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The Constitution of the United States and Honest Money

Honest Money Gold & Silver Report

"All the perplexities, confusion and distresses in America arise not from defects in the constitution or confederation, nor from want of honor or virtue, as much from downright ignorance of the nature of coin, credit, and circulation."


This week's discussion will be on the seventh and final monetary clause of the Constitution. As previously occassioned we will first list the seven monetary clauses contained within the Constitution.

The seven clauses in the US Constitution that deal with the topic of money are:

  • Article I, Section 8, Clause 2. The Congress shall have Power...To borrow Money on the credit of the United States.

  • Article I, Section 8, Clause 5. The Congress shall have Power...To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures.

  • Article I, Section 8, Clause 6. The Congress shall have Power...To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States.

  • Article I, Section 9, Clause 1. The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a Tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.

  • Article I, Section 9, Clause 7. No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law.

  • Article I, Section 10, Clause 1. No State shall...coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debt.

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...

The Seventh Amendment

The seventh clause is not one of the original articles of the Constitution, it is the seventh amendment: part of the Bill of Rights that was added to the Constitution prior to ratification, which would not have taken place without the addition and passage of the Bill of Rights.

Many were very skeptic about accepting the Constitution, especially the granting of powers that originally were vested with the States, to a newly formed central government.

The people were concerned that a central form of government would overstep its bounds of delegated powers, and that such would be no different from the English monarchy they had just revolted against.

Some would say that even to this day, these concerns are well founded, and arguably have come to exact a greater toll then that which was first envisioned. Be that as it may - we now will examine the seventh amendment - the seventh and final monetary clause of the Constitution.

The Seventh Clause:

The seventh amendment reads: "In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved."

This clause is very similar to Article I, Section 9, Clause 1, as they both make reference to DOLLARS. It is this reference to dollars that gives the clause monetary meaning and importance.

The Constitution, by the statements in the seventh amendment and in article I, Section 9, Clause 1, make it abundantly clear that dollars are the unit of account and unit of money of the United States.

We have further seen that nothing but gold and silver coin were to be used as money, as expressed by the then current dollar - the Silver Dollar or Pieces of Eight.

Following the Constitution, the Coinage Act of 1792 went into greater detail as to the gold and silver coins to be minted; and that the Silver Dollar was the standard of honest weights and measures by which all other denominations of coins were to be compared.

Section 9

"And be it further enacted, That there shall be from time to time struck and coined at the said mint, coins of gold, silver, and copper, of the following denomination, values and descriptions, viz. Eagles -- each to be of the value of ten dollars or units, and to contain two hundred and forty-seven grains and four eighths of a grain of pure, or two hundred and seventy grains of standard gold.

DOLLARS OR UNITS -- each to be of the value of a Spanish milled dollar as the same is now current, and to contain three hundred and seventy-one grains and four sixteenth parts of a grain of pure, or four hundred and sixteen grains of standard silver."

Thus the monetary significance of the seventh amendment is the fact that it categorically states that "if the value exceeds twenty dollars", which is evidence that monetary value was being expressed and denominated in dollars.

The seventh clause is pretty straightforward and self-explanatory and needs no further elucidation regarding its monetary significance. We would, however, like to mention some of the other issues in the seventh amendment, as they are of importance, and will be the subject of future papers.

In Suits at Common Law

The expression "in suits of common law" clearly show that common law was in use at the time of the writing of the Constitution. Common law has important differences from civil law.

Common law is based on the decisions of judges in previous cases heard in court. It is often called judge-made law, as it is a system based on precedent. Common law is unique in the world because it cannot be found in any code or legislation - it is non-statutory. Common law exists only in past decisions.

Civil law on the other hand is statutory law. It consists of a written set of rules or statutes organized as a code. Civil law has its roots in Roman law as espoused by Justinian. In the United States there presently exists the U.S. Code and the Uniform Commercial Code that are the written or codified statutes passed by legislation.

Another main difference between the two types of law is that common law places the emphasis on the rights of the individual, while civil law is more concerned with social order or the rights of the State.

We will have much more to say on this topic in future papers. For now we are content to point out that the Constitution refers to common law being the law in use at the time of the writing of the Constitution, and that common law differs greatly from civil law.

The Right By Trial By Jury

As we have seen, the seventh amendment provides evidence that the Constitution recognized the right by trial by jury to be the then operative form of law. Once again we find common law versus civil law to be at issue.

Common law advocates and uses a trial by jury. The jury is a group of citizens chosen to listen to and hear the facts of the case, and to then render their decision accordingly.

Civil law advocates and uses a trial that is not based on the judgment of the facts, but by judgment of the law: the set or rules or statutes that have been codified.

Once again, we will have more to say on these issues in future papers. For now the above shall suffice. It is most telling that our government just passed criminal legislation, which abolishes habeas corpus and a trial by jury in certain cases they deem expedient.

Instead a military tribunal is used as in Admiralty Law. This type of law places almost all importance on the State, and reduces the rights of the individual to be almost non-existent. It is generally the law favored by dictators or fascist regimes./p>

Thomas Paine (1737-1809) made the following statement in his book Rights Of Man:

"Government by precedent, without any regard to the principle of the precedent, is one of the vilest systems that can be set up."

This ends our discussion of the seventh and final monetary clause of the Constitution. Next week we will offer a final summary conclusion based on all the previous discourses.

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And read the Open Letter to Congress



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