Saturday, September 17, 2022

Happy Constitution Day - The 235th Birthday of considering the greatest of all reflections on the perils of human nature

Today is the 235th birthday of the United States Constitution. Peruse it or lose it... and the liberty it was written to preserve. What was signed as completed upon this day, two hundred and thirty-three years ago, September 17th, 1787, by thirty-nine of the fifty-five Framers, was the Constitution of the United States of America, and whether you stand in respect for, or disrespectfully turn away from, the Flag, the National Anthem, or the Pledge of Allegiance, you do so in reference to that document which is the oldest existing instrument of its kind, still in operation.


Is it simply a list of rules for governing by? Is it nothing more than a favorite fossil of 'white people'? A document of oppression? Frederick Douglass once thought so, but because he was a thinker, in order to understand what was true, he didn't stop with answers that were given to him by others, but continued on thinking upon the matter, and so discovered the Truth which such vile falsehoods seek to smother and erase.

But today I'm really not much concerned with your answers to those 'points', but am only interested in whether or not you are familiar with the ideas, principles and purposes which animated the writing of it - are you? And if not... what worth can your opinion on it - pro or con - have for me, or for anyone else?

Whether you mouth its praises, or make showy protests against it, without understanding what it is you are referencing - your praises and protestations fail to even rise to the level of being wrong, they are but verbal dust to be brushed away, meaningless and of no consequence. But if you are one of that thoughtless many, you may take comfort in the knowledge that you are in the happy company of millions of such Pavlovian 'Conservatives', Pro-Regressive Leftists and Libertarians, for whom the United States Constitution is little more than a paper bell which they bark at.

But for those of you who do see it as more than a mere object of ink upon paper; for those of you who don't insult the memory of those who strove to produce it as having been anything other than men of flesh and blood; for you who understand that it was written so as to give physical form to, enable, and implement, some of the greatest political ideas of Western Civilization:
  • that Individual Rights result from the nature of being human("...are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights..."),
  • that men who understand that are capable of self governance,
  • that well ordered argument can lead to a self-correcting means of governance,
  • that such a system, established by such a people, can enable lives lived in liberty while in society with others, so long as the beast of Power is bound down and limited by laws whose purpose is to uphold and defend the Individual Rights of every person
, for you and all such people as that, who keep and bear intellectual arms through a document such as this, Liberty is possible.

But it is only possible for those who take the trouble to understand it.

For those intemperate folk who simply wish to sing the praises of, or rain curses down upon, that which they know little or nothing of, so that they can 'do what they will', as they want, because they desire to... well for them, as Edmund Burke said in the face of the debut of Fascism:
“It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters.”
Whether you are 'for or against it', especially on this day, in our day, you'd be wise to consider what would happen if we should lose the last vestiges of it, and those protections it uniquely extends to both sides.

For those of you who already do, or who are at least willing to make the effort to understand those ideas which animated the framing of this document, those of you who understand that such principles and ideas as these cannot be owned by any race or culture, but can only be discovered by some for the benefit of all, then by virtue of that understanding, you and I are unified through these thoughts which were so well formed, written down, and 'completed' (and not to forget the first debate on amending its completion), on 'the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven'.

What is it that we celebrate today, Constitution Day, but the efforts of our Founding Fathers, 235 years ago, to harness the pursuit of power, and force it to serve the pursuit of happiness? It is simply the greatest achievement in history, to date, to enable men to live in liberty, with one another, while disagreeing with each other, under the protection of the Rule of Law.
"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquillity, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."
It's worth noting that our Founding Generation found the efforts of the Framers of the Constitution... wanting.

They very nearly refused to ratify the document, not because it wasn't an elegant solution to the harnessing of power, but because they felt it didn't go far enough in securing our Individual Rights.

But, in the end, they took a risk that politicians could be trusted to provide the lacking Bill of Rights afterwards, and though those politicians almost reneged, James Madison insisted that their word be kept, and though he initially disliked the idea of a Bill of Rights, he submitted a series of amendments which, after vigorous debate, became the original Ten Amendments to the Constitution that we know today as the Bill of Rights, which were amended to the Constitution for the purpose of restraining the power which the Constitution harnessed into the hands of men:
"Begun and held at the City of New York, on Wednesday, the 4th of March, 1789.
The conventions of a number of the states having, at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added; and as extending the ground of public confidence in the government will best insure the beneficent ends of its institution;--"
Madison didn't dislike the idea of a Bill of Rights because he didn't want to secure our Rights, but because he feared that any list of Rights, in the hands of politicians, would serve as snares and loopholes to all of our Rights, limiting them to only those words written upon parchment. But in the process of writing his amendments, he hit upon the ideas that would become our 9th and 10th Amendments, reserving all those Rights and Powers not listed, to the people and those powers not listed, to the states.

We have recently come through a tumultuous election, followed by a series of events that are "testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure." ...

If you have not considered what rests at the core of our Constitution, the balancing of powers against powers, and forcing ambition to serve liberty... you must realize that it is not an easy task. As Madison put it in Federalist #51:
"But the great security against a gradual concentration of the several powers in the same department, consists in giving to those who administer each department the necessary constitutional means and personal motives to resist encroachments of the others. The provision for defense must in this, as in all other cases, be made commensurate to the danger of attack..Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place. It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions."
We've passed through elections with charges of fraud, we've ended our longest war in utter chaos and left Americans behind in enemy territory, we have politicians, generals, media and individuals, behaving as if they have no understanding of, concern for, or interest in this document which alone can serve to bind the fearsome power of government down with laws. It is up to you, We The People, to consider whether or not that power is balanced against anything at all, so as to serve your liberty - or to extinguish it.

Our Constitution was devised so as to put Government at the service of your ability to live your own life. Is it still serving that function, or imperiling it? That's a question you'd better consider, because it will determine the direction that this government turns towards, or turns forever away from, either enabling you, your children and your children's children, to live their own lives - or not.

One final point, whether you are an old hand with, or relatively new to, this document and its ideas, I take it as an obvious point that your reading of it can be greatly improved and informed by those arguments for, and against it, that were in the minds of those who debated the writing and ratifying of it. One of the best tools I've ever found for considering and reflecting upon the whole or particular parts of the Constitution, is the University of Chicago's site "The Founders Constitution". Scroll down on the contents page and you'll find that it goes through the Constitution clause by clause, and that each is supplied with a list of links to those relevant portions of not only the Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers, but to documents which the Founders had in mind when writing the Constitution, to what the Anti-Federalists objected to (this is particularly helpful in understanding the arguments for the Constitution which the Federalist Papers make), as well as early Supreme Court opinions and judgments that were relevant to that clause being acted upon, as well as the commentaries by early Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story (which are fantastic).

