Inventing America: Liberty for All
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Inventing America: Liberty for All

(instrumental music) – [Voiceover] From Dewitt
Theater at Hope College in Holland, Michigan, we
bring you Inventing America. Tonight, the untold story
of the Bill of Rights with our special guests James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, Patrick
Henry, and Thomas Jefferson. Now, here is your moderator,
Professor Fred Johnson. (applause) – Thank you. Thank you. Thank you and welcome
to Inventing America. In the first episode, we talked
about how the 13 American colonies declared their
independence from Great Britain. In the second episode, we
discussed how our founders created a new Constitution
for an infant nation. But what they created, what
today we think of as the miracle at Philadelphia, was anything
but that at the beginning. Many of the founders were
adamantly opposed, why? Well tonight, we’ll find out. And we’ll also find out why
they changed their minds. Each of our guests
played a significant role in making that happen. More than two centuries
later, the solution they came up with not only defines
who we are as Americans, but serves as a beacon to the world. Our first guest is from
the state of Virginia. We remember him not only as
the fourth president of the United States, but as the
father of the Constitution. Please welcome Mr. James Madison. (applause) It’s a pleasure to have you
back on the program, sir. – Well, it wasn’t easy. – I don’t understand. – I was in frail health my whole life. Imagine how I feel now.
(laughter) – All the better to have
you back on the program. You’ll be happy that you’ll be meeting your old mentor, Mr. Jefferson. – You mean he’s joining us? – Indeed he is. – Ah. – We’re also pleased to
have back on our program the author of the Declaration
of Independence and Mr. Madison’s predecessor as president. Today we remember him as the foremost American champion of human rights. Please welcome Mr. Thomas Jefferson. (applause) – My dear Madison! How good it is to see you once more. And if I may say, you look much better than you did the last time I saw you. – Thank you, sir. – And it is good to see you again, sir. – Thank you, Mr. President,
but I’m not so sure you’re gonna be happy
to meet our next guest. – Oh? – Well it’s because the two of you ended up being political rivals. – Oh, good lord, that
could mean most anybody. – I’m speaking of Mr. Hamilton. – Oh. Well. – Our next guest has only recently found his place in history. He served our nation in so many ways. First as General George Washington’s aide de camp during the
American Revolution, and later as our nation’s first
Secretary of the Treasury. Tonight, we remember him as
an ardent defender of the Constitution, please welcome
Mr. Alexander Hamilton. (applause) It’s an honor to have you
back on the program, sir. – Oh, thank you, the honor is mine. But I should point out
that until we served in President Washington’s
cabinet, Mr. Jefferson as Secretary of State and yours truly as Secretary of the Treasury, we were allies in the cause of liberty. – Indeed we were, it was
only later we became rivals. – Speaking of liberty, our next guest was known as the orator of the Revolution. He was, in fact, a planter
and a lawyer by occupation. After the revolution, he
was the first governor of post-Colonial Virginia, please
welcome Mr. Patrick Henry. (applause) It’s an honor to finally
have you on the program, sir. – I thought you’d never ask. – Gentlemen, please have a seat. Mr. Henry, we’ll begin with you. – Excellent. – Isn’t it true, sir,
that after you roused your fellow Virginians to
rebel against the British, I recall your give me liberty
or give me death speech, that you wanted nothing to do with a new federal Constitution. – That is correct. The reason I objected — – The reason you objected, sir, is that any jackass can kick down a barn. It takes a skilled carpenter to build one. – Sir! The reason I objected is that it put too much power at the top. It endangered not only
the rights of the states, but the freedoms of individual citizens. – What about the slaves your wife’s father gave you on your wedding day? – Slaves were not
citizens, as a slave owner yourself you should know better than — – Please, gentlemen, please, please. We’re just getting started. Mr. Henry, would you tell
us something about yourself? We know you from the
liberty or death speech but not much else. – Is that so? Well, I was born on a
plantation in Virginia. When my wife and I married,
her father gave us six slaves, Mr. Madison is correct
about that, and some land upon which we tried to grow tobacco. But the crops failed, and
then our house burned down. – You weren’t cut out
to be a farmer it seems. – Then I opened a mercantile
store, and that failed. After that, my wife had a
mental breakdown and died. She left me with six children. – So you had six children. – Oh, more came after my second marriage. Her name was Dorothea Dandridge. She was 22, I 41. We had 11 more children
and 77 grandchildren. (gasps from audience) Yes, father of his country, indeed. (laughter) Meanwhile, I had taken up politics. – It sounds like you already
had a pretty good voter base. – Ha!
