Saturday, June 27, 2009

Why I am an American

by J. Reuben Clark

I am an American because I believe in a government of laws and not of men, and in national allegiance to high principle and lofty ideal instead of to a personal sovereign.

I am an American because I believe in a government with three distinct, separate branches, each mutually independent of the other, with no power of delegation or appropriation of rights or powers by any one to or from any other.

I am an American because I believe that government must derive its "just powers from the consent of the governed" and that branches of government and officers shall have such powers and such only as shall be given by the people; because I believe that the assumption by branches of government or by officers of rights or powers not specifically conferred upon them is usurpation; and because impeachement or other trial lies against an officer who so usurps rights or powers not specifically conferred.

I am an American because I believe in the greatest possible measure of self-government and because I believe in a federal system of government which keeps local affairs in the hands of local governments.

I am an American because I believe in a bill of rights which places wholly beyond the reach of lawful government certain matters affecting "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," and specifically the right of freedom of conscience and worship, the right of free speech and a free press, the right peaceably to assemble and petition government, and the right to gain and hold property without molestation except by due process of law.

I am an American because under our form of government the people of the United States have made a progress never before made by any other people in the world in an equal time during the whole period of recorded history.

I am an American because standards of life and of living of the entire American people are far beyond those enjoyed by any other people in any other part of the world, either now or at any other time, which is a living testimony and evidence of the kindly beneficence of our free institutions.

I am an American because this Nation has no scheme or plan of conquest, because it has a respect for the rights of other peoples and of other nations, because it promotes justice and honor in the relationships of nations, because it loves the ways of peace as against war, as shown by the repeated peaceful adjustment of its own international disputes, because it has conquered the land greed which so afflicts the nations of the world, as demonstrated in Cuba and the Philippines.

I am an American because my country abolished slavery after it had become deep-rooted and because men still are free to work, and are secure in the enjoyment of the products of their labor.

I am an American because I firmly and earnestly believe that our Constitution is an inspired document designed by our Maker to set up a government which would make sure and secure the rights set forth in the Bill of Rights, and particularly the right of freedom of conscience and worship.

I am an American because I believe that the destinty of America is to be the abiding place of liberty and free institutions, and that its own practice and enjoyment of these blessings shall be to the world a beacon light wich shall radiate its influence by peaceful means to the uttermost parts of the world, to the uplifting of all humanity.

--Reprint from Congressional Record, June 11, 1940.

2 comments:

  1. Another great post. I find this part particularly interesting:
    assumption by branches of government or by officers of rights or powers not specifically conferred upon them is usurpation

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  2. I noticed that too. J. Reuben Clark was a constitutional attorney, I believe. Or at least he had a very strong interest in Constitutional law (and he was an attorney).
    I wonder if that concept would be helpful to The Patrick Henry Caucus and others who are attempting to limit what the Federal govt can do to us. They're looking for the chink in the armor that will undo this regime.

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