Tuesday, September 16, 2008

September 17th -- Constitution Day

“The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place. It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.”
--James Madison, Federalist No. 51

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 the U. S. Constitution: "It astonishes me to find this system approaching so near to perfection as it does." Gladstone called it, "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)

By: J. David Gowdy

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Liberty requires Knowledge

“Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.”
--James Madison

Thomas Jefferson said: "If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." He also stated: "I know of no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome direction, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power."

The diffusion of knowledge and an enlightened citizenry are essential elements required to maintain liberty. In this regard, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison wrote that the “best guides” to the “distinctive principles” of the government of the United States of America are found in:

· The Declaration of Independence;
· The "Federalist Papers"; and
· George Washington’s “Farewell Address.”

Have we read and considered each of these works? Have we studied and learned the principles of the Constitution in the tradition of the Founding Fathers? Are the Constitution and principles of liberty as espoused by the Founding Fathers being taught in our schools? Has their history and significance been diluted? Vigilance in learning and imparting liberty's knowledge is part of liberty's price.

By: J. David Gowdy