Tennessee militia Colonel David Crockett, known for his 1836 stand in defense of the Alamo, also served three terms in the United States Congress between 1827 and 1835. The following excerpt is from an 1884 biography by Edward S. Ellis, "The Life of Colonel David Crockett," where he took a stand for the rights and responsibilities of the people limiting the roll and privilege of government.
The Church must agree with the fundamental moral and religious principles expressed by David Crockett and Horatio Bunce. We believe that all charity should be in the hands of the people and no follower of Christ should look to men who call themselves benefactors but exercise authority one over the other in accordance with the directives of Christ.
From the beginning the desire for benefits that are provided by compelled contribution extracted from your neighbor by force, even by legal means, violates the prohibition to not coveting our neighbor's goods or anything that is our neighbor's.
"Mr. Speaker --- I have as much respect for the memory of the deceased, and as much sympathy for the suffering of the living, if suffering there be, as any man in this house, but we must not permit our respect for the dead or our sympathy for a part of the living to lead us into an act of injustice to the balance of the living. I will not go into an argument to prove that Congress has no power to appropriate this money as an act of charity. Every member upon this floor knows it. We have the right, as individuals, to give away as much of our own money as we please in charity; but as members of Congress, we have no right so to appropriate a dollar of the public money. Some eloquent appeals have been made to us upon the ground that it is a debt due the deceased. Mr. Speaker, the deceased lived long after the close of the war; he was in office to the day of his death, and I have never heard that the government was in arrears to him.
"Every man in this House knows it is not a debt. We cannot, without the grossest corruption, appropriate this money as the payment of a debt. We have not the semblance of authority to appropriate it as a charity. Mr. Speaker, I have said we have the right to give as much money of our own as we please. I am the poorest man on this floor. I cannot vote for this bill, but I will give one week's pay to the object, and, if every member of Congress will do the same, it will amount to more than the bill asks.
"He took his seat. Nobody replied. The bill was put upon its passage, and, instead of passing unanimously, as was generally supposed, and as, no doubt, it would, but for that speech, it received but few votes, and of course, was lost.
"Later, when asked by a friend why he had opposed the appropriation, Crockett gave this explanation:
- "Several years ago I was one evening standing on the steps of the Capitol with some other members of Congress, when our attention was attracted by a great light over in Georgetown. It was evidently a large fire. We jumped into a hack and drove over as fast as we could. In spite of all that could be done, many houses were burned and many families made homeless, and, 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 that something ought to be one for them. 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 it could be done.
"The next summer, when it began to be time to think about the election, I concluded I would take a scout around among the boys of my district. I had no opposition there, but, as the election was some time off, I did not know what might turn up. When riding one day in a part of my district in which I was more a stranger than any other, I saw a man in a field plowing and coming toward the road. I gauged my gait so that we should meet as he came to the fence. As 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 are Colonel Crockett. I have seen you once before, and voted for you the last time you were elected. I suppose you are out electioneering now, but you had better not waste your time or mine. I shall not vote for you again.'
"This was a sockdolager... I begged him to tell me what was the matter.
" 'Well, Colonel, it is hardly worth-while to waste time or words upon it. I do not see how it can be mended, but you gave a vote last winter which shows that either you have not capacity to understand the Constitution, or that you are wanting in the honesty and firmness to be guided by it. In either case you are not the man to represent me. But I beg your pardon for expressing it in that way. I did not intend to avail myself of the privilege of the constituent to speak plainly to a candidate for the purpose of insulting or wounding you. I intended by it only to say that your understanding of the Constitution is very different from mine; and I will say to you what, but for my rudeness, I should not have said, that I believe you to be honest.... But an understanding of the Constitution different from mine I cannot overlook, because the Constitution, to be worth anything, 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.'
"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, there's no mistake. Though I live here in the backwoods and seldom go from home, I take the papers from Washington and read very carefully all the proceedings in Congress. My papers say that last winter you voted for a bill to appropriate $20,000 to some suffers by a fire in Georgetown. Is that true?'
"Well, my friend, I may as well own up. You have got me there. But certainly nobody will complain that a great and rich country like ours should give the insignificant sum of $20,000 to relieve its suffering women and children, particularly with a full and overflowing Treasury, and I am sure, if you had been there, you would have done just as I did.'
