The Liberty Amendment

Liberty, freedom and sovereignty restored to all Americans

The Liberty Amendment – its origin and progress

"God grants Liberty only to those who love it and are always ready to guard it and defend it." – Daniel Webster

Jefferson had visions of serious problems with power concentrated in a large central government:

"Our country is too large to have all its affairs directed by a single government. Public servants, at such a distance, and from under the eye of their constituents, must, from the circumstances of distance, be unable to administer and overlook all the details necessary for the good government of the citizens; and the same circumstances, rendering detection impossible to their constituents, will invite the public agents to corruption, plunder, and waste.

"The true theory of our Constitution is surely the wisest and best, that the States are independent as to everything within themselves, and united as to everything respecting foreign nations. ... Let the General Government be reduced to foreign concerns only, and let our affairs be disentangled from those of all other nations, except as to commerce, which if merchants are left free to manage for themselves, our General Government may be reduced to a very simple organization, and a very inexpensive one -- a few plain duties to be performed by a few servants."

225 years in the deconstruction of our Constitution has seriously eroded the constitutional balance of powers

The Constitution and the Bill of Rights do not list every type of law, executive order or department rule which is permitted, nor every type which is not permitted under the terms of these documents. This would seem to leave a wide field for discretionary action and interpretation between specifically delegated powers and specifically prohibited powers. The Tenth Amendment was intended to eliminate this wide field, by stating that all powers not specifically delegated to the Federal Government are reserved to the States and to the people. However, this limitation has been ignored to such an extreme that concerned citizens have brought about:

The Liberty Amendment has progressed toward ratification to a degree not widely known by the public.

Nine states have endorsed the Liberty Amendment by passing the necessary resolutions requesting the amendment be submitted to the states for ratification. The endorsement in nearly all state legislatures was bi-partisan and close to unanimous. Again, these states are:

Wyoming • Nevada • Texas • Louisiana • Georgia • South Carolina • Mississippi • Arizona • Indiana

A misconception too readily accepted by many, taken advantage of by many in government and, heard much too often today, has contributed to the creation of the Liberty Amendment:

The government of the United States can do anything not specifically prohibited by the constitution!

When the Attorney General of the United States made this statement in 1944, a number of newspapers reported it and many people were very disturbed by it, because they recognized it for what it was: a claim of virtually absolute power, a claim made by every tyrant in history.

The occasion was a threatened strike at Montgomery Ward and Company. The company refused to recognize the threat. The Government ordered the Army to seize the company's principal offices and stores in Chicago, although Montgomery, Ward operated only a small retail business and was not engaged in any war production. Mr. Sewell Avery, chairman of the board of Montgomery, Ward and Company, denied that the Government had any legal power to make this seizure, and refused to leave his office. On orders from the Government, some soldiers carried him out of his office ---chair and all--- and deposited him on the sidewalk, where all hands had their pictures taken. A few may recall these pictures in the newspapers They created a good deal of excitement for a week or more. Then the Attorney General issued his official opinion, part of which is quoted above.

With World War II going on, the general public interest in Mr. Avery's problems soon died down. Yet, to one man at least this incident and the official justification for it, marked a turning point To him this was the last straw on top of thousands of other cases of usurpation of power, in direct negation of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. He recognized the Attorney General's statement as a direct denial of the inherent rights of people.

The author of the Liberty Amendment

The man was Willis E. Stone, an industrial engineer. Born in Denver Colorado, he was a descendant of Ralph Waldo Emerson, the philosopher, and of Thomas Stone, a signer of the Declaration of Independence.

In the early 1920s he conducted an economic survey of the advantages to Southern California, Nevada and Arizona of using the water and power resources of the Colorado River. This survey was published widely, and encouraged the rapid development of the Hoover Dam as a joint project of the three States.

