Sample Q&As from the 1828 Catechism

Q69. May ever the President of the United States be thus impeached and punished?

A. Yes. In this free and happy country no man is so great as to be above the law. The laws are supreme; to them all persons, from the President of the United States to the poorest and meanest beggar, must alike submit. This is our glory. Let every youthful American exult that he has no master but the law; let him mark the man who would change this happy state of things as an enemy of his country; and above all let him remember that as soon as he himself breaks the law, he becomes himself that enemy. Whoever violates the law helps to weaken its force, and, as far as he disobeys, does what in him lies to destroy it; but he who honors and obeys the law strengthens the law, and thereby helps to preserve the freedom and happiness of his country. In some governments it is held that "the king can do no wrong;" here we know no king but the law, no monarch but the constitution; we hold that every man may do wrong; the higher he is in office, the more reason there is that he be obliged to answer for his conduct; and a great officer, if treacherous, is a great criminal, so that he ought to be made to suffer a great and exemplary punishment.

[LEXREX Note: The preceding answer is significantly longer than others in the book, perhaps showing the author's estimation of its importance.]

Q332. Have the different States of the Union all the powers which rightfully belong to a State, except those which are denied to them by the Constitution?

A. Yes. When the States united to form a constitution for their General Government, they agreed to give up to that government some of the powers they had before, and they set down in the Constitution what these powers were. All other powers they keep. The same thing is true respecting the people. All the powers they have not given up to the State Governments or to the General Government, they keep in their own hands.

Q311. May they meet with arms* in their hands?

A. Yes; the right to keep and to carry arms is one which belongs to the citizens at all times; but arms must not be used except to support the laws or to resist an enemy.

* This speaks of the right of the People to keep and bear [carry] weapons at all times unless they are involved in unlawful acts which would not include free assembly for the purpose of instructing their representatives. Don't try this any time soon in the present political climate. Notice the law punishes actual crimes. It does not act preemptively. It always assumes the historic 'presumption of innocence.' The only lawful functions of government are the protection of life and property.

Q313. Has the Government power to enter the house of a citizen and search it, and to take him, his papers, and his property, at any time it thinks fit?

A. No. It is sometimes necessary and proper to seize a man's person and property, and to search his papers; but this may never be done, until some of his fellow citizens charge him with some offence which would require this to be done, make it appear probable that he is guilty, and swear to what they declare against him. Then a Judge gives to an officer a warrant to search or to seize; but the warrant must say particularly what places are to be searched, and what persons or property is to be seized. Otherwise no man would be secure.