Congress Hall Cafe
He writes: Is it not that the tyrannical ability of King George was superior to that of English settlers who were tyrants themselves…imposing their wills on the less tyrannically adept native Americans…”
Response: “Tyranny” by definition is the unauthorized use of civil authority. The English settlers were under colonial charters and operating legitimately under those charter as dictated by the law of nations. Colonization was the accepted and prevalent method of national expansion, all history testifies to this, and this method was not only sanctified by the ancient law of nations but had the approval of a divine fiat according to Genesis 9:9 . We see a continuous migration, according to tradition, beginning with the sons of Noah as the sons of Jepheth moved into Europe, the Shemite clans into Asia, and the Hamite clans into Africa. Global colonization created havoc throughout the world, but it was a time of settlement and expansion, for example, it was the Gaul’s migration that sacked Rome in 387 BC and returning to initiate the fall of Rome in 410 AD when the Visigoth attacked Rome. We find migrations of the Greeks around the Mediterranean and Aegean Sea even up to 600 BC and sometimes after. We see Germanic tribes entering Briton after 400 AD and the Danes following before 900 AD. The discovery of America did not begin the migration, but by its discovery, it became a participate of old world expansionism which had been going since the Babel dispersion. Spain moved into South America; France begin to colonized parts of Canada and America; the English Settlers providentially migrated to the Eastern coast of America. Various reasons brought the old world to the new but a basic understanding of the law of nations shines a the light on the legitimacy of their actions and on their failures as well. In the law of nations migration was a right of nations especially when we consider that much of the known world was yet unsettled and the common property of all. In fact, at the arrival of European migration into North American, there were no settled national boundaries based on permanent occupancy by the natives. The American Indians for most part were nomadic. This caused a problem for the American Indian because the law of nature states that possession and occupation creates private ownership (See Locke and Blackstone.) During the planting and harvest season, the American Indian could declared a property right in the land they where farming and in the homes they built, but when they packed up and left to follow the migration of game, according to the law of nature, they effectively abandoned their fields thereby restoring it to common use of all. We use this same law every-time we haul broken furniture to the curb, effectively relinquishing title and placing it back into common ownership.
Grotius “And lands are said to be so possessed, when enclosed or defended by fortifications, for a temporary occupation by an encampment is not regarded in this case.” 312.2
Emer De Vattel: “The savages of North America had no right to appropriate all that vast continent to themselves; and since they were unable to inhabit the whole of those regions, other nations might without injustice settle in some parts of them, provided they left the natives a sufficiency of land.” Law of Nations
The Europeans, who migrated into the new world, were city dwellers and they were skilled at using charters and land contracts, the tools of sovereignty, to effectively move common property perpetually in private ownership. This was unfortunate for the American Indians who planted fields, established ownership and then abandoned it thereby allowing European settlers to move in and forge a perpetual claim by creating permanent settlements. This of course is not the complete record. Some lands were purchased from the Indians while some lands were seized by conquest. According to the laws of nations, an ancient (non Christian) law recognized by all nations, the American Indians could only be classified as a conquered people, a victim of foreign migration and invasion, and this had legal implications according to the law of nations in the light of conquest. The reason every nation has a military and seeks to defend its boarders is because a nation’s defense is the obligation of sovereignty. If a nation fails adequately to defend itself from its enemies then the inhabitants may become subject to the will of the invading force, and according to the law of nations, the conquered by necessity must recognize a new sovereign authority.
“- a city submits to the enemy
when it cannot expect safety
from a vigorous resistance.”
Emer de Vattel
The Indian tribes in America failed to defend their boarders and they became subject to a new authority, the American Union. This is not to understate American failings, but what this does mean is that English settlers, in their actions on the continent, were not innovations in their migration or using illicit new methods in colonization, but in fact, they tempered recognized international law by adopting a more humane approach, for example, the law of nations allowed for the extermination of the enemy after capture; the law of nations gave the right of the conqueror to enslave or sell the conquered…
Justinian, Roman Law Title II.17 “Things again which we capture from the enemy at once become ours by the law of nations, so that by this rule even free men become our slaves…”
However, if you read the letters of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, who were intimately involved with Indian Affairs, their humanity shines bright when they rebuked American abuses toward the Indians and sought justice for them according to law, and when they earnestly worked toward the general welfare of the Indians tribes by supplying the tools they needed for husbandry, and when they showed eagerness to see the Indian tribes grow in number and become active commercial partners and friends. Christian influence on the law of nations has moved this law from barbarism toward greater justice.
