King of the Wild Frontier

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By Sharon DuBois
Editor, The Free Kansan


King of the Wild Frontier

 

In his book The Life of Colonel David Crockett, Ed-ward S. Ellis recounts an incident sure to warm the hearts of all Libertarians.It seems, while Davy Crockett was serving in the U.S. House as a representative from Tennessee, one of his constituents refused to promise to vote for him again. Crockett had, in the previous session, voted for an appropriation for the relief of victims of a fire in Georgetown. Crockett argued that the amount was small, and the cause was appealing.

Here is what the voter had to say:


It is not the amount, Colonel, that I complain of; it is the principle. In the first place, the government ought to have in the Treasury no more than enough for its legitimate purposes. But that has nothing to do with the question. The power of collecting and disbursing mon-ey at pleasure is the most dangerous power that can be entrusted to man…. So you see, that while you are contributing to relieve one, you are drawing it from thousands that are even worse off than he. If you had the right to give anything, the amount was simply a mat-ter of discretion with you, and you had as much right to give $20,000,000 as $20,000. If you have the right to give to one, you have the right to give to all; and, as the Constitution neither defines charity nor stipulates the amount, you are at liberty to give to any and every thing which you may believe, or profess to believe, is a charity, and to any amount you may think proper. You will very easily per-ceive what a wide door this would open for fraud and corruption and favoritism, on the one hand, and for robbing the people on the other. No, Colonel, Congress has no right to give charity. Individual members may give as much of their own money as they please, but they have no right to touch a dollar of the public money for that purpose.

 

Can you imagine how different our current situation would be if the majority of voters were as knowledge-able about the Constitution an this early-19th-century patriot, and as willing to insist that their own representatives abided by it?


Isn’t it our job, as Libertarians, to help make it so?

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