Where are the Farmers?

DavyCrockettby Pat Tarzwell   11/24/15
Here is a story from David Barton, on WallBuilders Live! radio the other day. I have posted this before, but it is the message that I now take from this that has changed.

This is a story that Davy Crockett relates. It is from the 1870’s biography. Crockett died in 1836 but his biography came out afterwards. Here is an example of the plain speak that used to be a part of this nation. He wrote:

Several years ago I was standing one evening on the steps of the Capital with some other members of Congress, when our attention was attracted by great light over in Georgetown. It was evidently a large fire, we jumped into the hat (a cab), and drove over as fast as we could; when we got there I went to work and I never worked so hard in my life as I did there for several hours. But in spite of all that could done many houses were burned many families made houseless, besides some of them had lost all but the clothes they had on. The weather was very cold and when I saw so many women and children suffering, I felt as something ought to be done for them, and everybody else seemed to feel the same way. The next morning a bill was introduced appropriating $20,000 for their relief, we put aside all other business and rushed it through as soon as could be done.  The yeas and nays were recorded, and my name appeared on the journals in favor of the bill.

The next summer when it began to be time to think about election, I concluded I would take a scout around the boys in my districts, so I put a couple shirts and a few twist of tobacco in my saddlebags and I went out. I’d been out about a week and found things going very smoothly when riding one day into a part of my district in which I was more of the stranger than any other part, I saw a man in the field plowing coming toward the road. I gauged my walk so that we should meet, as he came to the fence, he came up I spoke to the man, he replied politely but as I thought rather coldly.  I began well friend I am one of those unfortunate beings called candidates, and….  Yes I know you, you’re Colonel Crocket, I’ve seen you once before and voted for you the last time you were elected.  I suppose you are out electioneering now, but you’d better not waste your time or mine, I shall not vote for you again.  I begged him to tell me what was the matter.

Well Colonel, said he, you gave a vote last winter which shows a you either have not capacity to understand the Constitution, or that you’re wanting the honesty or the firmness to be guided by it, in either case you’re not the man to represent me.  Now I believe you  to be honest, but an understanding Constitution different from mine I cannot overlook because the Constitution, to be worth anything at all must be held sacred and rigidly observed in all its provisions the man who wields power and misinterprets it is the more dangerous the more honest he is… Crockett said I admit the truth of all you say, but there must be some mistake about it.  For I do not remember that I gave any vote last winter upon any Constitutional question…  No Colonel, said he, there is no mistake, though I live here in the back woods, and seldom go from home I take the papers from Washington and read very carefully all the proceedings of Congress.  My paper say that last winter you voted for bill to appropriate $20,000 to some suffers by fire in Georgetown, is that true?  Certainly it is, said I, and I thought that that would be the last vote which anyone in the world would have found fault with.  Well Colonel, said he, where do you find in the Constitution any authority to give away public money in charity?  Crockett said, here was a sockdolager, when I began to think about it, I could not remember a single thing in the Constitution that authorizes it. I found I must take another tack, so I said, well my friend I may as well own up, you got me there, as certainly nobody will complain that a great and rich country like ours should have the insignificant sum of $20,000 to relief women and children, particularly with the full and overflowing treasury.  And I’m sure, if you’d of been there you would’ve done as I did.

It’s not the amount, said he, that I complain of, it’s 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, While you are contributing to relieve one, you’re drawing it from thousands who are even worse off than he. If you had the right to give anything, the amount was simply a matter of discretion with you; and you had as much right to give $20 million as $20,000. You will very easily perceive that a wide door would be open for fraud, 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 monies they please but they have no right to touch the dollar of the public money for that purpose.  There are about 240 members of congress if they had shown their sympathy for the suffers by contributing each one-week’s pay it would’ve made over $13,000.  There are plenty of wealthy men in Washington who’d freely give $20,000, without depriving themselves of even one luxury of life.  The congressman chose to keep their own money.