North West Ordinance Article III 1787
“The utmost good faith shall always be observed towards the Indians; their lands and property shall never be taken from them without their consent; and in their property, rights, and liberty they never shall be invaded or disturbed unless in just and lawful wars authorized by Congress; but laws founded in justice and humanity shall, from time to time, be made, for preventing wrongs being done to them, and for preserving peace and friendship with them.”
Final note, history is continually being written by the hand of Providence, and we can never find a time when good did not exist in conjunction with evil, see Genesis 3.5; we pray for redemption from evil. The key to history is to search for the gold nugget among the rocks. We do this by viewing history through the lens of reality as defined by the workings of good and of evil, and discerning their operations, we collect the principles of liberty that are birthed while discarding the principles of tyranny. This is the work of philosophy, and every citizen who participates in the sovereignty of “We the People” ought to be diligently engaged in this important constitutional work in order to advance civilization and to protect it from the Evil One.
Grotius state that Cicero is his Of Office writes that “some things become the private property of those, who take possession of them, when unoccupied, or of those, who make a conquest of them in war.” 267
Question: What about the slaves brought over on Dutch ships, is this an act of tyranny by early Americans?
Response: Yes! Colonial America had succumb to an illegal and devastating institution of slavery. An institutution which is not only a violation of the light of reason which is declared in America’s social compact that says “all men are created equal” but also of God revealed law which requires redemption from servitude every seven years, or immediate redemption by a slave finding refuge in a neighbor’s home. The American colonist and many founding fathers of America failed to uphold the divine light of reason or the Biblical mandates, and the express rule of America’s charter, the Declaration, that “all men are created equal” with rights of life, liberty, and happiness. This has impaired their reputations for an eternity, and it has given a dangerous weapon to advocates of tyranny who use the existence of slavery by early American founders in order to nullify and malign their good and necessary work of constitutional liberty. God Himself speaks to the conscience through His Word and Spirit and when His voice is ignored He will hand over to Darkness the rebellious acts of the righteous. We see this today in the many virulent attacks made by secularist against the founders in order to repudiate their reputation and constitutional work. Slavery, the sins of the founding Fathers, has given a powerful tool to the enemies of republicanism, although republicanism in nature is anti-slavery.
Thomas Jefferson on slavery “The love of justice and the love of country plead equally the cause of these people, and it is a moral reproach to us that they should have pleaded it so long in vain, and should have produced not a single effort, nay I fear not much serious willingness to relieve them & ourselves from our present condition of moral & political reprobation.” 641m/l
Grotius “All these rights to prizes, which were introduced by the law of nations, were intended as an inducement to captors to refrain from the cruel rigour of putting prisoners to death; as they might hope to derive some advantage from sparing and saving them. Pomponius deduces the origin of the word, Servus, or Slave, being one, who might have been put to death, but from motives of interest or humanity have been saved. It has long been a maxim, universally received among the powers of Christendom, that prisoners of war cannot be made slaves, so as to be sold, or compelled to the hardships and labor attached to slavery. …[to do otherwise]…would be inconsistent with every precept of the law of charity, 277
Law of Nations.
Grotius “The law of nature indeed authorizes out making such acquisitions in a just war, as may be deemed an equivalent for a debt, which cannot otherwise be obtained, or as may inflict a loss upon the aggressor, provided it be within the bounds of reasonable punishment. According to this rights, as we find in the fourteenth chapter of Genesis, Abraham devoted to God a tenth part of the spoils, which he had taken from the five kings.” 266
Cicero “When Paulus got possession of all the wealth of Macedon — and it was enormous — he brought into our treasury so much money/a that the spoils of a single general did away with the need for a tax on property in Rome for all time to come. But to his own house he brought nothing save the glory of an immortal name. Africanus emulated his father’s example and was none the richer for his overthrow of Carthage. And what shall we say of Lucius Mummius, his colleague in the censorship? Was he one penny the richer when he had destroyed to its foundations the richest of cities? He preferred to adorn Italy rather than his own house. And yet by the adornment of Italy his own house was, as it seems to me, still more splendidly adorned.” b2.76
Note: George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and other Founders gained honor in public service with little personal financial benefit. They filled the duty of their election without seeking public office and set the example.