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Saturday, March 23, 2013

On the moral and legal legitimacy of the Revolution

Douglas Wilson: Resisting the Slavers
... the question of the American War for Independence, and whether or not it was legitimate for our Founders to revolt against "the existing authorities."

I believe it was legitimate but I believe this because it wasn't over the levels of taxation. Rather, the issue was one of which bodies had the constitutional authority to tax the colonies at all. Living as I do in Idaho, if I were to receive a tax bill levied by the legislature of North Dakota, I would simply round file it. This would not place me in violation of the existing law -- the North Dakota legislature would be the ones violating the law by trying to tax me. I don't live there, and they have no legitimate jurisdiction over me whatever.

The circumstances were similar for the American colonies. There are some variations in all this, but when the colonies were first established, the crown was their executive authority, and they were given their own legislatures. As a result of the Glorious Revolution in England in 1688, the crown lost authority in England, and Parliament gained authority. They gained authority in such a way as to make them assume (wrongly) that their legislature (for England) was now in charge of all the legislatures in other places. But it wasn't -- that was the point of dispute. "No taxation without representation" was an American argument from the law. Parliament had no taxing authority over the colonies because the colonies had no representatives in Parliament.

In short, the Americans were the conservatives, fighting to maintain their rights under the constitution, and the Parliament represented the radical innovation. ...
And the "radical innovation" of the English Parliament was statism ... which, as anyone can see, is *still* the problem in Britain. Of course, since the Progressive Era, that's also the problem in the USA.