(laughter) Excellent jest, sir. And before that I had taken
up the reading of law. After six weeks, six weeks, mind you, I passed the Virginia bar
exam and became a lawyer. In 17 and 63 I won my
first important case. It was called the Parsons Cause. It determined whether the
price of tobacco paid to clergy for their ecclesiastical
services would be set by local authorities or the crown. It turned out that I
was better at litigating tobacco rather than growing it. – When did you take up politics? – Oh, in 17 and 65, when
Parliament passed the stamp act. I was just elected into
the House of Burgesses, our legislative assembly in Williamsburg, when I made my first political speech. – I remember eavesdropping at the door. – Caesar had his Brutus, I said. Charles the First his Cromwell. And George the Third — – And then I heard
somebody shout, Treason! – And George the Third, I said, may he profit by their example. – It must have been a remarkable speech. – The first of many, if I may
say so, in my public life. – Mr. Jefferson, you
heard Mr. Henry’s speech? – Indeed I did. I was 22 at the time, reading law with Mr. George Wyth in Williamsburg. I remember how awe-struck
I was, but in due course I came to wonder how Henry had
acquired his way with words. Because he was the laziest man for reading that I’ve ever known. – Mr. Jefferson, it took you four years, did it not, to pass the bar exam? As I said, it took me six weeks. Do I detect a hint of jealousy? – Please, please, please
gentlemen, please. Please gentlemen, let’s keep this civil. I’d like to get Mr. Hamilton
in on this discussion. Now sir, you say you never met Mr. Henry in real life, is that correct? – That is correct, but distance
played a big part in that. – Political as well as geographical. – Yes, I would agree with that. We were at opposite ends
of the political spectrum. – Can you explain? – I led the so-called federalist movement in support of the Constitution. Mr. Henry led the anti-federalist movement in opposition to it. He opposed having a Constitutional convention in the first place. – Mr. Henry, tell the gentleman what you said when you learned about it. – I said I smelt a rat. – But Mr. Hamilton, if I
recall, sir, you weren’t very pleased with the outcome yourself. – I wasn’t, no man’s ideas were more remote from the Constitution than mine. – So what made you change your mind? – Dr. Franklin, may he rest in peace. Or more precisely, the words he spoke to us as we finished our work. – What did he say? – That the older he got,
the more he doubted his own judgment, and paid respect
to the judgment of others. – We could benefit from his wisdom today. – I also came to the conclusion, as did Dr. Franklin, that we could do no better. That the Constitution,
with all its faults, was still the best any
assembly of mortals could do. – Notwithstanding an
assembly of demagogues. – So. We set about the task
of getting it ratified. – That required approval
of nine of the 13 states. It was up to each state to ratify it. You remember how the preamble reads, we the people of the United States. – [Professor] Yes, we the people. – At issue was who had the power to govern, the people or the states? That was our single most divisive issue. – And to answer that question,
and many others that came up during the ratification debates,
I wrote a series of essays. With the help of Mr. Madison
and Mr. John J of New York. These essays were first
published in newspapers and later assembled into a
volume called The Federalist. – Mr. Madison sent me a
copy, I have it right here! This is the greatest commentary on government that ever was written. – Well, between the three of us, we wrote 85 essays in 10 months. I wrote 51 of them myself. – Can you say some of
the arguments you made? Mr. Madison, you too, if you don’t mind. – Well, in Federalist number one – we assigned a number to each essay. In Federalist number one,
I wrote the following. It has been reserved to the
people of this country by their conduct and example to
decide the important question. Whether societies of men
are capable of establishing good government from
reflection and choice, or, whether they are forever destined to depend on accident or force. – In Federalist 10, I argued against rule by majority faction. – In Federalist 70, I argued
for a one man chief executive. – In Federalist 51, I argued
for checks and balances between the three branches of government, the legislative, the
executive, and the judicial. I also reflected on the
manner which government is the greatest reflection
on human nature. – I arg —
– Thank you, gentlemen. – Thank you, gentlemen. Mr. Jefferson, as I recall,
sir, you were in France during the convention
and ratification debate. – That is correct, you know your history. – And isn’t it correct,
sir, that you had replaced Dr. Franklin as minister to France? – Not quite. No, I did not replace
him, I succeeded him. Dr. Franklin could never be replaced. – Indeed, well, I do
stand corrected on that. – We owed, indeed we
owed much to the French as they helped us acquire
our liberties from England. Remember, they gave us
the Marquis du Lafayette. But it was a different country when I took up my post in 1784. The indecencies, the
assaults on human liberties that brought about the French Revolution in many ways were a repeat of the abuses that brought about our own revolution. I had seen it all before. – We call that deja vu. – Oh, ho ho! Tres bien! And you know a little French, as well. – Well… – Yes, there were similarities… And some differences. In Boston, Americans
threw tea in the harbor. In Paris, the French stormed the Bastille. I saw it happened! And do you recall what date that was? – Bastille Day is July 14th. – Oh, bravo, quite correct. The 14th of July 17 and 89. On that date, I witness first-hand the outbreak of the French Revolution. And we all know what that led to. – Louis the XVI and Marie
Antoinette would be no more. – And that was the end
of monarchy in France. It impressed upon me the
need to add a Bill of Rights to the Constitution that
Mr. Madison, Mr. Hamilton, and others had hammered
out back in Philadelphia. A list of the guarantees
of individual liberties that government could not infringe upon. – At first, I objected to
Mr. Jefferson’s proposal. – Why so? – I believed state governments were sufficient guarantors
of personal liberties. – I didn’t support Mr.
