Consequently, "America became the most ambitious experiment ever undertaken in the intermingling of people, in religious toleration, social equality, economic opportunity, and political democracy" (vi). Nevins and Commager contend that "there is something exhilarating in the story of the tenacious exaltation of liberty and the steady growth of democracy in the history of America."  The authors explain that the theme in their short book is "the development here of a people intelligent enough to want freedom and willing to work for it and to fight for it" (vii).

Aye, there's the rub -- "people intelligent enough to want freedom and willing to work for it and to fight for it."

Clearly the forces alluded to in the Pocket History are currently being battered in Obama's America.  With this in mind, it is vital to reacquaint ourselves with the ideas of Dr. Benjamin Rush.  In his 1947 Selected Writings of Benjamin Rush, editor Dagobert D. Runes writes that there were very "few as fiery as [Benjamin Rush] ... in the vehemence of protest that brought this country into being; and few held the standards of its early learning and culture as high as he held them" (v).

A physician by trade, Rush was born on December 24, 1745. Rush's pamphlets, articles, letters, and speeches number in the thousands.  He wished to abolish slavery, and he urged the removal of the death penalty.  He decried the plight of the debtors prison and advocated the establishment of special hospitals for the insane. 

Runes writes that "there can be no doubt as to the depth of Benjamin Rush's burning patriotism, his hatred of the British oppression, -- of all tyranny."  Rush "stands... among the early patriots who with clear eye and unflagging zeal saw, and worked to achieve, the goals of human freedom" (ix).

In 1792 in his "On Securities for Liberty" Benjamin Rush wrote that

The objections, which have been urged against the Federal Constitution, from its wanting a Bill of Rights, have been reasoned and ridiculed out of credit in every state that has adopted it.  There can be only two securities for liberty in any government, viz. representation and checks. By the first, the rights of the people, and by the second, the rights of representation are effectually secured. Every part of a free constitution hangs upon these two points; and these form the two capital features of the proposed Constitution of the United States. Without them, a volume of rights would avail nothing; and with them, a declaration of rights is absurd and unnecessary.

It is heartening that the current House of Representatives has finally "passed the first of a pair of bills aimed at reining in ... a pattern of overreach by the executive branch under President Obama."  But so much more needs to be done as Obama continues to act as an imperial president.  An updated report by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor cites 24 instances of this administration unilaterally acting and bypassing Congress.

Benjamin Rush emphasized that the elected representatives are the servants of the people, not the other way around when he wrote that "[t]o be held at the mercy of their servants, is disgraceful to the dignity of freemen."

And yet we have a tawdry display of arrogance by the Democrats and a spineless and passive acceptance by some Republicans who have completely forgotten their duty to the people.

Dr. Rush reminds his 18th century readers that

Men, who call for a Bill of Rights, have not recovered from the habits they acquired under the monarchical government of Great Britain. I have the same opinion with the Antifederalists, of the danger of trusting arbitrary power to any single body of men: but no such power will be committed to our new rulers.

If only that were true. Instead, we have a body politic who is nonchalantly willing to bypass those very Bill of Rights which have protected Americans.  Thus,

the Obama administration’s vision of America is inherently in conflict with the Bill of Rights. Recent scandals [IRS, NSA, AP phone records, Benghazi] are merely the latest skirmish in this ongoing battle.

This makes perfect sense when you put it in context. Authoritarian statists despise the Bill of Rights because of the plainness of its language and the clarity of its intent; it’s meant to protect us from them. And when government transgresses the protection the Amendments afford U.S. citizens, it is obvious that our freedoms are in jeopardy.

In fact, the Obama's administration "to cede control of the internet to an international group" is an absolute outrage and will be the death-blow to the First Amendment.

Dr. Rush wrote that "neither the House of Representatives, the Senate, or the President, can perform a single legislative" [because a] "hundred principles in man will lead them to watch, to check, and to oppose each other, should an attempt be made by either of them upon the liberties of the people.”

How far have we fallen when the restrictions placed upon these separate entities have become blurred, ignored, and trampled.  And worse still, when the people do not rise up in protest.

Benjamin Rush held the people accountable as well when he wrote

But are we to consider men entrusted with power, as the receptacles of all the depravity of human nature? by no means. The people do not part with their full proportions of it. Reason and revelation both deceive us, if they are all wise and virtuous. Is not history as full of the vices of the people, as it is of the crimes of the kings? what is the present moral character of the citizens of the United States? I need not describe it. It proves too plainly that the people are as much disposed to vice as their rulers.

Indeed, we have far too many Americans who are willing to give up their freedom for a phony promise, and an appeal to their baser emotions. Moreover, there is a mental lethargy and indifference among too many of our citizens.  We have a media that has not a shred of decency and truth finding when it comes to investigating the news.  Thus Buck Sexton of the Blaze asserts that

There is no question now that President Obama, his senior-most advisors, and his left-wing base share an ideology that is inimical to individualism, liberty, and limited government. The Bill of Rights, as written by the Founders, stands athwart that agenda, which is why the Obama administration seeks to render it obsolete. What remains to be determined is whether the American people, presented with irrefutable evidence of an authoritarian trajectory, will take to the bully pulpit and the polling booth to retrieve our liberties before it is too late.

Thus, "[o]ur Founders created a series of checks and balances for our democracy to prevent any one of the three branches of government from becoming too powerful. Today, this system is under threat as the executive branch continues to bypass Congress and use executive action to promote its own agenda."

Wake up, America.  Please!

Eileen can be reached at middlemarch18@gmail.com