States and Federalism on Foundations of Freedom Thursday: On this Foundations of Freedom Thursday, we take some time to address listener questions- Is there anything in the constitution preventing states from printing their own currency? How can we consider letting each state set up their own policies, when there are big issues such as abortion and mutilation of children that should not be permitted in any situation? With such divisive issues at play, is civil war inevitable? People quote Jefferson as saying that Christianity cannot be a part of the common law. Is this accurate? And if so, what does it mean?
Air Date: 5/11/2023
On-air Personalities: David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton
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President Thomas Jefferson said, I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society, but the people themselves. And if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power.
Welcome to the intersection of faith and the culture. This is WallBuilders Live and its foundations of freedom Thursday, we’re diving into those foundations, and we’re taking your questions so you can guide the conversation on which particular area of those foundations we’re going to discuss. But we’re always talking about hot topics in the culture from a biblical, historical and constitutional perspective. We’re having that conversation today with David Barton. He’s America’s premier historian, and the founder of WallBuilders. Tim Barton is a national speaker and pastor and the president of WallBuilders. And my name is Rick Green, I’m a former Texas legislator, you can find out more about us and the program. And you can also listen to some of the past programs over the last few months, right there at WallBuildersLive.com . That’s our website for the radio program, you can get a list of our stations, a lot of other great information there. And then over WallBuilders.com, you can get some great tools for your family, whether it’s DVDs or watching videos online, or getting some of the books or just reading some of the articles right there on the website. All of it is designed to equip and inspire you to be a part of the solution to be a good citizen, and live out your freedom in a way that will preserve it for future generations. One of the things you can do as our founders gave us lives, fortunes, and sacred honor, is to invest some of that fortune, to actually make a contribution to WallBuilders. Maybe it’s a one time donation, maybe it’s a monthly donation. But if you would come alongside us and help support this program, we’re a listener supported program, it allows us to reach more people, inspire more people, equip more people, and do our part in preserving freedom for future generations. Check it all out at WallBuilders.com Today. Alright David and Tim, let’s jump into those questions. We’re going to go with a California question, first. We charged triple for any question from California. But since we don’t charge for any of them, it’s just… we just make fun of you because you’re from California. But no, this is a good question. Here we go. Rick, from California says, Is there anything in the Constitution that bars the states from beginning to print their own currencies again? What difference would it make to have worthless currency printed by the States or by the federal government? Banks already create money out of thin air? Rick, from Monterey, California, thanks for sending that in. And great question. And man, there’s a lot of discussion around banks and currency, digital currency. Texas is working on a bill right now to be able to do legal tender, which is what Article One section 10 allows for with gold and silver. So, timing is really good for this question, guys.
You know, there’s some really good examples of how that banks printed their own local currency back in the day. And I’ll just give you two examples. One is under President James Monroe, and one is under President Andrew Jackson. And what happened back in those days, there was a lot of expansion going in the nation. Both of those presidents presided over time of growth in America, a lot of domestic internal growth. They were building highways and canals and bridges, and roads, and Americans are moving west. And so particularly under Monroe, and then under Jackson, they had what were called wildcat banks. And wildcat banks, they said they’re Wildcat banks, because they’re banks were only wildcats live. So in other words, they would be out on the very frontier as the pioneers and settlers move out there. And so instead of the banks being a place that just held money and gave your money when you needed it, or made loans or whatever, they would also generate local currency. And they would create local currency, but they made the currency redeemable only at that bank. And so that would give the bank a lot of business. And so the bank would get business because they’ll put out dollars and they’ll loan the dollars or give the dollars to these people and they can redeem it at the bank. And what it led to was a lot of speculation. So a lot of banks got into business, they started producing their own currency, people starting to use that currency. And then what happened was President Monroe said, Well, you know, you’re supposed to have all currency backed with silver or gold with specie. And so here’s the deal, you can still have your currency, but you can’t give out more currency than what you have backing for. And at that point, it caused the collapse of hundreds of banks. It led to what they call the economic crisis 1819 Because they were printing their own money, states and localities, others printing their money, but it wasn’t sound. They didn’t make it based on own specie, it was not backed with that federal standard. So they had the opportunity to print it, but they just had to be able to prove up that it was actually… they could actually back it. Same thing happened in Jackson. Jackson hated federal banks. Federal banks were started under George Washington. Alexander Hamilton started them. James Madison didn’t like him and found out you really do need federal banks because we just did the War of 1812. He couldn’t get enough financing available to keep the military in the field or to build a navy or anything else. So they went back to having the national banks again. And Jackson said, well, I don’t see anything in the Constitution about national banks, so I’m going