Without further ado:

Constitution of the United States and the First Twelve Amendments 1787--1804

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Article. I.

Section 1. All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.

Section 2. The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States, and the Electors in each State shall have the Qualifications requisite for Electors of the most numerous Branch of the State Legislature.

No person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the Age of twenty five Years, and been seven Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen.

Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons. The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct. The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand, but each State shall have at Least one Representative; and until such enumeration shall be made, the State of New Hampshire shall be entitled to chuse three, Massachusetts eight, Rhode-Island and Providence Plantations one, Connecticut five, New-York six, New Jersey four, Pennsylvania eight, Delaware one, Maryland six, Virginia ten, North Carolina five, South Carolina five, and Georgia three.

When vacancies happen in the Representation from any State, the Executive Authority thereof shall issue Writs of Election to fill such Vacancies.

The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.

Section 3. The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof, for six Years; and each Senator shall have one Vote.
Immediately after they shall be assembled in Consequence of the first Election, they shall be divided as equally as may be into three Classes. The Seats of the Senators of the first Class shall be vacated at the Expiration of the second Year, of the second Class at the Expiration of the fourth Year, and of the third Class at the Expiration of the sixth Year, so that one third may be chosen every second Year; and if Vacancies happen by Resignation, or otherwise, during the Recess of the Legislature of any State, the Executive thereof may make temporary Appointments until the next Meeting of the Legislature, which shall then fill such Vacancies.

No Person shall be a Senator who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty Years, and been nine Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State for which he shall be chosen.

The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided.

The Senate shall chuse their other Officers, and also a President pro tempore, in the Absence of the Vice President, or when he shall exercise the Office of President of the United States.

The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.

Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.

Section 4. The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of chusing Senators.
The Congress shall assemble at least once in every Year, and such Meeting shall be on the first Monday in December, unless they shall by Law appoint a different Day.

Section 5. Each House shall be the Judge of the Elections, Returns and Qualifications of its own Members, and a Majority of each shall constitute a Quorum to do Business; but a smaller Number may adjourn from day to day, and may be authorized to compel the Attendance of absent Members, in such Manner, and under such Penalties as each House may provide.

Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings, punish its Members for disorderly Behaviour, and, with the Concurrence of two thirds, expel a Member.

Each House shall keep a Journal of its Proceedings, and from time to time publish the same, excepting such Parts as may in their Judgment require Secrecy; and the Yeas and Nays of the Members of either House on any question shall, at the Desire of one fifth of those Present, be entered on the Journal.

Neither House, during the Session of Congress, shall, without the Consent of the other, adjourn for more than three days, nor to any other Place than that in which the two Houses shall be sitting.

Section 6. The Senators and Representatives shall receive a Compensation for their Services, to be ascertained by Law, and paid out of the Treasury of the United States. They shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place.

No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of the United States, which shall have been created, or the Emoluments whereof shall have been encreased during such time; and no Person holding any Office under the United States, shall be a Member of either House during his Continuance in Office.

Section 7. All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.

Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of the United States; If he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his Objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the Objections at large on their Journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If after such Reconsideration two thirds of that House shall agree to pass the Bill, it shall be sent, together with the Objections, to the other House, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that House, it shall become a Law. But in all such Cases the Votes of both Houses shall be determined by yeas and Nays, and the Names of the Persons voting for and against the Bill shall be entered on the Journal of each House respectively. If any Bill shall not be returned by the President within ten days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the Same shall be a Law, in like Manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress by their Adjournment prevent its Return in which Case it shall not be a Law.

Every Order, Resolution, or Vote to which the Concurrence of the Senate and House of Representatives may be necessary (except on a question of Adjournment) shall be presented to the President of the United States; and before the Same shall take Effect, shall be approved by him, or being disapproved by him, shall be repassed by two thirds of the Senate and House of Representatives, according to the Rules and Limitations prescribed in the Case of a Bill.

Section 8. The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

To borrow Money on the credit of the United States;

To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;

To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;

To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States;

To establish Post Offices and post Roads;

To promote the progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;

To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;

To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offences against the Law of Nations;

To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;

To provide and maintain a Navy;

To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;

To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings;--And

To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.

Section 9. The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a Tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.

The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.

No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.

No Capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid, unless in Proportion to the Census or Enumeration herein before directed to be taken.

No Tax or Duty shall be laid on Articles exported from any State.

No Preference shall be given by any Regulation of Commerce or Revenue to the Ports of one State over those of another: nor shall Vessels bound to, or from, one State, be obliged to enter, clear, or pay Duties in another.

No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time.

No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.

Section 10. No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts, or grant any Title of Nobility.

No State shall, without the Consent of the Congress, lay any Imposts or Duties on Imports or Exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for executing it's inspection Laws: and the net Produce of all Duties and Imposts, laid by any State on Imports or Exports, shall be for the Use of the Treasury of the United States; and all such Laws shall be subject to the Revision and Controul of the Congress.
No State shall, without the Consent of Congress, lay any Duty of Tonnage, keep Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace, enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State, or with a foreign Power, or engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay.

Article. II.

Section 1. The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his Office during the Term of four Years, and, together with the Vice President, chosen for the same Term, be elected as follows

Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.

The Electors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by Ballot for two Persons, of whom one at least shall not be an Inhabitant of the same State with themselves. And they shall make a List of all the Persons voted for, and of the Number of Votes for each; which List they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the Seat of the Government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate. The President of the Senate shall, in the Presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the Certificates, and the Votes shall then be counted. The Person having the greatest Number of Votes shall be the President, if such Number be a Majority of the whole Number of Electors appointed; and if there be more than one who have such Majority, and have an equal Number of Votes, then the House of Representatives shall immediately chuse by Ballot one of them for President; and if no Person have a Majority, then from the five highest on the List the said House shall in like Manner chuse the President. But in chusing the President, the Votes shall be taken by States, the Representation from each State having one Vote; A quorum for this Purpose shall consist of a Member or Members from two thirds of the States, and a Majority of all the States shall be necessary to a Choice. In every Case, after the Choice of the President, the Person having the greatest Number of Votes of the Electors shall be the Vice President. But if there should remain two or more who have equal Votes, the Senate shall chuse from them by Ballot the Vice President.

