Roger Sherman

Roger Sherman

He was the only person to sign all four of America’s founding documents:

  • Articles of Association-1774,
  • Declaration of Independence-1776,
  • Articles of Confederation-1777,
  • U.S. Constitution-1787.

Who was he? Roger Sherman.

At age 19, Roger Sherman’s father died and he supported his family as a shoe cobbler, helping his two younger brothers to attend college and become clergymen. Roger Sherman was a surveyor and merchant, but when a neighbor needed legal advice, he studied to help, only to be inspired to become a lawyer. Sherman was elected a state senator, a judge and a delegate to the Continental Congress.

He was on the Committee to draft the Declaration of Independence, along with Jefferson, Franklin, Adams and Livingston. Roger Sherman is pictured second from the left in John Trumbull’s famous painting which hangs in the Capitol Rotunda.

He helped draft the Articles of Confederation and helped draft the instructions given to an embassy headed to Canada, which stated: “You are further to declare that we hold sacred the rights of conscience, and may promise to the whole people, solemnly in our name, the free and undisturbed exercise of their religion. And … that all civil rights and the right to hold office were to be extended to persons of any Christian denomination.”

On Oct. 17, 1777, when news that British General Burgoyne had surrendered 6,000 British troops to American General Horatio Gates after the Battle of Saratoga, Roger Sherman exclaimed: “This is the Lord’s doing, and marvelous in our eyes!”

Sherman made 138 speeches at the Constitutional Convention. He helped to draft the New Jersey Plan and the Connecticut Compromise, which broke the deadlock between how the large states and small states would be represented in the new government. Patrick Henry described Roger Sherman as one of the three greatest men at the Constitutional Convention.

Roger Sherman is the author of Article 1, Section 10 of the U.S. Constitution: “No State shall … make anything but gold and silver coin a tender in payment of debts.”

Sherman wrote in “A Caveat Against Injustice or, An Inquiry into the Evils of a Fluctuating Medium of Exchange,” 1752: “Suppose a man comes to a trader’s shop in this colony to buy goods, and the trader sells him a certain quantity of goods and tells him the price is so many pounds, shillings and pence … to be paid at the expiration of one year … but there is nothing said either by seller or buyer, what currency it is to be paid in. … Now I ask: What does the creditor have a right to demand for a debt so contracted? … The debtor says that Bills of Credit on the neighboring governments have for many years passed promiscuously with the Bills of Credit on this colony as money. … And the creditor … says that such Bills of Credit are of no intrinsic value, and their … value is fluctuating and very uncertain, and therefore it would be unjust that any person should be obliged to receive them in payment as money … for money ought to be something of certain value, it being that whereby other things are to be valued.”

James Madison wrote: “Paper money is unjust … It is unconstitutional, for it affects the rights of property as much as taking away equal value in land.”

George Washington wrote Thomas Jefferson, Aug. 1, 1786: “Paper money has had the effect in your state that it will ever have, to ruin commerce, oppress the honest, and open the door to every species of fraud and injustice.”

Jefferson wrote to Colonel Edward Carrington, May 27, 1788: “Paper is poverty … it is only the ghost of money, and not money itself.”

In 1817, Jefferson predicted paper money will bring: “… abuses also are inevitable and, by breaking up the measure of value, make a lottery of all private property.”

Jefferson insisted in 1784: “If we determine that a Dollar shall be our Unit … we must then say with precision what a Dollar is.”

In 1792, the Coinage Act declared a dollar worth 371.25 grains of pure silver or 24.75 grains of pure gold.

In 1862, during the emergency of the Civil War, Lincoln issued unbacked fiat “greenback” currency. When his cabinet asked if they should put “In God We Trust” on them, as was engraved on U.S. coins, Lincoln responded, “If you are going to put a legend on the greenbacks, I would suggest that of Peter and Paul, ‘Silver and gold I have none, but such as I have I give to thee.'”

On April 5, 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed an Executive Order demanding that everyone in the nation surrender their gold to the federal government.

On Aug. 15, 1971, President Richard Nixon ordered the treasury “to suspend temporarily” the dollar being backed by gold, which became permanent.

