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 9, 2012

People's Law

                    The topic for this Freedom Friday is that People's Law is in direct opposition to Ruler's Law.  The Founders fought a war to escape the tyranny of Ruler's Law and wanted to set up a system of government that made every citizen free.  This "Great Experiment" of the Founders started with their knowledge of the freedom under People's Law as originally practiced by the Anglo Saxons. 

Thomas Jefferson in particular admired People's Law.  One authority on Jefferson wrote:  "Jefferson's great ambition at that time [1776] was to promote a renaissance of Anglo-Saxon primitive institutions on the new continent.  Thus presented, the American Revolution was nothing but the reclamation of the Anglo-Saxon birthright of which the colonists had been deprived by a `long trend of abuses.'  Nor does it appear that there was anything in this theory which surprised or shocked his contemporaries; Adams apparently did not disapprove of it, and it would be easy to bring in many similar expressions of the same idea in documents of the time" (Gilbert Chinard, Thomas Jefferson:  The Apostle of Americanism, pp 86-87).

The main points of People's Law as practiced by the Anglo-Saxons are as follow:  "1) The Anglo-Saxons considered themselves a commonwealth of freemen.  2) All decisions and the selection of leaders had to be with the consent of the people, preferably by full consensus, not just a majority.  3) The laws by which they were governed were considered natural laws given by divine dispensation, and were so well known by the people they did not have to be written down.  4) Power was dispersed among the people and never allowed to concentrate in any one person or group.  Even in time of war, the authority granted to the leaders was temporary and the power of the people to remove them was direct and simple.  5)  Primary responsibility for resolving problems rested first of all with the individual, then the family, then the tribe or community, then the region, and finally, the nation.  6) They were organized into small, manageable groups where every adult had a voice and a vote.  They divided the people into units of ten families who elected a leader; then fifty families who elected a leader; then a hundred families who elected a leader; and then a thousand families who elected a leader.  7) They believed the rights of the individual were considered unalienable and could not be violated without risking the wrath of divine justice as well as civil retribution by the people's judges.  8) The system of justice was structured on the basis of severe punishment unless there was complete reparation to the person who had been wronged.  There were only four `crimes' or offenses against the whole people.  These were treason, by betraying their own people; cowardice, by refusing to fight or failing to fight courageously; desertion; and homosexuality.  These were considered capital offenses.  All other offenses required reparation to the person who had been wronged.  9) They always attempted to solve problems on the level where the problem originated.  If this was impossible they went no higher than was absolutely necessary to get a remedy.  Usually only the most complex problems involving the welfare of the whole people, or a large segment of the people, ever went to the leaders for solution."

The Founders also studied the record of the ancient Israelites, and they realized that the ancient Israelites and the Anglo-Saxons had a similar system of government.  The principle characteristics of the law practiced by Ancient Israel are as follow:  "1) First of all, they were set up as a commonwealth of freemen…. 2) All the people were organized into small manageable units where the representative of each family had a voice and a vote…. 3) There was specific emphasis on strong, local self-government.  Problems were solved to the greatest possible extent on the level where they originated…. 4) The entire code of justice was based primarily on reparation to the victim rather than fines and punishment by the commonwealth…. 5) Leaders were elected and new laws were approved by the common consent of the people…. 6) Accused persons were presumed to be innocent until proven guilty.  Evidence had to be strong enough to remove any question of doubt as to guilt.  Borderline cases were decided in favor of the accused and he was released.  It was felt that if he were actually guilty, his punishment could be left to the judgment of God in the future life."

The Founders studied and understood the People's Law as practiced by the Anglo-Saxons and the divinely-inspired and perfect system of government used by Ancient Israel.  When they wrote the Constitution of the United States, they used this knowledge to organize a government for Americans built on solid principles, principles that had been proven and used by other governments.

Americans must realize and acknowledge that the Founders had a successful formula and must insist that our government be restored to constitutional principles.  We must also strengthen the love for God, family, and country and bring morality back into our lives, business and government.  We must remember the words of John Adams who stated:  "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people.  It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."

I was very interested in the fact that both the Anglo-Saxons and the Ancient Israelites governments were based on a bottom up philosophy.  When Brigham Young became the leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and had the responsibility to lead thousands of people to the Salt Lake Valley, he wondered how he could govern so many thousands of people.  The word and the will of the Lord came through Brigham Young to the people.  Part of that counsel was, "Let all the people of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and those who journey with them, be organized into companies, with a covenant and promise to keep all the commandments and statutes of the Lord our God.
"Let the companies be organized with captains of hundreds, captains of fifties, and captains of tens, with a president and his two counselors at their head, under the direction of the Twelve Apostles" (Doctrine and Covenants 136:2-3). 

Each company was responsible to have teams of animals, seeds, and farming utensils and to bear an equal proportion of the poor, the widows, the fatherless, and the families of men who had gone into the U.S. Army.  The fathers and/or mothers were responsible for their individual families.  Ten families were grouped under a captain of ten; five groups of ten families were put under a captain of fifty, and two groups of fifty were put under a captain of one hundred.  It was a government that was built from the bottom up, and it worked!

The United States is organized under a similar pattern:  families, communities, cities, counties, states, and federal government.  This order works well if there is no grabbing of power.  Problems in a family are best handled in the family; problems in a community are best handled in the community; the same is true of cities and counties.  The federal government should concentrate on their assigned duties and responsibilities as stated in the Constitution and restore power to the states for those tasks that are reserved to the states.

Many of the ideas and quotes came from W. Cleon Skousen in The Five Thousand Year Leap - 28 Great Ideas That Changed the World, pp 13-18.  If you do not currently have regular access to this book, I encourage you to purchase it.  The book is invaluable in learning about the freedoms we enjoy - or should enjoy - under the U.S. Constitution. 

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