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The George Washington – We Are All Americans – Speaking Initiative
Janine, Juliette, Mr. Terry Cherry (Immediate Past President of the National Council of Social Studies), Cathy Gillespie, Jeanette Kraynak and/or our Contest Winners will provide a non-partisan, age appropriate conversation about the Constitution for any educational department: Drama classes, music classes, government and history classes, English classes and more are all welcome! Our winners will show you how they used their songs, short films, public service announcements, artwork, poems, and speeches, to both promote the U.S. Constitution, and to win scholarships, trips around the country, cash prizes and more!
We will teach your students about the U.S. Constitution – in a non-partisan way – covering a fun “Constitution Quiz” that emphasizes the roles of various branches in our government and some of the most important points about the U.S. Constitution.
This is also a unique opportunity for your students to speak with Janine about pursuing a career in Radio, Television, or Film.
These non partisan, educational internet sessions are tailored to your teaching schedule and classroom needs – we can work with speaking slots as short as 15 minutes or as long as 35 or 40 minutes and can cover specific topics upon request. These sessions are free learning opportunities for your students. There is no cost to your school! Internet sessions are perfect for home school groups, scout troop meetings, or anywhere else that young people are gathered who want to learn about the Constitution, and our exciting “We The Future” Contest!
Constituting America’s program, “How to Have a Civil Civic Conversation,” gives your students the opportunity to learn about how to have a meaningful Civil Civic Conversation. In America’s current divisive atmosphere, it is important for students to learn how to listen and become informed about opposing points of view. Through our Civil Civic Conversation process, students will discover how to be an active part of the political future of our country, exercising their first amendment rights, protected by the U.S. Constitution.
Two passionately politically opinionated students from opposing points of view will debate a difficult timely topic chosen in consultation with you, the teacher, with the class observing. The entire classroom will then be involved, learning new skills by reading two points of view on the chosen topic in order to assess the alternative point of view. This will be followed by watching a peer to peer video, discussing dialogue techniques, and then re-engaging in conversation in a newly informed calm manner.
Students will put their Civil Civic Conversation skills to practice in the final segment of the program where they will compromise in order to create a bill simulating the process in U.S. Congress. After class participation and writing their own bill, the two starring students who started by passionately opposing each other politically, will now present their bill to their U.S. Representative, having found common ground.
Click here to download our Civic Civic Conversation Flyer!
Watch our Peer to Peer Teaching Video – “How To Have A Civil Civic Conversation” below!
“Wow! To hear someone with this much passion for making sure our youth have a thorough understanding of the Constitution is amazing. Our students at “The” Barack Obama Male Leadership Academy enjoyed the challenges presented by Janine and appreciated the opportunity to learn from a truly zealous advocate of the document that founded these United States of America. Thanks for a GREAT presentation. The students enjoyed it and so did I. They are chomping at the bit for your return.”
– Tom McLaughlin, Teacher, “The” Barack Obama Male Leadership Academy, Dallas, Texas
“Thank you and Juliette for using your time and energy to Constitute America’s young people and to make our genius Constitution accessible to them. The education you offer enefits them now, but it will also ensure freedom for their children and grandchildren if they rise to the high calling of getting involved!…You were so gracious to gift us a webcam on top of th ecopies of the test, the glossy colored contest flyer, bracelets and sunglasses and your time. Your kindness and concern for students’ futures shone through the screen and was heard in your gnetle yet passionate voice. The Constitution and the contest are the focus for the short remainder of our year. You are a true Patriot. Salute! Mrs. Moss, San Jacinto Academy, Amarillo, Texas.
Our experience with Constituting America was unique and inspirational. My students were able to make real-world connections with people who care deeply for our country’s founding documents. They were blessed to receive relevant material that bring the subject to life in a way that traditional textbooks do not. I often struggle as a teacher with a balance between that which we must learn and that which makes learning worthwhile. Constituting America brought both of those together in a memorable way that my students and I will never forget. Thank you from East Texas!
– Jeff Sims, East Texas Charter School
Source: The Complete Anti-Federalist, ed. Herbert J. Storing (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1981) Volume Four, 81-83.
To the People.
