America's Tyranny Threshold

As he finishes up his Martha's Vineyard vacation, Barack Obama would be well-served to recall the fiery words of Jonathan Mayhew, who is famous for his sermons "espousing American rights -- the cause of liberty, and the right and duty to resist tyranny."

Mayhew, born at Martha's Vineyard on October 8, 1720, was "bitterly opposed to the Stamp Act and urged colonial liberties."  Though he did not live to see the American Revolution (he died on July 9, 1766), his "sermons and writing were a powerful influence in the development of the movement for liberty and independence."

And they need to be revisited as the Obama presidency continues its legacy of lawlessness.

First published in Boston in 1750, "A Discourse concerning the unlimited submission and non-resistance to the high powers" was a sermon delivered on the 100th anniversary of the execution of Charles I.  It was so powerful that it was published in London in 1752 and again in 1767.  In fact, this sermon was the "first volley of the American Revolution, setting forth the intellectual and scriptural justification for rebellion against the Crown."

The following words from the Discourse fly off the page in light of the continuing unconstitutional acts of President Obama.

Civil tyranny is usually small in its beginning, like 'the drop in a bucket,' till at length, like a mighty torrent of raging waves of the sea, it bears down all before it and deluges whole countries and empires.

Although the president cannot write or rewrite laws, this president thinks he is above the law.  The "entire system of separation of powers ... is designed to limit governmental power," but Mr. Obama continually makes it clear "that he won't respect these basic constitutional limits on his power."  

Tyranny brings ignorance and brutality along with it.  It degrades men from their just rank into the class of brutes.  It dampens their spirits.  It suppresses arts.  It extinguishes every spark of noble ardor and generosity in the breasts of those who are enslaved by it.

And American young people are being dampened in their enthusiasm for their futures because of the actions emanating from this White House.  A millennial caller on the Rush Limbaugh radio show recently made the astonishing comment that her generation is being told there is no hope for the future.  Like the serfs of the feudal system, young people in Obama's America "are predestined to misery and failure," because they no longer have "any free will," and only the government can provide and coddle this generation because upward mobility is no longer possible.  The Horatio Alger belief in hard work bringing rewards is being destroyed by this administration as it deliberately burdens generations of Americans, some not even born.

Thank you, Mr. Obama, for $17 trillion in debt, increasing unemployment, prohibitions against genuine American energy-independence, and onerous regulations on critical aspects of life.

[Civil tyranny] makes naturally strong and great minds feeble and little and triumphs over the ruins of virtue and humanity.  This is true of tyranny in every shape.  There can be nothing great and good where its influence reaches.

Concerning ObamaCare alone, Obama's tyranny has grown incrementally.  Delaying provisions of the ACA law does not lie within the purview of the executive branch.  This authority is with the Congress.  But we have a president who has repeatedly stated that he "can do this without Congress."  In April Obama "delayed a cap out-of- pocket health care costs."  He also decided to delay the employer mandate for a year. This exceeds his authority.  The president continues to ignore the court's ruling that his National Labor Relations Board recess appointments were unconstitutional since they were not approved by Congress.

Further acts by the Obama administration that are inconsistent with the laws of America include:

  • This administration was displeased with Congress's failure to enact the DREAM Act.  So in 2012 he "implemented portions of legislation he could not get through Congress ... and acted in ways blatantly at odds with the existing immigration laws [.]"
  • Concerning the "No Child Left Behind" law, Obama, "unable to convince Congress to revise key provisions of the law, simply authorized waivers from many requirements of the law -- except that the 'No Child Left Behind' does not provide for such waivers."
  • Furthermore, Obama waived a "central tenet of the Clinton welfare-reform law" by eliminating the requirements that recipients of welfare either work or prepare to do so through approved education or training.  This federal work requirement is not subject to waiver, but Obama ignored the law.
  • More recently, Obama is working "to unilaterally impose a tax on cell phones," maintaining that "where Congress is unwilling to act, I will take whatever administrative steps that I can in order to do right by the American people."  But "[c]onstitutionally, it's Congress that decides how federal funds should be spent."  Yet this president uses his bully pulpit to circumvent the proper safeguards that the Founding Fathers built into our system.

