[an error occurred while processing this directive] ZEPHYR Magazine
                              T H E
                           Z E P H Y R
                  __     M A G A Z I N E
                 Issue #45                8-24-87
            A weekly electronic magazine for users of 
                        THE ZEPHYR II BBS 
                    (Mesa, AZ - 602-894-6526)
                owned and operated by T. H. Smith
                    Editor - Gene B. Williams 
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                            (c) 1987

   This is our 200th anniversay of the Constitution of the 
United States. It's also yet another year when violations of 
the Constitution by those in high office has been questioned.
   Debates have occurred on the various BBSs around the Valley - 
and probably around the country. What's surprising is how little 
some people seem to know about our Constitution or even the 
founding of our country.
   Chris Mitchell has gone to the bother of keyboarding the 
entire Constitution. (Actually it's a fairly small document, 
but still represents a lot of work on his part.) I knew it was 
coming and so began writing up a brief introduction to it.

   Well, you know me. 

   The introduction has become an issue of its own. The Constitution 
will follow as an add on, as its own issue, or perhaps just as a 
download available to you.

                         A COUNTRY BORN   

   When was the "birth" of America? 
   Many people will answer, 1776. In some ways they'd be right; 
in other ways they'd be wrong.
   In the early 1600s people began arriving in America to 
colonize. There seemed to be plenty of land, the Indians at 
the time didn't seem to mind too awful much, and most important, 
the new colonists were away from direct control of the crown.
   That control still existed, of course, but enforcement was a 
bit tough, especially since England was having a bit of a squabble 
(complete with bullets, blades and blood) with France. 
   The colonists simply ignored most of the laws. 
   In 1763, after the defeat of the French (with the help of the 
Indians) the British government saw that this land was pretty 
rich, with all sorts of things they wanted. And they began to 
exercise more power and more control. 
   Britain wasn't the only greedy group. The colonists expanded 
and moved westward. So what that the Indians owned the land. If 
they didn't like the whites moving in and setting up shop, tough 
   Skirmishes began. Pontiac, leader of the Indians, took some 
drastic measures to prevent the loss of their land. The whites 
were, at this time, invaders.
   A man named Grenville put out the Proclamation of 1763. This 
forbade the colonists from moving west of the Allegheny Mountains 
except by special permission, and told those colonists who had 
already moved into Indian land to back off.
   The attitude of the colonists was, "We can do whatever we want, 
so go eat some sawdust. And take Pontiac with you."
   Then came the Stamp Act in 1765. The government wanted more 
money. They raised it by requiring stamps to be placed on many 
items - kinda like the "stamps" you now see on a variety of things, 
such as cigarettes, gasoline, and etc.
   The colonists wondered about what would be taxed next. (The Stamp 
Act placed a tax on newspapers, calendars, almanacs, playing cards 
and certain legal papers.) 
   Then came "The Stamp Act Congress" - an informal group assembled 
from each of the 9 colonies (at the time). They wrote a protest and 
sent it to England (kinda like writing or sending a petition to 
your Congressman). They then organized a boycott, encouraging the 
colonists to not buy British goods.
   The Stamp Act was repealed the next year. (Big Bucks talk!) But 
in a typical government attitude, at the same time they had to make 
themselves feel "big" and said that although they'd repeal the tax, 
they maintained to right to tax or make laws.
   The colonists continued to defy the government. You can bet that 
this made King George REAL happy. Basically, he and his ministers 
had had just about enough. "Give 'em an inch and they'll take a 
mile," which pretty much described the whole thing. 
   So England decided to enforce the laws, even on the colonists. To 
make it official they formally declared their intentions in The 
Townshend Acts. 
   Again there were protests. The rebels began insulting the British, 
calling their soldiers "red coats" and "lobster-backs." Sounds sorta 
like the 1960s with the police being called "pigs." And just about 
the same thing happened as what happened on a famous university 
campus. The people threw things at the "police," tempers flared, 