Jefferson’s proposal either. In Federalist number 84, I
argued that such guarantees are already inherent in
the new Constitution. – What it boiled down
to was that by the end of the convention, we were too worn out to take up debate on the Bill of Rights. We left it to fate,
providence if you will, as to how it would play out. – So? – It turned into a colossal mistake. Whether or not to add a Bill
of Rights became the most contentious issue in the
ratification debates. In Massachusetts, at their ratifying convention, a fistfight broke out. It didn’t go much better
in my own state, Virginia. Before the Constitution came to a vote, Mr. Henry rose in opposition and launched into another one of his demagogic rants. – Take us back to that moment. – Second of June, 1788,
in convention in Richmond. Eight of the 13 states, one
short of the nine needed, had already ratified the Constitution. This meant that Virginia’s
vote was critical. On the third day of the convention
Mr. Henry took the floor. – Gentlemen. Whither is the spirit of America gone? Whither is the genius of America fled? We drew our spirit of liberty
from our British ancestors, but now, gentlemen, the
American spirit, assisted by the ropes and chains of consolidation,
are about to convert this country into a
powerful and mighty empire. Will there be no checks or
balances in this government? What can avail your
specious, imaginary balances, your rope dancing, chain rattling, ridiculous ideal checks and contrivances. I would make this inquiry of those who composed the federal convention. What right had they to say we the people? Who authorized them to
speak the language of we the people instead of we, the states? The people gave them no
authorization to use their name. The states are the soul
of our confederation. May they remain so. – Thank you, Mr. Henry. So Mr. Madison, how did
the vote go after that? – In spite of Mr. Henry’s
plea, we voted to ratify the Constitution, 89 in favor, 79 against, along with the proposed Bill of Rights. Even with that, Mr.
Henry wasn’t very happy. – Tell me about the Bill of Rights. – We intended them as
amendments to the Constitution. We started out with 17,
we ended up with 10. Without Mr. Jefferson
pestering us from France, we might have ended up with none at all. Or with no Constitution at all. – I happen to have a copy
of the Bill of Rights here. Would you mind reading some to us? – Certainly. Article I. Congress shall make no law
respecting an establishment of religion, or abridging the
freedom of speech, or of the press, or of the right of the
people to peaceably assemble. Two. A well-regulated militia,
being necessary to the security of a free state,
the right of the people to keep and bear arms
shall not be infringed. Three. No soldier shall in time
of peace be quartered in any house without the
consent of the owner. Four. The right of the people to be
secure against unreasonable searches and seizures
shall not be violated. Five. No person shall be compelled
in any criminal case to be a witness against himself. Eight. Excessive bail shall not be inquired, nor cruel and unusual
punishments inflicted. Ten. The powers not delegated
to the United States by the Constitution, or prohibited
to it by the states, are reserved to the states
respectfully or to the people. (applause) – Sir, it occurred to me
while you were reading that it might not be a bad
idea if on Inauguration Day the President were required
to not make a speech, but instead stand before
the Chief Justice of the United States and recite
the Bill of Rights. (applause) – If I may say so, that
is a splendid idea. Though I never have been
fond of giving speeches. – As for me… I would rather make a speech. – Mr. Madison, sir, the last
time you were on the program, you spoke of George Mason and the Virginia Declaration of Rights. How much did that influence the Bill of Rights in the Constitution? – A great deal. But it was not the only influence. The ideas go back to the
Magna Carta, and the English Bill of Rights that
Parliament passed in 1689. It even guaranteed the
right to keep and bear arms, although the right applied
only to Protestants. – Not to Catholics? – You can blame that on Henry VIII. If you remember, he wasn’t
very fond of Catholics. (laughter) But, we did improve upon
the English version. – [Professor] When was
the Constitution ratified? – [Madison] The 21st of June in 1788. New Hampshire was the
ninth state to ratify. – [Professor] And the Bill of Rights? – The 15th of December in 1791. Two years and eight months after George Washington was inaugurated. – December 15th, Bill of Rights day. Thank you, gentlemen. (applause) Of the four and a half thousand
words of the US Constitution the most hotly debated
are the 462 that make up the first 10 amendments,
the Bill of Rights. Whether it be issues of freedom of speech, freedom of assembly,
