The word "federal" comes into English from the Latin word foedus (genitive: foederis). And in this light, there is no ambiguity whatsoever when it comes to what the founders meant by rejecting the word "nation" and replacing it with the word "federal." When one understands this, all the clever and pompous pronouncements from academicians and government bureaucrats (who want Washington, DC to plan and manage every aspect of our lives) fall by the wayside. For the word "foedus, foederis" means: "a league, treaty, charter, compact."
Thus, federal governance is, by very definition, a compact. The Constitution is a compact. The Union is a compact – not a nation. The founders knew their Latin even as most of our modern-day "educators" and bureaucrats do not. Coincidentally, Jefferson Davis's middle name was "Finis," Latin for "end" or "boundary." His generation's passing marked the end of education that emphasized Latin and history and classical ideals, and the beginning of Big Government's brand of "public schools."
Today, very few people are in a position to even know that the Federal government is, by definition, a compact. Most give it no thought at all.
To show how language has been perverted to the detriment of truth since the time of the American Republic's founding, a standard modern collegiate dictionary today defines "federal" as involving "surrender [of] their individual sovereignty to a central authority but retain[ing] limited residuary powers of government" (compare this to the text of the Tenth Amendment!) and marks the definition "of or relating to a compact or treaty" as "archaic."
Thursday, May 21, 2009
The Founders Knew Latin by Larry L. Beane II (via the Western Confucian)