to veto all the national banks. When he did, it went to all the local and state banks, and they started putting out their own currency again. And so he did the same thing. He said, well, you can’t have currency if it’s not backed with silver and gold. And it caused an economic collapse. It was really a depression that lasted eight years. It went through four presidents, that depression that he brought on. So you do have lots of examples of states and even cities printing their own currency. The trick is, you’ve always needed a federal bank that can regulate that and make sure they’re holding up the standards. Now, I’d point out right now, I don’t even think the national banks are holding up the standards of having golden species to back their specie. And that’s where inflation comes from. Once we got off that gold standard, and you started going to other standards, that… you don’t have inflation when you’re using gold and silver as your actual backing. Once you get off that, then you open yourself up for putting more currency out there. And I’ll just give an example for the American Revolution. And this is part of what led to the constitutional clause on currency. In the revolution, you had all 13 states and each state had its own money. Well, they said well, we need some national money. So they came up with what are called continentals. And continentals you could redeem in any state. So in the first year of the revolution, they had somewhere between $10 and $12 million of gold and specie in the treasury. And they put out a million dollars of continental currency. Well, that’s good. That means dollar for dollar. If you redeem $1 continental currency, it’s going to be worth $1, because they put out less than what they had. But by five years later, they put out $140 million of continental currency. And they only had $10 to $12 to back it. So Jefferson is one of the guys that, all the investments he made in the revolution, he lost 97.5% of his money that he put into the American war for independence, because the inflation went through the roof because they didn’t back it with gold and silver specie and currency. And that bill, you mentioned, Rick, in Texas, it is using that gold currency that Texas has to create that standard. So it’s a safe bank, where you don’t have the inflation and other stuff. But yes, you can coin currency. But it’s been pretty much discouraged because it’s proven to be such a bad idea in so many previous examples, particularly when you didn’t make sure that it was backed by specie, and that you didn’t print more money than what you had specie to back. So that’s kind of a long answer to a short question, but there’s a lot of examples in history showing were that we did print currency, it was state or local currency, but if you didn’t have it backed, it’s a real problem.
It’s so interesting, because I never even thought about the fact that for them to put that in there, in that specific language about it being gold or silver, you know, tender. I mean, they… so they understood that, that you needed that backing and not just another paper or another, you know, wooden nickel or whatever it was going to be, again, showing the wisdom of the founders all the way back to the Constitution itself.
Well, and I would also point out, Dad, as you’re making some of these comments on some of these early presidents, there’s a reason that you are learning more of the story of some of these early presidents, as you’ve been doing a lot of research and you’ve been sending me emails constantly, for the last several months, on some of the new things we’re finding, we are working on the next volume of the American Story, which will cover, we’re calling it kind of the birth of the republic. And we’re covering these early presidents and what they did, and how they lead the nation in both good and bad areas as according to the standard of the Constitution. And it’s interesting, how many things they dealt with, and things that they went through, that we’re having to navigate now in our nation. And, you know, we know in the Bible, Solomon said, there’s nothing new under the sun, as he was writing Ecclesiastes. As we look at so much of the issues we’re dealing with today, it’s so interesting, that we’re not having to deal with brand new issues, generally speaking. All the things we’re dealing with are things that we can point to examples of American history, where both sometimes that the positive and the negative, where we can learn from those and say, hey, this… some of these things were tried before, we shouldn’t do those things. It’s never worked. And then some things we can go back and point to and say, man, this is the way it should be done. And look how well it worked. And so I just love the fact as you’re explaining some of these presidents and their positions, I know on the inside is because you have been doing so much research for this next book, as we’re putting that together kind of in the final stages, hopefully, doing some of the edits, getting this ready to go to the printers. Nonetheless, it’s really interesting how much application there still is for us today, where so many of the questions we get, and of course it’s what we do foundations of freedom Thursday for, is to be able to go back and look at the historic kind of landscape the map that was there to help us navigate some of what we’re dealing with. It just does not cease to surprise and impress me at times how much of the questions we’re getting, there is already great examples we can point to from history showing us that what we’re dealing with is not brand new stuff. It’s been tried before. And certainly, when it comes to things even like printing money in states, this is not a brand new idea, we can go back and see what happened, how it worked or didn’t work in some cases, and make hopefully wiser decisions going forward.
Alright folks, we’re going to take a quick break. By the way, if you want to study a little bit more on this particular issue in the Texas Legislature TransactionalGold.com is a great website where our buddy Kevin Freeman over at Economic War Room has educated and taught on this very subject, and it’s just a good one to know right now, especially with so much just up in the air with… in the world with the dollar itself and everything else. So check that out and learn a little bit more. Let’s take a quick break, we’ll come back with more of your questions here on foundations of freedom Thursday.