The Congress may determine the Time of chusing the Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their Votes; which Day shall be the same throughout the United States.

No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.

In Case of the Removal of the President from Office, or of his Death, Resignation, or Inability to discharge the Powers and Duties of the said Office, the Same shall devolve on the Vice President, and the Congress may by Law provide for the Case of Removal, Death, Resignation or Inability, both of the President and Vice President, declaring what Officer shall then act as President, and such Officer shall act accordingly, until the Disability be removed, or a President shall be elected.

The President shall, at stated Times, receive for his Services, a Compensation, which shall neither be encreased nor diminished during the Period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within that Period any other Emolument from the United States, or any of them.

Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:--"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Section 2. The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.

He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.

The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.

Section 3. He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper; he shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers; he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the Officers of the United States.

Section 4. The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.

Article. III.

Section 1. The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour, and shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services, a Compensation, which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office.

Section 2. The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority;--to all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls;--to all Cases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction;--to Controversies to which the United States shall be a Party;--to Controversies between two or more States;--between a State and Citizens of another State;--between Citizens of different States,--between Citizens of the same State claiming Lands under Grants of different States, and between a State, or the Citizens thereof, and foreign States, Citizens or Subjects.
In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be Party, the supreme Court shall have original Jurisdiction. In all the other Cases before mentioned, the supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make.

The Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment, shall be by Jury; and such Trial shall be held in the State where the said Crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed within any State, the Trial shall be at such Place or Places as the Congress may by Law have directed.

Section 3. Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.
The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.

Article. IV.
Section 1. Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof.

Section 2. The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States.

A Person charged in any State with Treason, Felony, or other Crime, who shall flee from Justice, and be found in another State, shall on Demand of the executive Authority of the State from which he fled, be delivered up, to be removed to the State having Jurisdiction of the Crime.

No Person held to Service or Labour in one State, under the Laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in Consequence of any Law or Regulation therein, be discharged from such Service or Labour, but shall be delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Service or Labour may be due.

Section 3. New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new State shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or Parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress.

The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to Prejudice any Claims of the United States, or of any particular State.

Section 4. The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic Violence.

Article. V.

The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of it's equal Suffrage in the Senate.

Article. VI.

All Debts contracted and Engagements entered into, before the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be as valid against the United States under this Constitution, as under the Confederation.

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

Article. VII.

The Ratification of the Conventions of nine States, shall be sufficient for the Establishment of this Constitution between the States so ratifying the Same.
The Word, "the," being interlined between the seventh and eighth Lines of the first Page, The Word "Thirty" being partly written on an Erazure in the fifteenth Line of the first Page, The Words "is tried" being interlined between the thirty second and thirty third Lines of the first Page and the Word "the" being interlined between the forty third and forty fourth Lines of the second Page. Attest William Jackson Secretary
done in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven and of the Independance of the United States of America the Twelfth In witness whereof We have hereunto subscribed our Names,

Go: Washington--Presidt. and deputy from Virginia
New Hampshire { John Langdon
Nicholas Gilman
Massachusetts { Nathaniel Gorham
Rufus King
Connecticut { Wm. Saml. Johnson
Roger Sherman
New York Alexander Hamilton
New Jersey { Wil: Livingston
David Brearley.
Wm. Paterson.
Jona: Dayton
Pensylvania { B Franklin
Thomas Mifflin
Robt Morris
Geo. Clymer
Thos. FitzSimons
Jared Ingersoll
James Wilson
Gouv Morris
Delaware { Geo: Read
Gunning Bedford jun
John Dickinson
Richard Bassett
Jaco: Broom
Maryland { James McHenry
Dan of St Thos. Jenifer
Danl Carroll
Virginia { John Blair--
James Madison Jr.
North Carolina { Wm. Blount
Richd. Dobbs Spaight.
Hu Williamson
South Carolina { J. Rutledge
Charles Cotesworth Pinckney
Charles Pinckney
Pierce Butler.
Georgia { William Few
Abr Baldwin
Amendments to the Constitution
Preamble to the first ten Amendments:

Congress of the United States; Begun and held at the City of New York, on Wednesday, the 4th of March, 1789. 
The conventions of a number of the states having, at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added; and as extending the ground of public confidence in the government will best insure the beneficent ends of its institution;--

Article I - Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Article II - A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Article III - No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Article IV - The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Article V - No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Article VI - In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

Article VII - In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Article VIII - Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Article IX - The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Article X - The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

The Founders' Constitution
Volume 1, Chapter 1, Document 9

The University of Chicago Press
Documents Illustrative of the Formation of the Union of the American States. Edited by Charles C. Tansill. 69th Cong., 1st sess. House Doc. No. 398. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1927.

Sunday, September 11, 2022

21 years later - Remembering what we've been forgetting about September 11th, 2001

Last year, prior to marking September 11th, 2001, I noted that what most unified Americans before and after 9/11, has been our opposition to each other, and a general ignorance of the history and ideas that made America possible 225 years before that awful day. As that is clearly still the case, I'll repeat my post from last year, followed by my own remembrance of September 11th, 2001:

What we've forgotten to remember

Something a little different to begin marking the 20th year since September 11th, 2001. My usual remembrance will be down below, but I'm not willing to pretend that our present circumstances don't matter in relation to it.
Two things we've forgotten about September 11th, 2001: the day before, and the day after, and the worst constant between them.

On the day before, I could take the kids to the airport, walk in and stroll on up to the gate with them to wait for their mom to come out of the plane. No TSA, or any of the other measures that have followed since the day after.

On the day after, there were flags flown everywhere you looked, everyone was thinking about America and what it meant to them, and to how we'd destroy those who did 9-11 to us.

Those aspects of the day before, and the day after, have all but vanished.

What has remained constant from the day before, and the day after September 11th, 2001, and every day from then to now, is the sense of political fury, recrimination, and partisan obstruction, directed towards 'the other side' - the day before, it was over the Bush v Gore election of 2000, the day after it was about the day before and what we did about it afterwards. From then to now, every imaginable excuse for partisan disagreement has been embraced by all sides. 

