What IS Right With America? Our Indubitable, Unalienable, and Indefeasible Right to Reform Our Government
“That the people have an indubitable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to reform or change their Government, whenever it be found adverse or inadequate to the purposes of its institution.”
Did you know that James Madison, often thought of as the “Father of the Constitution,” also proposed a plethora of rights to be added into our Constitution? The rights which James Madison proposed incorporating into what would become our Bill of Rights were more extensive than what actually was included in the first ten Amendments. On June 8, 1789, Madison rose during a session of Congress and proposed thirty nine separate rights which he thought should be woven into the newly ratified Constitution. Twelve of those rights were ultimately not included in the proposed Amendments which were sent to the States. Several of the rights which the Congress chose to leave out are worth highlighting. Today’s post is about one of Madison’s proposed rights. I will discuss several others later this week.
Not the first of Madison’s proposals, but one that might be of interest to many citizens on this day in particular was his third: “That the people have an indubitable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to reform or change their Government, whenever it be found adverse or inadequate to the purposes of its institution.”
Madison did not come up with this idea on his own. That same idea is also referenced to in both the Virginia Declaration of Rights and the Declaration of Independence. The statement which was included in the Virginia Declaration of Rights was as follows: “when any government shall be found inadequate or contrary to these purposes, a majority of the community hath an indubitable, inalienable, and indefeasible right to reform, alter, or abolish it, in such manner as shall be judged most conducive to the public weal.” An even more strongly worded statement, which echoed the same principle, can be found in the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
All of these statements embrace the notion that our government is empowered by the Consent of the Governed. More about this premise, and Madison’s proposed amendment regarding it, in my next post.
As we observe the three branches of government behaving in ways which the Founders never intended, it is worth remembering that our Framers believed that it is the “Right of the People” to reform the government. Have our elected officials forgotten that our government was formed to secure our inalienable rights including that of Liberty? It is a question I encourage you to consider. That inalienable right is at the foundation of What IS Right With America!
Susan C. Rempel, Ph.D.