Stanley McChrystal: Listen to Daniel Webster on the Draft
Moral reasons alone should be enough to convince anyone that a military draft, no matter what the excuses, is the antithesis of individual liberty and human freedom. That notwithstanding, this Daniel Webster quote from 1814 (in the midst of the War of 1812) ought to dismantle any potential argument that states the Constitution somehow allows for the government to force individuals to participate in their military adventures. Someone should tell this to General Stanley McChrystal, the head U.S. general in Afghanistan, who just this month said, “I think we ought to have a draft.”
“Is this, Sir, consistent with the character of a free Government? Is this civil liberty? Is this the real character of our Constitution? No, Sir, indeed it is not. The Constitution is libeled, foully libeled. The people of this country have not established for themselves such a fabric of despotism. They have not purchased at a vast expense of their own treasure and their own blood a Magna Carta to be slaves. Where is it written in the Constitution, in what article or section is it contained, that you may take children from their parents, and parents from their children, and compel them to fight the battles of any war, in which the folly or the wickedness of Government may engage it? Under what concealment has this power lain hidden, which now for the first time comes forth, with a tremendous and baleful aspect, to trample down and destroy the dearest rights of personal liberty? Sir, I almost disdain to go to quotations and references to prove that such an abominable doctrine has no foundation in the Constitution of the country. It is enough to know that that instrument was intended as the basis of a free Government, and that the power contended for is incompatible with any notion of personal liberty. An attempt to maintain this doctrine upon the provisions of the Constitution is an exercise of perverse ingenuity to extract slavery from the substance of a free Government. It is an attempt to show, by proof and argument, that we ourselves are subjects of despotism, and that we have a right to chains and bondage, firmly secured to us and our children, by the provisions of our Government.
The supporters of the measures before us act on the principle that it is their task to raise arbitrary powers, by construction, out of a plain written charter of National Liberty. It is their pleasing duty to free us of the delusion, which we have fondly cherished, that we are the subjects of a mild, free and limited Government, and to demonstrate by a regular chain of premises and conclusions, that Government possesses over us a power more tyrannical, more arbitrary, more dangerous, more allied to blood and murder, more full of every form of mischief, more productive of every sort and degree of misery, than has been exercised by any civilized Government in modern times.” ~ Daniel Webster; December 9, 1814. (Full speech)