Benjamin Franklin: America’s Greatest Diplomat

Book review: The Real Benjamin Franklin

By Andrew M. Allison and the National Center for Constitutional Studies

Dinner Topics for Monday

key“Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God.” ~Benjamin Franklin

225px-BenFranklin2At sixteen, he was the youngest printer in America. He often wrote under pen names, making  quotations that are powerfully relevant today.

Freedom of speech (this was written under the name of Silence Dogood)

Without freedom of thought there can be no such thing as wisdom, and no such thing as public liberty without freedom of speech, which is the right of every man as far as by it he does not hurt or control the right of another; and this is the only check it ought to suffer, and the only bounds it ought to know.

This sacred privilege is so essential to free governments that the security of property and the freedom of speech always go together; and in those wretched countries where a man cannot call his tongue his own, he can scarce call anything else his own. Whoever would over throw the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech. . .

A renowned scientist and inventor. His kite experiment proved lightning was electricity. Inventions included lightning rod, Franklin stove, bifocals, flexible catheter, daylight savings time.

Pride

There is perhaps no one of our natural passions so hard to subdue as pride. Disguise it, struggle with it, beat it down, stifle it, mortify it as much as one pleases, it is still alive and will every now and then peep out and show itself. . .Even if I could conceive that I had completely overcome it, I should probably be proud of my humility.  P. 61

I never was without some religious principles. I never doubted, for instance, the existence of Deity, that he made the world and governed it by his providence; that the most acceptable service of God was the doing good to man; that our souls are immortal; and that all crime will be punished and virtue rewarded either her e or hereafter. P.62

He wrote short maxims with the youth in mind.

Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.

Would you live with ease, do what you ought and not what you please.

Keep thy shop, and thy shop will keep thee.

A penny saved is a penny earned.

He that lieth down with dogs shall rise up with fleas.

Keep your eyes wide open before marriage, half shut afterwards.

Three may keep a secret if two of them are dead.

God helps them that help themselves.

Experience keeps a dear school, yet fools will learn in no other.

The used key is always bright.

A stitch in time saves nine.

He that falls in love with himself will have no rivals.

Franklin taught himself several languages—French, Italian, Spanish, Latin, and German—chiefly to enable him to increase his knowledge by reading various important works that had not yet been translated into English. He also learned to play the harp, violin, and the guitar (later he would add an unusual instrument of his own design, the “armonica”).

Franklin served on a committee with John Adams and Thomas Jefferson to draw up a proposal for the Great Seal of the United States, for which he suggested a motto that Jefferson later used on his own seal: “Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God.” P. 205

 

Champion of Liberty: Charles Montesquieu

Dinner Topics for Thursday

key“Those people who will not be governed by God will be ruled by tyrants.”~ William Penn

Charles Montesquieu

Famous for his theory of Separation of Powers

montesquieuCharles-Louis de Secondat, Baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu (/ˈmɒntɨskjuː/;[1] French: [mɔ̃tɛskjø]; 18 January 1689 – 10 February 1755), generally referred to as simply Montesquieu, was a French lawyer, man of letters, and political philosopher who lived during the Age of Enlightenment. He is famous for his articulation of the theory of separation of powers, which is implemented in many constitutions throughout the world. He did more than any other author to secure the place of the word despotism in the political lexicon,[2] and may have been partly responsible for the popularization of the terms feudalism and Byzantine Empire.[citation needed]

Montesquieu’s early life occurred at a time of significant governmental change. England had declared itself a constitutional monarchy in the wake of its Glorious Revolution (1688–89), and had joined with Scotland in the Union of 1707 to form the Kingdom of Great Britain. In France the long-reigning Louis XIV died in 1715 and was succeeded by the five-year-old Louis XV. These national transformations had a great impact on Montesquieu; he would refer to them repeatedly in his work.

Montesquieu withdrew from the practice of law to devote himself to study and writing. He achieved literary success with the publication of his Lettres persanes (Persian Letters, 1721), a satire representing society as seen through the eyes of two imaginary Persian visitors to Paris and Europe, cleverly criticizing the absurdities of contemporary French society. He next published Considérations sur les causes de la grandeur des Romains et de leur décadence (Considerations on the Causes of the Grandeur and Decadence of the Romans, 1734), considered by some scholars, among his three best known books, as a transition from The Persian Letters to his master work. De l’Esprit des Lois (The Spirit of the Laws) was originally published anonymously in 1748. The book quickly rose to influence political thought profoundly in Europe and America. In France, the book met with an unfriendly reception from both supporters and opponents of the regime. The Catholic Church banned l’Esprit – along with many of Montesquieu’s other works – in 1751 and included it on the Index of Prohibited Books. It received the highest praise from the rest of Europe, especially Britain.

Montesquieu was also highly regarded in the British colonies in North America as a champion of liberty (though not of American independence). Political scientist Donald Lutz found that Montesquieu was the most frequently quoted authority on government and politics in colonial pre-revolutionary British America, cited more by the American founders than any source except for the Bible.[9] Following the American revolution, Montesquieu’s work remained a powerful influence on many of the American founders, most notably James Madison of Virginia, the “Father of the Constitution“. Montesquieu’s philosophy that “government should be set up so that no man need be afraid of another”[10] reminded Madison and others that a free and stable foundation for their new national government required a clearly defined and balanced separation of powers.

Besides composing additional works on society and politics, Montesquieu traveled for a number of years through Europe including Austria and Hungary, spending a year in Italy and 18 months in England where he became a freemason, admitted to the Horn Tavern Lodge in Westminster,[11] before resettling in France. He was troubled by poor eyesight, and was completely blind by the time he died from a high fever in 1755. He was buried in the Église Saint-Sulpice, Paris.

