Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Sunday, November 6, 2011


                    The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday comes from Article I.8.13:  "The Congress shall have power … To provide and maintain a Navy."  This clause clearly mandates that Congress will "provide and maintain a navy."  The Founders obviously considered a navy to be less threatening than a standing army because they put no conditions in this clause.

                    The Founders understood the importance of having a Navy because Washington lost New York simply because he had no navy.  If France had not agreed to enter the war on behalf of the Colonists, the Americans would have continued to be at the mercy of the British and they definitely would not have been able to corner the British at Yorktown and win the war.  John Paul Jones, with help from Benjamin Franklin, launched a few ships from France.  Jones became a naval hero when he captured a British ship by lashing his own ship to the British ship, but the navy actually played a very small role in the cause of liberty.

                    "The wisdom of granting Congress the power to provide and maintain a navy became evident during the two decades after the framing and ratification of the Constitution.  As Europe once again erupted in war, American merchantmen increasingly found themselves at the mercy of British and French warships and the corsairs of the Barbary States.  Only the rapid creation of a navy permitted the United States to hold its own in the Quasi War with France (1798-1800) and the War of 1812 with the British.
                    "The Navy Clause has changed little, if at all, in practice.  Neither have the arguments for and against naval power.  Indeed, many of the major debates over foreign policy that have taken place since the middle of the nineteenth century were adumbrated by those between Federalists and Anti-Federalists during the framing of the Constitution."  (See Mackubin Owens, "Navy Clause," The Heritage Guide to the Constitution, p. 135).

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