The people have delegated to congress by the Constitution the power to do certain things; to do these it is authorized to collect and pay monies and for nothing else, everything else beyond this is usurpation and a violation of the Constitution.   Crockett then wrote, I could not answer him, and the fact is I was so fully convinced that he was right 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 have not sense enough to understand the Constitution.  I intended to be guided by it and thought I had studied it fully.  I have heard many speeches in congress, but what you have said here at your plow has got more hard sound sense, then all the fine speeches I’ve 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 would’ve have given that vote.  And if you will forgive me and vote for me again, if I ever vote for another un-Constitutional law I wish I may be shot.

He goes on in the story to write about the affect this had on him, but I will cut that part short.  I have gone through a class put on by a group that is called the Center for Self Governance, a fine group to be sure.  They tell the story of Mrs. Powell, the woman who asks Dr. Franklin after the Constitution was born, “Dr. Franklin, what have you given us, Sir?”  His reply was reported to be, “A Republic if you can keep it.”  Well, this group challenges us to all be a Mrs. Powell. But that is where this post forms a different conclusion.  It is not enough for us to passively ask what they are doing; it is for us to instruct our representatives where they are failing just as this farmer did with his representative Davy Crockett.

This site has many fine authors and many fine minds, but I ask how many have used these God given talents to try to instruct their representatives?  To proudly put on the mantle of the plain spoken farmer from this story?

I agree with Dr. Franklin when he said, “If We Can Keep It!”  Well that “we” is still us — you and me today.  Davy Crockett said it was one of the luckiest hits of his life.  He also famously said to Congress, “You can all go to Hell, I’m going to Texas,” in reference to support for the nation of Texas in their war for independence against Santa Anna.  Are we ready to go to a war of rhetoric for our own independence from the federal government?  To say to the political correctness crowd, you can all go to Hell; I’m going to speak the truth about the Constitution with my representatives?

We may not think that any one individual can have an impact. But this farmer did. And if we each one of us can turn just one progressive off their path; just imagine what an impact that would have in restoring our independence.


Pat Tarzwell was born conservative, runs a successful hi-tech business, and lives a red-state life in a deep blue one. • (733 views)

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19 Responses to Where are the Farmers?

  1. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    Where are the farmers?

    Cashing their subsidy checks from the department of agriculture.

    • Pst4usa says:

      I am afraid you are correct Mr. Kung.

    • David Ray says:

      A profound and also . . . agonizing commentary on this good article.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        Lord Acton had it right when he wrote, “power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

        One could fairly interchange “power” with “government”.

        That is not to say mankind can do without government. It cannot. But the balance between “order and security” which can only be maintained by “power”, and liberty, which is the absence of coercion, has always been one of the basic tensions in civilization.

        Sensible people know all government is, to some extent, corrupt. But that is the price one pays to avoid anarchy. However, as government grows, so grows corruption. We have now reached a point where the government is so large and so powerful that the corruption touches all of us and corrupts the society as a whole.

        The only way to reduce such corruption is to reduce the size of government.

        • David Ray says:

          I can think of a few “dept’s of” to start with. (Perry although forgot a few.)
          Unfortunately, even my fellow tea-partiers have expressed resistance to solving the medicare/medicaid problem.

          As it is, liberals plant so much bullshit that we all too quickly grow used to it’s stench . . . as your 1st post pointed out.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            Walter Williams has been known to suggest reducing the federal government to its legal powers. That would get rid of most of it. Unfortunately, there’s no way that will ever happen, even though the individual states could replace the various welfare-state programs themselves.

  2. Timothy Lane says:

    I first read this anecdote (or a version of it) nearly 50 years ago, and a few times since. The farmer made a very good point, and one even more applicable today. I will make a few minor points. Crockett apparently preferred to be called “David”, not “Davy”; that came in a lot later, perhaps even from Disney. In addition, his final blast wasn’t made to Congress, but to his constituents, who had just defeated him for re-election. (They held elections at different times in that era.)

  3. Steve Lancaster says:

    A most straight forward presentation of Libertarianism. The story, like many about Crockett and stories he told are what Christians call parables.

  4. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    I got Pat’s story first-hand the other day while eating some great pizza at a local restaurant. After he was finished with the friendly diatribe (and the pizza), he said he was going to write it up. I figured it was one of those “Your check is in the mail” moments. I know that Pat is busy at work and with various other projects. He doesn’t have much time to write.

