Of our Founding Principles Part I

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There is no reason to shirk from confronting the Marxists who infest our institutions and culture. On the contrary, since they despise the foundations of our Declaration and Constitution, they are typically ignorant of them. Few people study what they regard as loathsome.

A year before the “shot heard ‘round the world,” Josiah Quincy Jr. bequeathed certain books to his son:

When he shall arrive to the age of fifteen years, I give to my son, Algernon Sidney’s works, – John Locke’s works, – Lord Bacon’s works, – Gordon’s Tacitus, – and Cato’s Letters. May the spirit of liberty rest upon him!

What traditions and intellectual constructs compelled men, especially those of the professional and landed classes who had so much to lose, to risk their necks in revolution? The American Revolution was not a flash occurrence over representation or taxation, but was instead the logical, if not inevitable, reaction of colonial society to the 17th century English Enlightenment. The forces, the principles behind revolution and our Constitution in the 18th century developed from our earliest days in the 17th century. What were these principles and where did they come from?

Look toward the Bible. Ironically, the first Stuart King, James I, helped ignite the sectarian violence that consumed 17th century England when he commissioned an English language Bible. The King James Bible launched a multitude of sects which threatened the established Church of England, and with it, civil order, including the King himself.

His Britannic Majesty’s North American lands were a convenient dumping ground for these troublesome religious minorities. While it is difficult today to regard Pilgrims, Puritans, Presbyterians, Baptists, Catholics, and Quakers as any sort of civil threat, these persecuted peoples risked all to worship God in their own ways. The legacy of the men and women who suffered and starved, who scratched and clawed at the wilderness, who fought the French & Indians, carried on in their Revolutionary descendants. The early political and social theories of New England Puritans had softened enough by the mid-18th century that nearly all of American Protestantism accepted them. Not far below the surface of consciousness was the sense that America had a special place, as not yet fully revealed, in the architecture of God’s intent. Such peoples were not naturally disposed to mind very well the rule of a distant monarch, especially when the monarch sought to corrupt the morals and society of a special people chosen by God.1

England’s King Charles I lost his head in 1649. Oliver Cromwell set up a short-lived (1653-1658) dictatorship. In 1688, the people ran off Catholic James II in favor of Protestant William of Orange, and crowned him as William III. Through it all, when wars and revolutions consumed the mother country, her North American colonists were largely left alone in what John Locke described in the late 17th century as a State of Nature. This common condition of living together according to reason without a common superior on earth, in mutual assistance, peace, goodwill, and preservation is the universal background against which our ancestors understood government. Locke wrote that “the great end of men entering into society, being the enjoyment of properties in peace and safety, the first and fundamental positive law of all commonwealths is the establishment of the legislative power.” The first fundamental natural law which is to govern even the legislature is the preservation of society and every person in it.2

English settlement in North America occurred within an intellectual framework which denoted the area as special, untainted by corruption, and better in a moral sense than Europe. Here, individuals, society, and religion could have a providential second chance for growth; and, among immigrants and their descendants, a sense of stewardship, of mission to preserve this situation, whether in a secular or spiritual sense, developed. The American condition, free from the institution-ridden, overly-structured, and constrictive atmosphere of the mother country was variously viewed as a God-given Trust. Regardless of their perspective, settlers from the outset saw their new possibilities for self-determination as something to jealously guard.

Unlike mainland Europe, and even in England itself, the great works of the Enlightenment writers and philosophers found fertile ground in America. American’s 17th and early 18th century experience predisposed them to resistance and eventual revolution. The biblically educated colonists soon developed a ravenous appetite for the sorts of writings which Josiah Quincy willed decades later to his son. They bolstered what liberty-loving Americans had experienced and looked forward to: happiness in a natural equality among self-governing, God-fearing men.

We are the many; our oppressors are the few. Government is the playground of politicians, but the Constitution is ours. Be proactive. Restore the American Tradition. Join Convention of States.

1. Bailyn, B. (1992). The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution. Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press., 32-33.
2. Locke, J., & Laslett, P. (2010). Two Treatises of Government. Cambridge: University Press. 100, 355. Compare this to the ends of our government per the Preamble of the Constitution.