There cannot be a doubt, that, while the trade of this continent remains free, the activity of our countrymen will secure their full share. All the estimates for the present year, let them be made by what party they may, suppose the balance of trade to be largely in our favour. The credit of our merchants is, therefore, fully established in foreign countries. This is a sufficient proof, that when business is unshackled, it will find out that channel which is most friendly to its course. We ought, therefore, to be exceedingly cautious about diverting or restraining it. Every day produces fresh proofs, that people, under the immediate pressure of difficulties, do not, at first glance, discover the proper relief. The last year, a desire to get rid of embarrassments induced many honest people to agree to a tender-act, and many others, of a different description, to obstruct the courts of justice. Both these methods only increased the evil they were intended to cure. Experience has since shewn, that, instead of trying to lessen an evil by altering the present course of things, every endeavour should have been applied to facilitate the course of law, and thus to encourage a mutual confidence among the citizens, which increases the resources of them all, and renders easy the payment of debts. By this means one does not grow rich at the expense of another, but all are benefited. The case is the same with the states. Pennsylvania, with one port and a large territory, is less favourably situated for trade than the Massachusetts, which has an extensive coast in proportion to its limits of jurisdiction. Accordingly a much larger proportion of our people are engaged in maritime affairs. We ought therefore to be particularly attentive to securing so great an interest. It is vain to tell us that we ought to overlook local interests. It is only by protecting local concerns, that the interest of the whole is preserved. No man when he enters into society, does it from a view to promote the good of others, but he does it for his own good. All men having the same view are bound equally to promote the welfare of the whole. To recur then to such a principle as that local interests must be disregarded, is requiring of one man to do more than another, and is subverting the foundation of a free government. The Philadelphians would be shocked with a proposition to place the seat of general government and the unlimited right to regulate trade in the Massachusetts. There can be no greater reason for our surrendering the preference to them. Such sacrifices, however we may delude ourselves with the form of words, always originate in folly, and not in generosity.
Let me now request your attention a little while to the actual state of publick credit, that we may see whether it has not been as much misrepresented as the state of our trade.
At the beginning of the present year, the whole continental debt was about twelve millions of pounds in our money. About one quarter part of this sum was due to our foreign creditors. Of these France was the principal, and called for the arrears of interest. A new loan of one hundred and twenty thousand pounds was negotiated in Holland, at five per cent. to pay the arrears due to France. At first sight this has the appearance of bad economy, and has been used for the villainous purpose of disaffecting the people. But in the course of this same year. Congress have negotiated the sale of as much of their western lands on the Ohio and Mississippi, an amount nearly to the whole sum of the foreign debt; and instead of a dead loss by borrowing money at five per cent. to the amount of an hundred and twenty thousand pounds, in one sum, they make a saving of the interest at six per cent. on three millions of their domestick debt, which is an annual saving of an hundred and eighty thousand pounds. It is easy to see how such an immense fund as the western territory may be applied to the payment of the foreign debt. Purchasers of the land would as willingly procure any kind of the produce of the United States as they would buy loan office certificates to pay for the land. The produce thus procured would easily be negotiated for the benefit of our foreign creditors. I do not mean to insinuate that no other provision should be made for our creditors, but only to shew that our credit is not so bad in other countries as has been represented, and that our resources are fully equal to the pressure.
The perfection of government depends on the equality of its operation, as far as human affairs will admit, upon all parts of the empire, and upon all the citizens. Some inequalities indeed will necessarily take place. One man will be obliged to travel a few miles further than another man to procure justice. But when he has travelled, the poor man ought to have the same measure of justice as the rich one. Small inequalities may be easily compensated. There ought, however, to be no inequality in the law itself, and the government ought to have the same authority in one place as in another. Evident as this truth is, the most plausible argument in favour of the new plan is drawn from the inequality of its operation in different states. In Connecticut, they have been told that the bulk of the revenue will be raised by impost and excise, and therefore they need not be afraid to trust Congress with the power of levying a dry tax at pleasure. New-York, and Massachusetts, are both more commercial states than Connecticut. The latter, therefore, hopes that the other two will pay the bulk of the continental expense. The argument is in itself delusive. If the trade is not over-taxed, the consumer pays it. If the trade is over-taxed, it languishes, and by the ruin of trade the farmer loses his market. The farmer has in truth no other advantage from imposts than that they save him the trouble of collecting money for the government. He neither gets or loses money by changing the mode of taxation. The government indeed finds it the easiest way to raise the revenue; and the reason is that the tax is by this means collected where the money circulates most freely. But if the argument was not delusive, it ought to conclude against the plan, because it would prove the unequal operation of it, and if any saving is to be made by the mode of taxing, the saving should be applied towards our own debt, and not to the payment of the part of a continental burden which Connecticut ought to discharge. It would be impossible to refute in writing all the delusions made use of to force this system through. Those respecting the publick debt, and the benefit of imposts, are the most important, and these I have taken pains to explain. In one instance indeed, the impost does raise money at the direct expense of the seaports. This is when goods are imported subject to a duty, and re-exported without a drawback. Whatever benefit is derived from this source, surely should not be transferred to another state, at least till our own debts are cleared.
