It is time for another book review. The book is J. Patrick Shannan’s 1996 work The Montana Freemen which is subtitled The Untold Story of Government Suppression and The News Media Cover-Up. This book is only 109 pages, and was written back when this story was in the news.
The story of the Montana Freemen occurred in 1995 and 1996. As I turned 13 in 1996, I was only vaguely aware of it at the time. Curious as to what the Montana Freemen allegedly did, I ordered a copy of Shannan’s book on this subject a couple of months ago.
Shannan begins this book with a Prologue that briefly discusses the extreme government wrongdoing at Ruby Ridge and Waco in the early 1990s. Then he begins to detail how our government got off track, especially in regards to money and banking. Awareness of the Federal Reserve credit money scam that is our “money” is what seems to have set the Montana Freemen on their course of defiance.
But the Freemen position also included a great deal of speculation on the Sovereign Citizen theory, corporations, capitalization in legal documents, citizenship types and status, the uniform commercial code (UCC), and legal jurisdiction. (There is about 23 pages of material typewritten by the Freemen stating their position included in the end of this book. I am glad that Mr. Shannan included this, although I think the legal accuracy of much of it is very questionable at best).
In short, it appears that the Montana Freemen held that they were citizens of the State of Montana, not of the United States. They held that the “United States” is a foreign corporation synonymous with the Districts of Columbia created under the U.S. Constitution’s legal Congress, of which they did not claim to be citizens or recognize the legal jurisdiction thereof.
Then, a couple dozen of the Freemen “rescinded” all of what they believed to be “contracts” between themselves and the Federal and State governments. Then they got together and created their own township, on the Clark ranch in rural Montana, and established their own court (Justus Township, near Jordan, Montana). They appointed themselves a justice of the peace, and then they sued some government officials and the Federal government, none of whom showed up for trial! The Freemen then awarded themselves $17,000,000,000,000 dollars in their lawsuit against that Federal government. Yes, seventeen trillion dollars.
Now to what got them in trouble. Then then placed liens, which they claimed were legally real, against the personal property of government agents, as partial payment of the judgement that the Freeman court had given. Then, after it was revealed to one of them in a dream, they realized that they could file a Comptroller Warrant, which is a draft on a person’s line of credit. (The term “comptroller warrant” does not appear in my 6th Edition of Black’s Law Dictionary). One of the Freemen, Leroy Schweitzer, then acquired a lien draft form like is allegedly used by Federal Reserve banks, filled it in for 75 million dollars payable to himself, and deposited it in his bank account. For reasons unknown to me, the bank credited his account with the $75,000,000. Then the Freemen proceeded to write checks on this $75 million. Yikes.
The Freemen correctly believed that the debt based paper “money” issued by the Federal Reserve was a fraud. But in their effort to awaken their countrymen, or perhaps burn the system, they played the system’s credit money game against itself. This was a bad idea legally, and of questionable morality.
This raised the ire of the government, resulted in a state government hearing, and got the FBI involved. After being indicted, about a dozen of the Freemen holed up at Justus township (aka their ranch).
The government managed to arrest two of the Freemen, and haul them to jail. At his arraignment, Schweitzer attempted to declare a common law venue and self-proclaim a mistrial of the case against him. Mr. Shannan, who is sympathetic to the Freemen, writes that from behind bars Schweitzer told him that “Venue is the birthright. That’s the religious stand, the practice of your faith. We have an 1830 law that says ‘those who can’t follow the laws of Jesus Christ, they had to create statutes for them’. Statutes is Baal worship”.
Meanwhile, the Feds were surrounding the Clark ranch, aka Justus township. They were preparing to shut off electric power to the ranch. Why a ranch that claimed to be made up of Freeemn who were not subject to the Montana code, were still using the grid power of a government chartered corporation under the authority of the State of Montana, I have no idea. I would think going off the state and/or state chartered corporation ran power grid system would have been a step to take before establishing one’s own court system to defy the state.
Fearing another Waco or Ruby Ridge might develop, a large unit of militia assembled in Montana. On page 57 Shannan states that there were “approximately 1,000 militia observers in the area…Another 2,000 from Michigan, Ohio, and Missouri were bivouacked only four hours away…” I am glad the citizen militias showed up, because it likely deescalated the actions of the FBI. The Freemen eventually peacefully surrendered to government agents. The Freemen had not yet been tried when Shannan’s book went to press in 1996.
When discussing some of the Freemen’s legal positions, patriot oriented lawyer Larry Becraft stated the following to Shannan: “I’ve been down the road with these types of wild theories a million times…they combine this principle over here with that principle over there, and pick and choose which ones they like in a totally unschooled approach… This whole theory is ridiculous”.
In truth, the legal position of the Freemen was not good. Lawyers are often accused of manipulating the words of law to get a different meaning than originally intended. I am afraid that a lot of patriots, including the Freemen, played the same legal game –except that they were going against the state instead of for it. They tried to fight fire with fire.
One example of these patriot/sovereign citizen legal theories of the Freemen is the definition of United States. They place great emphasis on the capitalization of “u” in United Sates of America in their legal document that Mr. Shannan includes at the end of this book, although it appears to me that they do not always use it accurately and consistently themselves. They seem to think that the “United States” is a foreign corporation known as the District of Columbia, and is the vehicle by which Federal citizens (who reside in states) are controlled by statutes instead of laws.
They claimed to be citizens of the State of Montana residing in Montana, but not a “residents” of Montana or subjects of 14th amendment Federal citizenship/U.S./ District of Columbia/U.N./ Foreign jurisdiction. Have you got that? They claim common law rights, not post-1866 civil rights. They also claim that the Montana Codes passed by the state’s legislature are not laws, but regulatory statues that only apply to Federal government employees and citizens of the U.S. (District of Columbia).
I had thought about doing some more research into the whole Sovereign Citizen theories, but after reading this book I do not think I will bother to do so. Shannan’s book The Montana Freemen was worth reading, especially in that it has crossed off one area of study from my list.
© Copyright 2016 by Joseph Charles Putnam of Orange County, Indiana. All rights reserved.