the right to bear arms, or any of the other freedoms
spelled out in those amendments it’s that part of the Constitution that we the people of the United States most often look to the Supreme
Court of the United States to decide how they apply to us. In the next part of our
program, we’re going to find out what the founding fathers
have to say about that. What did they have in mind when they wrote the Bill of Rights? What did they intend? And what do they have to share with us of their wisdom in the 21st century? For that, we have invited
a number of Hope College students to participate
in a Town Hall discussion. Each of them will have the
opportunity to pose a question so that we may find out what our founders have to say to us today. – Good evening, my name is Brandon Fuller. I’m a sophomore from Kentwood, Michigan, and my question is for you, Mr. Henry. Isn’t it true that you were
so upset after your state of Virginia voted for the
Constitution that you tried to prevent Mr. Madison’s election to Congress by gerrymandering his district? (laughter) – Thank you, Mr. Fuller,
for your question. As you heard from Mr. Madison earlier, it was a very close vote in Virginia. But, my friends, being
naturally suspicious, especially after his vigorous opposition in the first place to that proposal of the Bill of Rights, I did not trust him. And certainly did not
want him to be one of the two senators for the
Commonwealth of Virginia. And so, I did exert my
considerable influence within the general assembly
in Richmondtown to ensure, by configuring the voting
districts in the Commonwealth of Virginia in such a way that
two of my very close friends, both very hard states rights men, would be appointed to those two offices. As it turns out, Mr. Madison
was able to secure election to the House of Representatives, defeating in fact his future
presidential successor, Mr. James Monroe, and he
did come forward with a Bill of Rights, one
which I found inadequate. Too feeble and too few. What, sir, were you afraid
of using too much paper? (chuckling) By the way… As I perpetrated this
particular political act first, I believe the word should be henrymander. (laughter) Thank you, Mr. Fuller.
– Thank you. (applause) – Mr. Fuller, Mr. Fuller,
I beg your pardon. Colonel Henry, you made
statement that you did not trust Mr. Madison, and so you
saw fit to henrymander or gerrymander the political districts. But it appears you may not have
trusted the people, either. – Oh no, sir.
– And their opinion. – Oh, yes sir, you desired we
the states not we the people. Thank heavens it’s not
henrymandering, and I shall see fit that someday gerrymandering
may be discontinued. (applause) – Hello, my name is Irene Garish, and I’m a junior from
Las Alamos, New Mexico. My question is for Mr. Hamilton. You said you objected to
the Bill of Rights because such guarantees were already
inherent in the Constitution. Why not spell them out? – My dear Ms. Garish, I appreciate your question for several reasons. First, it is an important
one, and it also allows me to set some distance between
myself and three members of what I called the Virginia junta. (laughter) I will say this as clearly as I can. A Bill of Rights is a
foolish and dangerous idea. Now note the words, I
do not say that rights are foolish, but that a Bill of Rights. There are several reasons for this. First, I am told that in
your day you do not use the mathematics of our day to calculate the building of your skyscrapers. You do not use the medicine of our day to treat your children’s illnesses. But yet you somehow cling
to the notion that the only political wisdom possible
comes from a world in which information could travel no faster than a galloping horse or a ship at sea. There was a danger of locking
your concept of rights into an era that no longer applies. I am told that in your day
you revere your first and second amendments, but
how many of you spend much time thinking about your third? How many of you worry deeply about the notion that British soldiers will be forced into your home against your will? I want you to imagine a
time in our nation when perhaps an individual is
elected to high office who is both ignorant and a tyrant. A person who would quest after power. And might look at the
Bill of Rights and say ah, these are your rights. These are your only rights. I see it says you have freedom of speech, it says nothing about
freedom of protest song. It says freedom of the press,
the press is a printing press. So your television news is not protected. When you list rights, you
create a profound danger that a future demagogue could say that these are the only rights you have. And that is a risk not worth taking in any century, I thank you Ms. Garish. – Thank you very much. (applause) – Again Ms. Garish, I beg
your pardon, General… Indeed, a Bill of Rights ought to be inferred in our Constitution. Because we do not know precisely
