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.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

What Kind of Men Were the Founding Fathers?

            Some Americans have cheered, while other Americans cringed to see rioters toppling the statues of several of the Founding Fathers. The reasoning given is that they were slave owners, or at least were not “for blacks.” Little do these rioters understand that the Founding Fathers were “not for women” either. In fact, they may not realize that black males were given the right to vote before it was given to white women. This should not surprise us because there is ample evidence that many of the rioters have no knowledge about the history of our nation.

            It is easy to judge people from the past by the standards of our time, but we should not rush to judge our Founding Fathers. Scriptures state that the writers of the United States Constitution were “raised up” by the Lord for that task. (See Doctrine and Covenants 101:80.) Tad Callister claimed that Ted Stewart, a federal judge, said the following, but I could not find the source.

Today, it is common to criticize the founders of America. Judging them by today’s standards of equality and justice they do fail. Some owned slaves, none fought to give women equal rights. Most were wealthy white men….

But there is just one problem with judging them by today’s standards and it is this: but for those imperfect founders and the sacrifices that they made and the instruments of government which they created, there would be no current, enlightened standards of equality and justice by which to judge them.

            This statement is the truth – no matter who made it. It was those imperfect white, slave-owning Founding Fathers and their fellow colonists who fought for freedom from Great Britain, wrote the Constitution, and laid the foundation for the government that gives us so much freedom today. Even though the United States is not a perfect nation, it is the greatest democracy ever known in this world, and the U.S. Constitution has been a pattern for the constitutions of many other nations. Callister concluded his article with these paragraphs.

Judge Stewart is so right. The reason the critics can freely criticize, protest, vote for change, run for office and exercise freedom of religion or irreligion as they choose is for one reason and one reason only, because the Founding Fathers made it so. America is the greatest democracy the world has ever known. Do the critics believe these liberties came about by chance or that they were spawned by evil men? If so, how do they reconcile such a position with the unerring logic of the Savior: “Ye shall know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:16).

It seems somewhat hypocritical to partake of and enjoy the fruits of liberty while at the same time criticizing the very tree that produced such fruit. The Savior made it clear: “A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.” (Matthew 7:18). Lest there be any question, the Founding Fathers were that good tree that brought forth the good fruits of liberty we enjoy today.

            With Independence Day drawing nigh, it is important that Americans remember that we would not have liberty and freedom without the efforts of the Founding Fathers and the rest of their generation. Many of them recognized the evils of slavery and sought to do away with it during the Constitutional Convention. However, the Union needed the Southern States to be a part of the new United States of America. Therefore, there were compromises made during that convention that later led to the Civil War and the ultimate freeing of the slaves. In other words, the Founding Fathers did what they could do within their circumstances and left future changes to the generations who followed in their footsteps.

            I believe that George Washington and many of the Founding Fathers, their wives, and their associates were some of the best people found in their generation. I believe that Heavenly Father brought them together in the American Colonies for the exact purpose of creating a land of liberty for the benefit of all mankind.

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