The topic of discussion for this Freedom Friday is the simple fact that the Constitution of the United States is like a giant tree protecting Americans and all other peoples. Americans commemorated Constitution Day on September 17, marking 227 years since it became the Supreme Law of our nation.
An elm tree standing near Boston Common in Boston, Massachusetts, was known as the Liberty Tree before Americans revolted against Great Britain. In 1765, the tree was the site of the first act of defiance against the British government. “The tree became a rallying point for the growing resistance to the rule of Britain over the American colonies and for that reason it was felled by British soldiers in 1775.” As it turned out, the felling of the Liberty Tree did not stop the creation of the Tree of Liberty, the U.S. Constitution.
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have long considered the U.S. Constitution to be divinely inspired. More than 2,500 years ago, Nephi saw a vision of future events. He saw Columbus and his inspired discovery of a new land. He saw the Pilgrims colonize the new land. He saw the inhabitants of this new land fight a war against their mother land. He saw that a climate of religious freedom would be established in the land that would enable the gospel of Jesus Christ to go to all nations, kindreds, tongues, and peoples. (See Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ, 1 Nephi 13.)
The Doctrine and Covenants, another book of modern scripture, explains how “wise men” were raised up to establish a new type of government for this new land. This new standard would be acceptable to God and would also allow mankind to use moral agency to “be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment.” This standard of freedom and liberty is the U.S. Constitution.
The Prophet Joseph Smith said that the U.S. Constitution would inspire a spirit of constitutionalism that “is like a great tree under whose branches men from every clime can be shielded from the burning rays of the sun.” Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1976, p. 147.)
Jay Todd wrote in 1987 that “this is yet one more of the seemingly unending array of fulfilled prophecies that flowed from the Prophet Joseph Smith. Today, two hundred years after the establishment of the U.S. Constitution, one of the nation’s preeminent constitutional scholars can write that `the United States Constitution is the nation’s most important export… [and that] just by being first, the United States Constitution has inevitably been an influence for constitutionalism. Every nation that has a one-document constitution (or is committed in principle to having one) is inevitably following the United States precedent – model. And that applies to all but six countries.’” (Albert P. Blaustein, internationally-known scholar of the U.S. Constitution and professor of law, Rutgers – The State University School of Law in personal papers, 1984, published in edited form in National Forum, Fall 1984, p. 14.)
Another prophet, President Wilford Woodruff, also spoke about the tree of liberty: “As far as constitutional liberty is concerned, I will say, the God of haven has raised up our nation, as foretold by his prophets generations ago. He inspired Columbus, and moved upon him to cross the ocean in search of this continent…. It is also well known how our forefathers found a home and an asylum in this land from the hand of persecution, and how they planted here the tree of liberty and jealously guarded it from the attempt of the mother country to uproot and destroy it. The hand of God was in this; and it is through the intervention of his providence that we enjoy today the freest and most independent government the world ever saw. And what was the object of this? It was to prepare the way for the building up of the kingdom of God in this the last dispensation of the fulness of times; and as long as the principles of constitutional liberty shall be maintained upon this land, blessings will attend the nation.” (The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, sel. G. Homer Durham, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1946, 51:801, pp. 188-89.)
Prophets are not the only ones to speak of the Tree of Liberty. President Thomas Jefferson liked parts of the new Constitution but did not like other parts and shared his feelings with William Stephen Smith in Paris, France, on 13 November 1787. Jefferson was sure there would be another rebellion in twenty years. “…The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure….”
The Constitution of the United States has become a great Tree of Liberty and is spreading its branches to protect freedom and liberty throughout the world; however, it in danger of being destroyed by those who desire to destroy the government of the United States. The day may come when Americans must defend the Constitution by the shedding of the blood of those who love liberty more than life itself.