what they may become in the future, any less than what
they were in the past. Are we to rest upon inference
on such an important subject as the inherent rights of man? Are they to be any different in the future than they have been in the past? Have they not existed
from time immemorial? And are they not given to mankind, not by any government, not by any ruler, but given to man by
nature and nature’s god. – No sir! Fundamental rights, as I wrote,
are not to be rummaged for among dusty parchments or dusty records. They are written as with a sunbeam upon the whole volume of human nature, and no mortal power can
erase or obscure them. You have fundamental, natural rights. But what that right might
mean in any given era must rely on the wisdom
of the people, sir, that you revere with such greatness. – I beg your pardon,
sir, we’re talking about the inalienable rights
from time immemorial. The inalienable rights of man, sir. It is not the duty of government
to infer these rights, sir, any more than it is the duty of government to try and change human nature. – If government, sir,
represents the people, then the people must
decide in any given era what, for example, the
concept of speech means. – Well then have a faith for the people, sir, do not have a fear. And remind yourself, if
you will, that we are born free to declare, and
therefore we must declare that these are the
inalienable rights of man. – How do you like that? (applause) – Hello, my name is Jose Angulo, and I am a junior from
San Francisco, California. My question is for Mr. Jefferson. Recently in your hometown of
Charlottesville, Virginia, one person was killed and
many others were injured at a so-called free speech demonstration. Aren’t there times like this
when first amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and
freedom of assembly go too far? – Mr. Agulo, I have heard
of what transpired in my native town as I was making
my way here westward. And I am quite dismayed and
upset with such a liberty protected and defended in our first amendment taken so far
that it could inflict hostility and aggression
upon the citizens. Is it not the purpose of our Constitution particularly pronounced in
the preamble to maintain not only the public welfare
but the public peace>I would agree that if any of
our amendments guaranteeing inalienable rights are wont
to go too far to inflict hostility, to inflict
aggression upon the people, well then the people ought to
let their opinion be heard. Rather than to lose these rights. Yes, it is the first and
foremost inalienable right to hold an opinion freely, and to
freely express one’s opinion. But not to go so far to inflict harm. For as you say… Death upon an individual,
that is not a right. That, if you will, is an
oppression, it is a crime. – Thank you. (applause) – You seem to suggest, sir,
that rights, though fundamental, may need to be altered by the time and era in which the event takes place. – I am saying if a right
goes too far, General, that it must be attended to with the law. – Hear, hear. How ’bout that, Jefferson and I agree. (laughter) – You’re both wrong. (laughter increases) – My name I Natalie Falk, and I’m a senior from Mahomet, Illinois. My question is for Mr. Madison. It has to do with the second amendment, the right to keep and bear arms. Since militias,
well-regulated or otherwise, are no longer necessary to
the security of a free state, isn’t that amendment obsolete? Why not repeal it? – I thank you for the question. I’m a little bit curious as the circumstances that would bring it about. There was no authority
granted to the Constitution that would in any way allow it to obtrude upon the rights of individuals. Rights that were extent
even before the Constitution was written, even before our
Declaration of Independence, even before the first breath of mankind. And if these rights are extent
before a government is formed it seems only reasonable
you form a government that will not abridge those rights. When the government is
formed, it becomes clear that the very rights
we might have in nature might not carry the same
weight in community. That you must refine that right as the circumstances require. Your question, madam, refers to rendering the second amendment obsolete. Why not repeal it? I suggest that we should not
consider repealing rights which were extent even before
we formed the government. I thank you for your question. – Thank you. (applause) – Mr. Henry, if I recall
my history, sir, you were quite adamant about the
right to keep and bear arms. I mention this because of
my own military background. If you consider the right to
bear arms from the context of the 18th century, wasn’t
that really a military term? One may bear arms against
an enemy of the state, but not, say, against a
rabbit or your neighbor. So my question to you,
sir, is did you intend that right to extend from the
