I’m certain everyone has heard of Davey Crockett, the Tennessee woodsman who died heroically at the Alamo. Some may have even heard he was a US congressman. But how many know anything about his time in Congress? Any speeches or votes while in Congress? Or do all the tales around Davey Crockett revolve around his woodsman status and his being at the Alamo when everyone at the Alamo died?
I remembered a tale about Davey Crockett’s time in Congress which is very pertinent today. Much moreso than at any time in the history of the US. With all the tribulations the people of this great nation are suffering, the federal government is spending money (they don’t have) at astronomically record-shattering rates. And all this spending is done, supposedly, for the good of the people and for the good of the nation. Those on the right are saying the spending is far too great and the gerrymandering and corruption is far beyond the worst ever seen. Those on the left are blaming rich people and “inherited” crises for the need to overspend and the need to add all sorts of programs and bureaucracies while spending an egregious amount of money (nobody has) to “fix” the situation.
What does Davey Crockett have to say?
I will not go into an argument to prove that Congress has no power to appropriate this money as an act of charity. Every member upon this floor knows it. We have the right, as individuals, to give away as much of our own money as we please in charity; but as members of Congress we have no right so to appropriate a dollar of the public money.
Davey Crockett once voted to appropriate tax dollars to help victims of a local/regional disaster.
“Several years ago I was one evening standing on the steps of the Capitol with some other members of Congress, when our attention was attracted by a great light over in Georgetown. It was evidently a large fire. We jumped into a hack and drove over as fast as we could. When we got there I went to work, and I never worked as hard in my life as I did there for several hours. But, in spite of all that could be done, many houses were burned and many families made houseless, and, besides, some of them had lost all but the clothes they had on. The weather was very cold, and when I saw so many women and children suffering, I felt that something ought to be done for them, and everybody else seemed to feel the same way.”
“The next morning a bill was introduced appropriating $20,000 for their relief. We put aside all other business, and rushed it through as soon as it could be done. I said everybody felt as I did. That was not quite so; for, though they perhaps sympathized as deeply with the sufferers as I did, there were a few of the members who did not think we had the right to indulge our sympathy or excite our charity at the expense of anybody but ourselves. They opposed the bill, and upon its passage demanded the yeas and nays. There were not enough of them to sustain the call, but many of us wanted our names to appear in favor of what we considered a Praiseworthy measure, and we voted with them to sustain it. So the yeas and nays were recorded, and my name appeared on the journals in favor of the bill.”
When he returned home, he found out he was gravely mistaken and he did indeed violate the Constitution.
It is not the amount, Colonel, that I complain of; it is the principle. In the first place, the Government ought to have in the Treasury no more than enough for its legitimate purposes. But that has nothing to do with the question. The power of collecting and disbursing money at pleasure is the most dangerous power that can be entrusted to man, particularly under our system of collecting revenue by a tariff, which reaches every man in the country, no matter how poor he may be, and the poorer he is the more he pays in proportion to his means. What is worse, it presses upon him without his knowledge where the weight centers, for there is not a man in the United States who can ever guess how much he pays to the Government. So you see, that while you are contributing to relieve one, you are drawing it from thousands who are even worse off than he. If you had the right to give anything, the amount was simply a matter of discretion with you, and you had as much right to give $20,000,000 as $20,000. If you have the right: to give to one, you have the right to give to all; and, as the Constitution neither defines charity nor stipulates the amount, you are at liberty to give to any and everything which you may believe, or profess to believe, is a charity, and to any amount you may think proper. You will very easily perceive, what a wide door this would open for fraud and corruption and favoritism, on the one hand, and for robbing the people on the other. No, Colonel, Congress has no right to give charity. Individual members may give as much of their own money as they please, but they have no right to touch a dollar of the public money for that purpose. If twice as many houses had been burned in this county as in Georgetown, neither you nor any other member of Congress would have thought of appropriating a dollar for our relief. There are about two hundred and forty members of Congress. If they had shown their sympathy for the sufferers by contributing each one week’s pay, it would have made over $13,000. There are plenty of wealthy men in and around Washington who could have given $20,000 without depriving themselves of even a luxury of life. The Congressmen chose to keep their own money, which, if reports be true, some of them spend not very creditably; and the people about Washington, no doubt, applauded you for relieving them from the necessity of giving by giving what was not yours to give. The people have delegated to Congress, by the Constitution, the power to do certain things. To do these, it is authorized to collect and pay moneys, and for nothing else. Everything beyond this is usurpation, and a violation of the Constitution.
Davey Crockett learned his lesson. He would be absolutely opposed to “welfare,” Medicare, Medicaid, WIC, FEMA, education grants, any bail-outs, farm subsidies, etc, etc. And he would be opposed to them on Constitutional grounds, not because they aren’t worthy causes. It is likely he would put some of his own money to these causes, but he would not allow the government to put “other people’s money” into the causes. Because those matters are unconstitutional.
Read the full story for a deeper understanding. And, for those of the leftist mentality who would want to claim I am only saying this due to the current Democrat (socialist, anti-constitutionalist) president, examine this story and note the date of the story and the type of site where this story is related.