After serving in World War I, he moved to Los Angeles California, where he was successfully engaged in industrial engineering, advertising and marketing until 1949, when he began to devote full time and attention to the Liberty Amendment


  • June 2, 1944 - In his newspaper column, Mr. Stone recommended an amendment to the Constitution to restrain federal powers. His recommendation was base on many years study of ancient, medieval and American history, and of the American principles of personal freedom, supported by his experiences with federal business -type operations during World War II. The amendment he recommended was similar to Section I of what is now the Liberty Amendment, and his columns motivated the following events:

    • 1944-1949 - Research into governmental operations and development of proper language for the Liberty Amendment.
    • 1949 - Organization of a formal educational effort to develop wide understanding and support.
    • 1950-1951 - Transmission of the proposal to Service Clubs in all parts of the Nation, which resulted in more than 6,000 endorsements favoring the proposed amendment.

    (The following are mostly excerpts from "The Liberty Amendment a Fifty Year History" published by The Liberty Amendment Foundation)

  • 1952 - Amendment introduced into Congress H.J. Resolution 23 for the first time as one section, including the general ideas embodied in the first three sections. The Amendment evolved into four sections over a period of years. The first was introduced in 1952 by Representative Ralph W. Gwinn of New York, as House Joint Resolution 491. It prohibited the federal government from engaging in certain activities not authorized in the Constitution.
  • 1953 - The next year Congressman Gwinn reintroduced the Amendment as H.J. Res. 123 with several sections added. Section two was designed to prevent the federal government of the States from entering agreements or treaties that would invalidate the amendment. Section three mandated the sale of all existing federal activities which the amendment prohibited. The government subsequently sold its synthetic rubber plants, Mississippi Barge Lines, and arranged the breakup of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation.
  • 1955 - First three sections of the amendment reintroduced into Congress.
  • 1956 - Research developed the fact that potential savings in annual federal operating costs exceeded the annual revenue from the federal personal income tax..
  • 1957 - First three sections re-introduced. A separate proposal introduced, calling for the repeal of the Sixteenth Amendment, the Personal Income Tax Amendment.
  • June 10, 1957 - These two proposals combined into a single "Proposed 23rd Amendment", containing the final four sections of the Liberty Amendment. Congressman Elmer J. Hoffman of Illinois introduced House Joint Res. 232 for the repeal of the 16th Amendment. This section stops Congress from taxing estates or gifts.
  • 1958 - formal testimony given in Congress before the Ways and Means Committee of the House of Representatives in support of the Amendment.
  • 1959 - National Committee for Economic Freedom organized, and work started on the formation of affiliated State Committees to present the amendment to the State Legislatures
  • 1959 - Congressman James Utt of California, introduced the Amendment as House Joint Res. 23, and Mr. Stone to consolidate the growing activities on the amendment, founded the National Committee for Economic Freedom. He started the formation of affiliated Committees in each State, and was chairman of the organization (which was renamed "The Liberty Amendment of the USA" in 1963, better to identify its sole purpose of creating public support for the Liberty Amendment).
  • 1959 - In February, Wyoming became the first State to pass a Resolution for the Liberty Amendment. The predominantly Democratic House approved it and the Republican Senate concurred without a single dissent.
  • In 1959-1963 the Virginia "Commission on Constitutional Government" culminated their work in a published anthology of historic documents and commentaries thereon, Library of Congress Catalog No 64-23522, expounding on the state and federal relationship, entitled "WE THE STATES".

    It was this effort of such a comprehensive study by the Virginia Commission, we are convinced, contributed immensely to the achievement of the almost simultaneous efforts among the States for their approval and request to Congress for the ratification process of the Liberty Amendment. The purpose of the study was to, once again, invoke the warnings of Patrick Henry and George Mason against centralism in a federal government ... The Commission had this to say.

    "In the adoption of the Federal Constitution, the States acted severally as free, independent and sovereign States. Each for itself, by its own voluntary assent, entered the Union with a view to its increased security against all dangers, domestic as well as foreign, and the more perfect and secure enjoyment of its natural political and social advantages".

    "In delegating a portion of their powers to be exercised by the Federal government, the States retained, individually and respectively, the exclusive and sole right over their own domestic institutions and police, and are responsible for them."