Abraham Lincoln said, We The People are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution.
Hey, this is Tim Barton with WallBuilders. And as you’ve had the opportunity to listen to WallBuilders Live, you’ve probably heard a wealth of information about our nation, about our spiritual heritage, about the religious liberties, and about all the things that make America exceptional. And you might be thinking, “As incredible as this information is, I wish there was a way that I could get one of the WallBuilders guys to come to my area and share with my group.” Whether it be a church, whether it be a Christian school, or public school, or some political event, or activity, if you’re interested in having a WallBuilders speaker come to your area, you can get on our website at www.WallBuilders.com and there’s a tab for scheduling. If you”ll click on that tab, you’ll notice there’s a list of information from speakers bio’s, to events that are already going on. And there’s a section where you can request an event, to bring this information about who we are, where we came from, our religious liberties, and freedoms. Go to the WallBuilders website and bring a speaker to your area.
Thomas Jefferson said, the Constitution of most of our states and of the United States assert that all power is inherent in the people that they may exercise it by themselves, that is their right and duty to be at all times armed, that they are entitled to freedom of person, freedom of religion, freedom of property and freedom of press.
Our next question comes from Michael, has to do with abortion. He says, hey, guys, I just want to start off by saying I love your show. I listen to it every day between you and Pastor Jack Hibbs podcast. Well, first of all, Michael, we love Jack, so good choice to listen to him as well. You guys are a beacon of truth and reason in a world full of lies and deceit. I hear you guys talking about federalism a lot. And I love the concept of federalism with the different levels of governmental jurisdictions and separation of powers as much as anyone, especially because it’s a biblical concept. And Rick, I hear you speak about it a lot, how we should let the states do their own thing, and that we should let states like California in New York be weird and dumb if they want. And red states should be allowed to be red states and blue states should be allowed to be blue states if they want. But how can we do that when I, and I’m sure you guys too, and many others don’t want abortion, infanticide, child mutilation, public drag shows or drag queen story hours in schools to be legal at all anywhere in America. And I’m not willing to do any kind of compromising on issues like that. Our nation hasn’t been this divided since the Civil War, and took us fighting that war in order to finally end slavery. How can we use the message of federalism when there are so many problems that I believe are on the same level of slavery that are on the line and that our nation is so divided on. I fully believe that it’s in the federal government’s authority to protect the right to life, as it says in the declaration and to reward good and punish evil, as it says in Romans 13. But it couldn’t end the legality of slavery in America without war. And a convention to states isn’t going to fix these issues, because none of those issues are a priority for COS. And the church isn’t going to do anything because the vast majority of churches in America either also have gone woke or refused to say or do anything, how can we ever expect to be able to end the legality of abortion, or the mutilation or sexualization of children, when like with the issue of slavery, civil war seems to be inevitable. With much love Michael from Kansas. Alright, Michael, long question, but really, really good question. And you’re… and I love the way this guy is thinking, guys, just just thinking through what federalism means. And the historical challenges with federalism, when states want to do evil, and the federal government doesn’t have enough support from enough states to enforce ending that evil, which is kind of where I think we are on those issues that that he raises. I’m not sure you could get enough that it would be like with slavery, where it would have split the nation completely from the beginning, that it took time it took them a couple of generations. Well, three generations, I guess to get it right.
