Davy Crockett was wrong, part 3
Why Congress Has NO Right to Give Charitable Relief
This is a continuation of the story we began in our post on Tuesday, December 27th. The second of three installments was posted yesterday. This is a newspaper reporter’s enthralling story of his memorable meeting with the old “Bear Hunter” from Tennessee. This article is taken from The Life of Colonel David Crockett, by Edward S. Ellis (Philadelphia: Porter & Coates, 1884)
The reporter—who had become friends with the legendary legislator—queried Crockett concerning why in the world he had with a passionate speech on the floor of the House completely turned around a measure which would have designated money for the benefit of a widow of a notable naval officer.
Crockett tells the reporter a story of how he came home to his district in eastern Tennessee to campaign for reelection to the House of Representatives, how he met a farmer and the important lesson he had learned from the farmer.
We had left off where the farmer is getting to the nub of the matter. QUOTE:
“So you see, Colonel, you have violated the Constitution in what I consider a vital point. It is a precedent fraught with danger to the country, for when Congress once begins to stretch its power beyond the limits of the Constitution, there is no limit to it, and no security for the people.
I have no doubt you acted honestly, but that does not make it any better, except as far as you are personally concerned, and you see that I cannot vote for you.”
I tell you I felt streaked. I saw if I should have opposition, and this man should go talking, he would set others to talking, and in that district I was a gone fawn-skin. I could not answer him, and the fact is, I did not want to. But I must satisfy him, and I said to him:
“Well, my friend, you hit the nail upon the head when you said I had not sense enough to understand the Constitution. I intended to be guided by it, and thought I had studied it full.
I have heard many speeches in Congress about the powers of Congress, but what you have said there at your plow has got more hard, sound sense in it than all the fine speeches I ever heard.
If I had ever taken the view of it that you have, I would have put my head into the fire before I would have given that vote; and if you will forgive me and vote for me again, if I ever vote for another unconstitutional law I wish I may be shot.”
He laughingly replied:
“Yes, Colonel, you have sworn to that once before, but I will trust you again upon one condition. You say that you are convinced that your vote was wrong. Your acknowledgment of it will do more good than beating you for it.
If, as you go around the district, you will tell people about this vote, and that you are satisfied it was wrong, I will not only vote for you, but will do what I can to keep down opposition, and, perhaps, I may exert some little influence in that way.”
“If I don’t,” said I, “I wish I may be shot; and to convince you that I am in earnest in what I say, I will come back this way in a week or ten days, and if you will get up a gathering of the people, I will make a speech to them. Get up a barbecue, and I will pay for it.”
“No, Colonel, we are not rich people in this section, but we have plenty of provisions to contribute for a barbecue, and some to spare for those who have none. The push of crops will be over in a few days, and we can then afford a day for a barbecue.
This is Thursday; I will see to getting it up on Saturday a week. Come to my house on Friday, and we will go together, and I promise you a very respectable crowd to see and hear you.”
“Well, I will be here. But one thing more before I say good-bye. I must know your name.”
“My name is Bunce.”
“Not Horatio Bunce?”
“Well, Mr. Bunce, I never saw you before, though you say you have seen me; but I know you very well. I am glad I have met you, and very proud that I may hope to have you for my friend. You must let me shake your hand before I go.”
We shook hands and parted.
It was one of the luckiest hits of my life that I met him. He mingled but little with the public, but was widely known for his remarkable intelligence and incorruptible integrity, and for a heart brimful and running over with kindness and benevolence, which showed themselves not only in words but in acts.
He was the oracle of the whole country around him, and his fame had extended far beyond the circle of his immediate acquaintance.
Though I had never met him before, I had heard much of him, and but for this meeting it is very likely I should have had opposition, and had been beaten. One thing is very certain, no man could now stand up in that district under such a vote.
At the appointed time I was at his house, having told our conversation to every crowd I had met, and to every man I stayed all night with, and I found that it gave the people an interest and a confidence in me stronger than I had ever seen manifested before.
Though I was considerably fatigued when I reached his house, and, under ordinary circumstances, should have gone early to bed, I kept him up until midnight, talking about the principles and affairs of government, and got more real, true knowledge of them than I had got all my life before.
I have told you Mr. Bunce converted me politically. He came nearer converting me religiously than I had ever been before. He did not make a very good Christian of me, as you know; but he has wrought upon my mind a conviction of the truth of Christianity, and upon my feelings a reverence for its purifying and elevating power such as I had never felt before.