IOW, what it is that we are unified in as Americans, is our opposition to each other.

That's not a good sign.

What has remained far too constant from then to now, is that people have given too little thought to thinking about what is important about what America is, and what it depends upon.

20 years later, what's remained constant between the day before, and the day after, is not only our anger at the political opposition, but that people have given so little thought to understanding what it was that caused us to be attacked, as if it doesn't really matter what America is, and depends upon, in order to be America.

And the people who We The People have put in our government today exemplify our lack of understanding of who we are, who we should be, and why.

I've spent the last several weeks reading even further into what those that We The People have put in charge of our children's educations, which has in fact gone into educating the generation that has grown up since September 11, 2001, about who they are and why.

It's been a disgusting experience. But there's little mystery as to why so few care, or care to remember.

We have people in our schools and government today, that hate what America is and means, every bit as much as those who killed thousands of Americans on September 11th, 2001. And they were there long before September 11th, 2001, and they've only intensified their positions and numbers, since then.

Almost worse than that, we have many, many, more people in and out of our government, who care very little about that. In a nation founded upon a set of ideas, they don't think that those ideas matter much at all.

That's unacceptable. It should be noted that what can't continue, won't.

If you remember September 11th, 2001, and forget what you, and America, are, and what each requires - it doesn't much matter what you remember about this day, or any other.

The chaos surrounding our schools and education today, is an indication that people might be beginning to realize that it does matter what we know about who we are, and what America is and depends upon, and the importance of our taking care in putting the right people into our schools and government.

On September 11th, 2001, nearly 3,000 Americans were murdered. It is right and proper that we commemorate that. But for what happens to America to really matter, We The People, have to take the time to understand what it means to be Americans. 

It's up to us. It's up to you. And it's that which is needed for the memory of September 11th, to be as meaningful as it should be, to those living in America and should be Americans.

Make it matter. Make it worth remembering. Because it was and is most assuredly a day to remember. And now, back to then:

Remember, Remember the 11th of September
And now it is September 11th once again, and once again it is time to remember. We remember September 11th because of what happened upon September 11th, 2001. September 11th is not 'Patriot's Day', and it's damn sure not 'a day of service' (other than military service). September 11th, 2001 is a day to remember that the full brutality and destruction that man is capable of was deliberately visited upon America in New York City, Washington D.C. and Shanksville Pennsylvania. We should remember. We should reflect. Those responsible should have been and should be destroyed, and those whose negligence had enabled it, and those who excuse it, and those who minimize it, should be despised and reviled by all who remember. We must remember so that the horror of September 11th, 2001 is confined to the past and is not allowed to slip past us and out into another clear blue sky in the future.

Screw healing.

We should pick at the wound, keep it burning. Remember the parents on the plane heading in to strike the Towers, their child sitting next to them... remember the people in the Tower on the phone to 911, crying, scared, burning from the heat, and then screaming as the impossible happened, the tower collapsed beneath them into nothingness. Remember the wives, husbands, children, of those who just went to work that day, and had their lives and world stolen from them by islambie thugs.

Remember that no matter what idiot politician or educationista prattles... we are a people who have known, and still know freedom and liberty and law, a people who believe it is good to live a moral life and pursue our happiness where we see fit to choose to. Remember that there are alleged human beings who wish nothing more than to destroy that possibility.

Remember Sept. 11, 2001. Be angry, feel hatred, seek the destruction of those who seek yours. It is altogether fitting and proper that we do so, and remember that those who lost their lives, and those who have since given their lives in this cause, have hallowed this day far beyond and above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say today, but History - in reflection and action - will remember what happened, and it will take note of whether or not we remember. It will take note of whether or not we take note of those who had taken, and those who have given, the last full measure of devotion -- and it will judge whether or not we here are highly resolved that these dead shall not have died in vain; whether or not this nation, shall continue to give birth to, and stand up for and defend freedom, and it shall judge from that, whether or not government of the people by the people for the people, shall, or shall not perish from the earth.

And it will judge and act accordingly.

Remember September 11, 2001.

In remembering what happened on September 11th, 17 years ago, I've patched this post together from a number of memories and posts and comments I've made from then to now. Where they began, of course, was on the morning of September 11th, 2001, when my wife, who was a flight attendant with TWA, called me as I was driving into work on I-70, just passing through Earth City, to tell me a plane had just crashed into the World Trade Center.

I was thinking a Cessna, but she said it sounded like it was larger, the impact too large. I knew a plane had once hit the Empire State building on a stormy night, but she said the weather looked clear, how could that be possible? As we were talking, another jet hit the other tower.

That made it clear what was going on, we decided that she'd pick the boys up from school and bring them home.

I continued on into work, and news came that another plane had hit the Pentagon.

A blue streak of horror and animal fury blasted back at my radio as the news came that one of the towers was collapsing. As I walked into work, 7th floor of A.G. Edwards, people were crowded around the T.V. in the lobby and the second tower came down.

I went to to my desk, one of the guys there was trying to get a hold of his son who worked in one of the World Trade Center towers. I to our project coordinator and told him I wouldn't be working that day, and headed for home.

I told the boys the obvious as we watched the news, that the world had just changed, we were at war, and nothing would be the same.

To those who want to think of this day as a time for healing or a day of service, Fuck You. We are not going back to the reflexive evasion of reality which is what made this day possible.

Political Correctness began its well deserved death that day ten years ago today, it may be a long, agonizingly slow death, fitting perhaps for the cancer that it is, but it was the beginning of the end of the view that it is in any way good or proper to pretend a lie can pretty up the truth.

The lie is nothing but darkest evil, and the light of Truth chases, confines and obliterates it... as we have, and will do, to those who did this evil – you are nothing, and to nothingness you will be returned.

And yet there are those who will shake their head and ask "How do you kill an idea?"

How do you kill an idea? If it is an idea that people are not open to discussing, an idea that will not tolerate reasonable alternatives, an idea that requires your death or your submission, then the answer to that question is a very simple one:

You cannot defeat an idea.

All you can do is make physically certain that those of the enemy who might survive a war with you, would live in constant fear and dread at the thought of that idea ever again being in their head, let alone upon their lips. You cannot defeat an idea, you can only make people determined to no longer entertain them, because of the memory of the war they fought with you over it, and the fear of the possibility of such a conflict ever happening again, is too painful to think about

How do you kill an idea? By killing its hosts, and causing everyone else to fear and dread the thought of thinking it.