    But he did. And one thing I get out of this (other than that they probably don’t make citizen-farmers like they used to) is that this article is the political essay equivalent of breaking the fourth wall.

    In theatre, the “fourth wall” is the imaginary wall at the front of the stage in a traditional three-walled theatre. It is the wall through which the audience sees the play. It is the wall that separates the world of the characters from that of the audience. And if a character gives an aside directly to the audience, even with just a wink, or in any way acknowledges that he is just a part of a fictional play, it’s said to be breaking the fourth wall.

    I try often to break that fourth wall by reminding people of the cultural goldfish bowl they are swimming in. Many do not see the water and don’t think it worthwhile to bother to notice. Much of conservative commentary is little more than a daily drama, something Rush Limbaugh noted some time back, and something I’ve long noticed (even going so far as calling much of it a mere book club). Conservative commentary seems more a way for people to vent. But it sure as hell isn’t the lightening that is then followed by thunder.

    You get venting and not much else. And pretty soon, especially with the help of superficial mediums such as Facebook, the stage is the thing. The three walls are all that matter. The fourth wall (reality) is barely noticed. But when Pat (or Mr. Kung, for that matter) note that talk is cheap and that actually making some kind of impact in the outer world (by influencing a politician, a friend, a boss, a family member, Davy Crockett, whomever) is what we need to do, they are breaking the fourth wall of conservative commentary.

    We should do more of that here. Patricia certainly does, for example.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      One can get this “fourth wall” effect in books, too. A science fiction writer (I think it was Marti Steussy) once said that she didn’t much care for Piers Anthony’s Xanth books because the unending puns made it too obvious it was a book, taking away the illusion of a different reality (“suspension of disbelief”). On the other hand, John Dickson Carr once had Gideon Fell deliver a lecture on locked-room mysteries on the basis that there was no use pretending they weren’t in a novel.

      As for influencing others, I doubt I could hope to have any influence on John Yarmuth and probably not Mitch McConnell; most of the effects I might have on Rand Paul would be superfluous. (When I received contribution requests from the McConnell campaign at my previous e-mail address after the Thad Cochran nomination in Mississippi, I would emphasize that I wouldn’t contribute a penny until he condemned the race-baiting of that campaign. We all know how well that worked.) But I do blog on a lot of websites, including liberal ones such as the Washington Post occasionally. I would hope to have some minor influence that way. And I was active in several elections for Anne Northup.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        I can certainly see where breaking that fourth wall, through puns or otherwise, can ruin a work of art. But subtle use of it can enhance it. I watched “White Christmas” yesterday and at the end of the dance number, “The Best Things Happen While You’re Dancing,” Rosemary Clooney walks in on Danny Kaye and Vera-Ellen at the end of their dance.

        “White Christmas,” being a musical, is often crossing the wall from movie to musical…and back. And typically none of the characters act as if breaking out in song, and going back to normal dialogue, is in the least unusual.

        But at the end of this number, the crossover from musical to “normal” is playfully blurred. Danny has Vera-Ellen in his arms to finish the number and she’s tilted backwards in his arms, head almost touching the floor. George Clooney’s aunt comes in from inside, sees them in a frozen end-of-dance clutch and says, “What is this, the best 2 out of 3?”

        A great moment in a great movie.

        Dancing

    • David Norris says:

      How about this as an ideas folks…

      If Donald Trump, or any other candidate (republican,democrat, libertarian) really wanted to prove to the American people their devotion to the country, then they need to act accordingly, and do something truly bold.

      TALK IS CHEAP! ENOUGH WITH THE PROMISES AND STRONG WORDS. DO SOMETHING!

      Whichever candidate is serious, they could immediately suspend their campaigns, a popular declaration that candidates often make these days, and lead a march on Washington in order to impeach the traitor in the white house, before he can do any more damage to the country with what’s left of his term. Then move to clean out the rest of the corrupt vermin that reside there, republican AND democrat. If need be gather the military to come to assist in the nations aid.