" '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 money at pleasure is the most dangerous power that can be intrusted to man, particularly under our system of collecting revenue by tariff, which reaches every man in the country, no matter how poor he may be, and the poorer he is the more he pays in proportion to his means. What is worse, it presses upon him without his knowledge where the weight centers, for there is not a man in the United States who can ever guess how much he pays to the government. So you see, that while you are contributing to relieve one, you are 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 $20,000,000 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 thing and everything which you may believe, or profess to believe, is a charity, and to any amount you may think proper.
You will very easily perceive 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. If twice as many houses had been burned in this county as in Georgetown, neither you nor any other member of Congress would have thought of appropriating a dollar for our relief. There are about two hundred and forty members of Congress. If they had shown their sympathy for the suffers by contributing each one week's pay, it would have made over $13,000. There are plenty of men in and around Washington who could have given $20,000 without depriving themselves of even a luxury of life. The congressmen chose to keep their own money, which, if reports be true, some of them spend not very creditable; and the people about Washington, no doubt, applauded you for relieving them from the necessity of giving by giving what was not yours to give. 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 moneys, and for nothing else. Everything beyond this is usurpation, and a violation of the Constitution. 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 to talking, he would set others to talking, and in that district I was a gone fawn-skin. I could not answer him, for 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 did not have 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 about the powers of Congress, but what you have said here 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 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 this district, you will tell people about this vote, and that you are satisfied that 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 a little influence in that way.'
"If I don't [said I] I wish I may be shot; and to convince you that I am 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 to 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 up on Saturday 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.
"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 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 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 a 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 up 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 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 for 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 that 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 reputation I have ever made, or shall ever make, as a member of Congress.
"Now, sir," concluded Crockett, "you know why I made that speech yesterday. There is one thing now to which I wish to call to 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 --- and the insignificance and worthlessness of money, particularly so insignificance 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 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."
In the story “A Tale of Two Alamos,” Hutton refers to “Travis’ line in the dust” as “that sublime moment of democratic choice.” As the story goes, William Barret Travis gave his men a choice of leaving or staying to fight a ”hopeless“ battle. All the men stayed but one Louis Rose, who climbed the wall and escaped to tell the story and open a meat market in Nacogdochea. When asked why he didn’t stay, his reply was “By God, I wasn’t ready to die.”
Of course, almost all did die including Tennessee militia Colonel David Crockett. If Louis Rose had been given a democratic choice, he would have been compelled to stay by the will of the majority. It would have been both a sublime act of democracy and his last. Fortunately, it was a sublime moment of individual choice in the Republic of Texas that allowed Rose to live.
A democracy is a kind of common purse of rights. A democracy may exist within a Republic. It may impose duties and privileges that may be legally incumbent upon its members. In a democracy, the president may not be titular and the State may not be separate from its government. Members will be more likely to elect leaders as rulers and lawmakers in an indirect democracy rather than mere representatives in a republic.
The transition from being a natural citizen or even a mere inhabitant in a republic into a subject citizen in a democracy within a republic may take place over a period of time but often for the same reasons as outlined by Polybius more than a century before the death of the republic with the rise of the first Caesar.
In a republic, the State (status, estate… resting in the rights of the freeman) is independent of its government. A freeman was free from civil authority and religiously allowed to accept or reject because his government must acquire consent. That consent is commonly granted by the application for benefits and entitlements at the expense of your neighbor. “He who receives the benefit should also bear the disadvantage.” The disadvantage shall continue to increase if we continue to persist on this path to corruption.
The word “republic” was used because those early pilgrims and separatists knew its origins. It is a shortened form of the Latin idiom “Libera res publica”, meaning “free from things public.” The heads of the government were “titular” in authority, meaning they held authority “in name only.” But for the people to maintain the power to choose, e.g. liberty, they needed to maintain the responsibilities of liberty.
Plutarch warned: “The real destroyers of the liberties of the people is he who spreads among them bounties, donations, and benefits.”
The tutelary power of the state must remain in the hands of the individual and not be transferred to the corporate State or body politic. That transfer of the responsibility of social welfare from the people in voluntary systems would elevate the power of the State has proven to be an error throughout history. That process alone assures the demise of liberty and that a great nation will soon be great no more.
The tutelary power of society was managed through their temples and priests identified by a representation of the personification of a mythical spirit or god called a Daemon. These centers or temples were supplied by freewill offerings and charity or by tribute and forced taxation. The transition from voluntary contributions to the use of force was often gradual. Greeks understood that it was these systems of welfare that bound the loyalty of the people and because of that they were not even to mention the name of another Daemon.