Screw healing.

We should pick at the wound, keep it burning. Remember the parents on the plane heading in to strike the Towers, their child sitting next to them... remember the people in the Tower on the phone to 911, crying, scared, burning from the heat, and then screaming as the impossible happened, the tower collapsed beneath them into nothingness. Remember the wives, husbands, children, of those who just went to work that day, and had their lives and world stolen from them by islambie thugs.

Remember that no matter what idiot politician or educationista prattles... we are a people who have known, and still know freedom and liberty and law, a people who believe it is good to live a moral life and pursue our happiness where we see fit to choose to. Remember that there are alleged human beings who wish noting more than to destroy that possibility.

Remember Sept. 11, 2001. Be angry, feel hatred, seek the destruction of those who seek yours. It is altogether fitting and proper that we do so, and remember that those who lost their lives, and those who have since given their lives in this cause, have hallowed this day far beyond and above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say today, but it will remember what happened, and it will take note of whether or not we remember.

A proper foreign policy is "Mind your own business & we'll mind ours. Mess with us or ours, and we'll destroy you. Period."

Anything less, reasoning with those who are unreasonable, giving measured responses in reply to savagery, etc., are concessions and only serve to enable those who wish us harm.

Perhaps more than anything else, remember that forgetting how and why the attacks of 9-11 were made possible, guarantees that its horrors will be revisited upon us, courtesy of our willful inability to recognize their approach, and the cost of that will be history rhyming itself once again, as the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more:

AS I PASS through my incarnations in every age and race,
I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.
Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.

We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.

We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place,
But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.

With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,
They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;
They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings;
So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.

When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "Stick to the Devil you know."

On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
(Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "The Wages of Sin is Death."

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "If you don't work you die."

Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!
Please, try to remember 9/11 as the lesson we won't have to learn once more.

Reality will not be denied, and Evil will not be turned aside because you choose to turn away from it. Deny that, and the Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return. Please. Just face the facts and learn the lesson so we don't have to learn it once more.

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Accepting the 'Science!' of Education Reform

How we came to accomplish so much less, with so much more, involves several popular buy-ins, first and foremost being the 'good intentions' we still share with our Founding Reformers (i.e.'go to school to get a good job'), which fundamentally changed education's purpose from being the development of the student, into its being a means to other 'more useful' ends, as determined by 'those who know best' (which, BTW, also transforms the students into being but a means to other more useful ends, AKA: '♫♪♬ just another brick in the wall ♬♪♫'). But as disastrous as that fundamental change was to how we think about education, and as popular as that was with those who saw themselves as being 'those who know best (who, BTW, are just as likely to be your neighbor, as some distant 'elite')', before 'education reform!' was able to proceed successfully step by pro-regressive step down the path of good intentions, it required a couple other buy-ins from us: First, the will to publicly propose forcing reforms upon society, Second, the willingness to actually impose such reforms upon others, and Third - toughest of all - popular acceptance of such reforms being imposed upon others and upon themselves.

Those immediately following our Founders' era at the opening of the 1800s were not lacking in the 'will' to call for forcing sometimes intrusive reforms upon their fellows, which comes as a bit of a shock to those of us who imagine that time to be predominantly populated with pure liberty loving patriots; nevertheless, there was no lack of people willing to force their views upon the public, in the name of liberty. You can get the sense of this from the do-gooders themselves, such as this popular set of essays of the time, from a moralist, Dr. James G. Carter, writing in 'Essays on Popular Education' (1826), that to preserve the republic:
"...The ignorant must be allured to learn, by every motive which can be offered to them, And if they will not thus be allured, they must be taken by the strong arm of government and brought out, willing or unwilling, and made to learn, at least, enough to make them peaceable and good citizens..."
. and,
"...The free schools of Massachusetts, as the most efficient means of accomplishing that object, should therefore be the property and the peculiar care of government..."
, and forcing the ignorant/stupid people into doing what was best for them, was something that many considered to be an acceptable and necessary thing for 'those who know best' to do (and who doesn't like to imagine that they are members in good standing with that group?).

With the popularity of utilitarian thinking growing significantly, peoples' various good intentions to 'save the republic!', 'improve citizenry!', 'improve morals!', 'achieve economic success!', 'save religion!', for the greater good of ____[insert your preferred pretext here]___", were easily used to justify acting (whether openly or out of sight) for 'the greatest good of the greatest number', because they'd come to believe that their ends really did justify the means. Even so, it took a couple decades for their thinking to make it into law. Why? While they had an abundant supply of the will to propose and implement reforms upon the ignorant and stupid people, they typically saw someone else as being the problem, not themselves; and if a reform involved them, well, that was clearly a reform that was misguided and unjustified - good 'for thee, but not for me', which added to the noise of the day, but not so much to the laws on the books. Yet.

Up until at least the 1820s, most such reforms were seen as but thinly veiled calls for using the power of government to impose one particular reformer's own religious views, over what they deemed to be the 'inferior' views being taught to the rest of the public (or like Horace Mann's branch of Unitarians, demanding that all doctrine be excluded... which *surprisingly* meant looking very much like Unitarian doctrine), or on the other hand, those reformers claiming that popular understanding of virtue and morality didn't measure up to their own secular expectations, should be banished from the public square - either one of those reformers stood a good chance of getting themselves run out of town by those who didn't want to be reformed by them. In fact,  both such reforms would soon be imposed, but something else would need to fall into place first, before all sides of the issue would support imposing them upon each other and themselves.

