July 23, 2010 – Federalist No. 63 – Cathy Gillespie

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

Greetings from Mt. Vernon Virginia! Thank you Professor Morrisey  for your enlightening essay on Federalist 63! The methodical nature in which Publius addresses every aspect of the Constitution, and the elements of the government of the United States never cease to amaze me.   Federalist 62 explained how the Senate was to be organized: qualifications, appointment by state legislatures, equal representation among states, number of members and term, and the purpose of the Senate; Federalist 63 elaborates on the unique role of the Senate and its responsibility, while Federalist Nos. 64-66 explore its powers.

Federalist 63 emphasizes the role of Senators as Statesmen. By design, Senators were intended to be mature individuals who exercise responsibility, and give consideration to the long term impact of a “succession of well-chosen and well-connected measures, which have a gradual and perhaps unobserved operation.”

Some would argue there are fewer true Statesmen in the Senate today than we have seen in the past. Senators such as Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, and John Calhoun don’t seem to exist in the same way they once did.  However, we recently lost such a statesman, Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia.  While some may question Senator Byrd’s support of prolific federal spending, he is the undisputed “Father of Constitution Day,” held each September 17!

Senator Byrd’s amendment to the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2005 designated September 17, the anniversary of the 1787 signing of the Constitution, as Constitution Day.  This bill was signed into law by President Bush on December 8, 2004 as Public Law 108-4-47.  Thanks to Senator Byrd, on September 17 all educational institutions receiving federal funds are required to hold programs on the United States Constitution.

Janine and I have a goal to imbue Constitution Day into the cultural consciousness of our country!  Constituting America is planning several events in Philadelphia this September 17, featuring our We The People 9.17 Contest for Kids Winners.  If you will be in the Philadelphia area, please join us!  Watch our website for more details.

Thank you, Senator Byrd, for your vision in establishing this important day of recognition for the United States Constitution in our country.  Thank you for your service to our Nation.  While I may not have always personally agreed with your votes and your interpretation of the Constitution, I will miss your Statesman-like grace and love for our founding document!

Below are Senator Byrd’s own words about Constitution Day:

CELEBRATING OUR CONSTITUTION

Our Constitution is the foundation of our freedoms.  Just a few pages, written on parchment, established for all time the direction and structure of these United States.  The first ten amendments, known as the Bill of Rights, guarantee our freedoms:  freedom of speech; freedom of religion; the right to assemble; the right to petition the government; the right to bear arms; and the right to vote.  Our liberties are protected by that Constitution, not only by the Bill of Rights, but also by the separation of powers and the checks and balances among the three equal branches of our government.

Each of us should give thanks that on September 17, 1787, our forefathers signed their names to the new Constitution and launched mankind’s most remarkable experiment in self-governance.

But a great Republic cannot sustain itself unless its citizens participate actively in their own government.  To do that, I strongly believe, that our citizens must be familiar with the Constitution and the intent of the Framers who wrote it.

In December 2004, I helped to enact a federal law that designates September 17th of each year as Constitution and Citizenship Day.  I did so because I care so deeply about this precious document.

Consequently, I invite all Americans to take the time on September 17th to read, analyze, and reflect on the Constitution.  It is a learned and dynamic document.  Brilliant in its brevity, it remains extraordinary in its wisdom.  It is my hope that citizens of every State in the Union, including children, will be inspired to organize local celebrations on Constitution Day.

Let us spread the excitement of celebrating Constitution Day far and wide, through every hill and dale, across the Great Plains, through the Deep South, across the West, the Southwest, the Northeast, as well as up and down the Atlantic Seaboard, and especially in West Virginia.  Let us all unite on September 17th to appreciate our magnificent Constitution.

Unless we understand our birthright and guard it vigorously, we risk losing the gift of the Framers.  Our Constitution continues to inspire millions around the globe.  It has survived the stresses and strains of more than 221 years of incredible challenge and change.

Our Constitution’s Framers were willing to risk everything they owned, even their own lives, to give us the great treasure that is our nation and our form of government.  Each of us has an obligation to hand that treasure on to future generations intact and strong and secure.”

 

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