I have known and seen much of him since, for I respect him — no, that is not the word — I reverence and love him more than any living man, and I go to see him two or three times every year; and I will tell you, sir, if everyone who professes to be a Christian lived and acted and enjoyed it as he does, the religion of Christ would take the world by storm.
But to return to my story. The next morning we went to the barbecue, and, to my surprise, found about a thousand men there. I met a good many whom I had not known before, and they and my friend introduced me around until I had got pretty well acquainted — at least, they all knew me.
In due time notice was given that I would speak to them. They gathered around a stand that had been erected. I opened my speech by saying:
“Fellow citizens — I present myself before you today feeling like a new man. My eyes have lately been opened to truths which ignorance or prejudice, or both, had heretofore hidden from my view. I feel that I can today offer you the ability to render you more valuable service than I have ever been able to render before.
I am here today more for the purpose of acknowledging my error than to seek your votes. That I should make this acknowledgment is due to myself as well as to you. Whether you will vote for me is a matter for your consideration only.”
I went on to tell them about the fire and my vote for the appropriation as I have told it to you, and then told them why I was satisfied it was wrong. I closed by saying:
“And now, fellow citizens, it remains only for me to tell you that the most of the speech you have listened to with so much interest was simply a repetition of the arguments by which your neighbor, Mr. Bunce, convinced me of my error.
“It is the best speech I ever made in my life, but he is entitled to the credit of it. And now I hope he is satisfied with his convert and that he will get up here and tell you so.”
He came upon the stand and said:
“Fellow citizens — It affords me great pleasure to comply with the request of Colonel Crockett. I have always considered him a thoroughly honest man, and I am satisfied that he will faithfully perform all that he has promised you today.”
He went down, and there went up from the crowd such a shout for Davy Crockett as his name never called forth before.
I am not much given to tears, but I was taken with a choking then and felt some big drops rolling down my cheeks. And I tell you now that the remembrance of those few words spoken by such a man, and the honest, hearty shout they produced, is worth more to me than all the honors I have received and all the reputation I have ever made, or ever shall make, as a member of Congress.
“Now, sir,” concluded Crockett, “you know why I made that speech yesterday. I have had several thousand copies of it printed and was directing them to my constituents when you came in.
“There is one thing now to which I will call your attention. You remember that I proposed to give a week’s pay. There are in that House many very wealthy men — men who think nothing of spending a week’s pay, or a dozen of them for a dinner or a wine party when they have something to accomplish by it.
“Some of those same men made beautiful speeches upon the great debt of gratitude which the country owed the deceased — a debt which could not be paid by money, particularly so insignificant a sum as $10,000, when weighed against the honor of the nation.
Yet not one of them responded to my proposition. Money with them is nothing but trash when it is to come out of the people. But it is the one great thing for which most of them are striving, and many of them sacrifice honor, integrity, and justice to obtain it.” END QUOTE
Our final comments on Why Congress Has NO Right to Give Charitable Relief—and a multitude of other grants, gifts, loans, aid, etc.
We can think of other subjects, essays, and articles with which to close out the year of 2022. This essay, however, seems to us to be of most critical importance in the year(s) ahead, as Christians who love our country and cherish our God-given freedoms will hopefully copy and distribute this essay widely.
Make a project of presenting it to every one of your local officials regardless of any political party affiliation or of no affiliation (independent). Do it in as friendly a manner as possible. In person is best. If you mail it in, they will probably never see it, let alone read it.
Expect some degree of outrage and/or “push back” from the socialists among us. Either ignore them, or if you detect a glimmer of hope that they truly have an open mind, that they could become allies once they are taught the fundamental principles of the Constitution, then by all means, engage in polite discourse with them.
Encourage them to learn more about the Constitution and why it is the best form of government, short of the kingdom of heaven. (We have suggested several sources of eye-opening civics schooling in previous blogs. Click here and here and here.)
It just may open the eyes of some liberals and socialists—the intellectually honest ones. Then, be sure to keep an eye on how your public servants are adhering to Constitutional principles. Find allies among your friends and neighbors, and together, hold the officials’ feet to the fire. Hopefully, we will have thousands of Horatio Bunces converting modern Davy Crocketts!
This is a step towards “Thy kingdom come…” —the Kingdom of Heaven upon the earth!