History Facts: Constitution Day and the Hand of God

History Facts:

Constitution Day and the Hand of God

key“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

Our Divine Constitution

Ezra Taft Benson

October 1987

signers3We have recently celebrated the bicentennial of the signing of the United States Constitution. That commemoration marked the beginning of a series of bicentennial anniversaries of events leading up to the ratification of the Constitution, implementation of the government it created, and the writing and ratification of the Bill of Rights. We look forward to the future commemoration of each of these important events during the next four years. It is as a result of these events that we are able to meet today in peace as members of the restored Church of Jesus Christ. For this we should all be eternally grateful.

U.S. Constitution a model for the World

I desire, therefore, to speak to you about our divine Constitution, which the Lord said “belongs to all mankind” (D&C 98:5; italics added) “and should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles” (D&C 101:77; italics added).

The Constitution of the United States has served as a model for many nations and is the oldest constitution in use today.

“I established the Constitution of this land,” said the Lord, “by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose” (D&C 101:80).

For centuries the Lord kept America hidden in the hollow of His hand until the time was right to unveil her for her destiny in the last days. “It is wisdom that this land should be kept as yet from the knowledge of other nations,” said Lehi, “for behold, many nations would overrun the land, that there would be no place for an inheritance” (2 Ne. 1:8).

Columbus and the Pilgrims directed by the Holy Spirit

columbus5In the Lord’s due time His Spirit “wrought upon” Columbus, the pilgrims, the Puritans, and others to come to America. They testified of God’s intervention in their behalf (see 1 Ne. 13:12–13). The Book of Mormon records that they humbled “themselves before the Lord; and the power of the Lord was with them” (1 Ne. 13:16).

Constitution is the American Covenant with God

Our Father in Heaven planned the coming forth of the Founding Fathers and their form of government as the necessary great prologue leading to the restoration of the gospel. Recall what our Savior Jesus Christ said nearly two thousand years ago when He visited this promised land: “For it is wisdom in the Father that they should be established in this land, and be set up as a free people by the power of the Father, that these things might come forth” (3 Ne. 21:4). America, the land of liberty, was to be the Lord’s latter-day base of operations for His restored church.

The Declaration of Independence affirmed the Founding Fathers’ belief and trust in God in these words: “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

The Doctrine and Covenants states, “We believe that no government can exist in peace, except such laws are framed and held inviolate as will secure to each individual the free exercise of conscience, the right and control of property, and the protection of life” (D&C 134:2). Life, liberty, property—mankind’s three great rights.

At the conclusion of the Declaration of Independence, they wrote, “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.” This Declaration was a promise that would demand terrible sacrifice on the part of its signers. Five of the signers were captured as traitors and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. Two lost their sons in the Revolutionary War; another had two sons captured. Nine died from wounds or from the hardships of the war. The Lord said He “redeemed the land by the shedding of blood” (D&C 101:80). Nephi recorded that the Founders “were delivered by the power of God out of the hands of all other nations” (1 Ne. 13:19).

The years immediately preceding the Constitutional Convention were filled with disappointments and threats to the newly won peace. Washington was offered a kingship, which he adamantly refused. Nephi had prophesied hundreds of years before that “this land shall be a land of liberty unto the Gentiles, and there shall be no kings upon the land” (2 Ne. 10:11; italics added).

The United States

Between the critical years of 1783 and 1787, an outsider viewing the affairs of the United States would have thought that the thirteen states, different in so many ways, could never effectively unite. The world powers were confident that this nation would not last.

Eventually, twelve of the states met in Philadelphia to address the problem. Madison said at the beginning of the Convention that the delegates “were now digesting a plan which in its operation would decide forever the fate of Republican Government” (26 June 1787, Records of the Federal Convention, 1:423).

“The Lord knoweth all things from the beginning,” said Nephi, “wherefore, he prepareth a way to accomplish all his works among the children of men” (1 Ne. 9:6).

Four months later, the Convention delegates had completed their work. As Gladstone said, it was “the most wonderful work ever struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man” (William Gladstone, North American Review, Sept.–Oct. 1878, p. 185), and the Prophet Joseph Smith called it “a glorious standard … a heavenly banner” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1938, p. 147).

The Constitutional Convention was Inspired by God

Const-signers-AmericansWhoRiskedAllThe delegates were the recipients of heavenly inspiration. James Madison, often referred to as the father of the Constitution, wrote: “It is impossible for the man of pious reflection not to perceive in it a finger of that Almighty hand which has been so frequently and signally extended to our relief in the critical stages of the revolution” (The Federalist, no. 37, ed. Henry Cabot Lodge, New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1983, p. 222).

Alexander Hamilton, famous as the originator of The Federalist papers and author of fifty-one of the essays, said: “For my own part, I sincerely esteem it a system, which without the finger of God, never could have been suggested and agreed upon by such a diversity of interest” (Essays on the Constitution of the United States, ed. Paul L. Ford, 1892, pp. 251–52).

Charles Pinckney, a very active participant and author of the Pinckney Plan during the Convention, said: “When the great work was done and published, I was struck with amazement. Nothing less than the superintending Hand of Providence, that so miraculously carried us through the war … could have brought it about so complete, upon the whole” (Essays on the Constitution, p. 412).

Within ten months, the Constitution was ratified by nine states and was therefore in force for them. Prophecy had been fulfilled.

George Washington: “Acknowledge the Hand of God”

George WashingtonDuring his first inaugural address in 1789, President George Washington, a man who was raised up by God, said: “No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand, which conducts the affairs of men, more than the people of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency” (First Inaugural Address, 30 Apr. 1789).

In compliance with Article 6 of the Constitution, the very first act passed by Congress and signed by President Washington on June 1, 1789, was the actual oath to support the Constitution that was to be administered to various government officers.