and a few shots were fired into the crowd. A few people died. 
   The British government called it a minor skirmish with rebels. The 
colonists called it "The Boston Massacre." Now we're in 1770.
   All taxes were repealed, along with the rest of the Townshend Acts. 
But to do the usual trick of those in power, the British maintained 
a 3c tax on imported tea. 
   In charge of just about all the tea importing was the British East 
India Company. Some smart man in England figured out that it was 
less costly to ship the tea directly to the Americas rather than to 
route it through England. England suffered since it didn't get to 
collect import taxes. The cost of tea to the colonists dropped like 
crazy. They paid less than anyone else in the (British) world, even 
with the 3c tax. Even the tea smugglers (mostly from Holland) couldn't 
come close to matching that extremely low price.
   Those smugglers were, in essence, being squeezed out of business. 
They began to stir up trouble, for business' sake. A few colonial 
"stockholders" helped.
   A group put on costumes and had themselves a wild time - the Boston 
Tea Party. They wasted a whole shipload of tea by tossing it into 
the salty water.
   A number of colonists protested this as a vigilante move, and 
tried to reason with the others. They had the lowest price on tea 
of anyone - the big reason behind the whole rebellion was caused 
by the Dutch who were losing money, and if the Dutch got back into 
it again, the price of tea would once more skyrocket.
   Great Britain also took a dim view of the whole affair. They'd 
repealed all taxes except that one, had given the colonists a big 
say in how they lived, etc. 
   1774 - laws were passed, mostly aimed at Massachusetts. The port 
at Boston was closed until those to blame paid for the damage they'd 
caused. The formerly allowed self-government was taken away until 
the rebels stopped taking potshots and destroying property. 
   The British thought of this as trying to restore peace and good 
business. The colonists called the laws, "The Intolerable Acts."
   Now we're at September of 1774. The basically underground 
rebellion came above ground. 50 some-odd people gathered to talk 
about how to proceed. The meeting was called, "The First Continental 
   1775 - the rebellion continued to grow. Groups in Massachusetts 
armed themselves and began to drill. The general idea through the 
colonies was that with more protests things would go back to the 
way they had been. 
   The British reaction to the arming and drills was to pass the 
so-called British Act. Under the leadership of General Thomas 
Gage, a small company of British soldiers marched to Concord, some 
18 miles outside of Boston, to destroy arms and explosions gathered 
by the rebels.
   About 6 miles outside Concord, the soldiers were ambushed. 8 
of the rebels were killed, and ten more were wounded. The soldiers 
continued into Concord and succeeded in destroying the cache of 
   Rebels took potshots at the soldiers all the way back to Boston. 
By the time the British got back home, some 300 were dead or missing.
   That was April 19, 1775.
   On June 16 of the same year, 1200 rebels snuck up the sides of 
Bunker Hill and Breed's Hill just outside Boston. They managed to 
capture Breed's Hill. The next morning the British counterattacked. 
This was the famous Battle of Bunker Hill, which really had nothing 
to do with Bunker Hill.
   Fighting continued. By March 1776 the rebels took control of 
Dorchester Heights and armed it with cannon (taken from the British 
at Ticonderoga) that could be fired down into Boston. By March 17 
the British withdrew and sailed off to Nova Scotia.
   To strengthen his troups, George III hired Hessians - German 
mercenaries - to help maintain law and order. The colonists became 
violently furious, saying that it was bad enough to have British 
soldiers around, but who wants a bunch of foreigners who talk 
   Thomas Paine wrote a pamphlet he titled, "Common Sense." In it 
he said that there was little sense in having a continent tied 
to a small island thousands of miles away. In the pamphlet he 
griped about the attempts to put down the armed rebels and pleaded 
for separation.
   Now we're at June 1776. Richard Lee of Virginia stood up in 
the Second Continental Congress and declared that he'd been 
directed by the people of Virginia to say, "Resolved, that 
these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and 
independent states."
   Now Thomas Jefferson (also from Virginia, and 33 at the time) 
got into the act. He had a nice touch with words. With a little 
help from others, he drafted the Declaration of Independence.

