The month of September is special for those who love and revere our liberties. The week of September 17th thru the 23
has been designated by US Presidents, governors, and other dignitaries, as Constitution Week. And Monday, the 17
is Constitution Day. It is the 231
anniversary of the signing of the US Constitution.
The US Constitution, along with our Declaration of Independence, is based on eternal, universal principles of liberty. As we celebrate our Constitution, which which is under a withering barrage of attacks, it would do us good to review those principles. Indeed, Founder George Mason said, "No free government, or the blessings of liberty can be preserved to any people, but by frequent recurrence to fundamental principles."
The Constitutions of many states contain similar statements. For example, Article 2 Section 1 of the Constitution of the State of Arizona states: "A frequent recurrence to fundamental principles is essential to the security of individual rights and the perpetuity of free government."
There are certain principles of liberty that are found woven through the written and spoken record of the words and works of the Founders. Let us list these principles, and commit to study them. I have been privileged to serve as an instructor for the National Center for Constitutional Studies (NCCS.net) and to spread these principles far and wide in the US. The Center has gathered 28 principles of liberty from the aforementioned writings and speeches, and I share them now by permission. We will break them down into three parts over the next three months. For the for a wealth of material on the Constitution and the exceptional story of America's founding, go to their website (nccs.net).
As we celebrate the Declaration of Independence in July and the Constitution in September, let us once again reflect on the marvelous principles underlying these two documents. The following is a review of these principles together with a comment or a quote by the Founders. Documentation may be found in the book, The Five Thousand Year Leap, published by The National Center for Constitutional Studies.
Principle 1-The only reliable basis for sound government and just human relations is Natural Law.
Natural law is God's law. There are certain laws which govern the entire universe, and just as Thomas Jefferson said in the Declaration of Independence, there are laws which govern in the affairs of men which are "the laws of nature and of nature's God.
-A free people cannot survive under a republican constitution unless they remain virtuous and morally strong.
Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters." - Benjamin Franklin
3-The most promising method of securing a virtuous people is to elect virtuous leaders.
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 ... will not suffer a man to be chosen into any office of power and trust who is not a wise and virtuous man." - Samuel Adams
-Without religion the government of a free people cannot be maintained.
Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.... And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion." - George Washington
All things were created by God, therefore upon him all mankind are equally dependent, and to him they are equally responsible.
The American Founding Fathers considered the existence of the Creator as the most fundamental premise underlying all self-evident truth. They felt a person who boasted he or she was an atheist had just simply failed to apply his or her divine capacity for reason and observation.
-All mankind were created equal.
The Founders knew that in these three ways, all mankind are theoretically treated as:
- Equal before God.
- Equal before the law.
- Equal in their rights.
In addition, there are four basic economic freedoms which the Constitution was intended to protect:
- The Freedom to try
- The Freedom to buy
- The Freedom to sell
- The Freedom to fail
7- The proper role of government is to protect equal rights, not provide equal things.
The Founders recognized that the people cannot delegate to their government any power except that which they have the lawful right to exercise themselves.
- Mankind are endowed by God with certain unalienable rights.
Those rights, then, which God and nature have established, and are therefore called natural rights, such as are life and liberty, need not the aid of human laws to be more effectually invested in every man than they are; neither do they receive any additional strength when declared by the municipal [or state] laws to
be inviolable. On the contrary, no human legislation has power to abridge or destroy them, unless the owner [of the right] shall himself commit some act that amounts to a forfeiture." - William Blackstone