Not Yours to Give

It is doubtful whether Colonel Davey Crockett gets more than a brief mention in today’s politically-revised history books.  Crocket, the famous frontiersman, not only served in the military, but also represented Tennessee during four terms in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1827-1835.

One cold winter night the Congressman became aware of a tragic fire in Georgetown.  There was little could be done to save the homes and the Colonel was deeply touched by the suffering of the women and children.  The next morning, a bill was introduced to appropriate $20,000 for their relief, and all but a few agreed.  Colonel Crockett voted for the measure.

The following summer, Crockett found himself running for another term and thought it best “not to let the boys think I had forgotten them.”  All was going quite well, when he came upon the farm of one Horatio Bunce where he found him plowing a field.  Approaching to hopefully engage the man in conversation, Bunce reacted coldly and just kept plowing.  Crockett tried to introduce himself and that he was running for reelection.  Bunce said without hesitation that he knew quite well who he was and that he had voted for him in the last election.  Further, he would not be doing so again.

Crockett was quite taken back and begged to tell what he had done to disappoint the man and lose his vote.   Mr. Bunce replied: “Well, Colonel, it is hardly worthwhile to waste time or words upon it.  I do not see how it can be mended, but you gave a vote last winter which shows that either you have not capacity to understand the Constitution, or that you are wanting the honesty and firmness to be guided by it.” 

He went on to say he believed  the Colonel had a different understanding of the Constitution than he had, and that he could not overlook.  Bunce added that the “Constitution, to be worth anything, must be held sacred, and rigidly observed in all its provisions.”  He noted that he had read the newspaper account of the Colonel’s vote with respect to the $20,000 for those who suffered from the Georgetown fire.  It was not the amount, but the act itself that offended.  It opens wide the door of favoritism and corruption.  “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 Colonel took it to heart and used this new found understanding of the Constitution as the foundation for another successful run for the House.  Not long thereafter, a bill came before the House appropriating money for the widow of a retired Naval Officer.  Everyone thought that Crockett would support the bill.  To their surprise, he arose and spoke eloquently against passage.  Among other things, he said: “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 for the balance of the living.”  He went on to show the proposed bill was not allowed by the Constitution.  The House heard his words and the bill, that was virtually assured passage, failed receiving but a few votes. 

Where are the statesmen in any position in government today who understand and are willing to defend the Constitution?  That very Constitution to which they unanimously pledged before God to protect and defend?  

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