Read more about Charles Montesquieu

 

 

Impeachment History Flashback: House Democrats tried to impeach Reagan for Grenada War vs. Communism

Impeachment History Flashback:

House Democrats tried to impeach Reagan for Grenada War vs. Communism

Flashback: When House Democrats tried to impeach Ronald Reagan

Nearly forgotten episode of American history

Ronald ReaganMany House Republicans have argued their Democratic colleagues have presented articles of impeachment against President Trump based not on any crime but largely on differences over policy.

It’s not the first time. On Nov. 11, 1983, seven House Democrats introduced a draft resolution to impeach President Ronald Reagan for “ordering the invasion of Grenada in violation of the Constitution.”

In 2019, Democrats dismiss as “conspiracy theories” allegations of corruption related to Ukraine to affect the 2016 election along with Hunter Biden’s profiting from a corrupt Ukrainian company while his father oversaw Ukraine policy.

In 1983, Democrats apparently had no concern about the threat of another Caribbean island nation falling to communism.

A new Fox Nation documentary, “Reagan’s Fury: Battle for Grenada,” reexamines the invasion of Grenada in 1983, which FoxNews.com noted is an event that is now celebrated by Grenadians as a day of liberation from the oppression of Marxist communism.

“When President Ronald Reagan took office, many Americans viewed communism as basically just another political system that the free world had to deal with and co-exist with,” narrated Fox News’ chief political anchor, Bret Baier.

“But to Reagan, the threat of the Soviet Union and others who spoke of worldwide Marxist revolution could not be ignored,” Baier said. “Which is why he resolved to stand up to the aggression of Moscow and its satellites, leading to the first U.S. combat mission since the Vietnam War. Operation Urgent Fury in Grenada.”

Granada’s democratic government was overthrown and replaced by the one-party, totalitarian rule of Maurice Bishop.

“It was Bishop’s ties to Cuba and the Soviet Union that alarmed President Reagan,” said Baier in the documentary.

Reagan said the Soviet-Cuban militarization of Grenada “can only be seen as power projection into the region.”

Reagan also was concerned about the more than 600 American medical students living at St. George’s University in Grenada.

He approved an invasion of Grenada on Oct. 25, 1983, called Operation Urgent Fury, which was condemned by some internationally and in the U.S.

“The United Nations Security Council passed a resolution, vetoed by the U.S., condemning Urgent Fury as a flagrant violation of international law,” said Baier. “And some of President Reagan’s domestic critics painted him as the villain of the Western Hemisphere. In fact, seven House Democrats even drafted an impeachment resolution.”

danger socialismBut the documentary points out that the view of residents of Grenada was positive at the time and remains that way today.

“I must say that the support of the American government and people at the time after the intervention in Grenada, that was  quite substantial,” said Keith Mitchell, who initially supported Grenada’s Marxist revolution but quickly became disillusioned with it.

Today, Mitchell is the prime minister of Grenada.

“We’ve seen a tremendous transformation in the quality of life of the people since [Operation Urgent Fury],” he said.

“Nothing beats freedom. Freedom is fundamental.”

 

 

https://www.wnd.com/2019/12/flashback-democrats-tried-impeach-ronald-reagan/

Champion of Liberty: Edmund Burke

Dinner Topics for Thursday

Champion of Liberty, Edmund Burke

Edmund Burke quotes

keyThose who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.

‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.’

The people never give up their liberties but under some delusion. ~Edmund Burke

From Wikipedia

Edmund Burke 12 January [NS] 1729[1] – 9 July 1797) was an Irish[2][3] statesman born in Dublin; author, orator, political theorist, and philosopher, who, after moving to England, served for many years in the House of Commons of Great Britain as a member of the Whig party.

Mainly, he is remembered for his support of the cause of the American Revolutionaries, and for his later opposition to the French Revolution. The latter led to his becoming the leading figure within the conservative faction of the Whig party, which he dubbed the “Old Whigs”, in opposition to the pro–French Revolution “New Whigs”, led by Charles James Fox.[4]

Burke was praised by both conservatives and liberals in the nineteenth century.[5] Since the twentieth century, he has generally been viewed as the philosophical founder of conservatism.[6][7]

American War of Independence

EdmundBurke1771Burke expressed his support for the grievances of the American Colonies under the government of King George III and his appointed representatives. On 19 April 1774 Burke made the speech, On American Taxation (published in January 1775), on a motion to repeal the tea duty:

Again and again, revert to your old principles—seek peace and ensue it; leave America, if she has taxable matter in her, to tax herself. I am not here going into the distinctions of rights, nor attempting to mark their boundaries. I do not enter into these metaphysical distinctions; I hate the very sound of them. Leave the Americans as they anciently stood, and these distinctions, born of our unhappy contest, will die along with it. … Be content to bind America by laws of trade; you have always done it. … Do not burthen them with taxes. … But if intemperately, unwisely, fatally, you sophisticate and poison the very source of government by urging subtle deductions, and consequences odious to those you govern, from the unlimited and illimitable nature of supreme sovereignty, you will teach them by these means to call that sovereignty itself in question. … If that sovereignty and their freedom cannot be reconciled, which will they take? They will cast your sovereignty in your face. No body of men will be argued into slavery. Sir, let the gentlemen on the other side … tell me, what one character of liberty the Americans have, and what one brand of slavery they are free from, if they are bound in their property and industry by all the restraints you can imagine on commerce, and at the same time are made pack-horses of every tax you choose to impose, without the least share in granting them. When they bear the burthens of unlimited monopoly, will you bring them to bear the burthens of unlimited revenue too? The Englishman in America will feel that this is slavery; that it is legal slavery, will be no compensation either to his feelings or to his understandings.[48]