This is one that was easily answered, prior to the 70s or much more easily answered. That’s when we started becoming amoral. If you go back to Washington’s Farewell Address, he said of everything that leads to political prosperity, he said that religion and morality are indispensable supports. That’s why in all the states we taught religion, morality and knowledge and education, and it was in that order from Religion you get morals. And once you have religion and morals as the foundation, you put knowledge on top of it. Then we started in the 70s, with the court going anti religious, taking religion out of everything not allowing you to have morals, you can’t use 10 commandments because those are morals. Well, wait a minute. 10 commandments are more than that, they are what the Founding Fathers called the common law. And so in Article Seven of the Constitution, you deal with common law. And that was a common set of values that everybody agree on, life and liberty, pursuit of happiness, were part of those common values. And so as you look back in the law books of those days, we weren’t having debates over whether you should kill an unborn child, because that was illegal everywhere. We weren’t having debates over so many of those issues. Now, when you started dividing the moral law out and you said, well, it allows slavery, but it didn’t allow… That’s where you start seeing it really goof up where people came up with their own set of morals. And instead of looking at the inalienable right to life, and liberty, well, life and liberty if you’re white or not, if you’re black. And so when you start finding exceptions to morals, you have less and less you can agree on. And it’s interesting that even on something like the 10 commandments, when Tim mentioned in a program recently that we testified to that at the State Capitol in Texas, because they’re working to pass a bill that would put the 10 commandments backup in every single classroom in the state. It’s interesting that we did a study 20 years ago, and at that time found more than 500 legal cases state and federal, that favorably cited the 10 commandments as the basis of our civil law. And it’s all 10 of the 10 commandments, people say, well, 10 commandments was divided in the first four that deal with God and the last six deal with man to man. And so you can have the last six commandments, because that’s like, don’t steal and don’t perjure and don’t kill. No, all 10 of the commandments were dealt with in civil courts over our first 300 years. So that was part of the common law. Nobody disputed that the 10 commandments are the basis of our morals. And so what we are now this is where federalism is so tough, because if you’re going to have a different moral standard for every state, or a different moral standard between red and blue states, you don’t have a common law anymore. You have two sets of law. And do the courts in Texas choose only to cite other red states when they’re looking at laws, instead of citing all the states? Used to be it didn’t matter what state you’re in, you could cite the other 49 states and be pretty close on it because you had a common law, set of moral values. So really, the question deals with what do we do to restore common morals? What do we get to… How do we get back to the point where we think certain things are absolutely right, and certain things are absolutely wrong, and they’re not individually determined? And that was the thing that happened in the 70s, where the court said, morals are out. Then every man did that which is right, in his own eyes, the Bible verses, as mentioned three times in the Bible, that that was a terrible position to be in, where everyone decided what was wrong, and right for them, and for… it didn’t matter to anybody else. So this is a question that deals with what I would say is the common law, and our inability to handle the common law anymore. We no longer have a common law that’s common to all Americans is to… is decided differently by State Supreme Court, is decided differently by federal courts, Obama judges ruled differently than Reagan judges did, and Bush judges ruled differently than Clinton… Shouldn’t be. The common law, you should reach the same conclusion, because you have the same basis to work from. And so what he’s described in the question is really a tricky situation. Now you can get back to a common moral law if you have a spiritual renewal, because as Washington said it’s religion that produces your morality, and you can’t have a common morality, if you don’t have a common set of religious values. And at some point, that’s going to have to come back into it. And when you had the First and the Second Great Awakening it was a whole lot easier to have agreement on what was right and wrong than it is now. At some point, religion and morality has got to come back otherwise, we will not be able to agree and federalism won’t work. We’ll become more like Europe, instead of states deciding their own standards, we’ll become more like 50 different nations, rather than a nation of 50 different states.
Yeah, it’s really at this point a strategy, right? It’s like being a general and looking at the entire world war and going, okay, we’ve got to win over here just to have a place where we can regroup. And if we don’t have the freedom to make these decisions in individual states, and we still have a San Francisco cabal running Washington, DC, then all 50 states are going to reflect the wrong values. So step one, in my mind is at least making sure that we as states can have, you know, rally around a common morality. And then over time, like you say, with a second, you know, third great awakening or revival or something, it spreads across the whole nation, and then we’re able to pass constitutional amendments to make it the law of the land because we again have a morality that we agree on. But right now, it’s, you know, we’re not going to have the freedom to even fight for those things in an individual state, if we don’t at least restore federalism. So it’s, you’re right federalism is not a solution by itself. And as Michael said, Convention of states is not a solution by itself. All these things are just tools and tactics within the bigger strategy, but it’s interesting, David, you watch all this stuff that’s happening right now. And no kidding, I mean, 30 year… what, 35 years ago when you started WallBuilders. I know 25 years ago, when I started… joined with you and started speaking, we were back then warning about exactly where we are right now. And we would talk about moral relativism, and we would talk about when we lose these just basic foundational concepts of there’s a God, our rights come from God, there’s a moral law, when we lose those things, then chaos will ensue. But man, I didn’t think we’d be at a point where we are now, in my lifetime, with the type of stuff that has