Congressman Rep. Ron Paul of Texas wrote: “The Latin term ‘fiat’ roughly translates to ‘there shall be.’ When we refer to fiat money, we are referring to money that exists because the government declares it into existence. … Fiat money is exchanged in the economy as long as there is faith in the government that issues it. … History has shown that fiat money, or ‘faith-based currency’ always fails, because when governments claim this power, they always behave irresponsibly. …”

Rep. Paul continued: “When government has the ability to create and spend all the money it wants … budgeting, as most Americans know it, loses all meaning. Hand a teenager a credit card, and tell him there is no limit and no accountability for what he spends, and the effect would be the same. The government becomes the reckless teenager with the credit card, and in the end, the taxpaying citizens get the bill. … This is why our founding fathers considered, but decidedly rejected the creation of a national central bank. They understood that … even the best of governments, cannot control spending. …”

Rep. Paul concluded: “Every dollar created and spent by government makes the dollars in your pocket worth less and less. Eventually any currency controlled by government will be debased to worthlessness, and will wipe out the savings of the citizens who put faith in that currency. Hard currencies, on the other hand, force governments to remain in check, strictly limited to the revenues they can raise from the country’s economic health.”

Rolf Nef of Global Research wrote “Falling Empires and their Currencies,” Jan. 15, 2007: “When empires fall, their currencies fall first. … The common thing is that the currencies of each and every one of these falling empires lost dramatically in value. … Authorities debased their currency which presaged (warned of) the fall of the Empire.”

Devalued currency and debt contributed to the decline of:

  • Yuan Dynasty of China
  • Han Dynasty of China
  • Roman Empire
  • Byzantine Empire
  • Kublai Khan’s Yuan Dynasty
  • Spanish Hapsburg Dynasty
  • Ottoman Empire
  • French Empire
  • British Empire
  • Soviet Union
  • Zimbabwe
  • Venezuela

Newsweek columnist Niall Ferguson, the Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History at Harvard University, wrote in “How Economic Weakness Endangers the U.S.” (3/13/10): “This is how empires decline. It begins with a debt explosion. … Habsburg Spain defaulted on all or part of its debt 14 times between 1557 and 1696 and also succumbed to inflation due to a surfeit of New World silver. Pre-revolutionary France was spending 62 percent of royal revenue on debt service by 1788. The Ottoman Empire went the same way: interest payments and amortization rose from 15 percent of the budget in 1860 to 50 percent in 1875. And … the last great English speaking empire. By the interwar years, interest payments were consuming 44 percent of the British budget, making it intensely difficult to rearm in the face of a new German threat. … Without radical fiscal reform, it could apply to America next.”

Richard W. Fisher, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, told the Commonwealth Club of California, San Francisco, May 28, 2008:

“We know from centuries of evidence in countless economies, from ancient Rome to today’s Zimbabwe, that running the printing press to pay off today’s bills leads to … inflation that results from the flood of money into the economy (which) turns out to be far worse than the fiscal pain those countries hoped to avoid.”

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Roger Sherman wrote in “Caveat of Injustice,” 1752: “No government has the right to impose on its subjects any … currency to be received in payments as money which is not of intrinsic value. … because in so doing they would oblige men to part with their estates for that which is worth nothing in itself and which they don’t know will ever procure him any thing.”

Support for a stable unit of financial exchange is in the Old Testament Book of Leviticus, which stated in verse 19:36: “Just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin, shall ye have.”

The Book of Proverbs stated in verse 11:1: “A false balance is abomination to the Lord: but a just weight is his delight.”

In 1788, as a member of the White Haven Congregational Church, Roger Sherman was asked to use his expertise in revising the wording of their creed. In his own handwriting, he wrote: “I believe … that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are a revelation from God, and a complete rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him. … That He made man at first perfectly holy, that the first man sinned, and … all became sinners in consequence … and on account of sin are liable to all the miseries of this life, to death, and to the pains of hell forever. I believe that God … did send His own Son to become man, die in the room and stead of sinners and thus to lay a foundation for the offer of pardon and salvation to all mankind, so as all may be saved who are willing to accept the Gospel offer.”

Roger Sherman helped convince the state of Connecticut to ratify the U.S. Constitution. He was elected from Connecticut as a Representative to the first session of U.S. Congress. When the First Amendment was introduced, Sherman thought it was unnecessary as religion was under each individual states’ jurisdiction.

Elected as a U.S. Senator at age 70, Roger Sherman died July 23, 1793. The State of Connecticut placed a statue of Roger Sherman in the U.S. Capitol. Sherman’s statue is also on the Connecticut State Capitol in Hartford.

Inscribed on Roger Sherman’s tomb is: “He ever adorned the profession of Christianity which he made in youth and … died in the prospect of a blessed immortality.”

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