On 22 March 1775, in the House of Commons, Burke delivered a speech (published during May 1775) on reconciliation with America. Burke appealed for peace as preferable to civil war and reminded the House of America’s growing population, its industry, and its wealth. He warned against the notion that the Americans would back down in the face of force, since the Americans were descended largely from Englishmen:

… the people of the colonies are descendants of Englishmen. … They are therefore not only devoted to liberty, but to liberty according to English ideas and on English principles. The people are Protestants … a persuasion not only favourable to liberty, but built upon it. … My hold of the colonies is in the close affection which grows from common names, from kindred blood, from similar privileges, and equal protection. These are ties which, though light as air, are as strong as links of iron. Let the colonies always keep the idea of their civil rights associated with your government—they will cling and grapple to you, and no force under heaven will be of power to tear them from their allegiance. But let it be once understood that your government may be one thing and their privileges another, that these two things may exist without any mutual relation—the cement is gone, the cohesion is loosened, and everything hastens to decay and dissolution.

As long as you have the wisdom to keep the sovereign authority of this country as the sanctuary of liberty, the sacred temple consecrated to our common faith, wherever the chosen race and sons of England worship freedom, they will turn their faces towards you. The more they multiply, the more friends you will have; the more ardently they love liberty, the more perfect will be their obedience. Slavery they can have anywhere. It is a weed that grows in every soil. They may have it from Spain, they may have it from Prussia. But, until you become lost to all feeling of your true interest and your natural dignity, freedom they can have from none but you.[49]

Burke prized peace with America above all else, pleading with the House of Commons to remember that the interest and money received off of the American colonies was far more attractive than any sense of putting the colonists in their place:

The proposition is peace. Not peace through the medium of war, not peace to be hunted through the labyrinth of intricate and endless negotiations, not peace to arise out of universal discord…it is simple peace, sought in its natural course and in its ordinary haunts. It is peace sought in the spirit of peace, and laid in principles purely pacific.[50]

Burke wasn’t simply promoting peace to Parliament; rather, he stepped forward with four reasons against using force, carefully reasoned. He laid out his objections in an orderly manner, focusing on one before moving to the next. His first concern was that the use of force would have to be temporary, and that the uprisings and objections to British governance in America would not be. Second, Burke worried about the uncertainty surrounding whether Britain would win a conflict in America. “An armament”, Burke wisely says, “is not a victory”.[51] Third, Burke brought up the issue of impairment; it would do the British Government no good to engage in a scorched earth war and have the object they desired (America) become damaged or even useless. The American colonists could always delve back into the mountains, but the land they left behind would most likely be unusual, whether by incident or design. The fourth and final reason to avoid the use of force was experience; the British had never attempted to reign back in an unruly colony by force, and they didn’t know if it could be done, let alone accomplished thousands of miles away from home.[51] Not only were all of these concerns reasonable, but some turned out to be prophetic—the American colonists did not surrender, even when things looked extremely bleak, and the British were ultimately unsuccessful in their attempts to win a war fought on American soil.

It wasn’t temporary force, uncertainty, impairment, or even experience that Burke cited as the number one reason for avoiding war with the American colonies, however; it was the character of the American people themselves:

In this character of Americans, a love of freedom is the predominating feature which marks and distinguishes the whole…this fierce spirit of liberty is stronger in the English colonies, probably, than in any other people of the earth…[the] men [are] acute, inquisitive, dextrous, prompt in attack, ready in defense, full of resources…”.[51] Burke concludes with another plea for peace, and a prayer that Britain might avoid actions which, in Burke’s words, “may bring on the destruction of this Empire”.[51]

Burke proposed six resolutions to settle the American conflict peacefully:

  1. Allow the American colonists to elect their own representative, thus settling the dispute about taxation without representation;
  2. Acknowledge this wrong and apologize for grievances cause;
  3. Procure an efficient manner of choosing and sending these delegates;
  4. Set up a General Assembly in America itself, with powers to regulate taxes;
  5. Stop gathering taxes by imposition (or law), and start gathering them only when they are needed; and
  6. Grant needed aid to the colonies.[51]

The effect of these resolutions, had they been passed, can never be known. Unfortunately, this speech was given less than a month before the explosive conflict at Concord and Lexington,[52] and as these resolutions were not passed, little was done that would help to dissuade conflict.

One of the reasons this speech was greatly admired was the passage on Lord Bathurst (1684–1775). Burke imagines an angel in 1704 prophesying to Bathurst the future greatness of England and also of America: “Young man, There is America—which at this day serves little more than to amuse you with stories of savage men, and uncouth manners; yet shall, before you taste of death, shew itself equal to the whole of that commerce which now attracts the envy of the world”.[53] Samuel Johnson was so irritated at hearing it continually praised, that he made a parody of it, where the devil appears to a young Whig and predicts that in short time, Whiggism will poison even the paradise of America.[53]

The administration of Lord North (1770–1782) tried to defeat the colonist rebellion by military force. British and American forces clashed in 1775 and, in 1776, came the American Declaration of Independence. Burke was appalled by celebrations in Britain of the defeat of the Americans at New York and Pennsylvania. He claimed the English national character was being changed by this authoritarianism.[9] Burke wrote: “As to the good people of England, they seem to partake every day more and more of the Character of that administration which they have been induced to tolerate. I am satisfied, that within a few years there has been a great Change in the National Character. We seem no longer that eager, inquisitive, jealous, fiery people, which we have been formerly”.[54]

Regarding the French Revolution

In January 1790, Burke read Dr. Richard Price‘s sermon of 4 November 1789 entitled, A Discourse on the Love of our Country, to the Revolution Society.[75] That society had been founded to commemorate the Glorious Revolution of 1688. In this sermon Price espoused the philosophy of universal “Rights of Men”. Price argued that love of our country “does not imply any conviction of the superior value of it to other countries, or any particular preference of its laws and constitution of government”.[76] Instead, Price asserted that Englishmen should see themselves “more as citizens of the world than as members of any particular community”.

