commentators refer to the right of petition as the right of revolution; indeed,
according to Anthony Hargis, in his book, The Lost Right, the American
Revolution was nothing more than one long, and historic, exercise of the right
Every man, Anthony observes, has the right of self-preservation. It is the law
of every living organism; neither man nor beast wait for permission to use it.
It is a natural right.
This right includes the right
of judgment, and the right of execution. In most men, these rights are
defective because of weakness, ignorance, or incapacity. They are defective,
also, because there is hardly a man that can be impartial where he has an
interest; and, in the heat of passion, he may retaliate far beyond his injury.
Because of these defects, men have organized governments, and have made partial
delegations of these rights to such governments.
The theory is that
governments will provide impartial judges, and make restitution and punishment
equal an injury. Ten thousand years of history have failed to give an example
Despite this, American
governments began reasonably; but have degenerated into oriental despotisms. As
such, they have committed uncountable crimes against humanity; Operation
Keelhaul, Operation Phoenix come to mind; the mutilation of American soldiers
with depleted uranium is another. All these were consciously done, and
consciously concealed. A man who does such could hardly be expected to
investigate – much less, prosecute – his own crime. The same is true for a
group of men, and women; it makes no matter whether they call themselves a
government, a priesthood, or nobility.
How, then, do we obtain
redress when governments commit crimes?
Algernon Sidney was a major influence among
American Founders; he wrote, “They who create magistrates are the sole judge as
to whether the intended goal be achieved or not.”
In other words, if a man appoints an agent to perform a task, he who appoints is
the sole judge as to whether the agent performs properly; the same is true
between American people and their governments.
And so, we take back our
rights of judgment and execution. We do not have to invent anything; we only
have to learn English and American history. The right to take back delegated
power was clearly declared during the American Revolution.
If a man surrender all his [natural] alienable
rights, without reserving a control over the supreme power, or a right to resume
in certain cases, the surrender is void.
We could say this right is
reserved to us by amendment Nine; but this is unnecessary. This right to resume
delegated power is a component of the right of petition; thus, it is more
particularly reserved to us by the First Amendment, “Congress shall make no law
abridging the right of the people to petition the government for a redress of
So, how do we take back delegated power? We do
precisely what American Founders did: they exercised their ‘right of petition’
exactly as English parliaments had been doing for more than five hundred years.
Parliament originated as a body of private men for the purpose of
presenting petitions to the king for redress. Such petitions have always been
mandatory on the king. Originally, if the king or his justices failed to
redress a grievance within forty days, the entire nation had a right of violence
against the king and his justices until remedy was given.
This right of violence was
later modified to a procedure that required the king to satisfy grievances
before parliament would vote taxes for him: that is, no redress, no taxes.
It’s real simple.
English history is full of
examples of this procedure. In other words, this procedure of ‘redress before
taxes’ has always been an essential component of the right of petition. The
Continental Congress officially declared it to be a major right Americans
intended to secure by the Revolution.
If money is wanted by Rulers,
who have in any manner oppressed the people, they may retain it, until their
grievances are redressed; and thus peaceably procure relief, without trusting to
despised petitions, or disturbing the public tranquility…
Our confederation… has no other objects than the
perfect security of the natural and civil rights of all the
constituent members,... on the salutary and constitutional principles herein
In other words – and note
these words carefully – if Americans have a grievance, they have a
constitutionally protected right to withhold their taxes. But, there is a
major problem here; knowledge of this right has been lost for more than two
hundred years. As such, when Americans exercise the right of petition, they use
one twentieth of its power – maybe. It is a purpose of The Lost Right
to show the remaining ninety-five percent of its power – both by examples from
English and American histories, and by official enactments during the American
So, what is a grievance? It
is any act that tends to subvert the constitution, rights of Americans, or law
of the land. It makes no matter whether the act is committed by a private
person or a public servant: either would be a grievance. Here are some
examples: the failure to investigate the events of 9/11, and the attack on the
USS Liberty; unlimited immigration; CIA complicity in the drug trade; the war in
Iraq. Oh, there are so many more.
So we have a right and
grievances: what can we do with them? Here, English history gives spectacular
examples. English parliaments prosecuted
* Judges for rendering
unconstitutional decisions; inflicting cruel and unusual punishments, and
excessive fines; accepting bribes; intimidating juries and witnesses; violating
rules of evidence, or any other rule of due process;
* Sheriffs, tax farmers, and
officers of the custom for imposing and collecting taxes without the consent of
* Officers of the king for
dispensing with laws enacted by parliament; and executing “laws” not approved by
* Members of the clergy for
preaching the doctrine of divine right of kings – that is, that kings had
sovereign immunity, and could not be sued but by their own consent.
Punishments for these men
included fines, imprisonment and loss of office.
Three prosecutions were
noteworthy: a governor of Scotland, and then Ireland, an archbishop, and a king
- thought they could execute laws and collect taxes that had never received the
assent of parliament. They all, that is, promoted the divine right of kings.
They, also, were led to the block; and their heads struck from their bodies. So
much for the divine right of kings.
All this was done by an
assembly of private men: for, at this time parliament was not a part of
the English government.
Thus, we see that the right
of petition is not a right at all – it is a power that guards all other
rights, and makes governments accountable.
Did you notice how American
Founders began, and then won, their Revolution? They first organized into
“assemblies.” Here, they met one another; they discussed their grievances and
ways to obtain redress; they declared their rights; and then appointed
committees to accomplish their goals. By this procedure, they took back their
sovereignty – and founded a most unusual experiment in the history of man.
The nation is drowning in
grievances; what shall we do?
Our story has already been
written. Four hundred years ago English Parliaments tried to redress grievances
that are identical to those that now torment us; bandits never relent – they
only become more clever in their crimes. The Lost Right, among
other things, is a narrative of the events, procedures and grievances that we
must re-live, re-establish and redress; it previews the role we must play in
what should be another unusual experiment in the history of man.
We have a choice, as Anthony
observes, we can spend the next two hundred to five hundred years re-inventing
the procedures of the right of petition; or we can spend a few weeks learning
and confirming the same as given to us by the English.
Lost Right, 3rd ed.,
(112 pp; $24.00 (20.00 + 4.00 for p & h)). Send blank money order to
Anthony Hargis, 2427 N. Tustin Av, Suite B; Santa Ana, Cal. 92705.