actually been advocated for and that people are taking their children to. It is a exactly, you know, what we’ve said, it’s a completely immoral situation. And so without that truth coming back, and you do a whole talk on this in Biblical Citizenship on truth and deception and courage and all of those things, without that piece of it, no constitutional amendment, no system of government, no, you know, President elected on… you know, to come in and save the day, none of that is going to be enough. We have to restore these moral values and the plumb line of truth to measure everything against. Alright guys, next question coming from the audience is from Joe, and it’s about Thomas Jefferson. I hear this Jefferson quote from people on occasion and I’m not sure how to respond. Any help would be appreciated. Here’s the quote, as given to us here in the question, it says, if therefore, from the settlement of the Saxons, to the introduction of Christianity, among them, that system of religion could not be a part of the common law, because they were not yet Christians. And if having their laws from that period to the close of the common law, we are able to find among them no such act of adoption, we may safely affirm, though contradicted by all of the judges and writers on Earth, that Christianity neither is nor ever was a part of the common law. Okay, so this is a letter from Jefferson to…
Jefferson to Adams, yeah, this is Jefferson and Adams going back and forth. And this is some of the debates they had. They had friendly debates back and forth. And a lot of people use this to say, oh, this proves Jefferson wasn’t a Christian. And by the way, people like WallBuilders that say christianity is the basis of the nation, Jefferson says, you’re wrong. No, no. People today try to take that Jefferson statement and say, oh, he’s talking about the American common law. No, he’s talking about British common law. And the what the tradition of Britain was, because there was a good period of time when Britain was pagan, they didn’t have Christian stuff. Now, that’s different from America. America doesn’t have that same kind of pagan tradition for hundreds of years, and for centuries. That’s not… Our common law has been very different. And that’s what John Adams talked about. John Adams said, look, at the time when they were really doing the courts and really doing the law, Christianity was really important in England. So Jefferson is going back to the pre Christian time. You have John Adams talking about the more Christian time. And this is a discussion between two guys. This is not a declaration where that Jefferson says the common law in America is not Christian. This is British stuff. He’s talking about British stuff. And so when people take that quote, and we see secular folks, and professors use that on a regular basis, trying to prove that the founders weren’t Christians, that is a quote, taken completely out of context. And then John Adams has the other side of the story. And if you read these two, going back and forth, and John Adams has a dissertation called the canon and the feudal law, and that’s a difference. Notice the canon law and the feudal law, the feudal law is before the church. So that’s back in the early, early, early centuries of the Anglo Saxons, and the canon law is more after the church comes in, becomes Christian. So you have Adams making a distinction between the two, which Jefferson didn’t do. So all that to say, this is not a good quote, trying to use Jefferson to prove that America was secular, or that he wasn’t a Christian. This is a debate between two really good attorneys over history and over where it broke, and how it was impacted. Neither one of those guys would deny the impact of Christianity and American law or an American common law. And they couldn’t deny that because the court cases in America that we have from the 1600s going through their time, in the 1700s, into the early 1800s, really clear. Christianity all over the courts, and all of the states. So again, that’s a debate where people take it out of context to try to make a point that it does not make.
And guys, one of the things that for literally years, for decades for you guys, I have not been at WallBuilders ironically, Rick, as long as you have on some level, I was just a kid traveling around. But literally for decades, we’ve been trying to point people back to gaining the context to the conversation into some of the bigger picture arguments that are going on. And unfortunately, what we have seen over some of those decades is people cherry picking parts of letters or speeches, or even international documents to use in bolstering their arguments the Founding Fathers weren’t religious, that America was secular, America wasn’t Christian, there’s a separation of church and state, all of these things. When, if you read the whole context, it really changes the dynamic of the story and conversation. And when you look at the letters Between Jefferson and Adams, the vast majority of their correspondence comes late in life. That’s private correspondence where they really do have these open exploration conversations where they say, hey, let’s just, you know, what do you think about this issue? Well, here’s what I think. And they… there’s a little give and take, there’s kind of some push and pull on it. And at times, they do question some of the thoughts and doctrines of Christianity. And it’s stuff that, you know, maybe they were just having a conversation, and maybe they were just playing devil’s advocate, maybe they really did question some of these values. But that’s only in one moment and one area of their life. And that’s not who they were their whole life. It’s not all they wrote about the issue, there’s often so much more to the story. And that’s certainly, at WallBuilders, something we want to always encourage and remind people is make sure you try to get the full big picture, which is why we love people sending in questions on these foundations of freedom Thursday, so we can answer a little more context as to part of what that story is.
Folks, we got a lot more questions we didn’t get to and we really appreciate you sending them in. So we’re going to try to get to them next time around. And please keep sending them, [email protected] is the place to email your questions. And then of course, visit WallBuilders.com today to get some of the materials that will help equip you and inspire you to be a better citizen and help restore America’s constitution. We sure appreciate you listening today, to WallBuilders Live.
President Calvin Coolidge said, the more I studied the Constitution, the more I realized that no other document devised by the hand of man has brought so much progress and happiness to humanity. To live under the American Constitution is the greatest political privilege that was ever accorded to the human race.