      If any of the candidates really care, and want to show true leadership, and the right use of power, then take on this challenge. Elections can be held afterward, and I am certain they will have no problem being chosen after these dedicated actions that prove they are for real and can be counted on to protect the republic and its citizens.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        Unfortunately, impeachment requires a majority in Congress, which is doubtful given that most Republicans are afraid of being too harsh on the First Black President, and no Democrat will go along them. Conviction (and thus removal) would require a 2/3 vote in the Senate, which would require a minimum of 13 Democrats (assuming everyone votes). To be sure, a sufficiently powerful public effort to expose King Screwtape’s criminal behavior might force enough Democrats to switch over — not for the sake of the country, but for the sake of their seats. But I still doubt you could get enough in the Senate.

        • David Norris says:

          Just brainstorming Tim, albeit, perhaps a bit idealistically. So what can be done then if “we want to keep it” (the republic)? Is it possible to do something beyond venting our displeasure? Any ideas?

          • faba calculo says:

            Suck it up for 13 more months, and don’t do anything radical that will end our chances of winning in 2016, which are none too good now. I mean, hell, we’ve made it 83 months; we can make it the last 13.

  5. faba calculo says:

    Likely enough, the Founders themselves would strongly disagree with each other over what spending power the Constitution gives to the federal government.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      No doubt that is true. But one could see the Constitution from a higher perspective. No one anywhere, including the Founders, supposed there would be an end to disagreements or different overall “visions” for where a society should go and what it should be about. But the Constitution was, and is, a method for handling disagreements.

      It also sets a rough vision for society as well, explicitly and implicitly. This becomes especially clear when you contrast it to the ridiculous constitutions typical in Europe which do about everything but name the brand of toilet paper they’ll use to wipe your ass for you.

      Certainly there was an early split between the more industrial/urban-minded Hamilton faction and the more agrarian/rural Jefferson faction. Who could have ever foreseen how industrialization, science, technology, and freedom itself could change a land and a people? But Hamilton (unless one preferred the plantation-based agrarian lifestyle of the country gentleman) had his finger on the pulse of what was coming and where the country could, and probably should, go.

      Now the battle isn’t over socialism vs. self-determination, per se, for the socialists have won enough of their agenda to assure that it exerts a powerful influence over the way we live and think. The government schools (indoctrination centers all) are a powerful glimpse of this, as well as the hold that entitlements such as Social Security (and now Obamacare) have over us.

      There is likely no going back to the frontier of each man and woman (or family) substantially charting his own course. Now we have only various degrees (even among conservatives) of apologists for the state. This is certainly why certain issues (gun control, for example) gain such prominence. And it’s not that the Second Amendment isn’t of primary importance. It is. But because the battle has been lost in about 3/4 of the areas where our lives intersect, we reach to these hot-button issues as sort of “last stand” issues, filling them with an importance beyond their immediate meaning, and thus hoping to fix many things outside their purview by holding onto them.

      One of the nasty little things I’ve tried to hold onto at StubbornThings is not to institutionalize lying to ourselves as is typical in so many other places. One may make a case for or against socialism, statism, and the creeping unelected and dictatorial bureaucracy, but these are the things now prominent in our lives and they won’t go away simply because we win an issue here or there over abortion or gun rights or whatever. Those “wins” can actually act as little political pacifiers that we suck on, pretending that now everything is alright or headed in the right direction.

      God forbid Jefferson or Hamilton ever got a glimpse at what we have today, for whatever disagreements they had would fade to a sliver of a shadow in comparison to today’s monstrous central government.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        Even the later, more “progressive” presidents would be dismayed at the welfare state. Both Roosevelts would be unhappy with it (FDR was concerned that his programs would encourage idleness), and probably also the ethnic/racial emphasis of modern liberalism (Teddy was aghast at the idea of “hyphenated Amerians”). And the extreme social liberalism and national/cultural self-loathing would equally disgust most liberals before the counterculture took hold. But their policies led us to that pass.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          One could say that the temptation of wielding power overcame their reservations about what government power would do to people. Perhaps like most politicians, they were living for the moment and didn’t give a damn what the consequences of their policies were so long as it allowed them to stay in office, wield power, and massage their overbearing egos.

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