    It was apparent to the Virginia Commission in 1963, that, "to even to the most casual eye, the house of our fathers has fallen into decay. The great beams that gave it strength – the separation of powers within the central government, the division of responsibility between the States and the Federal authority - are tending to crumble under subtle and insidious attack".

    (Many of such attacks today are still insidious, but many are, also, no longer subtle, but very blatant). "The men who framed our Constitution built tight doors against the despotism they knew so well; now the doors hang awry, and a cold wind of judicial construction (today, augmented by a cold wind of executive usurpation and Congressional abrogation) sweeps along the corridors. The States themselves, falling into impotence, often seem helpless to halt the destruction. And to many Americans afflicted with the ills of an affluent society, are indifferent to the fundamental principles by which the greatness of the American Republic was achieved."

    These conclusions of the Virginia Commission in 1963 provided full support for the effort to gain ratification of the Liberty Amendment by the States.

    On April 1, 1963 Bruce Alger, of Texas, placed the remarks of James B. Utt of California in the Congressional Record. In his remarks, Mr. Utt concluded, "If the Liberty Amendment is not adopted, the various States will cease to be sovereign, ... in order to attain this amendment all good Americans should give active support by urging their State legislatures to adopt a resolution in support of the Liberty Amendment." Educational activities to develop public understanding and support for the Liberty Amendment were carried on by Liberty Amendment Committee of the USA (formerly National Committee for Economic Freedom), 6413 Franklin Ave., Los Angeles 28 Ca., and its affiliated State Committee

    The National Headquarters carried on continuous research in the field of federal operations, taxing and spending and it supplied information, publications and speakers on request, to the State Committees and to the general public. The State organizations directed their own activities as independent units. They had responsibility for creating focal organizations in cities or counties; for developing public understanding within the States, which logically lead to actions by State Legislatures on Resolutions approving the Liberty Amendment. Such actions, by 1962 had been taken by six States.