The dedicatory prayer for the Kirtland Temple, as dictated by the Lord and found in the Doctrine and Covenants, contains these words: “May those principles, which were so honorably and nobly defended, namely, the Constitution of our land, by our fathers, be established forever” (D&C 109:54).[1]

America has strayed from her Covenant with God

by Jon McNaughton

by Jon McNaughton

Unfortunately, we as a nation have apostatized in various degrees from different Constitutional principles as proclaimed by the inspired founders. We are fast approaching that moment prophesied by Joseph Smith when he said: “Even this nation will be on the very verge of crumbling to pieces and tumbling to the ground, and when the Constitution is upon the brink of ruin, this people will be the staff upon which the nation shall lean, and they shall bear the Constitution away from the very verge of destruction” (19 July 1840, as recorded by Martha Jane Knowlton Coray; ms. in Church Historian’s Office, Salt Lake City).

For centuries our forefathers suffered and sacrificed that we might be the recipients of the blessings of freedom. If they were willing to sacrifice so much to establish us as a free people, should we not be willing to do the same to maintain that freedom for ourselves and for future generations?

Only in this foreordained land, under its God-inspired Constitution and the resulting environment of freedom, was it possible to have established the restored church. It is our responsibility to see that this freedom is perpetuated so that the Church may more easily flourish in the future.

The Lord said, “Therefore, I, the Lord, justify you, and your brethren of my church, in befriending that law which is the constitutional law of the land” (D&C 98:6).

How then can we best befriend the Constitution in this critical hour and secure the blessings of liberty and ensure the protection and guidance of our Father in Heaven?

The Constitution is for a Moral and Religious People

First and foremost, we must be righteous.

johnadams2John Adams said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” (The Works of John Adams, ed. C. F. Adams, Boston: Little, Brown Co., 1851, 4:31). If the Constitution is to have continuance, this American nation, and especially the Latter-day Saints, must be virtuous.

The Book of Mormon warns us relative to our living in this free land: Wherefore, this land is consecrated unto him whom he shall bring. And if it so be that they shall serve him according to the commandments which he hath given, it shall be a land of liberty unto them; wherefore, they shall never be brought down into captivity; if so, it shall be because of iniquity; for if iniquity shall abound cursed shall be the land for their sakes, but unto the righteous it shall be blessed forever” (2 Ne. 1:7).

“And now,” warned Moroni, “we can behold the decrees of God concerning this land, that it is a land of promise; and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall serve God, or they shall be swept off when the fulness of his wrath shall come upon them. And the fulness of his wrath cometh upon them when they are ripened in iniquity” (Ether 2:9).

Two great American Christian civilizations—the Jaredites and the Nephites—were swept off this land because they did not “serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ” (Ether 2:12). What will become of our civilization?

Principles of the Constitution

Second, we must learn the principles of the Constitution in the tradition of the Founding Fathers.

Thomas_Jefferson_by_Rembrandt_Peale,_1800Have we read The Federalist papers? Are we reading the Constitution and pondering it? Are we aware of its principles? Are we abiding by these principles and teaching them to others? Could we defend the Constitution? Can we recognize when a law is constitutionally unsound? Do we know what the prophets have said about the Constitution and the threats to it?

As Jefferson said, “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free … it expects what never was and never will be” (Letter to Colonel Charles Yancey, 6 Jan. 1816).

Get Involved!

Third, we must become involved in civic affairs to see that we are properly represented.

The Lord said that “he holds men accountable for their acts in relation” to governments “both in making laws and administering them” (D&C 134:1). We must follow this counsel from the Lord: “Honest men and wise men should be sought for diligently, and good men and wise men ye should observe to uphold; otherwise whatsoever is less than these cometh of evil” (D&C 98:10).

voter placing ballotNote the qualities that the Lord demands of those who are to represent us. They must be good, wise, and honest.

Fourth, we must make our influence felt by our vote, our letters, our teaching, and our advice.

We must become accurately informed and then let others know how we feel. The Prophet Joseph Smith said: “It is our duty to concentrate all our influence to make popular that which is sound and good, and unpopular that which is unsound. ‘Tis right, politically, for a man who has influence to use it. … From henceforth I will maintain all the influence I can get” (History of the Church, 5:286).

The Constitution will be saved by Righteous People

I have faith that the Constitution will be saved as prophesied by Joseph Smith. It will be saved by the righteous citizens of this nation who love and cherish freedom. It will be saved by enlightened members of this Church—among others—men and women who understand and abide the principles of the Constitution.

I reverence the Constitution of the United States as a sacred document. To me its words are akin to the revelations of God, for God has placed His stamp of approval upon it.

american-exceptionalism2I testify that the God of heaven sent some of His choicest spirits to lay the foundation of this government, and He has now sent other choice spirits to help preserve it.

American Exceptionalism

We, the blessed beneficiaries of the Constitution, face difficult days in America, “a land which is choice above all other lands” (Ether 2:10).

May God give us the faith and the courage exhibited by those patriots who pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.

May we be equally as valiant and as free, I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.

 

 

 

 


[1] Shortly after President Spencer W. Kimball became President of the Church, he assigned me to go into the vault of the St. George Temple and check the early records. As I did so, I realized the fulfillment of a dream I had had ever since learning of the visit of the Founding Fathers to the St. George Temple. I saw with my own eyes the record of the work which was done for the Founding Fathers of this great nation, beginning with George Washington.

Think of it: the Founding Fathers of this nation, those great men, appeared within those sacred walls and had their vicarious work done for them.

President Wilford Woodruff spoke of it in these words: “Before I left St. George, the spirits of the dead gathered around me, wanting to know why we did not redeem them. Said they, ‘You have had the use of the Endowment House for a number of years, and yet nothing has ever been done for us. We laid the foundation of the government you now enjoy, and we never apostatized from it, but we remained true to it and were faithful to God’” (The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, sel. G. Homer Durham, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1946, p. 160).

After he became President of the Church, President Wilford Woodruff declared that “those men who laid the foundation of this American government were the best spirits the God of heaven could find on the face of the earth. They were choice spirits … [and] were inspired of the Lord” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1898, p. 89).

 

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Founding Principles of America 21: Strong Local Government

Founding Principles of America 21: Strong Local Government

Strong Local Self-government is the Keystone to Preserving Human Freedom.