Another instance of unequal operation is, that it establishes different degrees of authority in different states, and thus creates different interests. The lands in New-Hampshire having been formerly granted by this state, and afterwards by that state, to private persons, the whole authority of trying titles becomes vested in a continental court, and that state loses a branch of authority, which the others retain, over their own citizens.
I have now gone through two parts of my argument, and have proved the efficiency of the state governments for internal regulation, and the disadvantages of the new system, at least some of the principal. The argument has been much longer than I at first apprehended, or, possibly, I should have been deterred from it. The importance of the question has, however, prevented me from relinquishing it.
When great and extraordinary powers are vested in any man, or body of men, which in their exercise, may operate to the oppression of the people, it is of high importance that powerful checks should be formed to prevent the abuse of it.
Perhaps no restraints are more forcible, than such as arise from responsibility to some superior power. — Hence it is that the true policy of a republican government is, to frame it in such manner, that all persons who are concerned in the government, are made accountable to some superior for their conduct in office. — This responsibility should ultimately rest with the People. To have a government well administered in all its parts, it is requisite the different departments of it should be separated and lodged as much as may be in different hands. The legislative power should be in one body, the executive in another, and the judicial in one different from either — But still each of these bodies should be accountable for their conduct. Hence it is impracticable, perhaps, to maintain a perfect distinction between these several departments — For it is difficult, if not impossible, to call to account the several officers in government, without in some degree mixing the legislative and judicial. The legislature in a free republic are chosen by the people at stated periods, and their responsibility consists, in their being amenable to the people. When the term, for which they are chosen, shall expire, who will then have opportunity to displace them if they disapprove of their conduct — but it would be improper that the judicial should be elective, because their business requires that they should possess a degree of law knowledge, which is acquired only by a regular education, and besides it is fit that they should be placed, in a certain degree in an independent situation, that they may maintain firmness and steadiness in their decisions. As the people therefore ought not to elect the judges, they cannot be amenable to them immediately, some other mode of amenability must therefore be devised for these, as well as for all other officers which do not spring from the immediate choice of the people: this is to be effected by making one court subordinate to another, and by giving them cognizance of the behaviour of all officers; but on this plan we at last arrive at some supreme, over whom there is no power to controul but the people themselves. This supreme controling power should be in the choice of the people, or else you establish an authority independent, and not amenable at all, which is repugnant to the principles of a free government. Agreeable to these principles I suppose the supreme judicial ought to be liable to be called to account, for any misconduct, by some body of men, who depend upon the people for their places; and so also should all other great officers in the State, who are not made amenable to some superior officers. This policy seems in some measure to have been in view of the framers of the new system, and to have given rise to the institution of a court of impeachments — How far this Court will be properly qualified to execute the trust which will be reposed in them, will be the business of a future paper to investigate. To prepare the way to do this, it shall be the business of this, to make some remarks upon the constitution and powers of the Senate, with whom the power of trying impeachments is lodged.
The following things may be observed with respect to the constitution of the Senate.
1st. They are to be elected by the legislatures of the States and not by the people, and each State is to be represented by an equal number.
2d. They are to serve for six years, except that one third of those first chosen are to go out of office at the expiration of two years, one third at the expiration of four years, and one third at the expiration of six years, after which this rotation is to be preserved, but still every member will serve for the term of six years.
3d. If vacancies happen by resignation or otherwise, during the recess of the legislature of any State, the executive is authorised to make temporary appointments until the next meeting of the legislature.
4. No person can be a senator who has not arrived to the age of thirty years, been nine years a citizen of the United States, and who is not at the time he is elected an inhabitant of the State for which he is elected.
The apportionment of members of Senate among the States is not according to numbers, or the importance of the States; but is equal. This, on the plan of a consolidated government, is unequal and improper; but is proper on the system of confederation — on this principle I approve of it. It is indeed the only feature of any importance in the constitution of a confederated government. It was obtained after a vigorous struggle of that part of the Convention who were in favor of preserving the state governments. It is to be regretted, that they were not able to have infused other principles into the plan, to have secured the government of the respective states, and to have marked with sufficient precision the line between them and the general government.
The term for which the senate are to be chosen, is in my judgment too long, and no provision being made for a rotation will, I conceive, be of dangerous consequence.