The acceptability of imposing such reforms upon others and upon themselves as well, began to spread more rapidly as American scholars began returning home from their European tours, and began dressing up their good intentions for the greater good as a more modern and scientific approach to education (remember Fichte). 'The Myth of the Common School' gives a detailed account of the period, and pg. 98 has one of the new 'science!' of education appeals that had begun taking shape, with Brown University President Francis Wayland, stating:
"...We have assembled today, not to proclaim how well our fathers have done, but to inquire how we may enable their sons to do better.... we, at this day, are, in a manner, the pioneers of this work in this country. Education, as a science, has scarcely yet been naturalized among us. Radical improvement in the means of education is an idea that seems but just to have entered into men's minds.... God helping us, then, let us make our mark on the rising generation."
Wayland was asserting, it should be noted, not that education itself was unavailable or in short supply - he knew perfectly well that almost universal literacy was the rule in New England - but that the science of education was undeveloped; this led to limited capacity to make an impact on the next generation..."
It wasn't so much that they were proposing to dress education up in lab coats & microscopes (that was still a few decades in the future), but that no matter whether their calls for 'education reform!' were outwardly focused upon religion, morals, the weakness of government, or the need to strengthen the economy, each of their reforms intended to use education as an experimental means of affecting the 'output' behaviors of graduating students as a fix for whatever was seen as being the popular societal failure of the moment. IOW, schools were coming to be seen as a technology which looked upon teachers as levers and students as cogs and textbooks as fuel, in a machine for producing a cure-all for the problems of both 'the people' and society. It may not have been apparent to most people at the time, but this form of 'school reform!' wasn't simply 'improving' various features in our schools, it completely transformed our view of what education is, what schools are for, and of who we are and should be, and whatever good intentions had initially unleashed it, would be undermined and undone by it, the more they 'succeeded' in applying it. One clear eyed professor at Princeton, Samuel Miller(1769-1850), hit the nail on the head in sounding an early warning of this in 1805, in his "A brief retrospect of the eighteenth century",
"...This doctrine of the omnipotence of education, and the perfectibility of man, seems liable, among many others, to the following strong objections : — First. It is contrary to the nature and condition of man...."
I'll come back to more of what he had to say shortly, but the truth is that the condition of our schools today has less to do with the laws that have been passed, than with the altered state of mind that led us to pass them, and taken as we were with the promises of 'school reform!', we'd failed to question what was actually being accomplished with it - the condition of our schools today is simply the predictable effect which could not not result from those causes which we are still reaffirming today.

Had We The People kept in mind what education actually was, and what its purpose was, we might have seen far enough into the likely future to see that the promises of those initial reforms and goals would soon be forced out by what they were helping to unleash, but, with nearly everyone eagerly using education as a means to their own ends, be those economics, religiosity, morality, or assimilating immigrants, they were unable to foresee any effects beyond their own rhetoric. Despite their best intentions, as noted in a 1958 study by William Kailor Dunn, they soon saw "...religious themes increasingly replaced by moral ones...", and while the 'Morals!' side briefly surged in the 'key facts' being taught, both soon vanished almost completely from the textbooks and classrooms, as new 'key facts' & skills of the next wave of newly reformed reformers, took their place:
Textbook Content
YearReligion vs Morals
1775: 85%-8%
1775-1825: 22%-28%
1825-1875: 7%-23%
1875-1915: 1.5%-7%

Note: This wasn't a result of 'separation of church and state' challenges - that was still a century in the offing - these were the results of overtly religious and moralistic efforts, while trying to avoid contentious sectarian issues of doctrine, in service to the 'scientific!' mindset of using the schools to produce results other than the education of its students. By the time the contenders noticed that they were all being run out of town, it was too late. The famous 'free schools' run by protestant, catholic, or secular interests, had brought about the greatest literacy rate in history by educating students as they saw fit, but because the government run 'Common Schools' could only teach what no side objected to, and what all sides could agree upon in common was sadly lacking is educational worth, that meant that the only winners under those conditions were the economic and/or ideological interests which, following one form or another from Fichte, had an interest in eliminating educated people from the common mass of humanity - for the greater good and security of the state. The popular 'good intentions' of the moment had been transformed into the motive force of 'the ends' which justified whatever means seemed necessary, and, knowingly or not, produced the outcome that was noted by Albert Jay Knock's visiting Italian nobleman, as being the end of newly educated Americans, in America, by the 1890s.

There were other voices at the time beside Prof. Miller, trying to sound the alarm that:
"Doing right by wrong means, is worse than doing wrong"
, but unavoidably, as an educational form of Gresham's Law applied ('Bad money drives out good'), and with scientism (the dressing up of 'science!' in the robes of philosophy) leading the way, truth and virtue were forced out of what students were educated in. Good intentions abounded however, and when the reformers reforms were even vaguely associated with supporting 'science!', few wanted to be seen in even their own eyes as denying the science, enabling both the reformers and 'the stupid people' to see themselves as one of 'those who know best' which helped secure broad public acceptance for all manner of reform efforts - be they for helping the economy, making better citizens, strengthening the culture, or getting the better of foreign competitors.

The promises of 'school reform!' were of course launched with the very best of intentions by our Founding Reformers such as Noah Webster, Dr. Rush, and Dr. Franklin, who thought of their new education reforms, more as providing something 'in addition to' the betterment of the student, rather than as a tool for achieving something other than an education, and yet... their reforms intended to... use students... to ... resolve whichever issue beyond the student was the concern of the moment - be that Dr. Rush's ' convert men into republican machines...', or Webster's 'create an American identity' and develop 'economic engines', or still others' call to 'improve the public's morals and virtues' - so that all that We The People needed to do next, was to prioritize which complaint the student's minds & lives should be adapted to fix first. However the particular 'sizzle' they were selling a reform with was dressed up as, it was the coupling of 'education reform!' with the appearances of a 'science!' of society, and the promise of more 'modern' and 'efficient' methods for achieving 'measurably improved results' through education, that was the spin that began to 'play in Peoria', and few seemed willing to consider any dangers that might be inherent in it.

What concerns which those first reformers may have had about what might result from their experiments, would have surely been eased by how the initial reforms seemed to follow in their own footsteps, such as with the proto-high school of Boston's 'English Classical School' in 1821 - which was conceived of as a useful step between grammar school and college levels. But of course those initial reforms were followed by others that incrementally nibbled away at the appearances of what had traditionally been associated with education - if you take a look at English Classical School's original curriculum, you'll see that it bears almost no resemblance to our high schools today - slowly, step by pro-regressive step, through successive waves of school reformers, each proposing their own experimental changes, each promising still 'more useful!' new directions in form and content, year in and year out, decade after decade, the reform process squeezed the 'old' classes in grammar, history, religion, and literature out, as more and more 'key facts' and 'new skills' were pro-regressively squeezed in, forcing the school year to be expanded by not just four to five more months per year, but by another four more of those newly expanded years.