U.S. Constitution series 21

keyPolitical power automatically gravitates toward the center, and the purpose of the Constitution is to prevent that from happening. The centralization of political power always destroys liberty by removing the decision-making function from the people on the local level and transferring it to the officers of the central government.

This process gradually benumbs the spirit of “voluntarism” among the people, and they lose the will to solve their own problems. They also cease to be involved in community affairs. They seek the anonymity of oblivion in the seething crowds of the city and often degenerate into faceless automatons who have neither a voice nor a vote. ~Skousen

The Golden Key to Preserving Freedom

news_flag_hdr5How different from the New England town spirit, where every person had a voice and a vote. How different from the Anglo-Saxon tribal meetings, where the people were considered sovereign and every man took pride in participating. And how different from ancient Israel, where the families of the people were governed in multiples of tens, fifties, hundreds, and thousands, and where problems were solved on the level where those problems originated. All of those societies had strong local self-government. This is what the Founding Fathers considered the golden key to preserving freedom. (Skousen, 235-236)

 

Thomas_Jefferson_by_Rembrandt_Peale,_1800Jefferson Emphasizes the Role of Strong Local Self-Government

As the Founders wrote their laws, they were determined to protect the freedom of the individual and provide a vigorous climate of healthy, local self-government. Only those things which related to the interest of the entire commonwealth were to be delegated to the central government. (Skousen, 238)

Thomas Jefferson:

National

The way to have good and safe government is not to trust it all to one, but to divide it among the many, distributing to every one exactly the functions he is competent to [perform best]. Let the national government be entrusted with the defense of the nation, and its foreign and federal relations.

State

State governments with the civil rights, laws, police, and administration of what concerns the State generally; the counties with the local concerns of the counties, and each ward [township] direct the interests within itself. It is by dividing and subdividing these republics, from the great national one down through all its subordinations, until it ends in the placing under every one what his own eye may superintend, that all will be done for the best.

What has destroyed liberty and the rights of man in every government which has ever existed under the sun? The generalizing and concentrating all cares and powers into one body, no matter whether of the autocrats of Russia or France, or the aristocrats of a Venetian senate.

welfare-government-charity-madisonJames Madison, “Father of the Constitution”

Deployment of Power Between the Federal Government and the States

The Constitution delegates to the federal government only that which involves the whole people as a nation.

The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite.

The [federal powers] will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce . . . The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State. (Federalist Papers, no. 45, pp. 292-93)

Federal Government to Remain Relatively Small

local-governmentThomas Jefferson emphasized that if the oncoming generations perpetuated the Constitutional pattern, the federal government would be small and cohesive and would serve as an inexpensive operation because of the limited problems which would be assigned to it.

Jefferson wrote:

The true theory of our Constitution is surely the wisest and best, that the states are independent as to everything within themselves, and untied as to everything respecting foreign nations. Let the general government be reduced to foreign concerns only, and let our affairs be disentangled from those of all other nations, except as to commerce, which the merchants will manage the better, the more they are left free to manage for themselves, and our general government may be reduced to a very simple organization, and a very inexpensive one; a few plain duties to be performed by a few servants.

 

NEXT: Founding Principles of America 22: A Free People Should be Governed by Law and Not by the Whims of Men.

 

 

Marquis Lafayette: Great among Revolutionary War Heroes

Dinner Topics for Wednesday

Marquis Lafayette: Great among Revolutionary War Heroes

By Christopher Ruddy

It is doubtful the American Republic would have been born were it not for the courage and generosity of our greatest French friend, Marquis de Lafayette, who joined the Continental Army at the age of 19 with the rank of lieutenant general.

Ruddy-LafayeteGraveside-(1)Remembering General Lafayette, hero of the American Revolution. Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy lays flowers at the grave of the Marquis de Lafayette on July 4, 2015, Picpus Cemetery, Paris.
It is doubtful the American Republic would have been born were it not for the courage and generosity of our greatest French friend, Marquis de Lafayette, who joined the Continental Army at the age of 19 with the rank of lieutenant general.

He helped provision George Washington’s army, led troops in several battles ,and played a key role at Yorktown.

He persuaded France to join the war on our side.

He was Washington’s surrogate son and a beloved American.

lafayetteWhen he died in 1830 he was eulogized by former President John Quincy Adams for three hours, and Congress and the nation mourned his death for 30 days.

All Americans today still owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to Gen. Lafayette!
Read Latest Breaking News from Newsmax.com http://www.newsmax.com/Ruddy/ruddy-lafayette-hero-revolution/2015/07/04/id/653446/#ixzz3g79vshb3

History Heroes: U.S. Constitution, John Locke, and Founding Fathers

Dinner Topics for Thursday

keyHe that thinks absolute power purifies men’s blood and corrects the baseness of human nature, need only read history to be convinced to the contrary. ~John Locke

John Locke’s Influence on the U.S. Constitution and Founding Fathers

signers3John Locke 29 August 1632 – 28 October 1704), widely known as the Father of Classical Liberalism,[2][3][4] was an English philosopher and physician regarded as one of the most influential of Enlightenment thinkers. Considered one of the first of the British empiricists, following the tradition of Francis Bacon, he is equally important to social contract theory. His work had a great impact upon the development of epistemology and political philosophy. His writings influenced Voltaire and Rousseau, many Scottish Enlightenment thinkers, as well as the American revolutionaries. His contributions to classical republicanism and liberal theory are reflected in the United States Declaration of Independence.[5]

Influence on Founding Fathers

The Constitutional Convention began deliberations on May 25, 1787.
Delegates used two streams of intellectual tradition, and any one delegate could be found using both or a mixture depending on the subject under discussion, foreign affairs or the economy, national government or federal relationships among the states. The Virginia Plan recommended a consolidated national government, generally favoring the big population states. It used the philosophy of John Locke to rely on consent of the governed, Montesquieu for divided government, and Edward Coke emphasizing civil liberties. The New Jersey Plan generally favored the small population states, using the philosophy of English Whigs such as Edmund Burke to rely on received procedure, and William Blackstone emphasizing sovereignty of the legislature.
The Convention devolved into a “Committee of the Whole” to consider the fifteen propositions of the Virginia Plan in their numerical order. These discussions continued until June 13, when the Virginia resolutions in amended form were reported out of committee.
All agreed to a republican form of government grounded in representing the people in the states.

