Declaration of Independence

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.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Divinely Inspired Constitution (Part 1)

Today is Constitution Day. On this day in 1787 the Constitution of the United States was signed and established by Congress. The United States Constitution was the first written constitution in the whole world. It has served America well for more than 200 years and has also served as a pattern for the constitutions of almost every other nation in the world that has a written constitution.
How did the citizens of a brand new nation come up with such a powerful document as our Constitution? Where did they obtain the many ideas in it?
In a 1788 letter to Lafayette, George Washington wrote, "It appears to me, then, little short of a miracle that the delegates from so many different states (which states you know are also different from each other in their manners, circumstances, and prejudices) should unite in forming a system of national Government, so little liable to well-founded objections" (quoted by Dallin H. Oaks in "The Divinely Inspired Constitution," Ensign, Feb. 1992, 68). (Emphasis added.)
I too consider it to be a miracle! Consider the circumstances of our young nation. On October 19, 1781, under the leadership of General George Washington and assisted by France, America finally won the battle that ended the Revolutionary War. Great Britain with the mightiest professional army in the world had lost the war to an army made up almost completely of volunteers. Could this great success have come to pass without the help of God? I think not!
More trouble arose for our young nation over the next several years. America adopted the Articles of Confederation as a means of government, but these rules did not work very well. The rules said that Congress was in charge of the nation, but they didn't give Congress the necessary powers to do the job. Congress could not stop states from printing their own money or get them to help defend America or pay off the debts incurred by the Revolutionary War. Other nations saw our weaknesses and started to take advantage of us.
Congress saw the need to revise the Articles of Confederation and requested each of the thirteen states to send delegates to a Constitutional Convention to be held in Philadelphia. Twelve of the thirteen states were eventually represented.
On May 25, 1787, twenty-nine men gathered in Philadelphia. They elected George Washington to serve as president of the convention and then made the rules that the convention would follow. One of the rules called for absolute secrecy.
In time other delegates joined the first twenty-nine. Of the seventy-four appointed delegates, fifty-five participated in the convention and thirty-nine signed the final draft on September 17, 1787.
It was a miracle that the many delegates from the various areas of the country culd put aside their regional differences and loyalties to agree on a strong central government. One of the reasons for this success was the "intelligence, wisdom, and unselfishness of the delegates" (Oaks, Ensign, Feb. 1992).
The writing of the Constitution was only the first miracle. The ratification process was long and arduous and was finally completed ten months later. About three years later, the first ten amendments, which included the Bill of Rights, were ratified.
Modern-day scriptures tell us that we should live by the "laws and constitution of the people, which I have suffered to be established, and should be maintained for the rights and protections of all flesh, according to just and holy principles….
"And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose, and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood" (Doctrine and Covenants 101:77-80).
I believe very strongly that the United States Constitution was written by wise men who were raised up and prepared by God to write the document that would protect the liberties and freedoms of the citizens of this great nation and would also serve as a pattern for all other written constitutions the world over.

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