military to civilian life? – I thank you for your question, sir. As well as for your
service to your countrymen. I have said many times that
I have ever been a most devoted student to the subject
of history, because that way I know where I am and
where I am likely to go. In 16 and 22, only 15 years
after English feet touched Virginia soil, there was an
uprising of the Pamunkey Nation, the Indians in that part
of the country, and nearly half the entire British
population was massacred. Ever since that time, we have
had militia laws in place requiring all able bodied
males above the age of 18 to own a gun, one pound of gun
powder, four pounds of shot. They are required to muster
three to seven times each year to reacquaint themselves
to the manual of arms and to practice the military exercise. This is our militia system, our
citizen’s army, if you will. And the understanding has
always been that the citizen’s army, by every male being armed,
would be stronger and thus be able to defeat any
invasion, or any standing army raised up by a government
that might become oppressive. So certainly, in our tradition,
in Virginia, the right to keep and bear arms has
a military element to it. However, we must also pay
attention to the great philosopher John Locke, who many regard to be the greatest genius of the Enlightened Age. He assured us that rights come from God, not from government. That rights appertain to life, liberty, and the pursuit of property. And naturally with that goes the protection and defense of same. And thus, the right to keep and bear arms is also an individual right,
which must never be infringed. As I stated back in 17 and 75,
never trust that government that seeks to remove your
arms, gentlemen, for there is but one purpose to it, and one
alone, to remove your means of self-defense, hoping thereby
to make an easy conquest of you, and to fasten ever more tightly to your wrists the shackles of slavery. (applause) – Colonel Henry with his great
eloquence proves my point. I think you would agree, Mr.
Madison, that part of the intention of the second
amendment was to ensure that the citizenry, in part, would
always have sufficient weaponry to overthrow a government
should it become tyrannical. – In part. – In great danger, sir,
because in your day, do you wish your citizens
armed in such facilities to take down your United States army? Do you want your unusual
neighbor to have access to an ANTHRAX cannon, your
strange uncle that you see only at Christmas
to have a flame thrower. To lock these rights in time
creates dangers in yours. – [Professor] Our next questioner. – Hello. My name’s Joey Williams, I’m a senior from Farmington Hills, Michigan, and my question is directed
towards Mr. Madison. Mr. Madison, today in 21st century America we have these devices called cell phones. Imagine a speaking trumpet
that can allow you to contact anyone on Earth
at any time, any place. My question is, should
the fourth amendment’s ban on unreasonable searches require a warrant for police to acquire
records of a cell phone? The reason I’m asking
is because the question is currently in front
of the Supreme Court. – I see the prospect of new
communication, Mr. Jefferson. (chuckling) I cannot possibly answer to
the judgment for and against the issue you address
here with your question. But I do believe it is part
and parcel that we not forget that rights are extent in
this nation, and that amongst them as I read earlier was a protection against unreasonable
searches and seizures. This seems to be an
indication of where this appears to be necessary on
some branch of government, upon your cell phone you called it. Well, I can only say that
it is further evidence that as each generation engages
with their time and their place that the fact that you even
bring the question to the floor indicates that there is a
concern about the application of the right to a particular circumstance. How do you feel about the answer, sir? – Personally I don’t
want any police officers looking at my cell phone,
let alone my parents. (laughter) – You don’t want a police
officer looking at your parents. (laughter) – I guess not. However, it’s a complicated
issue, and I’m looking forward to hearing the Supreme
Court’s decision this summer. – Well, I can only hope and
add in manner of advice, in my aged capacity, that even
though there seems to be a devolving of the decision
upon the Supreme Court of the United States, that not a
one of us will consider the decisions of the Court,
however elevated in matters of jurisprudence is the end of the answer. If the collective society
feels that in this instance the search and seizure is unreasonable. They have the very capacity
as citizens of the country, as citizens of their respective states, to invite the amendment
of the Constitution that may contradict the
assertion of the Supreme Court. Thank you.