Influence

Locke exercised a profound influence on political philosophy, in particular on modern liberalism. Michael Zuckert has argued that Locke launched liberalism by tempering Hobbesian absolutism and clearly separating the realms of Church and State. He had a strong influence on Voltaire who called him “le sage Locke”.

 His arguments concerning liberty and the social contract later influenced the written works of Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, and other Founding Fathers of the United States. In fact, one passage from the Second Treatise is reproduced verbatim in the Declaration of Independence, the reference to a “long train of abuses.”

 

Such was Locke’s influence that Thomas Jefferson wrote: “Bacon, Locke and Newton … I consider them as the three greatest men that have ever lived, without any exception, and as having laid the foundation of those superstructures which have been raised in the Physical and Moral sciences”.[11][12][13] Today, most contemporary libertarians claim Locke as an influence.
But Locke’s influence may have been even more profound in the realm of epistemology. Locke redefined subjectivity, or self, and intellectual historians such as Charles Taylor and Jerrold Seigel argue that Locke’s An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690) marks the beginning of the modern Western conception of the self.[14]

Theories of religious tolerance

johnlockeLocke, writing his Letters Concerning Toleration (1689–92) in the aftermath of the European wars of religion, formulated a classic reasoning for religious tolerance. Three arguments are central: (1) Earthly judges, the state in particular, and human beings generally, cannot dependably evaluate the truth-claims of competing religious standpoints; (2) Even if they could, enforcing a single “true religion” would not have the desired effect, because belief cannot be compelled by violence; (3) Coercing religious uniformity would lead to more social disorder than allowing diversity.[15]

Locke also advocated governmental separation of powers and believed that revolution is not only a right but an obligation in some circumstances. These ideas would come to have profound influence on the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States.

Continued

Dinner Talk: Definition of Classic Liberalism vs. Modern Liberalism

John Locke is called the Father of “Classic Liberalism.” The Founding Fathers were considered liberal at the time of the American Revolution because they were in favor of liberty, and they wanted to change the form of government to allow more liberty.Tories were considered to be conservative, because they wanted to conserve the Britiish monarchy.

Today these definitions have almost reversed. Today’s liberals want to change the U.S. Constitution (or destroy it) to decrease the amount of liberty, give more power to the federal government, and remove responsibility from the individual. Today, the Founding Fathers would be considered to be conservative, because they would want to conserve the U.S. constitution which they created, with limited government, and freedom of the people, balanced with individual responsibility.

History Facts: Compare and Contrast American Revolution to French Revolution

History Facts:

Compare and Contrast American Revolution to French Revolution

Bastille-Day-Getty-Fr-revolutionBastille Day: Revolutionary Zeal Turns to Tyranny in France

Jarrett Stepman

The euphoria experienced by those who believed they had finally shattered monarchical tyranny and aristocratic privilege was only matched by the horror of the following ‘Reign of Terror.’

2015 was also the 200th anniversary of Napoleon’s final defeat, when the combined armies or Prussia and Great Britain vanquished the French Army at Waterloo, Belgium and put an end to the Corsican’s time as a head of state. It effectively concluded the French Republic’s brief experiment in liberty. Beyond the bloody battlefield and the confrontation between great powers, there is a great deal to learn from the life and downfall of Napoleon and the short-lived French First Republic—especially in relation to the success of George Washington’s over two-century old American republic.

A Tale of Two Nations

C.A. Davidson

keyCharles Dickens’ powerful novel, A Tale of Two Cities, is set during the French Revolution, involving characters in the cities of London and Paris. This moving tale gives one pause to consider a tale of two nations—the differences between the French Revolution and the American Revolution.

americanrevolutionOnly a few years before the French Revolution, colonial America had rebelled, not against poverty, but against the increasingly tyrannical rule of the British. In America, it was men of property and education, not the poor, who rebelled. For liberty, they invested their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. Ironically, it was the French nobility who stepped in with naval support and saved the American Revolution from the brink of failure.

The purpose of the American Revolution was to change the ruling laws, not to kill the king. Many colonists, including Benjamin Franklin, had close ties with England. Franklin was the leader in trying all possible avenues of diplomacy; revolution was the last resort. George Washington scrupulously avoided abusing military power by consistently deferring to the directives of the civilian government, and he always put the needs of his men before his own. He refused to be king. Noble of character he was; greedy and power-hungry he was not. American leaders did all they could to avoid anarchy. They sought the help of God in their endeavor, and received miraculous help when it was needed.

The French Revolution, on the other hand, appears to have been driven by vengeance and hatred. Without a doubt, terrible injustices existed, as vividly depicted by Dickens and in Victor Hugo’s magnificent novel, Les Miserables. The French peasants were at a great disadvantage, because their poverty seemed insurmountable, and they lacked education and money; therefore they had no power to exercise influence on their oppressors. It is unfortunate that they resorted to terror. The mass murder of innocents resembled the ethnic cleansing of evil regimes in the twentieth century.

The French revolutionary participants were certainly godless. The mindless killing thoroughly disqualified them from any divine assistance. By killing the upper class, and their families, and their servants, and anyone remotely related, they also purged the society of education, law, culture, and other refinements necessary to civilized society.  Only anarchy resulted from their efforts. The old oppressors were merely replaced by a new tyrannical regime, more brutal than ever. It was bad enough that some even looked to figures like Napoleon to save them, but that really didn’t work well, either.

constitutionThe Americans went on to create a Constitution that is a model of liberty for the rest of the world. This Constitution provides maximum freedom, limited power in the national government, and the majority of the power to the states and people. The success of the nation has been in proportion to the degree of fiscal responsibility and law-abiding character manifest by the elected government officials. Because America was free, she became prosperous. Like many other European countries, France learned the best governing principles from the United States Constitution, only after long years of struggle.

