Oh beautiful, for spacious skies...
I left my home in Wyoming’s western mountains at 10 pm on Tuesday night…drove through the clear, star-studded night- with night owls, bison, white jack rabbits trying to hide in the snow, and elk gracing my journey…the night is when the big game come out. The 10,000 foot pass was as quiet as it could be, save the sounds of the forest alive at night. I have always felt, driving through the woods at night, that I was passing through someone’s ‘living room’….and it is true that I am.
For amber waves of grain
Crossing the border into Nebraska, I was greeted at sunrise with miles and miles of wheat fields and a clear, cloudless sky. I loaded the book in my cd player, “The 5000 Year Leap: The 28 Great Ideas that Changed the World”. Although any book on tape is necessary when driving in Nebraska to keep oneself awake, this was a particularly poignant book to listen to this delegate traveled to the Continental Congress 2009.
While the sun was rising as I drove, the words I listened to asked a question: would Ben Franklin see our nation today as a rising sun, which he thought in 1787, or would he see a nation in decline, and therefore a setting sun?
Indeed, we have not followed the admonition of our Founding Fathers:
A people must from time to time refresh themselves at the well-spring of their origin, lest they perish.
The 5000 Year Leap reminds us of our Founders’ words, and how we have forgotten, needing to re-member ourselves with our Country:
A frequent recurrence of the fundamental principles of the constitution, and a constant adherence to those of piety, justice, moderation, temperance, industry, and frugality are absolutely necessary to preserve the advantage of liberty, and to maintain a free government (Massachusetts Bill of Rights, 1780)
…elected some of the most undesirable persons to high office. “Effective resistence to usurpers is possible only provided the citizens understand their rights and are disposed to defend them…(The Federalist, No. 28, Alexander Hamilton)
For purple mountains, majesty
While the Founders more than acknowledged and believed in God and divine providence, and were aware of that influence on their proceedings, they nevertheless did not legislate God, or sanction state religions
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion...
Our Country was established as a nation of laws, not of men. Yet each of the founders had profound trust and belief in God, the Creator. The Founders:
…vigorously affirm throughout their writings that the foundation of all reality is the existence of the Creator, who is the designer of all things in nature and the promulgator of all laws which govern nature…
John C. Fitzpatrick compiled the writings of George Washington who, more than anyone, understood the role of divine providence in winning the revolutionary war. In his first inaugural address, he said:
No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand which conducts the affairs of men more than the people of the United States. Every step, by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation, seems to have been distinguished by some toke of providential agency
Above thy Fruited Plain
It was in Jamestown, in 1607 that the first ideas began to emerge regarding free enterprise systems, as
the community’s experimentation with communal economics were found to ‘be worse that Plato had described them.’
The settlers’ principles eventually were articulated in Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations. Importantly, it was in Virginia that a sufficiently large enough population was congregated to establish a popular assembly of legislative representatives, and the descendants of these settlers structured the framework for the United States of America.
America, America, God Shed His Grace on Thee
We were blessed with the wisdom of very fine, well read, and thoughtful Founders. Yet, a great deal of responsibility for freedom lies with we the people. Sam Adams said
But neither the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt. He therefore is the truest friend to the liberty of his country who tries most to promote its virtue, and who, so far as his power and influence extend, will not suffer a man to be chose into any office of power and trust who is not a wise and virtuous man….
Jefferson and many other Founders believed strongly in an educated public, and using education to encourage the development of leaders steeped in the knowledge of the Constitution. Peter Marshall, in his book The Rebirth of America, is clear:
The choice before us is plain, Christ or chaos, conviction or compromise, discipline or disintegration….The time is come, it now is, when we ought to hear about the duties and responsibilities of our citizenship…
Jefferson wrote in 1816:
‘If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and will never be”
And Crown thy Good with Brotherhood, from Sea to Shining Sea..
The Founders’ monumental task was structuring a government with all the power in the people. Skousen, The 5000 Year Leap
We are fortunate that the Founders had such a breadth and depth of information to work with- looking at all the civilizations of the past and framing one for the future. John Adams actually had envisioned a country with “200-300 million freemen”…and contrary to what some will say, the words of the Constitution were chosen carefully and have meaning today.
They had a different measuring stick for power than we have today. And their primary criterion was to maximize the people’s power, or the people’s law.
No law —–People’s Law—–Ruler’s Law
On this scale, it is easy to measure Congress’ actions.
Above thy fruited plain