– Thank you very much. (applause) – I cannot help but note
that each of the students has been using their device
to read their question. ‘Tis a pity Hope College will not provide its students with paper. (laughter) – Hello, my name is Mikea Royer, I’m a sophomore from
Framingham, Massachusetts, and I have a question for Mr. Jefferson. Mr. Jefferson, in today’s
political discourse, we hear a lot about walls,
walls that separate us. You yourself called for a
wall of separation between church and state, yet starting
in your time and continuing to our own, a chaplain opens each session of Congress with prayer. Indeed our currency,
whether it’s a quarter or a 10 dollar bill, bears the
inscription In God We Trust. Aren’t these things in violation
of the first amendment’s statement that Congress shall make no law respecting any establishment of religion. – Mr. Royer, I beg your
pardon, but I may be a little prone to not hearing correctly. Did you say that our currency,
our specie of our nation bears an inscription, In God We Trust? – In God We Trust. – I declare, General Hamilton,
we collaborated, did we not, upon a standardizing of
our nation’s currency. To make the same value in
Georgia and the Carolinas as in Virginia and
Massachusetts, from Rhode Island to the Providence plantations. To think that indeed the
establishment of a national mint and then to have such a
statement stamped upon it? I do believe, Ms. Royer, that that is a heresy, it must be unto our creator. Would not all Christians then
have forgotten the reason why Jesus threw the money
lenders out of the temple? Unto what are we providing an allegiance? A recognition of our creator with money? Yes, I did make statement about, well, about a separation, a wall. Great wall of separation
between church and state. I did not proffer it publicly,
I provided it in an answer, an answer to a letter I
received from a coterie of Baptist preachers in
Danbury, Connecticut. They wrote me during my
first administration, asking me my opinion on the
fact that in Connecticut, they had to abide by the
Constitution of their state to continue to offer a tithing, money, to support of the
congregationalist church. They asked me if not our
Constitution superseded that, after all, it is the law of the land. I wrote back to them and
said, bear with patience until the Constitution of
Connecticut amends itself to the Constitution of
our nation, and yes, that no one more than myself
would rather see a great wall of separation be built
between church and state. I ask you citizens, is it the duty of government to dictate religious opinion? I daresay the reason that so
many of you and your ancestors sought an asylum here was to
escape those ancient tumults and (mumbles) of European
kingdoms that coerced their subjects to attend one
religion more than another to furnish contributions of money to one religion more than another. The only duty of any government
and its laws is simply to protect people from
injury by one and the other. Otherwise, to leave them
free to pursue their own industry and their own improvement. And their improvement will
be the most successful when the ecclesiastical laws are
free to attend to their duty, the administration of the soul, and in essence simply to do good. – Thank you, Mr. Jefferson. (applause) – My name is Derek Chen, I’m a senior from Orange County, California. This question is for Mr. Hamilton. I direct this to you because of your connection to Wall Street. Recently, the Supreme Court
ruled that corporations have the same free speech
rights as individuals, and thus can make unlimited
political contributions. Do you agree with that? – Well Mr. Chen, I thank
you for your question, and I would argue that, I did
have an office on Wall Street and I was engaged in a
number of monetary affairs. The currency question earlier
reminded that my visage appears on your 10 dollar bill. Mr. Jefferson upon your nickel. (laughter) – And I may remind you,
General, that there are far more nickels than 10 dollar bills. Speechless, I see.
(laughter) – I am rarely speechless, sir. But I will turn to Mr. Chen. Your question is of two parts. The first is as to whether a corporation can have some of the rights of a person. The answer is a legal one,
and it is trivially true. Yes, corporations can have
some of the rights of people. This college can own this building. Your grocery store may own the parking lot in which you park your conveyances. These are trivial notions of personhood that corporations share. But the larger question
I believe you are asking is about their role in politics. And I will say this, I
wrote of Mr. Jefferson that he most ardently quests
after the presidential chair in spite of denials of any such interest. But yet even Mr. Jefferson,
in pursuit of that office, would never dream, I think
I can say for you sir, never dream of leaving
even his own front porch. It would be undignified to campaign. I am told that you are
now in a different era. (chuckling) And so given that we lived in
a three mile per hour world, I’m reluctant to tell you what you should do in your campaigns today. But I would point out that
we gave you a provision in the Constitution to
deal with this very issue. In article one, section
four, it states clearly that the states shall
have the right to decide the time, the place, and
the manner of elections. And I would certainly think
that the funding of elections, the way in which elections are conducted, would fall under the notion of manner. So if in your day you believe
that it is inappropriate to do one action or another
in your campaigning, the states have the Constitutional
right to regulate it. Thank you, Mr. Chen.