Copyright 2011 © by Christine Davidson

faith-and-freedomWhy Young Adults need to know about Judeo-Christian Heritage and Freedom of Religion

Constitution Series 19: Founding Principles of America, Limited Government

US Constitution Series 19

Founding Principles of America: Limited Government

 

NOTE: The slavery issue was an example of abuse of power by the states. Some of the states were also engaging in religious persecution. It was necessary for the federal government to guarantee unalienable rights to all Americans, not just a powerful few. After the Civil War, the 14th amendment was passed to remedy that. Now, the pendulum of power has swung violently in the other direction, with the federal government abusing our freedom of religion, speech, and many other constitutional rights. ~C.D.

Limited Government

Only limited and carefully defined powers should be delegated to government, all others being retained in the people

signers3No principle was emphasized more vigorously during the Constitutional Convention than the necessity of limiting the authority of the federal government. …the Founders were determined to bind down its administrators with legal chains codified in the Constitution.

It will be recalled that one of the reasons many of the states would not adopt the original draft of the Constitution was that they feared the encroachments of the federal government on the rights of the states and the people. The first ten amendments were therefore added to include the ancient, unalienable rights of Anglo-Saxon freemen so there could be no question as to the strictly limited authority the people were conferring on their central government. Notice how carefully the Ninth and Tenth Amendments are worded:

 

The Ninth Amendment

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

The Tenth Amendment

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

The people felt that the hedging up of federal authority was absolutely essential because of their experience with corrupt and abusive governments in the past. (Skousen, 223-224)

Alexander Hamilton

alexanderhamiltonThere is, in the nature of sovereign power, an impatience of control that disposes those who are invested with the exercise of it to look with an evil eye upon all external attempts to restrain or direct its operations . . .This tendency is not difficult to be accounted for. It has its origin in the love of power. Power controlled or abridged is almost always the rival and enemy of that power by which it is controlled or abridged.

Original Balance between Federal Government and States

The separation of powers between the states and the federal government was designed to reinforce the principles of limited government. The federal government was supreme in all matters relating to its responsibility [such as national defense], but it was specifically restricted from invading the independence and sovereign authority reserved to the States. The Founders felt that unless this principle of dual sovereignty was carefully perpetuated, the healthy independence of each would deteriorate and eventually one or the other would become totally dominant.

Alexander Hamilton

This balance between the national and state governments. . .is of utmost importance. It forms a double security to the people. If one encroaches on their rights, they will find a powerful protection in the other. Indeed, they will both be prevented from overpassing their constitutional limits, by certain rivalship which will ever subsist between them.

Where Power Rivals Power

The Founders felt that by having a wholesome balance between the federal and state governments, the people would have recourse to one of the other in case of usurpation or abuse by either.

 

Why the Founders would have frowned on the 17th Amendment

constitution2But would the states be able to protect themselves from the might of the federal government if the Congress began legislating against states’ rights? Originally, the states could protect themselves because U.S. Senators were appointed by the state legislatures, and the Senate could veto any legislation by the House of Representatives which they considered a threat to the rights of the individual states. Unfortunately, the protection of states’ rights by this means was completely wiped out by the passage of the Seventeenth Amendment in 1913.

That amendment provided that Senators would thenceforth be elected by popular ballot rather than appointed by the state legislatures. This meant the sates as sovereign commonwealths had lost their representation on the federal level, and their Senators would be subject to the same popular pressures during an election campaign as those which confront the members of the House of Representatives.

Since that time, there has been no veto power which the states could exercise against the Congress in those cases where a federal statute was deemed in violation of states’ rights. The Senators who used to be beholden to their state legislatures for their conduct in Washington are now beholden to the popular electorate. Federal funds appropriated for a state are generally a source of popular acclaim, and Senators, like Congressmen, usually hasten to get them approved.

Sometime in the not-too-distant future, the people may want to take another look at the present trend and consider the advantages of returning to the Founders’ policy of having state legislatures in the United States Senate. It might give us another generation of Senators like Daniel Webster, John Calhoun, and Henry Clay. (Skousen, 225-227

NEXT—

Founding Principles of America 20: Efficiency and Dispatch require Government to operate according to the will of the majority, but Constitutional provisions must be made to protect the rights of the minority

[Once again, the Constitution has been skewed. Despite the voice of the majority of people and states on traditional marriage, a small, very loud minority is intimidating the majority. Because of this, #20 will be combined with #21]

Founding Principles of America 21: Strong Local Self-Government

Founding Principles of America 18: Unalienable Rights of Constitution Protected by Written Records of History

 

History Facts about America: 7 Miracles that Saved America Children’s Book Reviews

History Facts about America:

7 Miracles that Saved America

Book Review

By Chris and Ted Stewart

Beautifully illustrated by Ben Sowards

 

The Lord holds Zion in His own hands. ~Doctrine and Covenants 63:25

“This nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.” ~Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address

  • What if the Founding Fathers had never written the Constitution?
  • What if the Jamestown colony had failed?
  • What if Columbus had sailed back to Europe before arriving in the New World?
  • How would the fledgling American army have survived the massive British forces without the miraculous fog to protect Washington’s retreat?
  • What would have happened in the 20th century if Lincoln had failed to save America as a united country?
  • What would have happened to the Free World if America’s tiny fleet of aircraft hadn’t destroyed Japan’s enormous naval carriers in the Battle of Midway?
  • Would America have been victorious in the Cold War and liberated the oppressed nations if the bullet of Reagan’s would-be assassin had not been off by a mere quarter of an inch?

Have you ever thought of these important moments as miracles?

Based on the bestselling nonfiction book, Severn miracles That Saved America by Chris and Ted Stewart, this  children’s adaptation brings to life seven episodes from US history that chanted the course of the nation and continue to testify that America is indeed a blessed land. With vivid and captivating paints by artist Ben Sowards, this book teaches children the importance of remembering these events and how they can give us hope for the future.

History Facts: Declaration of Independence shows American Founding Fathers’ Faith in God

History Facts:

Declaration of Independence shows American Founding Fathers’ Faith in God

What Really Happened on July 4th

Stephen McDowell

 

John Hancock echoed the reliance upon God and the belief that the destiny of nations is in the hand of God as he said:

Let us humbly commit our righteous cause to the great Lord of the Universe…. Let us joyfully leave our concerns in the hands of Him who raises up and puts down the empires and kingdoms of the earth as He pleases.[8]

Thomas Jefferson’s original draft of the Declaration of Independence contained a recognition of God, in particular: the laws of nature’s God, the existence of a Creator, the equality of all men before God, Creator-endowed rights,[9] and the purpose of government to protect the God-given rights of God-made man. However, the reliance upon God was so universally adhered to among those in America that the Continental Congress insisted it be made clear in this seminal document. When the draft of the Declaration was debated before Congress, they added the phrase, “appealing to the Supreme Judge of the World, for the rectitude of our intentions,” as well as the words “with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence.”[10] Thus, we see the Continental Congress declaring to the entire world their Christian convictions.

Not only does the Declaration of Independence reflect our Founders’ faith in God, but this document only came into being as a result of Biblical ideas that had been sown in the hearts of the colonists for over one hundred and fifty years. The American Revolution was a revolution of ideas long before it was a revolution of war. As the clergy and other leaders taught the colonists their God-given rights as men, Christians, and subjects, the inevitable result was a nation birthed in liberty.

John Adams wrote that the day of independence “will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America.—I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty … from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.”[12]

Book Reviews: Hand of God in American Revolution

Dinner Topics for Independence Day

Book Reviews: Hand of God in American Revolution

key“We have a new land, a new constitution, a new government, and I believe now the fight is going to be to keep it. The fight between good and evil. A shooting war comes and it goes, but the war between the good and the bad—it never ends.” ~Matthew Dunson in A More Perfect Union, p.529

Through the eyes of the heroes in this powerful series, the reader can see the Hand of God in the American Revolution, as He prepared the way for a land of liberty to base operations for the spreading of gospel teachings to all the world. ~C.D.

Prelude to Glory

By Ron Carter

Volume 1

prelude-glory1Our Sacred Honor

Few stories are as compelling as that of the birth of the United States of America. It is a story of courage and sacrifice, of commitment to freedom and faith. Above all, however, the events that marked America’s beginnings were a prelude to the glory that would arise upon the land through the restoration of the gospel.

Those pivotal pre-Restoration events are brought to life in the epic historical fiction series Prelude to Glory. In volume I, Our Sacred Honor, author Ron Carter transports readers to the 1770s to witness key episodes of the Revolutionary War, from the opening encounter at Lexington (where “the shot heard round the world” is fired) to the incredible sea battle off the east coast of England (where the American commander John Paul Jones exclaims, “I have not yet begun to fight!”). But this is much more than a story of kings and generals. Though we certainly get to meet the likes of Paul Revere, Samuel Adams, John Hancock, and Benedict Arnold, the author focuses on the perspective of common people. Thus, through the eyes of the fictional Dunson family of Boston we see what it was like to live in everyday colonial America, to fight among the minutemen, to sail the seas at wartime and to experience love and heartache as America’s destiny unfolds.

The underlying spiritual nature of that destiny is powerfully woven into the fabric of the story. And this spiritual perspective will give readers a better understanding of why the Founding Fathers were moved upon to champion a cause to which they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.

Volume 2

prelude-glory2The Times That Try Men’s Souls

By Ron Carter

“These are the times that try men’s souls,” writes journalist Thomas Paine at the end of 1776, a dark time in America’s struggle for freedom. As the dramatic events depicted in volume 2 of the monumental Prelude to Glory series show, the high price of liberty for which colonists fought would include great sacrifice and endurance—even in the face of apparent defeat.

Focusing primarily on events between June and December 1776, this book follows Billy Weems (friend of Matthew Dunson from volume I) tot eh battlefields in the New York area, where General George Washington commands the Continental army. Early on, Billy meets and befriends Eli Stroud, a white man raised by Iroquois Indians, who lends his unusual talents to the Revolutionary cause. But as events unfold, the Americas’ situation looks more and more bleak. A series of engagements with the enemy leaves the colonial soldiers pummeled and staggering, driven to disastrous retreat again and again. By December 1776, the war for independence seems all but lost. Nevertheless, determination and hope remain alive, along with a powerful sense that divine providence is watching over the Americans.

As with the previous volume, author Ron Carter re-creates these historic episodes in such a way as to transport readers back in time. Along with fascinating fictional characters, he provides engaging portraits of such luminaries as George Washington, Nathan Hale (“I regret that I have but one life to give for my country”), and the intrepid John Glover. Through this powerful story, readers will come to appreciate the fortitude it took for Patriots to stand firm and resolute during these times that tried men’s souls.

 

Volume 3

prelude-glory3To Decide Our Destiny

Washington spoke. It seemed his voice was subdued, quiet, yet it reached every man in the Delaware Regiment.

“My brave fellows, you have done all I asked you to do, and more than could be reasonably expected; but your country is at stake, your wives, your houses, and all that you hold dear. You have worn yourselves out with fatigues and hardships, but we know not how to spare you. If you will consent to stay only one month longer, you will render that service to the cause of liberty, and to your country, which you probably never can do under any other circumstances. The present is emphatically the crisis which is to decide our destiny.”

He stopped. He raised a hand as though to speak further, but there were no words he could think of that would add strength to what he had already said. He slowly lowered his hand and reined his horse to the right and raised it to a trot, back towards his officers and Turlock.

Turlock did not know how long he stood without moving, without breathing, aware Washington had been touched by a power not of any man, knowing that at that moment, somehow, the course of the world’s history hung in the balance.

In the frigid winter marking the end of 1776 and the beginning of 1777, the Continental army is faced with the overwhelming truth that they are losing the Revolution. The British have pummeled them with a series of bloody battles that have ripped the Americans to tattered shreds and have driven them to retreat so vast that it crosses two colony lines. The American camp, now crouching on the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware River, is helpless as the British move more than three thousand Hessian soldiers into position. Only the black waters of the Delaware River prevent a total ruin. Only a desperate plan promises a chance of success.

Volume 4

prelude-glory4The Hand of Providence

“Writing home?” Billy asked.

“To Mother. How does this sound? ‘It was a glorious sight to see the haughty Brittons march out and surrender their arms to an army which but a little before they despised and called palltroons.’”

Men slowed and stopped, listening in the firelight as Boardman read on.

“Surely the hand of Providence work’d wonderfully in favour of America.”

More than fifty men had gathered to listen as Boardman concluded

“I hope every heart will be affected by the wonderful goodness of God in delivering so many of our enemy into our hands, with so little loss on our side.”

Boardman raised his eyes back to Billy, and for the first time realized he was surrounded. The men peered down at him, sitting beside his campfire. They wiped at their eyes, then nodded to him as they moved on.

Boardman watched them go, then turned back to Billy. “Was it too much? Did I say it too strong?”

Billy stared at the fire for a moment. “No, it wasn’t too strong. It was fine. It was fitting. The hand of Providence was with us.”

 

Volume 5

prelude-glory5aA Cold, Bleak Hill

December 22, 1777

To the Hnble Henry Laurens, President,

Congress of The United States:

Sir:

It is with infinite pain and concern that I must again dwell on the state of the Commissary’s department. I do not know from what cause this alarming deficiency or rather total failure of supplies arises, but unless more vigorous exertions and better regulations take place, and immediately, this army must dissolve.

Regarding the Pennsylvania Supreme Executive Council and their declared wish that this army should attack the enemy, I can assure those Gentlemen that it is a much easier and less distressing thing to draw remonstrances in a comfortable room by a good fireside than to occupy a cold, bleak hill and sleep under frost and snow without clothes or blankets. However, although the Council seems to have little feeling for the naked and distressed soldiers, I feel superabundantly for them, and from my soul pity those miseries they are now suffering, which it is in my power neither to relieve nor prevent.

George Washington

Valley Forge

 

Volume 6

prelude-glory6The World Turned Upside Down

Having underestimated the resolve and strength of the Continental Army in New England, Great retain adopts a new strategy in the war to subdue the American rebels. British general Sir Henry Clinton leads British and German Forces in an invasion of the South, hoping to use success there as a springboard to subdue the Northern colonies.

At first the British Southern campaign seems an unqualified success when in December 1778, American general Benjamin Lincoln surrenders his entire command army at Savannah, Georgia, and a second army at Charleston, South Carolina. But the British are not prepared for the fierce resistance from the common people in the Southern colonies. Famed guerrilla fighters Dan Morgan, Nathanael Greene, and Frances Marion (the Swamp Fox) use frontier skills and tactics learned in Indian warfare to erode the British forces and wear down British resolve.

Meanwhile, Benedict Arnold enters into treasonous negotiations to surrender Fort West Point to the British, thus betraying the American cause and earning for himself the ignominious title of traitor.

Finally, with the French providing much-needed financial, naval, and military aid, General Washington traps the British at Yorktown, where American and French forces mount a prolonged siege and compel the surrender of General Charles Cornwallis. The embittered and once-proud British see the American victory as evidence that the world has truly been “turned upside down.”

In this sixth volume of his acclaimed Prelude to Glory series, author Ron Carter has crafted another compelling chapter in his depiction of the Revolutionary War. Readers will be interested to learn the fates of beloved fictional characters. Through their stories and others, Carter brings to vivid life the legendary places, people, and battles that were part of America’s quest for liberty and independence.

Volume 7

prelude-glory7The Impending Storm

October 19, 1781: The great guns at Yorktown fell silent, British General Cornwallis surrendered, and England conceded the war. For one euphoric moment a shout of jubilation rolled forth in America – and then harsh reality gripped the country. America was thirteen separate countries, each with its own money, political organization, culture, and history. Congress was essentially powerless. Border tariffs sprang up between states, with cannons to enforce them. Quarrels over control of the great rivers brought states to the brink of war. Banks lacked gold and silver to support their paper currency; bankruptcies raged. The military was paid with unenforceable written promises, and destitute soldiers marched on to Philadelphia, demanding their wages. Finally, in 1786, still unpaid, the soldiers revolted, closing down many New England courthouses to stop the bankruptcy courts from seizing their farms. Shooting erupted; Americans killed Americans. The impending storm was threatening to break.

 

Volume 8

prelude-glory8A More Perfect Union

Within minutes each delegate had a copy spread on his desk and was leaned forward, locked in silence, with an intensity seldom seen during the convention, while he slowly, thoughtfully read the document.

The preamble no longer named all thirteen states. Rather, it stated with simple dignity, “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

For several minutes a hush held in the East Room. Every man sensed a feeling in his soul that rose in his breast to hold him silent. What had they created? No one had gotten everything he had contended for, but everyone had gotten something. Some were satisfied with it, some disgruntled, a few disappointed. Some reckoned it was the work of fifty-five men who had reached inside themselves for the best they had. Others remembered the words of John Adams: “God is the great legislator of the universe.”

“We have a new land, a new constitution, a new government, and I believe now the fight is going to be to keep it. The fight between good and evil. A shooting war comes and it goes, but the war between the good and the bad—it never ends.” ~Matthew Dunson in A More Perfect Union, p.529

 

Volume 9

prelude-glory9By the Dawn’s Early Light

On the deck of the sloop, soaked to the skin, squinting in the rain, the Americans, Key, Skinner, and Beanes, stood at the rail, transfixed, watching the British warships rain destruction on the fort as never before in history. They saw the yellow fire trails of the rockets and the white bursts of bombs over the fort, and they listened to the continuous roar of the big guns, staring, unable to believe tat Armistead had not surrendered rather than face total destruction.

Key stood frozen to the rail as the dull light strengthened in the rain, and he could see the dim outline of the fort.