A debate between Price and Burke ensued that was “the classic moment at which two fundamentally different conceptions of national identity were presented to the English public”.[77] Price claimed that the principles of the Glorious Revolution included “the right to choose our own governors, to cashier them for misconduct, and to frame a government for ourselves”.

Immediately after reading Price’s sermon, Burke wrote a draft of what eventually became, Reflections on the Revolution in France.[78] On 13 February 1790, a notice in the press said that shortly, Burke would publish a pamphlet on the revolution and its British supporters, however he spent the year revising and expanding it. On 1 November he finally published the Reflections and it was an immediate best-seller.[79][80] Priced at five shillings, it was more expensive than most political pamphlets, but by the end of 1790, it had gone through ten printings and sold approximately 17,500 copies. A French translation appeared on 29 November and on 30 November the translator, Pierre-Gaëton Dupont, wrote to Burke saying 2,500 copies had already been sold. The French translation ran to ten printings by June 1791.[81]

Later life

In November 1795, there was a debate in Parliament on the high price of corn and Burke wrote a memorandum to Pitt on the subject. In December Samuel Whitbread MP introduced a bill giving magistrates the power to fix minimum wages and Fox said he would vote for it. This debate probably led Burke to editing his memorandum, as there appeared a notice that Burke would soon publish a letter on the subject to the Secretary of the Board of Agriculture (Arthur Young), but he failed to complete it. These fragments were inserted into the memorandum after his death and published posthumously in 1800 as, Thoughts and Details on Scarcity.[129] In it, Burke expounded “some of the doctrines of political economists bearing upon agriculture as a trade”.[130] Burke criticised policies such as maximum prices and state regulation of wages, and set out what the limits of government should be.

The economist Adam Smith remarked that Burke was “the only man I ever knew who thinks on economic subjects exactly as I do, without any previous communications having passed between us”.[132]

Read more about Edmund Burke

 

Champion of Liberty: Alexander Hamilton

Champion of Liberty: Alexander Hamilton

Alexander Hamilton Quotes

keyFor it is a truth, which the experience of all ages has attested, that the people are commonly most in danger when the means of injuring their rights are in the possession of those [toward] whom they entertain the least suspicion. (Federalist Papers, No. 25, p.164)

Every unconstitutional action has usually been justified because it was for a “good cause.” Every illegal transfer of power from one department to another has been excused as “necessary.”

There is a certain enthusiasm in liberty, that makes human nature rise above itself, in acts of bravery and heroism.
Those who stand for nothing fall for anything.

A promise must never be broken.

It’s not tyranny we desire; it’s a just, limited, federal government.
Why has government been instituted at all? Because the passions of man will not conform to the dictates of reason and justice without constraint.
alexanderhamiltonAlexander Hamilton (January 11, 1755 or 1757 – July 12, 1804) was a founding father of the United States, chief staff aide to General George Washington, one of the most influential interpreters and promoters of the U.S. Constitution, the founder of the nation’s financial system, and the founder of the first political party.

As Secretary of the Treasury, Hamilton was the primary author of the economic policies of the George Washington administration, especially the funding of the states’ debts by the Federal government, the establishment of a national bank, a system of tariffs, and friendly trade relations with Britain. He became the leader of the Federalist Party, created largely in support of his views; he was opposed by the Democratic-Republican Party, led by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison.

Hamilton played a major role in the American Revolutionary War. At the start of the war in 1775, he organized an artillery company and was chosen as its captain. He later became the senior aide to General Washington, the American forces’ commander-in-chief. Washington sent him on numerous important missions to tell generals what Washington wanted. In 1798-99, Hamilton called for mobilization against France after the XYZ Affair and secured an appointment from President John Adams as commander of a new army, which he readied for war. However, the Quasi-War, while hard-fought at sea, was never officially declared and did not involve army action. In the end, Adams found a diplomatic solution which avoided a land war.

Born out of wedlock to a Scottish-French mother and raised in the West Indies, Hamilton was orphaned at about age 11. Recognized for his abilities and talent, he was sponsored by people from his community to go to North America for his education. He attended King’s College (now Columbia University), in colonial New York.[1] After the war, Hamilton was elected to the Congress of the Confederation from New York. He resigned, to practice law, and founded the Bank of New York.

Hamilton was among those dissatisfied with the Articles of Confederation—the first attempt at a national governing document—because it lacked an executive, courts, and taxing powers. He led the Annapolis Convention, which successfully influenced Congress to issue a call for the Philadelphia Convention, in order to create a new constitution. He was an active participant at Philadelphia; and he helped achieve ratification by the thirteen states, by writing 51 of the 85 installments of the The Federalist Papers, which supported the new constitution. To this day, The Federalist Papers are the single most important reference for Constitutional interpretation.[2]

In the new government under President George Washington, Hamilton was appointed the Secretary of the Treasury. An admirer of British political systems, Hamilton was a nationalist, who emphasized strong central government and successfully argued that the implied powers of the Constitution provided the legal authority to fund the national debt, assume states’ debts, and create the government-owned Bank of the United States. These programs were funded primarily by a tariff on imports, and later also by a highly controversial excise tax on whiskey.