The process behind those incremental reforms developed into a recognizable pattern, a template, through which we eventually reached the point where that proto-high school of 1821 - which most of today's college PhDs would be put to academic shame by - devolved into the failed institution that we call a 'High School' today. Those reforms, of course, were not confined only to our schools, but by the late 1830s they'd expanded into the laws we govern our entire society with, and had become so commonplace that few noticed that by 1920, they'd effectively eliminated parents' rights to raise their own children, and neutered the standing of everyone's individual rights as such, in the process.

Yes, our Founding Reformers would've recognized our good intentions today, but they wouldn't recognize what those good intentions have transformed our schools, or America, into, today.

Testing the Reform Template
When you keep in mind that accepting the utilitarian change to the purpose of Education, was the change of mind that ensured all of the disastrous reforms that would follow, it becomes much easier to see how we got from there, to here, through the pivoting and misdirection's inherent in implementing the reform template. The most obviously successful of those who first led the way in applying the 'reform!' template, was Horace Mann, a radical reformer with a knack for diverting the footsteps of our Founding Reformers into such unforeseen paths as would effectively conceal much of Fichte's Prussian System of education, under an Americanized veneer. His most significant 'achievement' in going down that path, was helping to bring about Massachusetts' first laws for establishing a mandatory public school system under a state board of education. It didn't take long for the people of Massachusetts to begin realizing what the semantics of 'a more democratic education!' had deceived them into establishing as law:
"...After all that has been said about the French and Prussian systems, they appear to your Committee to be much more admirable, as a means of political influence, and of strengthening the hands of the government, than as a mere means for the diffusion of knowledge. For the latter purpose, the system of public Common Schools, under the control of persons most interested in their flourishing condition, who pay taxes to support them, appears to your Committee much superior. The establishment of the Board of Education seems to be the commencement of a system of centralization and of monopoly of power in a few hands, contrary, in every respect, to the true spirit of our democratical institutions; and which, unless speedily checked, may lead to unlooked-for and dangerous results..."[emphasis added]
, but the deed was done, and they weren't successful in undoing it, as at each turn in the process, the objections of those with eyes to see, were brushed away as being over reactions, and those listening were given assurances of "Oh I'm sure they don't mean that!". The problem was (and is) that such a system as that, had to mean exactly "that!", and no matter how good the intentions of 'fitting youth to the machinery of government' might have been to begin with, such ideals as those are fundamentally incompatible with the 'old' pursuit of enabling students to develop an educated grasp of, and love for, what is real and true. Then, as now, the point of 'school reform!' was to reform the collective population into the image the reformers had in mind for them, and then as now, data and data collection were key to how a bureaucracy gains power over those it's supposed to serve. From pg. 123 of "The Myth of the Common School':
"...Virtually the only power that Mann and the board possessed was that of requiring annual school returns of statistics and othe information, and Mann had used this aggressively to collect the information that he then used with great effect in his celebrated annual reports (Complaints about such data-collection activities have not abated over the years!)

Mann's requests for information, and use of the information he received, were in some respects the key elements of his influence over the development of the common school...

... Mann also was in the habit of sending out questions that sought information of a more subjective nature, generally in anticipation of basing policy recommendations on responses whose tenor he anticipated; there are no instances in which such responses appear to have caused him to change his mind about an issue!...."
Mann helped spur that progressive reorientation further onwards through another European innovation that he championed, that of replacing the traditional oral examinations between a teacher and each one of their students, with identical written tests given to the entire class at the same time. In oral examinations, teachers would ask each individual student questions, which they'd answer in their own words, which led to more questions, and answers, and so on, giving the teacher a solid understanding of how well that student understood the material they'd been covering in class, and how best to approach what they would be covering in class next, or next year.

That was not what Horace Mann was interested in, it was too individual, and contributed nothing towards using education to bring about the changes he wanted to see made in students, teachers, and the public. The answer he saw as being more of what he was looking for, lay in written tests,.
"... after visiting schools in Europe in 1843, returned convinced that written exams were superior. He wrote: “When the oral method is adopted, none but those personally present at the examination can have any accurate or valuable idea of appearance of the school…Not so, however, when the examination is by printed questions and written answers. A transcript, a sort of Daguerreotype likeness, as it were, of the state and condition of the pupils’ minds, is taken and carried away, for general inspection..."
, with written tests, Mann could replace the individual process of oral exams, a process that was itself educational, with printed tests, whose generic questions required students to recall similar (and eventually identical) answers that were pre-determined 'by those who know best' to fit the 'answer key', and which all of the other students would be trained to answer with as well. Tests such as those could be mass produced, and their scores tabulated (another form of data-collection) to give 'exact measurements' of what students knew, and which teachers were or weren't 'being helpful' (to the student, or the reformers?), so as to use the 'progress measured' to further their reforms by goading public opinion into line with it.

It should be no surprise to anyone that pursuing results without regard to their causes, leads to unforeseen consequences, and as historian William J. Reese, author of 'Testing Wars in the Public Schools: A Forgotten History', wrote in a New York Times essay,
"...What can we learn from the advent of what we learned to call “high-stakes testing”? What transpired then still sounds eerily familiar: cheating scandals, poor performance by minority groups, the narrowing of the curriculum, the public shaming of teachers, the appeal of more sophisticated measures of assessment, the superior scores in other nations, all amounting to a constant drumbeat about school failure....”
Do you see the seeds of a familiar pattern in that? The promised panacea, accusations of fault over related failures, calls to increase and expand their efforts, and so on? Still more benefits found with testing, was the ability to use both the tests, and their results, to target those teachers, parents, and students, who hadn't yet been reformed into Mann's ideal image for them. The community wasn't blind to what he was doing, there was controversy and outrage over what he did, and over his pressing for still more and more reforms, efforts that clearly came at the expense of those students and teachers that his test results had unfairly targeted. As matters heated up, he temporarily scaled back his efforts, before soon pushing for still more. Eventually the public did tire of Mann and he lost his re-election - but the tests, and their uses, and the data-collection, remained, expanded, and grew to the point that they are now everywhere.