It is difficult to fix the precise period for which the senate should be chosen. It is a matter of opinion, and our sentiments on the matter must be formed, by attending to certain principles. Some of the duties which are to be performed by the senate, seem evidently to point out the propriety of their term of service being extended beyond the period of that of the assembly. Besides as they are designed to represent the aristocracy of the country, it seems fit they should possess more stability, and so continue a longer period than that branch who represent the democracy. The business of making treaties and some other which it will be proper to commit to the senate, requires that they should have experience, and therefore that they should remain some time in office to acquire it. — But still it is of equal importance that they should not be so long in office as to be likely to forget the hand that formed them, or be insensible of their interests. Men long in office are very apt to feel themselves independent [and] to form and pursue interests separate from those who appointed them. And this is more likely to be the case with the senate, as they will for the most part of the time be absent from the state they represent, and associate with such company as will possess very little of the feelings of the middling class of people. For it is to be remembered that there is to be a federal city, and the inhabitants of it will be the great and the mighty of the earth. For these reasons I would shorten the term of their service to four years. Six years is a long period for a man to be absent from his home, it would have a tendency to wean him from his constituents.
A rotation in the senate, would also in my opinion be of great use. It is probable that senators once chosen for a state will, as the system now stands, continue in office for life. The office will be honorable if not lucrative. The persons who occupy it will probably wish to continue in it, and therefore use all their influence and that of their friends to continue in office. — Their friends will be numerous and powerful, for they will have it in their power to confer great favors; besides it will before long be considered as disgraceful not to be re–elected. It will therefore be considered as a matter of delicacy to the character of the senator not to return him again. — Every body acquainted with public affairs knows how difficult it is to remove from office a person who is [has?] long been in it. It is seldom done except in cases of gross misconduct. It is rare that want of competent ability procures it. To prevent this inconvenience I conceive it would be wise to determine, that a senator should not be eligible after he had served for the period assigned by the constitution for a certain number of years; perhaps three would be sufficient. A farther benefit would be derived from such an arrangement; it would give opportunity to bring forward a greater number of men to serve their country, and would return those, who had served, to their state, and afford them the advantage of becoming better acquainted with the condition and politics of their constituents. It farther appears to me proper, that the legislatures should retain the right which they now hold under the confederation, of recalling their members. It seems an evident dictate of reason, that when a person authorises another to do a piece of business for him, he should retain the power to displace him, when he does not conduct according to his pleasure. This power in the state legislatures, under confederation, has not been exercised to the injury of the government, nor do I see any danger of its being so exercised under the new system. It may operate much to the public benefit.
These brief remarks are all I shall make on the organization of the senate. The powers with which they are invested will require a more minute investigation.
This body will possess a strange mixture of legislative, executive and judicial powers, which in my opinion will in some cases clash with each other.
1. They are one branch of the legislature, and in this respect will possess equal powers in all cases with the house of representatives; for I consider the clause which gives the house of representatives the right of originating bills for raising a revenue as merely nominal, seeing the senate be authorised to propose or concur with amendments.
2. They are a branch of the executive in the appointment of ambassadors and public ministers, and in the appointment of all other officers, not otherwise provided for; whether the forming of treaties, in which they are joined with the president, appertains to the legislative or the executive part of the government, or to neither, is not material.
3. They are part of the judicial, for they form the court of impeachments.
It has been a long established maxim, that the legislative, executive and judicial departments in government should be kept distinct. It is said, I know, that this cannot be done. And therefore that this maxim is not just, or at least that it should only extend to certain leading features in a government. I admit that this distinction cannot be perfectly preserved. In a due ballanced government, it is perhaps absolutely necessary to give the executive qualified legislative powers, and the legislative or a branch of them judicial powers in the last resort. It may possibly also, in some special cases, be adviseable to associate the legislature, or a branch of it, with the executive, in the exercise of acts of great national importance. But still the maxim is a good one, and a separation of these powers should be sought as far as is practicable. I can scarcely imagine that any of the advocates of the system will pretend, that it was necessary to accumulate all these powers in the senate.
There is a propriety in the senate’s possessing legislative powers; this is the principal end which should be held in view in their appointment. I need not here repeat what has so often and ably been advanced on the subject of a division of the legislative power into two branches — The arguments in favor of it I think conclusive. But I think it equally evident, that a branch of the legislature should not be invested with the power of appointing officers. This power in the senate is very improperly lodged for a number of reasons — These shall be detailed in a future number.