Embarrassed when an extra-marital affair became public, Hamilton resigned his Cabinet position in 1795 and returned to the practice of law in New York. He kept his hand in politics and was a powerful influence on the Cabinet of President Adams (1797–1801). Hamilton’s opposition to Adams’ re-election helped cause his defeat in the 1800 election. When in the same contest, Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr tied for the presidency in the electoral college, Hamilton helped defeat Burr, whom he found unprincipled, and to elect Jefferson despite philosophical differences.

After failing to support Adams, the Federalist Party candidate, Hamilton lost some of his national prominence within the party. Vice President Burr later ran for governor in New York state, but Hamilton’s influence in his home state was strong enough to again prevent a Burr victory. Taking offense at some of Hamilton’s comments, Burr challenged him to a duel and mortally wounded Hamilton, who died the next day.

Constitution and The Federalist Papers

In 1787, Hamilton served as assemblyman from New York County in the New York State Legislature and was the first delegate chosen to the Constitutional Convention. Even though Hamilton had been a leader in calling for a new Constitutional Convention, his direct influence at the Convention itself was quite limited. Governor George Clinton‘s faction in the New York legislature had chosen New York’s other two delegates, John Lansing and Robert Yates, and both of them opposed Hamilton’s goal of a strong national government. Thus, whenever the other two members of the New York delegation were present, they decided New York’s vote; and when they left the convention in protest, Hamilton remained but with no vote, since two representatives were required for any state to cast a vote.

Alexander Hamilton

Legacy

Hamilton’s interpretations of the Constitution set forth in the Federalist Papers remain highly influential, as seen in scholarly studies and court decisions.[144]

From his first days as a cabinet member Hamilton set a precedent by formulating federal programs, writing them as reports, pushing for their approval by arguing for them in person on the floor of the United States Congress, and then implementing them. Hamilton and the other Cabinet members were vital to Washington, as there was no executive branch under the Articles of Confederation, and the Cabinet itself is unmentioned in the Constitution that succeeded it.

Read more:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Hamilton

Founding Principles of America 25: Stay Independent from Entangling Alliances

Founding Principles of America 25:

Stay Independent from Entangling Alliances

US Constitution Series 25

keyPeace, Commerce, and Honest Friendship with all Nations—entangling alliances with none ~Thomas Jefferson

Separatism vs. Isolationism

tyranny5-jeffersonThis was the Founders’ doctrine of “separatism.” This was far different from the modern term of “isolationism.” The later term implies a complete seclusion from other nations, as though the United States were to be detached and somehow incubated in isolation from other nations.

In point of fact, the policy of the Founders was just the opposite. They desired to cultivate a wholesome relationship with all nations, but they wished to remain aloof from sectional quarrels and international disputes. They wanted to avoid alliances of friendship with one nation which would make them enemies of another nation in a time of crisis. They wanted to keep American markets open to all countries unless certain countries engaged in hostilities toward the United States. (Skousen, 267-268)

 

“Separatism” replaced by “Internationalism”

“Separatism,” and pursuing a “manifest destiny” to encourage the emancipation of “the whole human race,” was the official policy of the United States for the first 125 years of its history.

Nevertheless, there were powerful influences congregating in the United States, particularly in financial circles, which wanted America in the thick of things, world-wide. Their opportunity came with the eruption of World War I. Congressional investigations by the Reece Committee revealed that long before the Lusitania sinking, these influences were agitating for U.S. involvement.

Although the United States narrowly avoided becoming a member of the League of Nations after World War I, the sage was set for an accelerated involvement of the United States, both economically and politically, in foreign quarrels. (Skousen 274-275)

 

Next, Founding Principles of America 26: Protecting the Role of the Family

Founding Principles of America 24: Peace through Strength

church-state2-reagan‘The book Reagan wanted
taught in high schools’

In “The 5000 Year Leap: A Miracle That Changed the World,” you will discover the 28 principles of freedom America’s Founding Fathers said must be understood and perpetuated by every society that desires peace, prosperity and freedom. Learn how adherence to these beliefs during the past 200 years has brought about more progress than was made in the previous 5,000 years.

This book describes the problems the Founding Fathers dealt with and how philosophies and ideals collided to form the United States of America. The skills and prosperity of the Jamestown settlers in 1607 greatly contrast those of society after the enactment of the United States Constitution.

Shortly after the Constitution was enacted, a free-enterprise system – an economy with little government influence that flourishes with competition of businesses – was established. It is because of this system that America became the most advanced and powerful country that world history has known.

After highlighting the importance of the nation’s foundation, Skousen covers in detail what went into the design of the Constitution. Surveying the original sources for the principles that inspired the United States, the author shows how the Founders developed these principles from the studies of Cicero, Locke, Montesquieu and Adam Smith.

Skousen also contrasts the affluence of the young United States with that of the present day, showing that it was because of the free-enterprise system that America produced such astounding inventions and ideas, from jet propulsion to the doubling of life expectancy. Within this narrative of success, Skousen weaves the story of America as a Christian nation, guided by divine providence and created for the liberty and rights of mankind.

This book also analyzes problems throughout history (such as national debt) that have come from failing to adhere to the Constitution.

5000leap“The 5000 Year Leap” gives the reader a greater understanding of the origins of the United States of America, the consequences of deviating from the principles on which it was founded and all the characteristics that have made this nation great.

 

Founding Principles of America: 28 Great Ideas that changed the world

The practical application of this book review of Skousen educated wisdom is to leverage “We, The People’s” knowledge to easily expose ignorance, anarchy and tyranny, and hold the government accountable.

