Anyone who has seen the Disney classic Davy Crockett: King of the Wild Frontier knows that he was a congressman from Tennessee. After serving a term in Congress, Davy Crockett met a man named Horatio Bunce. The story of this meeting, as described in Edward S. Ellis’s book The Life of Colonel David Crockett, illustrates two important points in the battle to regain constitutional law in the American republic.
Davy Crockett approached a farmer who was plowing his field to ask for his vote in the next election. When he started to introduce himself, the farmer stopped him in his tracks and explained that he knew who he was and that he had actually voted for him the last time he ran for Congress. Mr. Bunce then told him in no uncertain terms that he would never vote for him again.
Crockett was shocked, like any politician, and asked Mr. Bunce to explain the problem to him. Horacio explained that he would not cast his vote to any man who misinterprets or ignores the Constitution. It was obvious to him that one of the two was true about Colonel Crockett. He told Davy Crockett that it is more dangerous for a man to misinterpret the power he is called upon to observe than for a man to wield power dishonestly, sharing that he believed Colonel Crockett to be an honest man.
Davy Crockett agreed with Horatio Bunce on everything he said, but protested that he must be wrong, because there were no votes in the last session of Congress on any constitutional issue that he could recall. Mr. Bunce then reminded Davy Crockett that he had voted for Treasury assistance for the victims of a Georgetown fire. Crockett admitted yes, and again protested that he thought it would be the last ballot that would cause problems for his constituents.
At this, Horatio Bunce asked the colonel where he found any authority in the Constitution to appropriate money from the general treasury for charitable purposes. Once again, the forest farmer convinced the congressman of his mistake, but again Davey Crockett protested, claiming that the amount was so small and the treasury so full that if Mr. Bunce had been there, he would not have acted differently. . of what he himself had acted.
Horatio Bunce’s answer to this is quite illuminating:
“It is not the amount, Colonel, that I complain about; it is the principle … The power to collect and disburse money at will is the most dangerous power that can be entrusted to man … No, Colonel, Congress ha has no right to give charity. Individual members can give as much of their own money as they want, but they have no right to touch a dollar of public money for that purpose. “
Davy Crockett changed positions and apologized to Horatio Bunce. This story reveals the extent to which the American government has deviated from the Constitution, exposing the immorality of stealing people’s money under the guise of charity. But more importantly, this story illustrates the answer to America’s constitutional problems: The jungle farmer understood its Constitution and was willing to defend it with the power of his language and the power of his vote.