Fess Parker, the actor who portrayed both Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone in classic television shows, has died at the age of 85. In his honor, I offer this version of Parker singing the theme song “The Ballad of Davy Crockett”:
And more substantively, I note that Col. David Crockett served three terms in Congress from Tennessee, where he is best known for delivering a speech known as “Not Yours to Give.” In response to a proposal for an appropriation to benefit the widow of a naval officer, Rep. Crockett said:
I have as much respect for the memory of the deceased, and as much sympathy for the sufferings of the living, if suffering there be, as any man in this House, but we must not permit our respect for the dead or our sympathy for a part of the living to lead us into an act of injustice to the balance of the living. I will not go into an argument to prove that Congress has no power to appropriate this money as an act of charity. Every member upon this floor knows it. We have the right, as individuals, to give away as much of our own money as we please in charity; but as members of Congress we have no right so to appropriate a dollar of the public money. …
We cannot, without the grossest corruption, appropriate this money as the payment of a debt. We have not the semblance of authority to appropriate it as a charity. Mr. Speaker, I have said we have the right to give as much money of our own as we please. I am the poorest man on this floor. I cannot vote for this bill, but I will give one week’s pay to the object, and if every member of Congress will do the same, it will amount to more than the bill asks.
He went on to quote a constituent who had complained when he previously voted for a similar measure:
The people have delegated to Congress, by the Constitution, the power to do certain things. To do these, it is authorized to collect and pay moneys, and for nothing else. Everything beyond this is usurpation, and a violation of the Constitution.
He may not actually have patched up the crack in the Liberty Bell, but he did his best to preserve the Constitution.