 

 The 5,000 Year Leap—A Miracle that Changed the World

By W. Cleon Skousen

U.S. Constitution Series 1: Founding Fathers and Cicero

U.S. Constitution Series 1:

Founding Fathers and Cicero

Cicero was born January 3, 106 B.C.

The Founders’ Basic Principles: 28 Great Ideas that changed the world

keyWorldly philosophies endeavor to blur the distinction between good and evil and eliminate accountability. However, the foundation of Natural Law (the law of the Creator) is the reality of good and evil. The U.S. Constitution was successful in creating a free and prosperous society because its foundation of Natural Law is based on moral accountability to a just God. ~C.A. Davidson

5000leapFrom The 5,000 Year Leap—A Miracle that Changed the World

By W. Cleon Skousen

1. First Principle: the Genius of Natural Law

(Notes from pp. 37-47)

What is Natural Law?

The Creator’s order of things is called Natural Law.

The only reliable basis for sound government and just human relations is Natural Law.

Cicero

Cicero cut through the political and philosophical errors of both Plato and Aristotle to discover the touchstone of good laws, sound government, and the long-range formula for happy human relations. (p.37) He was the only Roman political writer who has exercised enduring influence throughout the ages. He studied law in Rome and philosophy in Athens.

Cicero’s compelling honesty led him to conclude that once the reality of the Creator is clearly identified in the mind, the only intelligent approach to government, justice, and human relations is in terms of the laws which the Supreme Creator has already established.

In the Declaration of Independence Jefferson referred to the “laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.”

In Natural Law we are dealing with factors of absolute reality.

Since the Biblical God is the author of Natural Law, the first two great commandments indicated by Jesus Christ provide the standard for government and human relations.

Internal and External Government

Society cannot exist unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere, and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without. It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. ~Edmund Burke

1. The first great commandment is to love and honor God (the God of Israel).  The simplest way to honor God is to abide by the Ten Commandments. These provide moral absolutes, which if obeyed, build in us a strong internal government, or good moral character.

2. The second great commandment is to “love thy neighbor as thyself.” This commandment is based on love. When we serve our fellow man, we are serving God. Jesus taught that we should treat others as we would like to be treated. If we have strong internal government, (we discipline ourselves and do no harm to others, by our own choice), then there is little need for much external government, which forces people to obey the rules of civilization.  Internal government is based on love of God, ourselves, and our neighbors. External force is not based on love.

Legislation in Violation of God’s Natural Law is a Scourge to Humanity

All Law Should Be Measured against God’s Law

ciceroCicero set forth the means by which people may discern between good and evil laws. All laws must be measured by God’s Law, which he described as follows:

Therefore Law [of the Creator] is the distinction between things just and unjust, made in agreement with that primal and most ancient of all things, Nature; and in conformity to Nature’s standard are framed those human laws which inflict punishment upon the wicked and protect the good. (Dr. William Ebenstein, Great Political Thinkers, p. 135)

It was clear to Cicero as he came toward the close of his life that men must eliminate the depravity that had lodged itself in society. He felt they must return to the high road of Natural Law. They must pledge obedience to the mandates of a loving and concerned Creator. (Skousen, pp. 45-46)

The Following are Examples of concepts based on Natural Law

  • Unalienable rights
  • Unalienable duties
  • Habeas Corpus
  • Limited government
  • Separation of powers
  • Checks and balances to correct abuses by peaceful means
  • Right of contract
  • Laws protecting the family and the institution of marriage
  • Justice by reparation or paying for damages
  • Right to bear arms
  • No taxation without representation

Principle # 2:  Moral and Virtuous Leaders

Judeo-Christian Worldview: The world before Christ—What if Jesus Had Never Been Born?

Judeo-Christian Worldview:

The World before Christ—What if Jesus Had Never Been Born?

The Incredible Impact of Jesus Christ

As bad as things sometimes get, it would be unimaginable if the light of Christ had never been revealed.

Dr. Jerry Newcombe

Christ resurrectedTwenty-five years ago, D. James Kennedy and I came out with a book called, What if Jesus had Never Been Born? It ended up becoming a best-seller.

The message is very simple: Because Jesus was born, look at all these incredible blessings we have throughout the world.

Hospitals, Education

For instance, the Christian church created the phenomenon of the hospital and has created hospitals all over the world. Christianity has inspired some of the world’s greatest music and arts and has expanded education from the elite to the masses – even creating the entity of the university.

Life

Here are just a few examples of Christianity’s influence, fleshed out a bit: Prior to the coming of Christ, human life on this planet was expendable. Even today, in parts of the world where the Gospel of Christ or Christianity has not penetrated, life is exceedingly cheap. Christianity bridged the gap between the Jews—who first received the divine revelation that man was made in God’s image—and the pagans, who attributed little value to human life. Meanwhile, as we in the post-Christian West continue to abandon our Judeo-Christian heritage, life is becoming cheap once again.

In the ancient world, child sacrifice was a common practice. In ancient Rome, babies were often left to die if the father did not want them. Many Christians saved these babies and reared them in the Christian faith and helped turn the tide. Through His church, ultimately Jesus brought an end to infanticide in the Roman world. 

Christianity also helped to cease the gladiatorial contests – where slaves would be forced to fight unto death for the entertainment of the crowds. And Christianity got slavery abolished in the ancient world and then again in the modern world.

Christianity managed to stop the practice in India of widow-burning. Many times a young girl would be married to an older man. When he died, she would be burned to death on his funeral pyre…until the missionaries agitated to put a stop to this. Wherever the Gospel has truly penetrated, the value of human life has greatly increased.

