Davey Crockett – Excellent History

Davey Crockett – Excellent History
Not Yours To Give….
In the early 1800’s Congress was considering a bill to appropriate tax
dollars for the widow of a distinguished naval officer. Several beautiful
speeches had been made in support of this bill. It seemed that everyone in the
House favored it. The Speaker of the House was just about to put the question to
a vote, when Davy Crockett, famous frontiersman and then Congressman from
Tennessee, rose to his feet.

“Mr. Speaker, I have as much respect for the memory of the deceased and
as much sympathy for the suffering of the living as any man in this House, but
we must not permit our respect for the dead or our sympathy for a part of the
living to lead us into an act of injustice to the balance of the living. 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 to so appropriate a dollar
of the public money. Some eloquent appeals have been made to us upon the ground
that it is a debt due the deceased. Sir, this is no debt. We cannot without the
grossest corruption, appropriate this money as the payment of a debt. We have
not the semblance of authority to appropriate it as a charity. I cannot vote for
this bill, but I will give one week’s pay, and if every member of Congress will
do the same, it will amount to more than the bill asks.”

There was silence on the floor of the House as Crockett took his seat.
When the bill was put to a vote, instead of passing unanimously as had been
expected, it received only a few votes.
The next day a friend approached
Crockett and asked why he had spoken against a bill for such a worthy cause. In
reply, Crockett related the following story:

Just a few years before, he had voted to spend $20,000.00 of public money
to help the victims of a terrible fire in Georgetown. When the legislative
session was over, Crockett made a trip back home to do some campaigning for his
re-election. In his travels he encountered one of his constituents, a man by the
name of Horatio Bunce. Mr. Bunce bluntly informed Crockett, “I voted for you the
last time. I shall not vote for you again.”

Crockett, feeling he had served his constituents well, was stunned. He
inquired as to what he had done to so offend Mr. Bunce.

Bunce replied, “You gave a vote last winter which shows that either you
have not capacity to understand the Constitution, or that you are wanting in the
honesty and firmness to be guided by it. The Constitution, to be worth anything,
must be held sacred, and rigidly observed in all its

“I take the papers from Washington and read very carefully all the
proceedings of Congress. My papers say that last winter you voted for a bill to
appropriate $20,000.00 to some sufferers by a fire. Well, Colonel, where do you
find in the Constitution any authority to give away public money in charity? 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.

“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. You have violated the Constitution in what I consider to be a
vital point. It is a precedent fraught with danger to the country, for when
Congress once begins to stretch its power beyond the limits of the Constitution,
there is no limit to it, and no security for the People.”

“I could not answer him,” said Crockett. “I was so fully convinced that
he was right.” I said to him, “Well, my friend, you hit the nail upon the head
when you said I had not sense enough to understand the Constitution. If you will
forgive me and vote for me again, if I ever vote for another unconstitutional
law, I wish I may be shot.”

After finishing the story, Crockett said, “Now sir, you know why I made
that speech yesterday. There is one thing now to which I will call your
attention. You remember that I proposed to give a weeks pay? There are in that
House many very wealthy men, men who think nothing of spending a weeks pay, or a
dozen of them, for a dinner or a wine party when they have something to
accomplish by it. Some of these same men made beautiful speeches upon the debt
of gratitude which the country owed the deceased, yet not one of them responded
to my proposition. Money with them is nothing but trash when it is to come out
of the people. But it is the one great thing for which most of them are
striving, and many of them sacrifice honor, integrity, and justice to obtain

Let us with caution indulge the supposition

that morality can be maintained without religion.

Reason and experience both forbid us to expect
that national morality can prevail in exclusion of

religious principle. ~ George Washington

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