Sunday, July 24, 2011

Liberty is Secured by the Constitution













There should be no dispute that government is required to secure the rights of life and liberty to the individual, to the community and to the nation.  The Declaration of Independence states that: "[T]o secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed." Thomas Jefferson said: "The will of the people is the only legitimate foundation for any government."  William Penn stated: "[G]overnments rather depend upon men than men upon government." John Jay, author of several of the Federalist Papers, and the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, stated: "Nothing is more certain than the indispensable necessity of Government, and it is equally undeniable, that whenever and however it is instituted, the people must cede to it some of their natural rights, in order to vest it with requisite powers."  These rights and powers, designed to uphold liberty and to protect person and property, are delegated to government by the people. Aristoltle wrote: "If liberty and equality, as it is thought by some, are chiefly to be found in a democracy, they will be best obtained when all persons share in the government to the utmost."  Abraham Lincoln described our democratic republic as: "a government of the people, by the people [and] for the people." Thus, "We the People" are the determinants of our government.

The continuing challenge of any people and government is to maintain a balance of power with adequate controls to ensure the safety and felicity of the people.  The entire treatise of the Federalist Papers serves as reference to the need to delegate and diffuse governmental powers in order to ensure our safety and felicity from potential internal and external harms.  James Madison stated:  "[T]he preservation of liberty requires, that the three great departments of power [executive, legislative and judiciary] should be separate and distinct." James Wilson wrote: "Liberty and happiness have a powerful enemy on each hand; on the one hand tyranny, on the other licentiousness [anarchy].  To guard against the latter, it is necessary to give the proper powers to government; and to guard against the former, it is necessary that those powers should be properly distributed."  Woodrow Wilson said: "The history of liberty is a history of the limitations of governmental power, not the increase of it."   

Both the limitation and balance of power lie at the heart of the U.S. Constitution.  It stands as the preeminent example of how a government may be structured with "checks and balances" to secure liberty "with equal justice for all."   Various governments may be traced throughout history; yet, the liberty that has existed in America since the establishment of its Constitutional government in 1787 is the most profound and enlightened in secular history.  It has served as the model for constitutions of many other nations.  Benjamin Franklin said of it: "It astonishes me to find this system approaching so near to perfection as it does."  Gladstone called the Constitution: "The most wonderful work ever struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man."  The inspired Constitution of the United States of America truly serves as the cradle of liberty.

"We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common Defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America." (Preamble)

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Quotes Concerning the 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…

“This was the object of the Declaration of Independence.  Not to find out new principles, or new arguments, never before thought of, not merely to say things which had never been said before; but to place before mankind the common sense of the subject, in terms so plain and firm as to command their assent, and to justify ourselves in the independent stand we are compelled to take.  Neither aiming at originality of principle or sentiment, nor yet copied from any particular and previous writing, it was intended to be an expression of the American mind, and to give to that expression the proper tone and spirit called for by the occasion.  All its authority rests then on the harmonizing sentiments of the day, whether expressed in conversation, in letters, printed essays, or in the elementary books of public right, as Aristotle, Cicero, Locke, Sidney, etc.”
--Thomas Jefferson 

“The Declaration of Independence... [is the] declaratory charter of our rights, and of the rights of man.”
--Thomas Jefferson

“Do you recollect the pensive and awful silence which pervaded the house when we were called up, one after another, to the table of the President of Congress to subscribe what was believed by many at that time to be our own death warrants?”
--Benjamin Rush

“We must all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.”
--Benjamin Franklin

“[Independence Day] will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shows, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.”
--John Adams

“Yesterday, the greatest question was decided, which ever was debated in America, and a greater, perhaps, never was or will be decided among men . . . . You will see in a few days a Declaration setting forth the causes which have impelled us to this mighty revolution, and the reasons which will justify it in the sight of God and man.”
--John Adams

“All that I have, and all that I am, and all that I hope, in this life, I am now ready here to stake upon it; and I leave off as I begun, that live or die, survive or perish, I am for the Declaration.  It is my living sentiment, and by the blessing of God it shall be my dying sentiment, Independence, now, and Independence for ever!
--John Adams

"I have said that the Declaration of Independence is the ring-bolt to the chain of your nation’s destiny; so, indeed, I regard it. The principles contained in that instrument are saving principles. Stand by those principles, be true to them on all occasions, in all places, against all foes, and at whatever cost.” — Frederick Douglass

“I have never had a feeling politically that did not spring from the sentiments embodied in the Declaration of Independence.”
--Abraham Lincoln

“The expression of that principle [Liberty to all], in our Declaration of Independence, was most happy, and fortunate. Without this, as well as with it, we could have declared our independence of Great Britain; but without it, we could not, I think, have secured our free government and consequent prosperity. The assertion of that principle, at that time, was the word "fitly spoken" which has proven an "apple of gold" to us. The Union, and the Constitution, are the picture of silver, subsequently framed around it. The picture was made, not to conceal, or destroy the apple; but to adorn and preserve it. The picture was made for the apple -- not the apple for the picture.”
--Abraham Lincoln

“All honor to Jefferson--to the man who, in the concrete pressure of a struggle for national independence by a single people, had the coolness, forecast, and capacity to introduce into a merely revolutionary document, an abstract truth, applicable to all men and all times, and so to embalm it there, that to-day, and in all coming days, it shall be a rebuke and a stumbling-block to the very harbingers of re-appearing tyranny and oppression.” 
--Abraham Lincoln

“If [immigrants to America] seek to trace their connection with those days [of the Revolution] by blood, they find they have none, ...but when they look through that old Declaration of Independence they find that those old men say that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,” and then they feel that that moral sentiment taught in that day evidences their relation to those men, that it is the father of all moral principle in them, and that they have a right to claim it as though they were blood of the blood, and flesh of the flesh of the men who wrote that Declaration, and so they are. That is the electric cord in that Declaration that links the hearts of patriotic and liberty-loving men together, that will link those patriotic hearts as long as the love of freedom exists in the minds of men throughout the world.” 
--Abraham Lincoln