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, February 16, 2012

Miraculous Constitution

                    The topic of discussion for this Freedom Friday is the genius of the United States Constitution and its application of People's Law.  The American Colonists considered themselves to be loyal subjects of the King of England and they did not want to break away from their mother country.  The Revolutionary War did not start with the idea of achieving independence from the King; it started because the colonists wanted to protect the rights of the people.  After fighting with the British for two years, the Americans realized in early 1776 that independence from the Crown was the only way to protect their rights.

                    The colonists operated in America for 180 years (1607-1787) before they wrote the Constitution that has governed our nation for more than 200 years.  It was not an easy task and took time and effort to come up with formula for success.  The colonies operated under the Articles of Confederation during the Revolutionary War and almost lost the war because of it.  The Articles of Confederation had "no executive, no judiciary, no taxing power, and no enforcement power."  The national government made recommendations to the states but had no power to enforce them.

                    An example of the problems of operating under the Articles of Confederation is clearly shown by the suffering and death of soldiers at Valley Forge and Morristown.  The central government did not have power to force the states to send manpower, funds, or supplies to the army; therefore, it was unable to provide food, clothing, equipment, and manpower to fight the war.  There were approximately 8,000 soldiers at Valley Forge at the beginning; about 3,000 simply went home and about 2,000 died of starvation or disease.  General Washington thought the weakness of the central government was the principle problem for non-support. 

                    None of the delegates to the Constitutional Convention could have written the Constitution alone, and each delegate understood this fact.  They knew that they needed to work together because their states were very divided.  Their new nation was struggling for several reasons:  1) The Continental dollar was nearly worthless due to inflation.  2) The economy was not good.  3) The people were fighting against each other in riots.  4) The New England states were threatening to withdraw from the union.  5) England and Spain were ready for an opportunity to step in and grab any straggling states.

                    It was not easy to be a delegate to the Constitutional Convention.  The delegates did not expect to be away from home for four months, and some of them had to return home to handle problems while others were borrowing money to meet expenses.  The first rule of the Convention was to keep all the discussion secret from anyone outside the Convention.  The delegates did most of their debating and the majority of discussing in what was called "the Committee of the Whole" because the decisions of "committees" were less final than a Convention vote would be.  After the delegates had argued and finalized their decisions, they would reassemble themselves into the "Convention" to make their official votes. 

Founders wanted agreement on what the Constitution was to do, and they discussed the various topics until they could reach a consensus.  After four months of discussions, there were three topics upon which they could not reach agreement:  slavery, how to proportion representation, and how to regulate commerce.  These were the only issues that had to be settled by compromise.

The Framers completed their work, signed the document on September 17, 1787, and sent it to Congress.  Congress did not make any changes but ratified it and sent it out to the states.  Some of the states did not like everything in the Constitution and threatened to reject the whole Constitution.  There were five significant objections raised:  1) the loss of sovereignty for states; 2) the absence of a Bill of Rights to protect the citizens from federal power; 3) fear that the President would become like the King they had just defeated; 4) fear of the independent federal judges; 5) fear about the federal power to tax.

The states were encouraged to ratify the main body of the Constitution and then submit suggestions about how to amend the document, ultimately submitting 189 suggested amendments.  In the first Congress held under the new Constitution, James Madison went through all the suggested amendments and narrowed them down to twelve, ten of which were approved and ratified by the states.  These ten became the Bill of Rights.

The Framers of the Constitution were geniuses as a group, and they brought forth a miraculous document.  They came together at just the right time, they were able to discuss and compromise where necessary, and they wrote 4400 miraculous words.  After the first ten amendments were approved as the Bill of Rights, only seventeen other amendments have been made in the course of more than two hundred years.  Two of those amendments are considered to be "throw away amendments" as they established and then abolished Prohibition. 

The true genius of the Constitution is that it created a system of government that could continue to govern the nation as the nation grew in both geographical area and population.  It is miraculous in its ability to defy both anarchy and tyranny.  The words "We the People" found in both the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution proclaim the principle that God gives men unalienable rights and the purpose of government is to protect those rights.

Ideas and information are from W. Cleon Skousen in The Five Thousand Year Leap - 28 Great Ideas That Changed the World, pp. 18-22.  This is a wonderful book with many different ideas about freedom.  It is well worth the money to purchase it and the time and effort to study it!

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