Modern Science

Here’s another example: Christianity and the Bible helped give birth to modern science, beginning in the late Middle Ages. The belief that a rational God had created a rational universe inspired so many scientists to engage in scientific exploration, looking to catalog the laws the Creator had impressed upon His creation.

The early scientists thought of themselves as “thinking God’s thoughts after Him” (in the words of astronomer Johannes Kepler).

The Royal Society in England was the first key scientific group – which is the oldest scientific association still in operation – and it was founded in a Puritan college in the 1660s. I have even filmed an interview at the Royal Society in London (on this very thesis).

Virtually all of the founders of every major branch of science were Bible-believing Christians. We document that in the book with a long list. One of those men, Sir Isaac Newton, was one of the greatest scientists who ever lived – and he was a committed believer who wrote more about the Bible and theology than he did about science.

Religious Freedom

Here’s another example: America as a nation was largely settled and founded by Christians for religious freedom, which they eventually extended to people of other faiths or no faith.

George WashingtonGeorge Washington, the father of our country, said that unless we imitate “the divine author of our blessed religion,” meaning Jesus, we can never hope to be a happy nation.

John Adams noted: “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion…Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

The essence of America is that our rights come from the Creator, and our government was established on that foundation. As JFK put it in his Inaugural Address, “The rights of man come not from the generous hand of the state, but from the hand of God.”

Trading our Heritage for a Mess of Pottage

In short, we are heirs to a great civilization, thanks in large part to Christianity and the Bible. Yet, like Esau of old who sold his birthright for a single meal, we seem bent on trading our heritage in for a mess of pottage.

What if there were no Jesus? There would be no salvation, no Salvation Army, no Red Cross, no YMCA. Many of the languages set to writing would likely never have been codified since missionaries would have had no motive to do so.

Many of the barbarians the world over would never have been civilized. Cannibalism, human sacrifice, and the abandonment of children would likely still be widely practiced, as they were before Christian influence.

To paraphrase C. S. Lewis, if Jesus had never come, it would be “always winter, but never Christmas.”

 

Arts and the Italian Renaissance

Dinner Topics for Wednesday

Lorenzo_de_Medici2Lorenzo de’ Medici (1 January 1449 – 9 April 1492) was an Italian statesman and de facto[1] ruler of the Florentine Republic during the Italian Renaissance. Known as Lorenzo the Magnificent (Lorenzo il Magnifico) by contemporary Florentines, he was a diplomat, politician and patron of scholars, artists, and poets. Perhaps what he is most known for is his contribution to the art world, giving large amounts of money to artists so they could create master works of art. His life coincided with the high point of the mature phase Italian Renaissance and his death coincided with the end of the Golden Age of Florence.[2] The fragile peace he helped maintain between the various Italian states collapsed with his death. Lorenzo de’ Medici is buried in the Medici Chapel in Florence.

Childhood

Lorenzo’s grandfather, Cosimo de’ Medici, was the first member of the Medici family to combine running the Medici bank with leading the Republic. Cosimo, one of the wealthiest men in Europe, spent a very large portion of his fortune in government and philanthropy. He was a patron of the arts and funded public works. Lorenzo’s father, Piero ‘the Gouty’ de’ Medici, was also at the center of Florentine life, active as an art patron and collector. His mother Lucrezia Tornabuoni was a poet and writer of sonnets. She was also a friend to figures such as Luigi Pulci and Agnolo Poliziano and became her son’s advisor when he took over power.

Lorenzo was considered the brightest of the five children of Piero and Lucrezia, tutored by a diplomat, Gentile Becchi. He participated in jousting, hawking, hunting, and horse breeding for the palio, a horse race in Siena. His own horse was named Morello di Vento.

Piero sent Lorenzo on many important diplomatic missions when he was still a youth. These included trips to Rome to meet with the pope and other important religious and political figures. [3]

Patronage

Lorenzo’s court included artists such as Piero and Antonio del Pollaiuolo, Andrea del Verrocchio, Leonardo da Vinci, Sandro Botticelli, Domenico Ghirlandaio, and Michelangelo Buonarroti who were involved in the 15th century Renaissance. Although he did not commission many works himself, he helped them secure commissions from other patrons. Michelangelo lived with Lorenzo and his family for five years, dining at the family table and participating in the discussions led by Marsilio Ficino.

Lorenzo was an artist himself, writing poetry in his native Tuscan. In his poetry he celebrates life even while—particularly in his later works—acknowledging with melancholy the fragility and instability of the human condition. Love, feasts and light dominate his verse.

Cosimo had started the collection of books which became the Medici Library (also called the Laurentian Library) and Lorenzo expanded it. Lorenzo’s agents retrieved from the East large numbers of classical works, and he employed a large workshop to copy his books and disseminate their content across Europe. He supported the development of humanism through his circle of scholarly friends who studied Greek philosophers, and attempted to merge the ideas of Plato with Christianity; among this group were the philosophers Marsilio Ficino, Poliziano and Giovanni Pico della Mirandola.

In 1471 Lorenzo calculated that since 1434, his family had spent some 663,000 florins (approx. 460 million USD today) for charity, buildings and taxes. He wrote,

I do not regret this for though many would consider it better to have a part of that sum in their purse, I consider it to have been a great honour to our state, and I think the money was well-expended and I am well-pleased.[9]

Later years

During his tenure, several branches of the family bank collapsed because of bad loans, and, in later years, he got into financial difficulties and resorted to misappropriating trust and state funds.