  • 1960 - In March, Nevada became the second State to adopt the Liberty Amendment. The Resolution was sponsored in the Senate by 13 of its 17 members (a majority of both parties). The Republican-dominated Senate passed the Resolution unanimously and the Democratic-dominated House it by a vote of 31 to 10.
  • 1960 - In May, Texas became the third State to approve. The House passed the Resolution by a vote of 80 to 55, and the Senate concurred the next day by voice vote.
  • 1960 - In June, Louisiana became the fourth State to approve. The House passed the Resolution by voice vote, and the Senate followed with a vote of 28 to 9.
  • 1962 - In February, Georgia became the fifth State to approve. The House passed by a vote of 88 to 17, and the Senate followed two days later with a vote of 39 to 2.
  • 1962 - In March, South Carolina became the sixth State to approve. The House passed by a vote of 46 to 17 and the Senate concurred without dissent.
  • 1963 - By now there were active State Committees in 47 States, and prospects were bright for the formation of active units in the remaining three States within the next few months.
  • 1973 - During the first session of the 93rd Congress, Congressman John Rarick of Louisiana, an Advisory Board member of the Committee, introduced the Amendment as H.J. Res. 23 again.
  • 1975 - On October 9, 1975, Congressman Larry McDonald of Georgia, placed extensive remarks with supporting arguments in the Congressional Record. The remarks gave an explanation of the purposes and effects of the proposed amendment to the Constitution.
  • 1979 - Messrs. Rouselot, McDonald, Symms, Paul, Ashbrook and Collins joined in introducing the Amendment as H.J. Res 23.
  • 1981 - Messrs. Rouselot, McDonald, Paul, Ashbrook and Collins again introduced H.J. Res 23.
  • 1982 - Mississippi, Arizona and Indiana became the seventh, eighth, and ninth States to to adopt the Liberty Amendment.
  • 1983 - Mr. Paul and Mr. McDonald again introduced H.J. Res. 23 in the 1st Session of the 98th Congress..
  • 1995 - John Rakus, attorney from Sacramento, California, became the fourth National Chairman of the Liberty Amendment Committee.
  • 1996 - Representative Sam Johnson of Texas, introduced "Tax Freedom Bill" to repeal the 16th Amendment to the Constitution.
  • 1997 - On February 26, 1997, Representative Bill Archer of Texas, the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, went on record calling for "... pulling the income tax out by its roots so it can never grow again." and on September 17, 1997 Congressman Steve Largent of Oklahoma introduced H.R. 2490 to terminate the Internal Revenue Code as of December 31, 2001. also in 1997 Don Rogers, former State Senator of California, who had the State Inheritance Tax repealed by the Initiative process, became the National Coordinator for State Resolutions for the Liberty Amendment.
  • 1998 - On April 28, 1998 Congressman Ron Paul of Texas introduced the Liberty Amendment in Congress as H.J. Res. 116. He said the Liberty Amendment has had support by various members of Congress, and the measure has a good chance of success given the conservative mood of Congress in favor of more limited government. In October 1998 in Las Vegas Nevada the Liberty Amendment was endorsed as part of the platform of the National Convention of the Republican Assembly Caucus at the urging of Congressman Ron Paul. In November of 1998 Ron Paul was reelected to serve another term in the 106th Congress. He stated "... I will fight for the Liberty Amendment every day I serve in Congress... I believe we can eliminate the income tax by enacting the Liberty Amendment..."
  • 1999 - On January 31, 1999 at Fresno California The California Republican Assembly adopted a resolution approving the Liberty Amendment as introduced in Congress on April 28, 1998. "CRA urges all members of Congress to support the Liberty amendment by Congressman Ron Paul of Texas."
  • July 1999 - the American Independent Party endorsed the Liberty Amendment as part of its platform in California and in September 1999 the Amendment was approved by the Constitution Party at their St. Louis, Missouri Presidential Convention. The Libertarian Party also supports the Liberty Amendment.
  • April 1, 2000 - Congressman Ron Paul of Texas was the dinner speaker at the "2000 freedom Rally" in Irvine California. He confirmed support of the Liberty Amendment. In November 2000 Dr. Paul was reelected to serve in the 107th Congress, and serves on the House Banking and Financial Committee, "... He again stated his intention to fight for the Liberty Amendment every day he serves in Congress, and drive to eliminate the income tax by enacting the Liberty Amendment. ... "
  • July 2001 - State Senator Thaddeus C McCotter of Michigan introduced the Liberty Amendment in the Senate of the State of Michigan, he said: "The Liberty Amendment to the U.S. Constitution has my support because it will return hard earned money back to the taxpayer and force the government to Live within its means." In May 2001 Representative John C Stewart of the State of Michigan also formally declared his support of the Liberty Amendment. State chairman of the Liberty Amendment in Michigan is Ron Nickels of Plymouth, MI 48170
  • August 2001 - Harold Hobson who personally knew "Bill Stone" accepted the appointment as Liberty Amendment State Chairman for Florida. He can be reached at P.O Box 7641 Clearwater, Fl. 33771.
  • September 2001 - Congressman Ron Paul addressed the Constitution Party in Lancaster Pennsylvania and called for the adoption of the Liberty Amendment. The Constitution Party supports the Liberty Amendment
  • By December 2001 - most of the material contained in this website, extracted from "Action for Americans, The Liberty Amendment" by Herbstreith, King, 1965, was emailed to approximately 3,500 individual State legislators, the National Council of State Legislators and hundreds of other individuals. This wide distribution of the history, the purpose of restoring the Constitution to its full force and effectiveness as well as the economic benefits of the Liberty amendment included a request for the support and active drive for a Resolutions for Ratification by all States, not having so far passed such a resolution. This was an initial effort to educate almost half of the State Legislators on the origin, purpose, progress and economic benefits of the Liberty Amendment.
  • 2003 - Ron Paul introduced this amendment on January 28, 2003 as House Joint Resolution 15. See the latest status.
  • 2007 - Ron Paul re-introduced this amendment on February 7, 2007 as House Joint Resolution 23. See the latest status.

