This essay continues a series exploring briefly why the Constitution is ineffective at restraining federal officials today, and illustrates how members of the present generation must come to view their relationship to the Constitution if it is to be of service in effectively responding to federal overreach. The series will conclude by highlighting two largely untried and fundamentally different approaches to restoring constitutional constraints; issue-based legislative accountability, and a convention of states to amend the US Constitution.

Continuous Physical Reconnaissance

One of the lessons drilled into cadets at West Point, until it begins to find its way into their dreams at night, is the absolutely vital requirement to observe friendly obstacles on the battlefield. Army doctrine on this is as straightforward as it is inflexible: “Continuous physical reconnaissance of protective obstacles is extremely critical. Units must keep protective obstacles under continuous observation at all times” (Army Field Manual 90-7).

Read more

Guest Essayist: Tony Williams, Program Director, Washington-Jefferson-Madison Institute

“Conscience is the Most Sacred of Property”: James Madison’s Essay on Property
by Tony Williams

On January 24, 1774, James Madison wrote to a college friend praising the Boston Tea Party, which had occurred only weeks before.  He praised the Boston patriots for their boldness in “defending liberty and property.”  Equating political and civil liberty, he warned that if the Church of England had established itself as the official religion of all the colonies, then “slavery and subjection might and would have been gradually insinuated among us.” Read more

Guest Essayist: Justin Butterfield, Religious Liberty Attorney at the Liberty Institute

James Madison’s “Memorial and Remonstrance against Religious Assessments” is an important document in establishing the necessity of religious liberty in America.

Madison grew up in a Virginia in which the Church of England was the established church. Not only were Virginia’s citizens taxed to support the Church of England, but ministers of other denominations were frequently jailed for preaching what they believed. In January of 1774, Read more

Madison circulated the Memorial and Remonstrance anonymously in 1785 as part of the effort to pass the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. It appeals to Christian citizens by emphasizing that Christianity’s own teachings preclude politically coerced support for particular sects, and to all citizens based on reason. Read more