"That the man who first ruined the Roman people twas he who first gave them treats and gratuities" Plutarch's Life of Coriolanus (c. 100 AD.)
The Bible tells us that such common purses run toward evil. Over and over again the Bible warns us not to take benefits or the deceitful dainties from men who exercise authority one over the other, because what they offer is a snare and a trap, and will make us merchandise (or human resources), and a surety for debt.
The United States was never a pure republic. It was to guarantee a republican form of government to the states, but it was an indirect democracy created by the constitution at the will of the original state republics. A Republic is “that form of government in which the administration of affairs is open to all the citizens. In another sense, it signifies the state, independently of its government.”
In the original American Republics, citizenship of the individual freeman depended upon his “ownership” of land as an estate, but “in the United States ‘it is a political obligation’ depending not on ownership of land, but on the enjoyment of the protection of government; and it ‘binds the citizen to the observance of all laws’ of his sovereign.”
"The early church was characterized by a sense of solidarity (cf. Acts 4:32); Christian unity provided a source of strength against the hostile forces of the world. Only later did “sects” mar the scene. Second, the historian noted that the disciples were cautious “to detect the errors of heresy” as such evolved within the movement. The devout were willing “to expel” from the society of the faithful those, who by teaching or practice, threatened the safety of the religious community . Gibbon also notes that one of the factors that preserved the integrity of the church in those early days was that every congregation was “separate and independent,” and as yet not “connected by any supreme authority or legislative assembly.” 
"Our curiosity is naturally prompted to inquire by what means the Christian faith obtained so remarkable a victory over the established religions of the earth. To this inquiry an obvious but unsatisfactory answer may be returned; that it was owing to the convincing evidence of the doctrine itself, and to the ruling providence of its great Author. But as truth and reason seldom find so favourable a reception in the world, and as the wisdom of Providence frequently condescends to use the passions of the human heart, and the general circumstances of mankind, as instruments to execute its purpose, we may still be permitted, though with becoming submission, to ask, not indeed what were the first, but what were the secondary causes of the rapid growth of the Christian church? It will, perhaps, appear that it was most effectually favoured and assisted by the five following causes:
- I. The inflexible, and, if we may use the expression, the intolerant zeal of the Christians, derived, it is true, from the Jewish religion, but purified from the narrow and unsocial spirit which, instead of inviting, had deterred the Gentiles from embracing the law of Moses.
- II. The doctrine of a future life, improved by every additional circumstance which could give weight and efficacy to that important truth.
- III. The miraculous powers ascribed to the primitive church.
- IV. The pure and austere morals of the Christians.
- V. The union and discipline of the Christian republic, which gradually formed an independent and increasing state in the heart of the Roman empire."
The early Church ministers were also titular. The could not exercise authority one over the other because Christ forbid them to be like the rulers of other governments. They did have authority over what people gave them in charity. This is why they could provide welfare for early Christians in need without being like the Benefactors of other governments that ruled over the people.
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- SMU Mustang’s Spring 1986 alumni magazine. Story by Paul Andrew Hutton.
- Cujus est commodum ejus debet esse incommodum.
- 2 Peter 2:19 “While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.”
- Tutelary is having the guardianship of a person or a thing like a Father or Benefactor.
- Daemon is the Latin word for the Ancient Greek daimon
- “Cast in thy lot among us; let us all have one purse: ....” Proverbs 1:14-19
- Proverbs 23:1 “When thou sittest to eat with a ruler, consider diligently what [is] before thee: And put a knife to thy throat, if thou be a man given to appetite. Be not desirous of his dainties: for they are deceitful meat.”
- Luke 22:25 “And he said unto them, 'The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. But it shall not be so among you.'”[Matthew 20:25, Mark 10:42]
- Romans 11:9 “And David saith, 'Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompence unto them':” quoting Psalms 69:22
- 2 Peter 2:3 “And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.”
- Proverbs 17:18 “A man void of understanding striketh hands, [and] becometh surety in the presence of his friend.”
- Republic. Black’s Dictionary 3rd Ed. p1536
- Wallace v. Harmstad, 44 Pa. 492; etc. Black’s 3rd Ed. p. 95
- Gibbon, Edward. (n.d.). The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Vol. I. New York, NY: The Modern Library.
- Gibbon, Edward. (n.d.). The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Vol. I. New York, NY: The Modern Library.
- Chapter 15, Fall In The West — The Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon