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This book documents the unique and specific American principles for government. The bedrock principles are presented in Chapter One.
John Adams, vice president under George Washington, and second president of the United States: ". . . And liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people, who have a right, from the frame of their nature, to knowledge, as their great Creator, who does nothing in vain, . . . besides this, they have a right, an indisputable, ...
This book documents the unique and specific American principles for government. The bedrock principles are presented in Chapter One.
John Adams, vice president under George Washington, and second president of the United States: ". . . And liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people, who have a right, from the frame of their nature, to knowledge, as their great Creator, who does nothing in vain, . . . besides this, they have a right, an indisputable, unalienable . . . right to that most dreaded and envied kind of knowledge, I mean, of the characters and conduct of their rulers. Rulers are no more than attorneys, agents, and trustees for the people; and if the cause, the interest and trust, is . . . wantonly trifled away, the people have a right to revoke the authority . . .. And the preservation of the means of knowledge among the lowest ranks, is of more importance to the public than all the property of all the rich men in the country."
The Tea Party Colonists were objecting to taxes required by the British Parliament because their representatives had not been allowed to participate in tax enforcement decisions. When shipments of tea were in the Boston harbor the crisis came to a head. They liked their tea, but in the early evening of December 16, 1776 about 200 men descended upon the ships and dumped the shipments of tea into the harbor waters.
Pre-publication reviews are in the front of the book-". . . this is undoubtedly one of the best books ever written on the subject."
What is the common bond that enabled Americans to establish the greatest nation on earth? The USA Today/Gallup Poll published May 6, 2010, reports that 92 percent of Americans believe in God and only 5 percent said they oppose the National Day of Prayer. The problem is that public schools stopped teaching how the basic American belief "In God We Trust" translates into principles for political decisions that made America the overwhelming choice of immigrants from around the world.
Having confronted the barriers to success imposed by the British Crown at the First Continental Congress, the Founding Fathers needed to address the following questions:
I. How do we bring into focus the justification for independence that can, in fact, support the life, liberty, and happiness that the colonists found possible?
II. How do we declare the sovereignty of man under God over government, upon which respect for impartial law, citizen self-rule, and liberty is justified?
III. How do we emphasize the need for strict separation from the British king and other pretender gods, who have managed to betray and exploit mankind down through history?
IV. What must we proclaim that will convince other nations to have confidence in the United States as a sovereign entity?
The answers to these questions became the basis for the unique principles for government in America. The Declaration of Independence provided a moral and just basis for law as no other document before or since. These principles were adopted unanimously by the Second Continental Congress on July 2, 1776. On July 4, 1776, the delegates signed their names to the Declaration, and the new nation—independent from Great Britain—was born.
The people of England were not the issue. Americans were fond of the people and valued their trade relationships. At issue was limiting the oppressive ways of British government and the need for tough-minded rejection of practices that violated liberty and citizen incentive to be self-governing.
On July 3, John Adams, a delegate to the Continental Congress from Massachusetts who later served as the second president of the United States, wrote the following to his wife Abigail: "The second day of July 1776 will be the most memorable epoch 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. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other from this time forward forever more" (cited by David McCullough, John Adams, New York: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, 2001, 130).
On July 8, 1776, the Declaration was read in public for the first time, outside Independence Hall in Philadelphia, accompanied by the ringing of the Liberty Bell. On August 2, 1776, the members of Congress signed the parchment copy. It provides the logic and justification for the chain of authority described by Hamilton Abert Long as "man under God over government" (www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/ declaration_history.html).
A Definite, Unique, American Belief Translated Into Specific Principles for Governments Does Exist
James Wilson was one of six men who signed the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States. His contribution to the deliberations of the Constitution was second only to James Madison's. Addressing the Pennsylvania Ratifying Convention for the new constitution, Wilson stated: "I beg to read a few words from the Declaration of Independence made by the representatives of the United States and recognized by the whole Union:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."