– Thank you. (applause) – I would like to close out
this part of our program with a question for Mr. Jefferson. Sir… Some have questioned whether the President might be in violation
of the first amendment. We keep hearing accusations of fake news. He’s even threatened
to shut down some news organizations that are critical of him. So I’d like to ask you, what is your take on the first amendment, and how important is it to a democracy like ours? – I thank you, Dr. Johnson,
I hope that I had emphasized how worthy our first amendment is earlier. Recognizing those inherent
rights that are given to the family of man, not by any
government, not by any ruler, those rights that are given
to man by nature and nature’s god, the first and foremost
amongst them to hold an opinion freely and to freely
express one’s opinion, and that of course allows
for the freedom of the press. Now that is not to say that
all newspapers print the facts, no, I would agree they do not. Because certain newspapers
become known as tabloids. They are the ones you cannot depend upon. They are the ones who print
what did you call it, fake news. Twistifications of the facts,
deceits and lies, and yet, citizens, you are free to
peruse them as you choose. So I would be concerned,
citizens, about preferring a tabloid over a newspaper
that you can depend upon. And therefore, Dr. Johnson,
as I have written and pronounce once more, were
it left to me to decide whether we should have this
nation with a government and no newspapers or have
this nation with newspapers and no government, I would not hesitate a moment but to accept the latter. Who must be informed? Who must make up their minds to what they read in the newspaper? What American citizen would
every seek to satisfy solely themselves by reading one
newspaper that prints only what they want to read, without
reading the opposite opinion? And then make up their mind
for what is best for… Everyone. It is an ancient adage citizens, wherever the press is free,
the people will be free. Thank you. (applause) – Thank you, Gentlemen, for
your wisdom and your insights. Mr. Henry, if I may come back to you. The last part of our discussion. In episode one, we
discussed Mr. Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence,
and how it all started with his election to the
second Continental Congress. – Yes, I remember it well. The Virginia convention in
Richmond, March, 17 and 75. – It was also at that convention
that you gave the most famous speech of your life,
the one that inspired your fellow Virginians and the other colonists to take up arms against the British. – Indeed. – Can you tell us what led to that speech? – After George III rejected our latest petition of grievances,
I moved that Virginia be put into a state of defense. Cries of protest filled the room. It was then that I rose to speak. – Can you set the scene for us? – Yes. It was the 23rd of March, 17 and 75 in St. John’s Church in Richmond. The question before this house is one of awful moment to the country. For my own part, I
consider it as nothing less than a question of freedom or slavery. Should I keep back my
opinions at such a time through fear of giving offense? I should consider myself as guilty of treason towards my country. It is natural to man to indulge
in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes
against a painful truth and listen to the song of that siren ’til she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? I have but one lamp by
which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging
of the future but by the past. And judging by the past, I
should wish to know what there has been in the conduct of the
British ministry for the last 10 years to justify these hopes
of peace and reconciliation. Is it that insidious smile with which our petition has been lately received? Trust it not my friends, it
will prove a snare to your feet. Suffer not yourselves to
be betrayed with a kiss. Ask yourselves how this gracious
reception of our petition comports with these warlike preparations which cover our waters
and darken our land. Are fleets and armies necessary to a work of love and reconciliation? Have we shown ourselves so
unwilling to be reconciled that force must be called
in to win back our love? Let us not deceive ourselves. These are the implements
of war and subjugation. The last arguments to which kings resort. Our petitions have been
slighted, our remonstrances have produced additional
violence and insult. Our supplications have been
disregarded, and we have been spurned with contempt from
the foot of the throne. In vain, after all these
things, may we continue to cling to this fond hope of
peace and reconciliation. There is no longer any room for hope! If we wish to be free, if we
mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges
for which we have been so long contending, we must fight. I repeat it, we must fight! And appeal to arms and to the god of hosts is all that is left us. They tell us we are weak, but
when shall we be stronger? The battle, sir, is not
to the strong alone, it is to the vigilant,
the active, the brave. Our chains are forged, their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston. The war is inevitable, and let it come! I repeat it, let it come. It is in vain to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry peace, peace! But there is no peace. The war is actually begun. The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the
clash of resounding arms. Our brethren are already in the field. Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen
wish, what would they have? Is life so dear, or
peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price
of chains and slavery? Forbid it, almighty God. I know not what course others
may take, but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death! (applause) – And so, ladies and
gentlemen, we end our program where it began, with our love of liberty. Whatever differences we have as Americans, wherever we fall along
the political spectrum, whatever grievances we may
have against each other, let us remember the one
thing that we have in common. As our founders put it, E Pluribus Unum. Out of many, we are one. Our union may be imperfect, but what unites us is
our love for liberty. For more than 200 years, that’s what this country has stood for. For more than 200 years, that’s what has been a beacon
of light for the world. May it never go out. (applause) We would like to thank
Hope College and the Hope College theater
department for hosting all three episodes of Inventing America. And now, on behalf of Mr. James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, and Patrick Henry, thank
you, and God bless. (applause) (“America the Beautiful”) – [Voiceover] To order a
copy of Inventing America, call 1-800-442-1771, or order online at GVSU dot EDU slash WGVU store.


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