Power of the Purse and Power of the Sword


“Power of the Purse” and “Power of the Sword”

Two principles of political science that have existed for centuries are fundamental powers in the founding documents: the power of the purse and the power of the sword. Two fundamental principles for maintaining any government. Although our founding documents do not use these exact terms, the principles are self-evident.

  • Power of the Purse – That is the power to command wealth and redistribute it through taxes to pay for public services.
  • Power of the Sword – That is military coercion. The essence of government is coercion, to make people perform their duties or suffer some other consequence.

These two great powers of government are linked— without the “power of the purse” you cannot pay for the “sword” and without “the power of the sword” you cannot fill the “purse”.

The source of the Power of the Purse and Power of the Sword—the Declaration of Independence.

We refer to the Declaration of Independence which asserted these two powers :

“…to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them,…”

The source of these powers is not the individual or the group “society”, or any individuals or “group’s” subjective views about politics. It is something objective, something in the nature of man. This is a subject much written about known as “Natural Law”. So the Founders did not create the principle, they adopted it and placed it in the Declaration of Independence :

“That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends (the security of inalienable rights), it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

The Founders then proceed to indict King George III and his Ministers.

“But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776

“The “Power of the Purse” is vested with Congress to perform their constitutionally mandated duties. Government officials cannot even contemplate spending what they cannot “create”. So WE THE PEOPLE removed the possibility of any monetary mischief by government officials by disabling States and Congress from using silver and gold only as “Money” in all governmental fiscal transactions and court decisions. The “standard” or “Money Unit” of the United States is constitutionally fixed as the “constitutional dollar”— 371 1/4 grains of fine silver and nothing else, precisely so that Congress may not arbitrarily “define” and experiment with WE THE PEOPLE’S “Money”.

“The “Power of the Sword” is vested with WE THE PEOPLE to perform their constitutionally mandated duties, properly organized as State government institutions “the Militia of the several States”. Militia are lawful community self-defense structures that empower the average American to govern themselves with full legal authority every day of the year. And in the extreme case, to enforce constitutional principles against rogue government officials who are no longer acting as government, but as criminals (See 18 USC Sec. 241 and 242) to provide themselves with “the security of a free State” (Second Amendment).