"Where is it written in the Constitution,
in what article or section is it contained,
that you may take children from their parents
and parents from their children, and compel them
to fight the battles of any war in which the folly
and wickedness of the government may engage itself?
Under what concealment has this power lain hidden,
which now for the first time comes forth,
with a tremendous and baleful aspect, to trample down
and destroy the dearest right of personal liberty?
Who will show me any Constitutional injunction
which makes it the duty of the American people
to surrender everything valuable in life,
and even life, itself, whenever the purposes of
an ambitious and mischievous government may require it? ...
A free government with an uncontrolled power
of military conscription is the most ridiculous
and abominable contradiction and nonsense
that ever entered into the heads of men."
by:
Daniel Webster
(1782-1852) US Senator
Source:
Remarks to the House of Representatives, Dec. 9, 1814, _Writings and Speeches of Daniel Webster_, Vol. 14, p. 61, published 1903. As quoted in _Respectfully Quoted: a Dictionary of Quotations Requested from the Congressional Research Service_, Library of Congress, 1989
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Reader comments about this quote:
So how do you stop a run-away Congress? History tells us that until 'we the people' storm the Capitol en masse, legislatures will keep making rules for fools to follow.
 -- E Archer, NYC     
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     -- Anonymous, Reston, VA US      
     -- Milous Ford, Murray Ky.      
    After more than 200 years how does one even begin to alter such a machine.
     -- R.A. McMillan, Knoxville, Tn.     
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    I have added it to my web page on the Iraq war. http://mindprod.com/iraq.html I don't see how Bush can possibly invade Iran without a draft with all his troops tied up in Iraq.
     -- Roedy Green, Victoria     
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    Okay, just who will burst the bubble within which GWB states he lives? Not all the dead bodies returning from Iraq. He doesn't even want to have any pictutres of them published, much less see them for himself.The president lives in his own sheltered and protected cocoon and there is no room for the rest of America as he blithely sends young Americans to their death. The White House has been turned into a very deadly and uncontrollable Kindergarten.
     -- john-douglas, nassau     
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    I think Bush is a mentally and truth challenged mass murdering loser that should never have been let off the ranch. If he isn't a Satanist, he sure acts like one, evil and deceitful, with the stench of corruption pouring from every pore of his body.
     -- E. Lewis, Brookfield     
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    This is an awesome quote. I wish America could produce more of these kinds of people in Congress, instead of the roll over and play dead crowd we now have. I've always loved Webster and I think we need his voice now more than ever
     -- B. Flaherty, Arlington     
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    You all are going a little overboard here. First of all "We Are The Government". And as you know we are changing policy. The change of party in the last election is proof of that. We are a government and society run on public opinion. After all that is what "republic" means. "Re" means to do again, go back, as in retry, return, retreat etcetera. Thus re-public means to go back to the people. In a representative republic however, change does not happen overnight. What the hell is Webster talking about? Whether or not you agree with the policies or support any war that our nation through its government in DC has been involved in do you believe that this same government and this same nation has no right to fight a war. The terms Webster uses of ambitious, mischievious are subjects of political debate and the votes and support of the Congress and ultimately the People. But once the debate is over and majority speaks I do believe our government and nation has the right and sadly sometimes the responsibility to wage war. Sometimes are dislike of government and dislike of being "governed" gets in the way of clear thinking and understanding history. What our Constitution, the Founding Fathers and the generations that followed accomplished via the "legal" institution known to the world as the "United States of America" is renown. The wise men in Washington (sent there from the hinterlands) created a continental nation. The Washington, D.C. haters out west would be speaking French or Spanish, mankind would not have gone to the moon, Nazi Germnay would rule the world etcetera. You get the idea. Rather than altering a machine like that Europe is poised on copying it with their "European Union". With this larger organization and tax base they can now start to emulate and compete with the USA with their large continental free trade area and now with their own Space Agency. The bottom line for all of these 225 years has been "The Union Forever" and it has been led by that most detestable of all things Washington, D.C.
     -- Bruce, Alabama     
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    Well said Daniel Webster - there should be a mechanism to rein in the powers of the President (especially a President not voted in by a majority of the American people and where MANY voting irregularities took place) and his cohorts when they go berserk as they have demonstrated these last 6 years or more. By the way, it was German that nearly became the first language of America.
