Sunday, May 30, 2010

Liberty!


"Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto the inhabitants thereof."
[Inscription on the Liberty Bell; Leviticus 25:10]

Liberty! The very word evokes hope and stirs the inner soul of man. Throughout the course of time, individuals and nations oppressed by the yoke of tyranny or bondage have cried out for liberty's reprise and have sought for the comfort of its soothing rays. Revolution and war have oft been its price. Few nations have ever obtained it, let alone maintained it. Why so rare this prize for which so much blood and so many tears have been shed? Is its definition misunderstood? What is liberty and how is it secured, or more portentous, how is it lost?

First, we must understand that liberty is based upon fundamental principles and not philosophies or policies. Principles, which are based on truth, are constant and timeless; philosophies and policies are variable and changing and are based upon theories, circumstances and opinion. Second, we must recognize that liberty is not free. It must be both earned and guarded. Lastly, we must realize that liberty requires public morality or virtue. The greatest, and probably most generally unrecognized, threat to our liberty today results from the gradual erosion of virtue. This decay has resulted from negligence and apathy on the part of many and from calculated attacks on the part of a few. The invasive roots of its opposing influences have crept deeper into the soil of our communities while we have slept, and in some cases, while we have been thwarted in our efforts to eradicate their causes. James Madison stated: "I believe that there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachment of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations." When the policies and practices of the nation favor rights in exclusion of responsibility, and sanction vice at the expense of virtue, calamity is imminent. The impending consequences of the ruin of public virtue, which already cast a dark shadow across our nation, now loom on the horizon as a force destructive to our society, our government and our very peace and happiness.

I believe that except we become vigilant in understanding and upholding liberty's principles, we shall lose all which is attached to it: our national unity, our security, our peace and our prosperity. No person who loves liberty, can, in the face of the danger of its loss, stand idly by when life itself and the pursuit of happiness, hang so precipitously in the balance. A modern statesman, J. Reuben Clark, Jr., said: "We stand in danger of losing our liberties, and . . . once lost, only blood will bring them back . . ." In order to preserve liberty we must not only pledge allegiance, but prove loyal in deed to the standards upon which it is founded. Our Founding Fathers mutually pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor to the cause of liberty. May we commit anything less and stand worthy of its benefaction?

"[T]he preservation of the sacred fire of liberty . . . [is] finally staked, on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American People." George Washington

By: J. David Gowdy

Sunday, May 23, 2010

George Washington's Seven Principles of Liberty

Derived from his First Inaugural Address, April 30, 1789, and from his Farewell Address, September 17, 1796, George Washington understood, lived, and taught these great maxims or principles of liberty:

I. Liberty is of Divine Origin "No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand, which conducts in the affairs of men more than the people of the United States. -- Every step, by which they have been advanced to the character of an independent nation, seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency." (First Inaugural Address)

 II. Liberty has a Price "The independence and liberty you possess are the work of . . . joint efforts, of common dangers, suffering and successes." (Farewell Address)

 III. Liberty is secured by Government "Liberty itself will find in such a government, with powers properly distributed and adjusted, its surest guardian." (Farewell Address)

 IV. Liberty requires Unity "[Y]our union ought to be considered as a main prop of your liberty, and that the love of the one ought to endear to you the preservation of the other." (Farewell Address)

 V. Liberty is maintained by Obedience to Law "Respect for [this Government's] authority, compliance with its laws, acquiescence in its measures, are duties enjoined by the fundamental maxims of true liberty." (Farewell Address)

 VI. Liberty is dependent upon Virtue "[V]irtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government." (Farewell Address)

 "Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim tribute to patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness." (Farewell Address)

 VII. Liberty affords the path to Happiness "[T]here is no truth more thoroughly established, than that there exists . . . an indissoluble union between virtue and happiness." (First Inaugural Address)

 "Can it be that Providence has not connected the permanent felicity of a nation with its virtue?" (Farewell Address)

Monday, May 17, 2010

James Madison's "Advice to My Country"

"As this advice, if it ever see the light, will not do it till I am no more, it may be considered as issuing from the tomb, where truth alone can be respected, and the happiness of man alone consulted. It will be entitled therefore to whatever weight can be derived from good intentions, and from the experience of one who has served his country in various stations through a period of forty years; who espoused in his youth, and adhered through his life, to the cause of its liberty; and who has borne a part in most of the great transactions which will constitute epochs of its destiny."

"The advice nearest to my heart and deepest in my convictions is, "That the Union of the States be cherished and perpetuated. Let the open enemy to it be regarded as a Pandora with her box opened, and the disguised one as the Serpent creeping with his deadly wiles into Paradise."
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Written by James Madison in 1834 and discovered sometime after his death (he died on June 28, 1836).

Monday, April 26, 2010

Quotes on American Self-Reliance



"Every time that we try to lift a problem from our own shoulders, and shift that problem to the hands of the government, to the same extent we are sacrificing the liberties of our people."-- John F. Kennedy

“Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country.”-- John F. Kennedy

“If an American is to amount to anything he must rely upon himself, and not upon the State; he must take pride in his own work, instead of sitting idle to envy the luck of others. He must face life with resolute courage, win victory if he can, and accept defeat if he must, without seeking to place on his fellow man a responsibility which is not theirs.”-- Theodore Roosevelt

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”-- Theodore Roosevelt

“Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan 'Press On' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.” --Calvin Coolidge

“If in a free republic a great government is the product of a great people, they will look to themselves rather than government for success." --Calvin Coolidge

"[W]hat more is necessary to make us a happy and prosperous people? . . . a wise and frugal government . . . which shall leave [men] free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned."--Thomas Jefferson

"The legitimate object of government is 'to do for the people what needs to be done, but which they can not, by individual effort, do at all, or do so well, for themselves'." -- Abraham Lincoln

“Your success as a family, our success as a society, depends not on what happens at the White House, but what happens inside your house.”--Barbara Bush

Sunday, April 18, 2010

April 19th: "Patriots Day"


Patriots Day commemorates the battle of Lexington and Concord which were fought on April 19, 1775. Part of the history of this famous revolutionary battle was the midnight ride of Paul Revere and William Dawes. The Sons of the American Revolution in Massachusetts were largely responsible for the official recognition of the event.

Historical Setting:
Massachusetts Colony was a hotbed of sedition in the spring of 1775. Preparations for conflict with the Royal authority had been underway throughout the winter with the production of arms and munitions, the training of militia (including the minutemen), and the organization of defenses. In April, General Thomas Gage, military governor of Massachusetts decided to counter these moves by sending a force out of Boston to confiscate weapons stored in the village of Concord and capture patriot leaders Samuel Adams and John Hancock reported to be staying in the village of Lexington.

The atmosphere was tense, word of General Gage's intentions spread through Boston prompting the patriots to set up a messaging system to alert the countryside of any advance of British troops. Paul Revere arranged for a signal to be sent by lantern from the steeple of North Church - one if by land, two if by sea. On the night of April 18, 1775 the lantern's alarm sent Revere, William Dawes and other riders on the road to spread the news. The messengers cried out the alarm, awakening every house, warning of the British column making its way towards Lexington. In the rider's wake there erupted the peeling of church bells, the beating of drums and the roar of gun shots - all announcing the danger and calling the local militias to action.

In the predawn light of April 19, the beating drums and peeling bells summoned between 50 and 70 militiamen to the town green at Lexington. As they lined up in battle formation the distant sound of marching feet and shouted orders alerted them of the Redcoats' approach. Soon the British column emerged through the morning fog and the confrontation that would launch a nation began ...

Patriots Day is commemorated each year in Massachusetts and Maine with dramatic battle re-enactments, parades and ceremonies. Among the better-known commemorative events on Patriots Day is the Boston Marathon, which has been run now for over a century.

Patriots Day is a public holiday in Massachusetts and Maine, celebrated on the Monday nearest that date. All Massachusetts state, county and town government offices and many local businesses close, though federal government offices, post offices, and offices of large interstate and international companies remain open.

The re-enactment of the battle on Lexington Green starts at dawn (6 am), but crowds of spectators begin to gather several hours before. Before 6 am you will hear the redcoats marching along Battle Road as they approach Lexington Green.

“…these reenactments are always heartfelt and often poignant. None more so than the reenactment of the Battle at Lexington Green. Hundreds of people gathered on the green hours before dawn, despite the bitter cold ... Just as the sun barely started to cut through the historically inaccurate fog, the British regulars marched into the square and giddy anticipation turned quiet and somber. Within twenty minutes eight men representing our first fallen veterans were laying on the grounds while the regulars regrouped and marched off to the beat of drummers. As the announcer called the names of the fallen minutemen, their proxies stood and were escorted to the burial grounds for a moving memorial ceremony.”

Patriots Day events in nearby Concord include a mid-morning parade with lots of fife-and-drum bands and groups of Minutemen from surrounding towns is followed by ceremonies at Old North Bridge and the repeated firing of two brass cannons. Several church halls open to provide pancake breakfasts to the multitude.