In 1765, with the Stamp Act fresh in everyone's mind, Mayhew stated that the "essence of slavery, consists in subjection to others -- 'whether many, few, or but one, it matters not.'"

Thus, he wrote:

Those nations who are now groaning under the iron scepter of tyranny were once free.  So they might probably have remained by a seasonable caution against despotic measures.

Though "seasonable caution" is being heard in the country, there are still Americans who do not sense the looming danger that this president represents as he ignores the Constitution, appoints people who continue to break the law with impunity, and has overweening contempt for America and her ideas and ideals.  He flouts the law as he sees fit.

Mayhew asserts:

Since magistrates who execute their office well, are common benefactors to society; and may, in that respect, be properly stiled the ministers and ordinance of God; and since they are constantly employed in the service of the public; it becomes you to pay them tribute and custom; and to reverence, honor, and submit to, them in the execution of their respective offices." This is apparently good reasoning. But does this argument conclude for the duty of paying tribute, custom, reverence, honor and obedience, to such persons as (although they bear the title of rulers) use all their power to hurt and injure the public?


For what can be more absurd than an argument thus framed?. Common tyrants, and public oppressors, are not intitled to obedience from their subjects[.]

Although he was writing with reference to the oppressiveness of the kingly or monarchical government, Mayhew reminds his readers that:

The essence of government (I mean good government); ....consists in the making and executing of good laws--laws attempered to the common felicity of the governed. And if this be, in fact, done, it is evidently, in it self, a thing of no consequence at all, what the particular form of government is;--whether the legislative and executive power be lodged in one and the same person, or in different persons;--whether in one person, whom we call an absolute monarch;--whether in a few, so as to constitute an aristocracy;--whether in many, so as to constitute a republic; or whether in three co-ordinate branches, in such manner as to make the government partake something of each of these forms; and to be, at the same time, essentially different from them all. If the end be attained, it is enough.

But he reminds his readers:

... nothing can well be imagined more directly contrary to common sense, than to suppose that millions of people should be subjected to the arbitrary, precarious pleasure of one single man; (who has naturally no superiority over them in point of authority) so that their estates, and every thing that is valuable in life, and even their lives also, shall be absolutely at his disposal, if he happens to be wanton and capricious enough to demand them. What unprejudiced man can think, that God made ALL to be thus subservient to the lawless pleasure and frenzy of ONE, so that it shall always be a sin to resist him!

Continuing regulations emanate from this White House on a daily basis.  We will soon have no control over our health decisions; businesses are being burdened in oppressive ways.  IRS and NSA scandals are nonchalantly described as "phony scandals."

A man who has no shame has no right to be a leader.  Obama has abused the trust of the American people.

But it is equally evident, upon the other hand, that those in authority may abuse their trust and power to such a degree, that neither the law of reason, nor of religion, requires, that any obedience or submission should be paid to them: but, on the contrary, that they should be totally discarded; and the authority which they were before vested with, transferred to others, who may exercise it more to those good purposes for which it is given[.]

We already have the necessary means to resist the assault on our republic.  But we must be unrelenting in demanding that the Congress meet its obligations and restore the checks and balances our Founding Fathers created.  If legislators do not adhere to the Constitution, they have no right to be in Washington, D.C.

Certainly Obama has taken on the trappings of an emperor, despite his protestations, but are we not obliged to resist?  He has broken the pledge to uphold the Constitution.  He has been derelict in his duty.  The National Black Republican Association (NBRA) has filed articles of impeachment against Barack Obama.  And other calls for impeachment are increasing. 

It was with "unfeigned love" for his country that Mayhew wrote.  In his sermon entitled "The Snare Broken," he wrote of the joy that Americans felt when Great Britain repealed the onerous Stamp Act in March 1766.  However, on the same day, "Parliament passed the Declaratory Acts, asserting that the British government had free and total legislative power over the colonies."  Mayhew died less than two months after this event, and, though eminently prescient, he was not privy to the continuing intrusions of Great Britain into America's well-being that ultimately led to the American Revolution.

Will we take to heart these words of Mayhew, or will we, too, "groan under the iron scepter of tyranny" in the not too distant future?

Eileen can be reached at

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