     -- Robert, Sarasota     
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    Hey guys, wait one Odie-Cologne minute here. Our Republic has a VOLUNTEER MILITARY. Hello, anyone catching this one? I have served in theatre, been there, and done that. So has my son and my daughter. We in the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines all volunteered for this job. So STOP with the mindless prattle about tearing sons, daughters, fathers and mothers away from their families. We all volunteered for this duty. It is a privilege and honor to serve our country folks. You can argue about the Commander in Chief's mental faculties and motives all you want, but DO NOT drag us uniformed folks into the fight. We have a sworn duty to perform, and we do it for the likes of the Clintons and the Bushs of the world and whomsoever THE PEOPLE elect to lead our Republic. And this Republic has not had to resort to conscription since 1973. Know this, us folks in the military don't want conscription anymore than you do, so leave that off the table. If you do not want to fight for our country, then don't. That is your freedom. We in uniform do not get to pick the fight, we just have to win it.
     -- Eric Engstrom, Wichita, KS     
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    Archer get off your butt and storm it if you have the balls and actually believe what you say...Green you probably haven't a clue how to conduct a military operation so it is probably a waste of time to explain bombing requires few troops...douglas we sent more American troops to their death in the Clinton peace time military then have died in Iraq and Afganistan together, get a little perspective beyond Neville Chamberlain's, & how about bursting your own bubble first...Lewis, talk about a mindless rant, you live through being an F-102 pilot and then talked to me about being mentally challenged, there is not a cogent phrase in your post and I suggest your recall the Clintons before you start talking truth challenged....Robert I hate to trouble you with facts, but recall that Clinton was not voted in by a majority in either of his elections, but don't let the Constitution bother you either. Irregularities??.. how about an army of democrat laywers descending on Florida trying to disallow military absentee ballots while Gore tried to cherry pick recount counties..... what a bunch of mindless whining empty of facts, I was here in Florida and I was an absentee voter for Bush in 2000, I was here, I saw it first hand, and the only fraud I have seen in the past 8 years is from democrat ACORN supporters. Remember it is a volunteer military now. Talk about Bush derangement syndrome. You bozos got it bad.
     -- helorat, Milton     
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    Guess D.W. was ahead of his time. Great argument for an all volunteer military. Just like Bush has. Only a baboon would think that D.W.'s quote has something to do whit G.W.B.
     -- warren, olathe     
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    Eric, thank you.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    Well said, Eric. I work daily with bright, young sailors who want to be where they are and want to do their jobs well. I've been doing that since the Reagan administration. They are truly America's finest. The only people I've heard advocating a draft or denigrating those young men and women by implying they're mentally deficient are Democrats.
     -- Ken, Allyn, WA     
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    Absolutely!
     -- Heidi Andrade, Boise, ID     
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    Here is a quote that fits our current social political dilemma "We have no government armed in power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Our Constitution was made only for a religious and moral people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other". Find out who said this and remember if you are going to spew out bile then you lose any real credibility. If you have some rational thoughts and answers to current policy I am sure we could all benefit from them(Lewis).(John) Have you been hangin with GWB? you seem to have some personal incite into the commander and chiefs personal decisions and feelings. God bless you Eric and your family I appreciate your sacrifices my father is a Vietnam vetran who suffers from PTSD. I pray you and your family will remain safe in a very dangerous time. War is something that must be avoided at all cost, yet it is inevitable. Question for the naysayers, will you defend your home against an intruder? Or will you let your wife and children be molested by those who seek to destroy peace, freedom and the tranquility they produce. Peace is kept not allowed.
     -- Sam, Frisco City Alabama     
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    What absolute balderdash – it’s about time we stop this rubbish concerning the armed forces and killing our young men and women – of course it is voluntary but that does not mean every decision that is made by your President must be obeyed – authority must always be questioned – it is this mindless duty without question that is the cause of wars. You, yes you, have the power to stop wars not the President – if we said no this WAR is not a right then it would revert back to people power. We follow blindly – so you volunteer to serve your country which is most admirable and brave of you, does that give you the right to kill on behalf of your government in wars that are not just? Are you not allowed to question why? The war machine and its propaganda ministers are well versed in the use of words such as patriotism, loyal, freedom, and democracy. The public is ignorant to the reasons for war and the reality behind its decision - we just go along blindly under the banner of patriotism and loyalty to our leader. The news media is to frighten to provide opposition as its finances are based on popular opinion and commerce (greed). And individuals are afraid to say NO, this was is wrong. As Russell said ‘ War does not determine who is right only who is left.
     -- Robert, Sarasota     
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    We may not have a 'draft' but we are told in high school that we MUST register for the draft (at the post office!) should it become necessary -- which is a bold-faced lie to get people to sign up for conscription when and if needed. As far as our patriotic men and women who have joined the military, they have an obligation to defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic -- so tell me, how do you disobey an unConstitutional order? Military personnel are trained to take orders -- or else be shot or sent to Guantanamo without due process. So those that fight undeclared and unconstitutional wars are simply mercenaries who have signed up for the benefits, training, and pensions that the miltary provides -- just listen to the commercials. It would be better if Congress simply declared war as per the Constitution instead of the President. And folks, quit beating your battle drums to say we are defending Freedom abroad -- read the Iraqi Constitution (pay particular attention to who is actually making the declarations -- not the people -- and also read the fine print near the end) -- it is a socialist government propped up by the US making legal US control over Iraqi resources. We need our fighting men and women here ready to defend America -- like those that joined the National Guard only to find themselves shipped off to die for oil in Iraq -- all justified by the Saudi bombing of the World Trade Center. Wake up, folks.

