FROM TOM WOODS’ EMAIL
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Independence Day is coming up, and I wonder how many people really get why it matters.
In school, we were told this: “No taxation without representation.”
The real principles were more like the following.
(1) No legislation without representation.
The colonists insisted that they could be governed only by the colonial legislatures. This is the principle of self-government.
This is why a Supreme Court ordering localities around is anti-American in the truest sense. It operates according to the opposite principle from the one the American colonists stood for.
(2) Contrary to the modern Western view of the state that it must be considered one and indivisible, the colonists believed that a smaller unit may withdraw from a larger one.
(3) The colonists’ view of the (unwritten) British constitution was that Parliament could legislate only in those areas that had traditionally been within the purview of the British government. Customary practice was the test of constitutionality. The Parliament’s view, on the other hand, was in effect that the will and act of Parliament sufficed to make its measures constitutional.
So the colonists insisted on strict construction, if you will, while the British held to more of a “living, breathing” view of the Constitution. Sound familiar?
So let’s recap: local self-government, secession, and strict construction. Not exactly the themes you learned in school.
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