Something fluttered above the black outline, and then it took form and shape, and Key gasped when he understood it was the flag! Key’s heart was pounding in his chest. He wiped at his eyes and then reached inside his coat for an envelope and a pencil, and began to write the thoughts that came flooding from deep within.

Oh say, can you see, by the dawn’s early light. . .

US Constitution Series 17: Checks and Balances in the Constitution Prevent Abuse of Power

 Checks and Balances in the Constitution Prevent Abuse of Power

 

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

By W. Cleon Skousen

A System of Checks and Balances Should Be Adopted to Prevent the Abuse of Power

Failure to use Checks and Balances effectively Causing Problems Today

Just how difficult this task turned out to be is demonstrated in a number of problems which have arisen in our own day. The failure to use the checks and balances effectively has allowed the judiciary to create new laws (called judicial legislation) by pretending to be merely interpreting the old ones. Failure to use the checks and balances has also allowed the President to make thousands of new laws, instead of Congress, by issuing executive orders. It has allowed the federal government to invade the reserved rights of the states on a massive scale. It has allowed the legislature to impose taxes on the people never contemplated by the Founders of the Constitution. (Skousen, 207-208)

 

Checks and Balances in the Constitution

A number of procedures were tried in various states to protect the will of the people, but they were montesquieumostly ineffective. The American Founding Fathers were impressed by the concept of checks and balances set forth by Charles Montesquieu. They eventually achieved a system of checks and balances far more complex than those envisioned by Montesquieu. These included the following provisions:

  1. The House of Representatives serves as a check on the Senate since no statute can become law without the approval of the House.
  2. At the same time the Senate (representing the legislatures of the states before the 17th Amendment) serves as a check on the House of Representatives since no statute can become law without its approval.
  3. A President can restrain both the House and the Senate by using his veto to send back any bill not meeting with his approval.
  4. The Congress has, on the other hand, a check on the President by being able to pass a bill over the President’s veto with a two-thirds majority of each house.
  5. The legislature also has a further check on the President through its power of discrimination in appropriating funds for the operation of the executive branch.
  6. The President must have the approval of the Senate in filling important offices of the executive branch.
  7. The President must also have the approval of the Senate before any treaties with foreign nations can go into effect.
  8. The Congress has the authority to conduct investigations of the executive branch to determine whether or not funds are being properly expended and the laws enforced.
  9. constitutionThe President has a certain amount of political influence on the legislature by letting it be known that he will not support the reelection of those who oppose his program.
  10. The executive branch also has a further check on the Congress by using its discretionary powers in establishing military bases, building dams, improving navigable rivers, and building interstate highways so as to favor those areas from which the President feels he is getting support by their representatives.
  11. The judiciary has a check on the legislature through its authority to review all laws and determine their constitutionality.
  12. The Congress, on the other hand, has a restraining power over the judiciary by having the constitutional authority to restrict the extent of its jurisdiction.
  13. The Congress also has the power to impeach any of the judges who are guilty of treason, high crimes, or misdemeanors.
  14. The President also has a check on the judiciary by having the power to nominate new judges subject to the approval of the Senate.
  15. The Congress has further restraining power over the judiciary by having control of appropriations for the operation of the federal court system.
  16. The Congress is able to initiate amendments to the Constitution which, if approved by three-fourths of the states, could seriously affect the operation of both the executive and judicial branches.
  17. The Congress, by joint resolution, can terminate certain powers granted to the President (such as war powers) without his consent.
  18. The people have a check on their Congressmen every two years; on their President every four years; and on their Senators every six years. (Skousen, 211-213)

 

George Washington on the Importance of Preserving the Founders’ Checks and Balances System

George WashingtonThe spirit of encroachment tends to consolidate the powers of all the departments in one and thus to create, whatever the form of government, a real despotism. A just estimate of that love of power and proneness to abuse it which predominates in the human heart is sufficient to satisfy us of the truth of this position.

The necessity of reciprocal checks in the exercise of political power, by dividing and distributing it into different depositories and constituting each the guardian of the public weal against invasions by the others, has been evinced by experiments ancient and modern, some of them in our country and under our own eyes.

To preserve them must be as necessary as to institute them.

If, in the opinion of the people, the distribution or modification of the constitutional powers be in any particular wrong, let it be corrected by an amendment in the way which the Constitution designates. But let there be no change by usurpation; for though this, in one instance, may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed.

The Founders’ Device for “Peaceful” Self-Repair

signers3During nearly two centuries that the Constitution has been in operation, it has carried the nation through a series of traumatic crises. Not the least of these have been those occasions when some branch of government became arrogantly officious in the administration of its assigned task or flagrantly violated the restrictions which the Constitution placed upon it. As President Washington indicated, there is a tendency for some of this to occur continually, as is the case in our own day, but when it reaches a point of genuine crisis there is built-in Constitutional machinery to take care of it.

Other Countries lack Means of Peaceful Self-Repair

By way of contrast, we have scores of nations which claim to have copied the United States Constitution, but which failed to incorporate adequate checks and balances. In those countries, the only remedy, when elected presidents have suspended the constitution and used the army to stay in power, has been to resort to machine guns and bombs to oust the usurper. This occurs time after time. What the Founders wished to achieve in the Constitution of 1787 was machinery for the peaceful means of self-repair when the system went out of balance.

 

The Blessing of Domestic Tranquility

church-1Some of us have had to travel or live in nations during a time of turmoil and revolution. Even one such experience will usually convince the most skeptical activist that there is nothing to be gained and a great deal to be lost by resorting to violence to bring about political change. Once a constitution has been established and the machinery developed for remedy or repair by peaceful means, this is the most intelligent and satisfactory route to pursue. It requires more patience, but given time, the results are more certain.

To solve problems by peaceful means was the primary purpose of the United States Constitution.

(Skousen, 214-215)

NEXT: 18th Principle—The Unalienable Rights of the People are most likely to be Preserved if the Principles of Government are Set Forth in a Written Constitution

US Constitution Series 16: Our Government has 3 Parts—Law, President, and Courts