   The idea of rights of the people and of the public wasn't 
new. Way back in 1215 the British drafted the Magna Carta, forcing 
King John to realize that he couldn't do whatever he felt like 
doing - that ordinary people have rights, too. (Well, sorta. Mostly 
it was that the rich land holders had rights, too.)
   When the colonists were first coming to America, King Charles I 
was in charge. Despite the Magna Carta, he tended to ignore 
Parliament (their Congress) and to consider them as little more 
than people who had no right to know what was going on. The 
"Petition of Right" was drawn up which declared that the British 
should not be taxed without consent of Parliament, which in 
turn represented the people. (Consequently, taxation without 
representation was NOT new in America - the British had it, and 
so did the colonists. Their representatives were the members 
of Parliament - just as ours are the members of Congress.)
   King James II didn't fare much better. He ended up having to 
run for his life in 1689 for again not paying any attention to 
the people or to Parliament. The "Bill of Rights" was drafted 
and put into effect.
   Almost 100 years before the American Revolution, the English 
citizen had the right to a fair trial by a jury of his peers, 
the right to elect representatives, and so forth. In fact, much 
of our own Constitution is based around all of this.
   The problem was distance. The colonies were so far away from 
Mother England that it was kinda tough to have any real say in 
the laws.

   The Declaration of Independence said it all over again. It 
declared the right of the people to determine their government 
all the way through. (Lincoln later rephrased it as, " . . . a 
government of the people, by the people and for the people . . .)
   It was drafted on July 4, 1776, which is the date that most 
people accept as the formal birth of our nation. Our country 
was no longer "The United Colonies" but "The United States of 

   Well, the war went on for some time. It consisted of a whole 
lot of skirmishes and a few rather large battles. John Paul Jones 
took on the British fleet in the water, showing that our forces 
were also to be respected at sea. 
   Fighting finally stopped in October of 1781 when Cornwallis 
surrendered at Yorktown. It took another two years (1783) before 
a formal declaration of peace was drawn up. In this the British 
recognized our country as a sovereign nation, extending from 
the Canadian border to Florida, and from the Atlantic Ocean to 
the Mississippi River. (Other nations, including the Indians, 
had claim to the rest.)
   It took another 4 years to draw up the set of laws that would 
govern our country. The Constitution was put into effect in 1787.
There was a major problem. Before the revolution, each of the 
13 colonies considered themselves as separate entities. There 
were no Americans. Instead there were Virginians, Rhode Islanders 
and so forth, each with its own local government although owing 
loyalty to England.
   Once independence was won, the squabbles and attitudes continued. 
   As early as 1754 a group got together in Albany, New York and 
came up with the Albany Plan of Union. It was rejected almost 
instantly because of the demand that each colony remain in charge 
of itself.
   After the war came The Articles of Confederation. It was 
rejected in part by the dollar sign again. Some of the states 
had claim to lands west of the Appalachians. Others did not. 
The Articles of Confederation gave those states with claims 
right to hold those claims - which didn't set too well with the 
states that hadn't yet expanded over the mountains. Those smaller 
states wanted that western land turned over to the general 
government - to be shared equally.
   Things didn't work out very well. Our country very nearly 
folded up even before it got started. Several of the states were 
very close to going to war with each other over disputes. (For 
example, Pennsylvania and Connecticut just about duked it out 
over a chunk of disputed land.)
   By 1785 just about everyone realized that things just flat out 
weren't working out as planned. Virginia and Maryland got together 
and figured out a peaceful solution to their dispute over the 
Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay. With this fresh in their minds 
they appealed to the other 11 states to get together and discuss 
how things could be changed.
   In 1786 a meeting was held. Disappointingly, only 5 states sent 
representatives. Things looked pretty bleak, but promising. It 
didn't help that the meeting was held in Maryland. 
   A new meeting was scheduled, this time in Philadelphia. And 
this time only Rhode Island refused to attend. 
   George Washington was in charge of the 55 or so delegates. The 
meeting was held in total secrecy. Despite the heat of the summer, 
all windows were kept closed so that the people outside couldn't 
hear what was going on and what was being said. Fresh dirt had even 
been put down so that the noise of traffic wouldn't bother those 
   The first order of business was to dissolve the Confederation. 
The country no longer existed, although no one outside that hot 
room knew it. New plans were suggested.
   Virginia wanted a very strong central government, centered around 
representatives based on population. It was quickly pointed out that 
Virginia had the greatest population and would thus have more power 
in the central government. 
   New Jersey came up with the idea that the common people wouldn't 
have enough sense to elect proper representatives and wanted the 
state governments to be solely responsible for who represented 
the individual states in the central government.
   That was no good. It meant that the central government would not 
represent the people at large, and would be unfair to the larger 
states with more people.
   A compromise was reached. It was decided that there would be 
two houses of the central government. The House of Representatives 
would be based on population. The Senate would have two represent-
atives, regardless of the size of the state.
   This so-called "Great Compromise" is the basis of our Constitution.
   It took until September 17, 1787 for all the compromises to be 
worked out. Then came the long, drawn-out process of ratification. 
Each state had to sign the document. This was tough. In the 
Constitution the central government was powerful. A lot of people 
feared this. Thomas Jefferson headed this group. He suggested a 
Bill of Rights, patterned after the Bill of Rights of England.
   Debates and discussions began. Voting to accept or reject the 
Constitution was close in many cases. In New York, for example, the 
vote to accept the Constitution as opposed to the Articles of 
Confederation won by a margin of just 3 votes. Even Virginia, one 
of the strongholds, had a margin of just 79 to 89 in favor.
   The new Constitution was set to take effect in the spring of 
   On April 30, 1789 George Washington stepped out on a balcony 
overlooking Wall Street in New York and took his oath of office 
as President.
   "I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the 
office of President of the United States and will, to the best 
of my ability, protect, and defend the Constitution of the 
united States."
   Two years later the first ten ammendments were added - the 
Bill of Rights. It's now 1987. There are 26 ammendments, with the 
latest added in July of 1971.