Toward the end of Lorenzo’s life, Florence came under the spell of Savonarola, who believed Christians had strayed too far into Greco-Roman culture. Lorenzo played a role in bringing Savonarola to Florence.[10]

Lorenzo de’ Medici died during the late night of April 8 or during the early morning of April 9, 1492, at the long-time family villa of Careggi (Florentine reckoning considers days to begin at sunset, so his death date is the 9th in that reckoning). Savonarola visited Lorenzo on his death bed. The rumor that Savonarola damned Lorenzo on his deathbed has been refuted by Roberto Ridolfi in his book, Vita di Girolamo Savonarola. Letters written by witnesses to Lorenzo’s death report that he died a consoled man, on account of the blessing Savonarola gave him. As Lorenzo died, the tower of the church of Santa Reparata was allegedly struck by lightning. He and his brother Giuliano are buried in a chapel designed by Michelangelo, the New Sacristy; it is located adjacent to the north transept of the Church of San Lorenzo and is reached by passing through the main Cappella Medicea; the chapel is ornamented with famous sculptures, and some of the original working drawings of Michelangelo can still be distinguished on two of the walls of the Chapel and in the concealed corridor under the New Sacristy discovered only in 1976.[11]

History of Christmas: Santa Claus Origin Story

History of Christmas:

Santa Claus Origin Story

This Christmas, We Need a Visit from the Real Saint Nicholas

Over the centuries, the Saint Nicholas who led the faithful when a belligerent, anti-Christian government that punished believers has been forgotten.

By Walt Johanson

Saint-NicholasSaint Nicholas was born in the third century, to an affluent family in Patara, a Greek city in the Roman province of Lycia, in modern-day Turkey.

Nicholas was a priest during the reign of Diocletian (reigned 286-305), an emperor who embarked upon a vigorous persecution of Christians in 305. Diocletian was succeeded in the eastern half of the Empire by Galerius (r. 305-311), who continued the persecution, although he issued an edict of toleration before he died.

It was in this era that Nicholas became bishop of Myra. His name, Nikolaos, is Greek for “Victor of the People,” apt for a time when Christians triumphed over the militantly secular authorities of the Roman state.

Being a man of no little wealth but of far from little charity, it was said that on one occasion, Nicholas tossed three bags of gold coins into the home of a man whose three daughters needed dowries if they were not to be forced into prostitution. It is said that this is the origin of the three gold balls that traditionally were hung over the doors to pawnshops. Another trinity-related story connected to Nicholas was that a butcher, wanting to profit from a famine, killed three men (or boys), then pickled and barreled them for sale. Nicholas saw through the crime, prayed, and the three were returned to life.

Nicholas became the patron saint of sailors. One story has him rescuing a sailor who fell from the rigging when he was on a voyage home from studies in Alexandria. Another has him praying for sailors on a vessel in shoal waters, saving them from being wrecked on the rocks.

Fast forward a dozen centuries and the Dutch were the leading seafaring nation of Europe. Despite their militant Calvinism, they seem to have retained a reverence for the patron saint of seamen. He was brought to New Netherland by colonists who continued to celebrate his feast day of December 6, the anniversary of his death.

The Dutch settlers and their English neighbors had an uneasy coexistence, one problem being communication.  The former, it seems, regarded their New England neighbors as being excessively cheap; they would charge a customer for anything, even cheese in a Bay Colony overstocked with cattle when the English Civil War slowed the migration on which farmers relied for profits. The Dutch nickname for the Puritans came across as something like John (Jan) Cheese, which became “Yankees.” And the Dutch name for St. Nicholas came across to the English as Sant Niklas, to become Santa Claus.

The Puritans may have had little inclination to celebrate the saint, but migrants to the later English province of New York were not similarly disposed. It was there that the gift-giving aspect of Santa took root. In Washington Irving’s partially accurate History of New York (1809), Santa arrives on horseback on the evening of December 6. The image proved popular, leaving Clement Clark Moore, a professor of Greek and Hebrew, to write “A Visit from St. Nicholas” for his family at Christmas, 1822. It was published anonymously shortly afterwards. Moore did not acknowledge his authorship until 1837.

The illustrator Thomas Nast, whose caricatures of drunken Irishmen and Boss Tweed appeared in the pages of Harper’s Weekly between the 1860s and 1880s, has Santa giving out presents to Union Army troops at Christmas, 1862. Nast’s pen produced several dozen images of Santa in this time, in the course of which Santa was given a shop for making toys which seems to have become located at the North Pole.

Fifty years after Nast, 1931 color magazine ads for Coca Cola gave us the image of Santa that we have today. In 1939, Rudolph, the Red-Nosed reindeer was given life by ads for Montgomery Ward.

Through a millennium and a half, then, Saint Nicholas has been transformed from a saintly priest of unknown stature, a charitable man who performed miracles. He has become a bearded, jolly old man in a red coat whose seasonal occupation is to seat little kids on his lap in shopping malls, there to encourage the parents to buy more toys than the little ones could ever need. The only known instance of defiance of this job requirement is that by the character portrayed by Edmund Gwenn in Miracle on 34th Street (1947).

Santa is said to make the toys at a shop that must lie atop Arctic Ocean ice at the location where all meridians converge, and the miracle that he performs is to somehow deliver all the toys to good little girls and boys all over the planet at Midnight on Christmas Eve.

Kids eventually discover that there is no Santa Claus, but it seems that recent generations of them retain the belief that, simply by existing, they will have goodies given to them. Their new benefactor is a different bearded old man, Uncle Sam in this instance.

Over the centuries, the Saint Nicholas who led the faithful when a belligerent, anti-Christian government that punished believers has been forgotten. Perhaps now is time for that aspect of his story to receive renewed attention.

 

This Christmas, We Need a Visit from the Real Saint Nicholas