Wilson concluded, "This [Declaration] is the broad basis on which our independence [from authoritarian rule] was placed; on the same certain and solid foundation this [the Constitution of the United States] system is erected" (cited in John Elliot, Elliot's Debates, The Debates In The Several State Conventions Adoption Of The Federal Constitution, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 11-20-1787, Book I, published 1836, 457).
The American Principles rest on the First Principle (emphasized in the Introduction). Compromise of any of the following principles leads to very harmful consequences.
American Principle One The Spiritual Nature of Man Is Supreme "All men are created ... endowed by their Creator ..." Declaration of Independence
Foundational to liberty and the American approach to government is the fact that man is of divine origin. His spiritual or God-honoring religious nature is held as being of supreme importance. Upholding man's God-given "rights" from abuses sanctioned by governments makes liberty possible. The divine quality of these rights calls for the unequivocal rejection of the authoritarian entitlements claimed by elitists of all stripes—kings, authoritarian politicians, clergy, educators, and militarists. This principle enshrines certain limits that must, for the sake of liberty, be placed upon the use of the law and government power.
Humble support for the sovereignty of man under God over government is the guarantor of freedom for family wholeness, the right to choose, self-reliance, and prosperity. People who know the truth can reject, without fear, the alarming chatter of atheistic sectarians. Restoring Education: Central to American Greatness
American Principle Two
God Is the Source of Unalienable Rights
"All men are ... endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness." Declaration of Independence
"We The People Of The State Of Iowa, grateful to the Supreme Being for the blessings hitherto enjoyed, and feeling our dependence on Him for a continuation of those blessings, do ordain and establish a free and independent government, by the name of the State of Iowa ..." Preamble, Constitution of Iowa, adopted in 1846—seventy years after the Declaration of Independence
Education that does not emphasize that man's unalienable rights are the gift of God is energizing the enemies of the family, self-rule, prosperity, and liberty.
Belief in a Higher Authority holds that man does not originate law. Legislators articulate pre-existing law and give it particular applications to changing circumstances. Americans' progress in handling changing circumstances is testimony to the universality and timeless nature of the principle, "God Is the Source of Unalienable Rights." Alexander Hamilton, in The Federalist, No. 78, says: "A constitution is, in fact, and must be regarded by the judges, as a fundamental law." When a particular statute violates the meaning of the Constitution, it is the duty of judicial tribunals to disregard it and adhere to the Constitution. Those who reject God's authority and proceed to fix the rights of others are by definition false gods and in practice become tyrants.
During the 1765 crisis caused by the king's Stamp Act, John Adams, when writing the Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law, August 12, 1765, the Boston Gazette, pointed out that liberty was not man's creation or something radically new to the world, but rights "derived from our Maker," rights "indisputable, unalienable," "inherent," "essential," "divine," and even acknowledged since the Middle Ages by British law.
"The sacred Rights of mankind are not to be rummaged from among old parchments or musty records. They are written, as with a sunbeam, in the whole volume of human nature, by the Hand of the Divinity itself, and can never be erased or voided or obscured by mortal power" (teachingamericanhistory.org > ... > Alexander Hamilton The Farmer Refuted, 1775).
"We further recommend the most clear and explicit assertion and vindication of our rights and liberties to be entered on the public records, that the world may know, in present and all future generations, that we have a clear knowledge and a just sense of them, and, with submission to Divine Providence that we never can be slaves" (John Adams, adopted on October 14, 1765, by the town meeting of Braintree, Massachusetts, and sent to their representatives in the Massachusetts state legislature).
American Principle Three
Upholding the Traditional Family Is Paramount
"laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness." Declaration of Independence
Protecting the traditional family as a distinct institution is among the highest priorities for a nation's laws. This historic arrangement has proven overwhelmingly to be the best setting for raising children to live healthy, responsible, and productive lives (Gen. 2:23–24).
"That government is instituted and ought to be exercised for the benefit of thepeople;whichconsistsintheenjoymentoflifeandliberty,andgenerally of pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety" (James Madison in the first session of the US Congress, proposing the Bill of Rights amendments be added to the Constitution of the United States).
"The most important consequence of marriage is, that the husband and the wife become in law only one person" (James Wilson, Natural Rights of Marriage, 1792, teachingamericanhistory.org).
American Principle Four
All Men Are Equal In the Sight of God and the Law
"that all men are created equal ..." Declaration of Independence
People of different faiths, with different racial and cultural backgrounds, and people who are gifted in different ways are created equal at birth and deserve to be treated equally by the civil and criminal justice systems. Any concept of authoritarianism that presumes to override the sovereignty of man under God over government is a violation of "equal in the sight of God and the law."
"The multitude I am speaking of is the body of people—no contemptible multitude—for whose sake government is instituted; or rather, who have themselves erected it, solely for their own good—to whom even kings and all in subordination to them, are strictly speaking, servants and not masters" (Samuel Adams, essay in the Boston Gazette, 1771).
American Principle Five
Liberty—from Oppression by Big Government and Nongovernment Authoritarians—Is Vital
"unalienable Rights, that among these are ... liberty." Declaration of Independence
"Liberty and life are the gratuitous gifts of heaven. I shall certainly be excused from adducing any formal arguments to evince, that life, and whatever is necessary for the safest of life, are the natural rights of man. Some things are so difficult; others are so plain, that they cannot be proved" (Supreme Court Justice James Wilson, Lectures, delivered in the College of Philadelphia 1790-1791. Volume II, Part II, Chapter 1, Lorenzo Press, 1804).
Liberty and self-reliance for independence are God's gifts for man to claim. Liberty in the context of the Declaration of Independence and Preamble to the Constitution means freedom from government activity that would undermine the development of citizen self-reliance. Accepting promises of politicians who use the public treasury to provide things that replace personal responsibility is a trap. Paternalistic government services attract and enlarge an irresponsible voting block, that when reduced to dependence, cannot be reversed. Helping those who are incapable for reasons beyond their control is, of course, man's duty and beneficial to all.
"And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are a gift of God? That they are not violated but with His wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that His justice cannot sleep forever" (Thomas Jefferson: signer and principal author of the Declaration of Independence and third president of the United States, Notes on Virginia Q.XVIII, 1782. ME 2:227).
American Principle Six
The Written Constitution Established by Americans Is a Tool for Governing
Governments derive "their just powers from the consent of the governed." Declaration of Independence
Americans established government when covenanting to share a small portion of their God-given rights to use force and keep thieves out of the corncrib. It is the tax revenues provided by the people that give government its power.
The tool is to be used in ways to achieve the goals spelled out philosophically in the Preamble: "We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, [meaning common needs that do not conflict with or hamper the development of the work ethic and personal self-reliance] and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."
We, the people, have as our guide God-honoring principles for directing the use of the government power. When, during the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln dedicated the field where thousands gave their lives at Gettysburg, he concluded, "that 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" (The Gettysburg Address, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, November 19, 1863).
Some delegates to the Constitutional Convention believed these principles of the Declaration of Independence for guiding government action would prevail without amending the Constitution because many states had already adopted a Bill of Rights. Obviously the delegates did not anticipate the pervasiveness of the federal judiciary as it has since developed. Ultimately the Founding Fathers at the state level made a most significant contribution by insisting that the nation's Constitution be amended by a Bill of Rights.
The principles of the Declaration were expanded and codified, then added as amendments to the federal Constitution. An example of the carryover of the Declaration many years later is the Bill of Rights in the Constitution of the new State of Iowa, Part IV, Appendix B.
American Principle Seven
The Moral Duties of Civility Are Also a Predicate for Interpreting Constitutional Meaning
"We hold these truths to be self-evident ..." Declaration of Independence
"Tis substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. Who that is a sincere friend to it, can look with Indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric?" George Washington, Farewell Address
Excerpted from Restoring Education Central to America Greatness by David A. Norris Copyright © 2011 by David A. Norris. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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