   In 1976 we had the big celebration of the 200th anniversary 
of the independence of America. 
   We're presently celebrating the 200th anniversary of the 
Constitution, originally written in 1787.
   That important document is what we're all about. A surprising 
number of people have very little idea of what it says. Even fewer 
have much of an idea of how it came about. There are so many 
misconceptions that American history has become, for TOO many, 
a matter of opinion rather than fact.
   Things like - George Washington was our first President. (Nope. 
America declared its independence and became a country some 13 
years before Washington took office.)
   Or that the reason for the revolution was taxation without 
representation. (Nope. We had that all along, guaranteed by 
the Bill of Rights of 1689.)
   Or that the colonies had no say in their government. (Nope. 
They'd been self-governed for some time, and only Massachusets 
was threatened with removal of that right, and then only after 
the rebellion we call the Boston Tea Party, and to be withheld 
only until the damage had been paid.)
   Or that we were founded on Christian principles. (Nope. A prime 
reason for coming to America was to get away from religious control.)
   Or that we were founded on the principle that all men are 
created equal and had a right to vote. (Nope. A huge chunk of 
our founding fathers wanted the vote to be restricted to land 
owners - male and white - and even suggested as a viable plan 
a document that said that the common person didn't have enough 
sense to vote.)
   Often people argue and debate without the slightest knowledge 
of what they're saying. They'll claim that this is unconstitutional
or that violates the Bill of Rights. More than a few think that 
the Constitution is a huge and ponderous book.

   Argue all you want. But read a little first.
   We began as a nation of rebels - no, not really. We began as 
a nation of common people who really had little interest in 
government but were dragged along by a handful of rebels with 
financial interests. Those same acts today would obviously be 
call for armed police action. In fact, when the southern states 
attempted to separate there was an extremely bloody confrontation 
we call The Civil War. 
   I've been a little flippant in this week's article. There 
were certainly some very good reasons for the revolution, not 
the least of which was a leader (the king) who had a real 
attitude problem and a wishy-washy means of enforcement. 
   At the same time, things are often not what they seem - and 
nearly as often are not quite what you were taught in school. 
Take the Boston Massacre. It's often given as a prime cause of 
the revolution. It was. But it was hardly a massacre. What it was 
was a bunch of citizens throwing things at armed soldiers, 
literally daring them to fire, and just 3 dead at the end of it 
when the soldiers finally defended themselves.
   Or the Boston Tea Party. From school you get the idea that people 
were protesting the high price of tea. In actuality, the Americas 
paid less for tea, including the 3 cent tax, than just about 
anyone else in the world. The Dutch instigated that action because 
they could no longer economically smuggle in tea. British tea 
cost less.
   Or the proverbial "shot heard 'round the world." The common 
idea is that the British were marching against Concord, while in 
actuality their goal was to destroy the cache of arms (and to 
capture a few rebel leaders reported to be hiding in Lexington). 
The end result was 8 dead rebels, compared to 300 British soldiers 
who were sniped down.
   Then comes the idea that it was American bravery and ingenuity 
that won the war. Far from it. We had the French helping us, and 
the Spanish, and the Dutch, and the Indians, and . . . 
   No matter what, all this was 200 years ago. Things have worked 
out pretty well for all concerned (except for the American Indians 
we pushed out).
   We almost failed as a nation at first. By the time the 
Constitution came along, we'd declared our independence some 
13 years before, and had been officially independent for 6 
years and governed under the Articles of Confederation.
   The Constitution came about in 1789. Through it we became 
the greatest and most powerful country in the world. 
   How many have ever bothered to read it? How many have a copy of 
it right at hand?
   It's a remarkable document. There's very little new in it as 
far as concept. It just takes the best of so much of that went 
before and combines all of that in one place - and does so in 
a beautifully concise manner.

Until Next Time

   Chris Mitchell has been busy at work keyboarding the 
Constitution. Next time - and not long from now, that will 
be put up. (At very least it will be made available as a 
   In honor of the 200th anniversary of the Constitution, I'm 
very glad to make it available to anyone who doesn't already 
have it. Your real thanks should go to Chris, however. He 
did all the real work. 
   The document is (or will be) also available for download 
on the Silent Side (962-7698), probably as an ARC file. So 
you will have a choice.

   By the way, this might be a good time to remind all of you 
that all back issues are available for download. To get there, 
press "U" for Upload/Download. The prompts there will tell you 
what to do. 
   The first thing I'd suggest is that you capture and print 
a copies of the issues available. That will make it easier on 
you and you can decide what you'd like, and what doesn't 
interest you in the slightest. Issue #34 gives you a brief 
summary of each issue for 1986 if you want more details. 

Zephyr Magazine is © Gene Williams. All rights reserved.