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Mandeville, LA – Billions of pixels have been burned over the now infamous revelation that the NSA spies have been culling phone records of over 100 million Americans. That the IRS conspired to use their legal powers to suppress political speech and violate the First Amendment. Looking back on the post-founding era we can find lots of “Beer Beer inspiration” to draw a response from. Of course Americans of 2103 will have to actually want to respond to the NSA spies outside of signing a Ted Cruz petition or attending a Tea Party rally & cheering Sara Palin. The following is how in May, 1798, the citizens of Fredericksburg VA reacted to the news that Congress was, according to Thomas Jefferson, following the neoCON – neoJACOBINS of their day and ginning up a war with France.
“Parker is completely gone over to the war party. In this state of things they will carry what they please. One of the war party, in a fit of unguarded passion, declared some time ago they would pass a citizen bill, an alien bill, & a sedition bill; accordingly, some days ago, Coit laid a motion on the table of the H of R for modifying the citizen law. Their threats point at Gallatin, & it is believed they will endeavor to reach him by this bill. Yesterday mr. Hillhouse laid on the table of the Senate a motion for giving power to send away suspected aliens. This is understood to be meant for Volney & Collot. But it will not stop there when it gets into a course of execution. There is now only wanting, to accomplish the whole declaration before mentioned, a sedition bill, which we shall certainly soon see proposed. The object of that, is the suppression of the whig presses. Bache’s has been particularly named. That paper & also Cary’s totter for want of subscriptions. We should really exert ourselves to procure them, for if these papers fall, [r]epublicanism will be entirely brow beaten.“(5)
The freemen of Fredericksburg, hearing Jefferson’s alarm, sprang into action as recorded in “The Virginia Herald.” (3)
On Monday the citizens of this corporation met, agreeably to notification published in the public papers, to express their sentiments on the present important and critical situation of this country. The meeting was called by the friends of the Executive, whose object was to address the President of the United States and to express their entire approbation of his conduct with respect to our foreign relations. “An address to this effect was prepared and presented by Thomas E. Bootes, Esq., which he supported by very lengthy arguments. He was followed by Capt. John Mercer, Col. John Minor and Col. John F. Mercer, who successfully combatted the various arguments adduced by Mr. Bootes in support of his address. And the following resolutions then, prepared by Dr. David C. Ker, were approved and adopted. A division was called for on the address and resolutions and tellers appointed to take the number of votes, who reported that two-thirds of the citizens present were in favor of the resolutions. The meeting was more numerous than any we have ever seen in this place. During the whole of the discussion the most perfect order and decorum prevailed. The resolutions, adopted in place of the address, will be interesting reading to our people, even in this day. They are as follows:
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1. Resolved, As the opinion of this meeting that the administration of these States received the government of a happy and united people, in peace abroad and prosperity at home; that under their guidance, we have been led, oppressed with public, heavy debts, enormous taxes, a ruined commerce and depreciated produce, into hostility with a nation who aided to secure our independence by their own blood and treasure, with a republic the most powerful and successful that has appeared on earth for eighteen centuries, armed with every weapon to injure us, but whom we can in no wise injure; with a republic united with a confederacy so extensive as to separate us from all the civilized world but Britain, and her dependencies; that they have done this, not through ignorance and folly only, for they were at all times warned of the certain consequence of their measures; not through constraint, for although opposed, they always carried their measures; but men who have proved themselves by their own works, so unfit to govern us, even with every advantage, can never without madness be trusted in times of real difficulty and extreme danger; and that it is equally absurd to found confidence in our disasters, or to pursue that line, or to support those men who have already brought us to the verge of destruction.
2nd. Resolved, That the speech of the President of the United States to the ordinary session of Congress, was, in the opinion of this meeting, calculated to rouse the resentment of the French government and destroy any reasonable hope of successful negotiations between that republic and agents appointed by him.
3rd. Resolved, That the instructions to our envoys, so contrary to the spirit of that speech and the whole conduct of our administration, authorize this conclusion : — that they were rather intended
to inflame the American mind than to produce good in France, under the well grounded expectation, that the negotiations would, from those and other causes, fail.
4th. Resolved, That the late negotiations with unauthorized swindlers in Paris, are so unexampled as to afford no justifiable ground for public measures, and that their publication, so far as they tend to excite the sensibility of our citizens, is unjustifiable, as they may commit the safety of the envoys highly imprudent.
5th. Resolved, That the militia are the only safe and constitutional defence of these States ; that they alone are adequate to this object, and that they will ever prove so, if guided by good government.
6th. Resolved, That we hold it to be our bounden duty, and we do solemnly pledge ourselves, firmly, to support our National rights and independence whenever assailed by foreign invasion or domestic usurpation.
Fontaine Maury was chairman of this large gathering of the people and signed the resolutions adopted by the meeting. They were then sent to Hon. John Dawson, representative in Congress from this district, who laid them before the extra session of Congress for the consideration of that body. These resolutions, adopted on the 14th of May, 1798, setting forth the principles upon which their authors believed the Union was founded, and upon which the government should be administered, were the basis for the famous resolutions drawn by Mr. Madison and passed by the Virginia Legislature on the 2nd of December of the same year, which have since been the theme of Virginia Statesmen of that school when they would “revert to first principles.”(4) – S.J. Quinn, The History of Fredericksburg, VA
Today’s “conservatives” would be wise to re-discover those [r]epublican “first principles the men of Fredericksburg lived by. Note that this meeting’s impact was felt by Jefferson, Madison et al as they prepared the VA Resolutions on Nullification, knowing the sentiments of the Old Dominion’s citizens were in their favor.
1. Writings of Thomas Jefferson, to James Madison, 26 April, 1798
3. The HISTORY of the City of Fredericksburg Virginia, pg. 232-233
5. Jefferson’s letter to MAdison of 26, April, 1798