    "To die for an idea: it is unquestionably noble. But how much nobler it would be if men died for ideas that were true." -- H.L. Mencken
     -- E Archer, NYC     

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    Excellent Mencken...
     -- Robert, Sarasota     
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    KISS. Keep It Simple Stupid! Somewhere the Constitution reguires the government to defend the nation. If there are no volunteers then the government must resort to conscription. Where I ask is Daniel Webster coming from? Does anyone know?
     -- Bruce, Alabama     
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    Bruce, you must be looking in the mirror when you talk like that....
     -- Anonymous     
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    MIRRORS. Yes, Anonymous if you cannot face yourself and live with yourself and your own words when you speak or write maybe you should not speak or write. "We the People..in Order to....provide for the common defence..do ordain and establish this Constitution". Section 8. The Congress shall have the power 1)To declare war 2) Raise and support armies 3) Provide and maintain a navy 4) To provide for calling forth a Militia. SO I RESPECTFULLY ASK AGAIN "WHERE THE HELL IS OLE DAN WEBSTER COMING FROM? Can someone get in front of their mirror and answer this one.
     -- Bruce, Alabama     
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    He was againt the draft. KISS
     -- warren, olathe     
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    The two biggest conscriptions I believe were during the Civil War and WWII. Can anyone hazard a guess as to what the world would look like now if we did not have the draft during those two periods of history?
     -- Bruce, Alabama     
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    Bruce, once we elect our government officials we must live with their decisions until the next election unless they violate the law and can be impeached. If you think a war is not right, it is your right not to serve in the military. Conscription is a ludicrous concept for a free country. It is temporary slavery pure and simple. If we cannot find enough people to volunteer to serve perhaps we do not need to be at war, or no longer deserve to exist as a country. I believe that is where DW is coming from, and I agree.
     -- helorat, Milton     
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    That is not the Constitution. Webster was asking "where in the constitution is such an abomination written" I showed you above. Some on this site complain about conscription while others complain about mercenary soldiers. Many free and admirable countries have conscriptions - Israel comes to mind. I am of the opinion that conscription and living free are not antithetical. Saul Bellow in his story "The Dangling Man" said that "it seems that on occasion some members of society must sacrifice themselves for the common good". When they do this (die) the rest of us hardly give them a thought. He goes on to say that if it was us that died they would harldy give us a thought either. It has been shown that a voluntary military is more professional but it bothers me and I feel that it is not good for the health of the social fabric that the warriors come from lower rather than higher levels of society. Some may look down on the military as mercenaries just out for the public dole. In the current conflict while fighting an expensive war this Prez gave a big tax cut to the wealthiest among us. They used their tax cut to buy US Bonds which are paying them 5%. The young and less wealthy are dying, the richest among us are reaping a War Dividend. But you answered it best Helorat. We do not need to find enough people to serve, all we need to do is FIND ENOUGH PEOPLE FROM ALL WALKS OF LIFE WILLING TO SUBMIT TO A RANDOM LOTTERY DRAFT.
     -- Bruce, 'Bama     
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    Bush did not "give a big tax cut to the rich" he gave an equal percentage tax cut to all who pay income taxes (the problem is the 'poor' pay no income tax and expect another handout when the tax payers get a rate cut). And perhaps Bruce, you could point out where in the Constitution the government is given the power to forcibly conscript people into the military we are raising an army now voluntarily. You showed nothing of relevance.
     -- helorat, Milton     
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    There would be no wars if wars were financed with taxes. How do we know that wars are not financed with taxes? Well, taxes cannot be paid with dollar bills that the IRS said "are not dollars" or with credit and the British-created Federal Reserve said that their system "works only with credit." The IRS (Imaginary Revenue Scum) asks no one for money, they only ask for PAPER Credit exists nly in the mind, they must control the minds of most to work all of us with credit and THEY DO! Don't most believe the lie that governmet spends money when in fact, they expropriate everything they want with credit and PAY FOR NOTHING! Is this not slavery? Learn the truth from the Dept. of Veteran's affairs about total American deaths in Iraq: www.morpix.biz/iraq It is 15 times what the perfidious press tells us!
     -- Anonymous     
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