May we remember our brave ancestors who sacrificed in so great a cause, to bring about our national independence and liberty.
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Sources:

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Federalism and the Tenth Amendment


“A constitution is not the act of a government, but of a people constituting a government; and government without a constitution is power without a right. All power exercised over a nation, must have some beginning. It must be either delegated, or assumed. There are not other sources. All delegated power is trust, and all assumed power is usurpation. Time does not alter the nature and quality of either.”[1] -– Thomas Paine

Under federalism power is shared between the national government and the state governments. The federal government’s powers are restricted to those explicitly stated in the Constitution, being known as “enumerated powers.” The Tenth Amendment to the Constitution states: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” Thus, any power asserted by the federal government which is not entrusted to it by the people under the Constitution (either expressly or clearly implied as “necessary and proper”) is either non-existent, or is usurped. This constitutes the difference between liberty and tyranny.

As a prelude to the adoption of the Tenth Amendment (as part of the Bill of Rights), and in connection with the principle of enumerated powers in the Constitution, James Madison in the Federalist stated, “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the Federal Government, are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State Governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce …The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects, which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties and properties of the people ….”[2] Madison also stated, “The government of the United States is a definite government, confined to specified objects. It is not like the state governments, whose powers are more general. Charity is no part of the legislative duty of the [federal] government.[3] Thus, pursuant to the precepts of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, the federal government was intended to have less power than the states, with federal powers being “few and defined” and “confined to specific objects.” For example, other than its powers under Article I. Section 8 to “regulate Commerce” and to “suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions,” nowhere in the federal Constitution is Congress given authority to legislate over local and state matters concerning the health, safety, and education of citizens. How far have we strayed from these original standards of our Republic?

By: J. David Gowdy
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[1] Thomas Paine, Rights of Man (Watts & Co., London, 1906), p. 97.
[2] Federalist No. 45 (emphasis added).
[3] James Madison, Speech in the House of Representatives, January 10, 1794; Lance Banning, ed., Liberty and Order (Liberty Fund, Indianapolis, 2004), p. 158 (emphasis added).

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Favorite Quotes by Thomas Jefferson on Religion

“Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of people that their liberties are a gift from God? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever.” --Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, 1794 

“One of the amendments to the Constitution... expressly declares that 'Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press,' thereby guarding in the same sentence and under the same words, the freedom of religion, of speech, and of the press; insomuch that whatever violates either throws down the sanctuary which covers the others.” --Thomas Jefferson: Draft Kentucky Resolutions, 1798. 

“Among the most inestimable of our blessings, also, is that... of liberty to worship our Creator in the way we think most agreeable to His will; a liberty deemed in other countries incompatible with good government and yet proved by our experience to be its best support.” --Thomas Jefferson to John Thomas et al., 1807 

“The constitutional freedom of religion [is] the most inalienable and sacred of all human rights.” --Thomas Jefferson: University of Virginia Board of Visitors Minutes, 1819 

“We are all created by the same Great Spirit; children of the same family. Why should we not live then as brothers ought to do?” -- Thomas Jefferson to the Delaware & Shawanee Nations, February 10, 1802 

 “He who steadily observes the moral precepts in which all religions concur, will never be questioned at the gates of heaven as to the dogmas in which they all differ.”--Thomas Jefferson to William Canby, April 12, 1803 

 “I am a Christian, in the only sense in which he wished anyone to be: sincerely attached to his doctrines in preference to all others, ascribing to himself every human excellence, and believing he never claimed any other.” – Thomas Jefferson to Benjamin Rush, April 21, 1803 

 “To the corruptions of Christianity I am indeed opposed; but not to the genuine precepts of Jesus himself.” --Thomas Jefferson to Benjamin Rush, September 18, 1813 “It is in our lives, and not from our words, that our religion must be read.” --Thomas Jefferson to Mrs. Harrison Smith, August 6, 1816 

“I hold the precepts of Jesus, as delivered by himself, to be the most pure, benevolent, and sublime which have ever been preached to man. I adhere to the principles of the first age; and consider all subsequent innovations as corruptions of his religion, having no foundation in what came from him. . . . If the freedom of religion, guaranteed to us by law in theory, can ever rise in practice under the overbearing inquisition of public opinion, truth will prevail over fanaticism, and the genuine doctrines of Jesus, so long perverted by his pseudo-priests, will again be restored to their original purity. This reformation will advance with the other improvements of the human mind but too late for me to witness it.” --Thomas Jefferson to Jared Sparks, 4 November 1820 

 “The genuine and simple religion of Jesus will one day be restored: such as it was preached and practised by himself.” --Thomas Jefferson to Van der Kemp, 1820 

 “But we may hope that the dawn of reason and freedom of thought in these United States will do away with all this artificial scaffolding, and restore us to the primitive and genuine doctrines of [Jesus] this the most venerated reformer of human errors.” --Thomas Jefferson to John Adams, April 11, 1823 

 “Adore God. Reverence and cherish your parents. Love your neighbor as yourself, and your country more than yourself. Be just. Be true. Murmur not at the ways of Providence. So shall the life into which you have entered, be the portal to one of eternal and ineffable bliss.” -- Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Jefferson Smith, 1825