Monday, August 15, 2005


The Joseph Story Story

History for Mommies, Daddies, and other true Americans...
Little known, hardly taught, life of Joseph Story and his relentless writing was made known to me by Alan E. Sears, President, CEO and General Counsel of the Alliance Defense Fund. Mr. Sears quoted Story in a speech I was honored to hear. I was determined to learn more about Story’s brilliance. A search at Barnes and Noble while in Williamsburg, VA brought up one book, by James P. McClellan, whose credentials are none too shabby either. Years later, I have never quite finished the book but as a resource, it is invaluable. I don’t know law so the reading was a challenge. The philosophical content and goal of the book was what kept me going and was achieved in this reader. If you think the judicial branch of government has only recently developed problems in perpetuating our Constitution, here is what McClellan writes, “Thus, in 1835, Story found himself stranded and alone. ‘The last of an old race of judges’, [Story] said he was the last of a once mighty and dominant class of men who formulated their judicial precepts upon the teachings of the Federalist [papers], or so they thought, anyway But Story was labeled ‘the most dangerous man in America’ by Andrew Jackson.” (p 55, McClellan; Joseph Story and the American Constitution)
Justice Story wrote to his wife in 1829, that he had seen “the reign of King ‘Mob’…triumphant”…at Jackson’s first inaugural and in his presidency. “Though we live under the form of a republic,” Story lamented, “we are in fact under the absolute rule of a single man…I seem almost, while I write, to be in a dream, and to be called back to the last days of the Roman republic, when the people shouted for Caesar, and liberty itself expired with the dark but prophetic words of Cicero.” (quoted, p. 56)

That was back when learned men were aware of history’s lessons. Joseph Story never got to the Chief Justice position… “nearly every member of the Court was against him in 1837.” (p. 57)
Who could argue against history’s repetitive course? Who knew the Supreme Court was worse off in 1837 than it is today? Closer to an even split, we hold onto hope by a thread.

There is much to be learned even though homeschoolers may be the lone teachers. Parents, you are responsible for learning and teaching the children of America. Schools have failed, even the best of them, to get across the structural supports for our Republic. It would appear this failure goes way back.

Joseph Story wrote, Commentaries on the Constitution, and obscure writing on Natural Law, reprinted for the first time in McClellan’s book, and Law, Legislation, and Codes, reprinted by Francis Lieber in Encyclopedia Americana.

For starters: In Natural Law, Story wrote, “The obligatory force of the law of nature upon man is derived from its presumed coincidence with the will of his Creator. God has fashioned man according to His own good pleasure, and has fixed the laws of his Being. --He has the Supreme Right to prescribe the rules, to which man shall regulate his conduce. He has given to man the power of discerning between good and evil [through His written Word and Holy Spirit], and a liberty of choice in the use of those means, which lead to happiness or misery. The whole duty of man therefore consists in two things; first in making constant effort to ascertain what is the Will of God; and secondly, in obedience to that Will when ascertained.”

Joseph Story devoted his whole life to these ends.

“Righteousness exalteth a nation.” ~Proverb 14:34

Zell Miller’s Deficit of Decency quotes “Seek His will in all you do and He will direct your paths.” ~Proverb 3:6

Amendment VII: “In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States than according to the rules of the common law.”

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