The reform pattern is difficult to miss in that description of how written tests were introduced with 'proven value' from European uses, followed by the 'unforeseen consequences' of students cheating on tests, followed by the need for progressively more tests, which then led to standardized tests, then state testing, and finally to nationwide testing standards. Once you notice it, it becomes hard to miss, is even a little bit fractal in its nature, in what's presented in all educational reform:
  1. Propose a goal from the latest educational experiment to be 'given a shot' at training kids in far more useful answers and skills,
  2. Trot out experts from state and commerce to brush away concerns with 'oh, they don't mean 'that!', while assuring the public that they're needed for 'the greater good' of society and its workforce.
  3. That reform - whether it succeeds or fails - justifies calling for still more radical reforms to follow and be normalized into our educational system,
And when some portion of the 'that!' which opponents warned about actually occurs, or an even worse side-effect follows from it, simply rinse and repeat as you double-down with the same three steps as necessary, until the 'that!' which people were originally concerned with, gradually becomes what is in fact normalized and implemented everywhere.

Step 1 in the pattern, despite its lofty sounding goals always involves providing students with less and less of substance, such as worthwhile literature, to think with, under the cover of providing 'more rigor' that drills students in 'key facts' & 'new skills' which support whichever ideological issues the 'greater good' requires them to serve. The pattern as a whole is something of an Americanized version of Fichte's methods for using schools to destroy free will and socializing conformity in a manner that effectively prevents 'wrong think'. And whether the goal of the moment has been to produce a 'new man', or economic utility, or governmental cogs, or more activists, the new ideal of going to school to 'get good grades and get a good job!', gradually forced out the original True North ideal of equipping a person to be a knowledgeable and moral individual who is capable of insightful thought and self-governance, as it had to - the two are incompatible contradictions that no amount of dialectical thinking could resolve.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the schooling spectrum, one of those enthusiastic students who'd taken the European Tour, Charles W. Elliott, had since become a professor at Harvard, gained his own PhD, and graduated to being the president of Harvard, at which point he introduced the radical new notion of 'elective classes'.
"...Contending that higher learning in the United States needed to be “broadened, deepened, and invigorated,” Eliot demanded a place for the sciences as well as the humanities in any sound program of liberal education. To counter the rigidity of the Harvard curriculum—which, following what was then general practice, was then almost totally prescribed—Eliot eliminated required courses. Under his successor, A. Lawrence Lowell, a balance was struck between required and elective courses..."
That 'reform', in and of itself, was both an expression and a consequence of the transformation of Education - under the old view, those with something meaningful to teach, knew what they needed to teach to those who did not yet know it, and so students came to learn that from them. Under the new form, the students came to learn what they'd already decided would be useful for them to know, and they chose what classes seemed most interesting or useful for that, while grudgingly enduring 'that other stuff' they had to sit through to get their degree. That of course required not only adding more 'interesting classes' to the school curriculum to keep student's attention (and their parents $) on task, but also soon developed into budgeting 'uninteresting' classes out of the courses that the college offered, a cycle which within a century would see those classes which had originally been the central purpose of that college, entirely dropped from being taught in those colleges.

Now that's education reform.

In the end, all of 'school reform!' is about reforming you into something useful to something else
Earlier in this post I mentioned a review of significant developments of the 1700s, given at the opening of the 1800s, by a professor from Princeton, Samuel Miller. One issue he mentioned in that review, was two pages of concerns he had over innovations in education that were developing in the late 1700s, that were intending to use education as a means towards 'the perfectibility of man', which Prof. Miller saw as being '...contrary to the nature and condition of man...'. His concerns are well worth reading and thinking through, even today, particularly as he identified that what those new theories:
"... depicted in philosophic dreams is an absurd portrait of knowledge without real wisdom, of benevolence without piety, and of purity and happiness without genuine virtue..."
, and at the close of his comments on education, he sadly concludes, accurately, that:
"...The doctrine of human perfectibility however, is too flattering to the pride of man not to have considerable currency among certain classes of society. Accordingly, the effects of this doctrine may be distinctly traced in many parts of the civilised world, from its influence in seminaries of learning, on the general interests of education, and on many social institutions. That this influence is unfavourable, will not be questioned for a moment by those who consider truth and utility as inseparably and eternally connected..."
, and while I disagree with at least one of his points (having to do with Malthus), that last point above, the folly of failing to view "... truth and utility as inseparably and eternally connected..." - that is a truth that for the most part is not only no longer recognized by us today, but if you tell someone that today, it's likely that they'll be surprised that you'd say such a thing. That shouldn't be surprising, because when someone is saying we need to be 'practical', or 'pragmatic', or that we should 'pay less attention to worrying about what's right and focus on what's useful!', they are declaring their own implicit belief that Truth and Utility have no intrinsic connection, that they have no real relation to each other. Behaving as if Truth and Utility are separable, is what our Founding Reformers first 'reform' helped make into a norm for us, as their promises of prosperity which helped 'school reform!' to become a thing 200 years ago, nudged us into ignoring the fact that we were attempting to reverse cause and effect, and it's that assumption, and our willingness to look at what we're being promised, and not at what is being assumed and done in the name of that promise, which has led to the unending stream of dis-educational policies and laws that we've been imposed upon ourselves, since then.

The denial that "... truth and utility as inseparably and eternally connected...", is a tenet of 'Utilitarian' belief, which is something, IMHO, that is not only unwise for individuals to accept, it is disastrous for a society to adhere to - the world we're dealing with today is a result of attempting to treat it as an idea that 'works' - how does that seem to be working to you? It doesn't work, of course. But naively believing it will, causes us to redouble our efforts when we see that the policies that we've enacted on its promises, are failing - we think it's us that've failed, rather than suspecting that the 'truth' of it is a lie.

But point out to people today - whether Left, Right or Center - that "... truth and utility as inseparably and eternally connected...", and you'll typically be met with an exaggerated eye-roll and muttering about the need to be practical and get 'results!'. How many of those on 'The Right' who are upset over the state of our schools today, realize that 'Common Core' and SEL originated in the 'school reform!'s called for by the Right in the late 80s and 90s, which were capitalizing on exactly that reaction? And yet most of us today - Left, Right or Center - still think that we can pass laws to 'restore our schools', completely unaware that they are actively engaged in the very same pro-regressive effort to reverse cause and effect, that brought us to where we are.

Before we go demanding yet another 'school reform!', we need to realize that our past 'school reform!'s have reformed us into a people who don't even think twice about how divorced our good intentions are from reality, and until we fix that, 'school reform!' will continue doing what 'school reform!' has always done - reforming 'We The People' away from who we once were, into who we are becoming today.

And that's school reform.