It cannot be overemphasized that the Liberty Amendment to the Constitution, as written, is more urgently needed today than it was 40 or 50 years ago. With the temptation to tighten relations with the United Nations, and depend upon that organization for support and approval of our "War on Terror", the need to fight to save our sovereignty increases exponentially. Section 2 of the Liberty Amendment alone could stop this relentless momentum toward the destruction of our individual Sovereignty, the sovereignty of our States and of the United States of America.

With all this said, we can only hope that God will grant the Representatives in the remainder of our State governments the awareness, the courage and motivation to accept their responsibility as the only means of restoring this Great Nation to its once-recognized position in the world as a bastion of freedom. We inherited a Nation with the power of government limited by a Constitution and the power flowing from the people to the government, not from government to the people, and the protection of Individual Liberty was the paramount purpose of its Constitutional Central Government.

May God Bless America, Once Again, and Help Our People Resist the Evil of Tyranny, wherever it arises, with a renewed "Thunderous Demand" that every State Legislature Endorse and Send Certified Resolutions of the Approval to Congress, and Ultimately, Ratify the Liberty Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America.

We now have resolutions by nine states requesting that the Liberty Amendment be submitted to the states for ratification.

"A good administration in a republican government, ... securing to us our dearest rights and the practical enjoyment of all our liberties, ... can never fail to give consolation to the friends of free government, and mortification to its enemies." --Thomas Jefferson: Reply to Rhode Island Republicans, 1809.

We in the United States possess two fundamental advantages both of which earlier civilizations did not have jointly: constituionalism and free enterprise. We can renew the effectiveness of our Constitution and the wise divisions of powers between our various levels and branches of government. We can restore the efficiency of our economy. The Liberty Amendment will accomplish both of these purposes, by reducing the functions and powers of the Federal Government, by restoring the abilities of people to take care of themselves without reliance on government, and by curtailing destructive intervention in our free enterprise economy. Thus, we have the means, the tools, for passing on to our children and their children the priceless constitutional and economic heritage our forefathers bequested to us. All we need is the will and the understanding to do it, and the courage and conviction to act intelligently

An Equally important intent of the amendment is to clarify and confirm once-and-for-all the sovereignty of the People, the States and the United States. The Liberty Amendment confirms the supremacy of the Constitution over all treaties or agreements, and precludes the implementation by Executive Order or Regulation of any terms of any treaties or agreements, not constitutional and not ratified by the Senate.

The Liberty Amendment, introduced in every Congress from 1957 to 1963, resulted in an ever-mounting counterattack from federal bureaucrats. But, with these ever increasing objections by the federal bureaucracy, the citizens became more and more aware of the forces against them, and the support of the amendment grew more rapidly with each year. By February 1962, the process of appeal by State legislatures for an endorsement resolution was well under way, and by then the approval had been accomplished in six States, almost unanimously.

When more than 20 states had approved by resolution, it was to be forwarded to Congress for their choice of proposing the amendment for ratification or calling a convention for that purpose. It is more than likely that events of national crisis, i.e. the Cuban Missile Crisis, President Kennedy's assassination, the initiation of Johnson's "great society" followed by the escalation and turmoil of the Vietnam War, all contributed to slowing the State endorsement and ratification process of the Amendment during these decades.

It is also very likely that this Constitutional alternative process of two-thirds of the States proposing an amendment, such as the Liberty Amendment, to Congress, and its ratification by three-fourths of the States, remains, today, the only possible way of reforming the federal government to its Constitutional limits. It is our belief, that those Congressmen with the motivation and courage to initiate an urgent and substantial downsizing of government activities and loss of their own power, is limited at present to Congressman Ron Paul, and the Liberty Committee. We believe they will need the added persuasion of a heavy endorsement of the Liberty Amendment by at least 20 or 25 State Legislatures, before Congress is forced to submit it to the States for ratification.

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