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The Declaration and the Constitution: Their Christian Roots
www.probe.org ^ | 2003 | Kerby Anderson

Posted on 08/18/2004 2:33:14 PM PDT by Tailgunner Joe

The Declaration of Independence

Many are unaware of the writings and documents that preceded these great works and the influence of biblical ideas in their formation. In the first two sections of this article, I would like to examine the Declaration of Independence. Following this, we'll look at the Constitution.

On June 7, 1776, Richard Henry Lee introduced a resolution to the Continental Congress calling for a formal declaration of independence. However, even at that late date, there was significant opposition to the resolution. So, Congress recessed for three weeks to allow delegates to return home and discuss the proposition with their constituents while a committee was appointed to express the Congressional sentiments. The task of composing the Declaration fell to Thomas Jefferson.

Jefferson's initial draft left God out of the manuscript entirely except for a vague reference to "the laws of nature and of nature's God." Yet, even this phrase makes an implicit reference to the laws of God.

The phrase "laws of nature" had a fixed meaning in 18th century England and America. It was a direct reference to the laws of God in a created order as described in John Locke's Second Treatise on Civil Government and William Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws of England.

What Jefferson was content to leave implicit, however, was made more explicit by the other members of the committee. They changed the language to read that all men are "endowed by their Creator" with these rights. Later, the Continental Congress added phrases which further reflected a theistic perspective. For example, they added that they were "appealing to the Supreme Judge of the World for the rectitude of our intentions" and that they were placing "firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence."

The Declaration was not drafted in an intellectual vacuum, nor did the ideas contained in it suddenly spring from the minds of a few men. Instead, the founders built their framework upon a Reformation foundation laid by such men as Samuel Rutherford and later incorporated by John Locke.

Rutherford wrote his book Lex Rex in 1644 to refute the idea of the divine right of kings. Lex Rex established two crucial principles. First, there should be a covenant or constitution between the ruler and the people. Second, since all men are sinners, no man is superior to another. These twin principles of liberty and equality are also found in John Locke's writings.

John Locke and the Origin of the Declaration

Although the phrasing of the Declaration certainly follows the pattern of John Locke, Jefferson also gave credit to the writer Algernon Sidney, who in turn cites most prominently Aristotle, Plato, Roman republican writers, and the Old Testament.

Legal scholar Gary Amos argues that Locke's Two Treatises on Government is simply Samuel Rutherford's Lex Rex in a popularized form. Amos says in his book Defending the Declaration,

Locke explained that the "law of nature" is God's general revelation of law in creation, which God also supernaturally writes on the hearts of men. Locke drew the idea from the New Testament in Romans 1 and 2. In contrast, he spoke of the "law of God" or the "positive law of God" as God's eternal moral law specially revealed and published in Scripture.{1}

This foundation helps explain the tempered nature of the American Revolution. The Declaration of Independence was a bold document, but not a radical one. The colonists did not break with England for "light and transient causes." They were mindful that they should be "in subjection to the governing authorities" which "are established by God" (Romans 13:1). Yet when they suffered from a "long train of abuses and usurpations," they argued that "it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute a new government."

The Declaration also borrowed from state constitutions that already existed at the time. In fact, the phraseology of the Declaration greatly resembles the preamble to the Virginia Constitution, adopted in June 1776. The body of the Declaration consists of twenty-eight charges against the king justifying the break with Britain. All but four are from state constitutions.{2}

Jefferson no doubt drew from George Mason's Declaration of Rights (published on June 6, 1776). The first paragraph states that "all men are born equally free and independent and have certain inherent natural Rights; among which are the Enjoyment of Life and Liberty, with the Means of Acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining Happiness and Safety." Mason also argued that when any government is found unworthy of the trust placed in it, a majority of the community "hath an indubitable, inalienable, and indefensible Right to Reform, alter, or abolish it."

Constitution and Human Nature

The influence of the Bible on the Constitution was profound but often not appreciated by secular historians and political theorists. Two decades ago, Constitutional scholars and political historians (including one of my professors at Georgetown University) assembled 15,000 writings from the Founding Era (1760-1805). They counted 3154 citations in these writings, and found that the book most frequently cited in that literature was the Bible. The writers from the Foundering Era quoted from the Bible 34 percent of the time. Even more interesting was that about three-fourths of all references to the Bible came from reprinted sermons from that era.{3}

Professor M.E. Bradford shows in his book, A Worthy Company, that fifty of the fifty-five men who signed the Constitution were church members who endorsed the Christian faith.{4}

The Bible and biblical principles were important in the framing of the Constitution. In particular, the framers started with a biblical view of human nature. James Madison argued in Federalist #51 that government must be based upon a realistic view of human nature.

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.{5}

Framing a republic requires a balance of power that liberates human dignity and rationality and controls human sin and depravity.

As there is a degree of depravity in mankind which requires a certain degree of circumspection and distrust, so there are other qualities in human nature, which justify a certain portion of esteem and confidence. Republican government presupposes the existence of these qualities in a higher degree than any other form.{6}

A Christian view of government is based upon a balanced view of human nature. It recognizes both human dignity (we are created in God's image) and human depravity (we are sinful individuals). Because both grace and sin operate in government, we should neither be too optimistic nor too pessimistic. Instead, the framers constructed a government with a deep sense of biblical realism.

Constitution and Majority Tyranny

James Madison in defending the Constitution divided the problem of tyranny into two broad categories: majority tyranny (addressed in Federalist #10) and governmental tyranny (addressed in Federalist #47-51).

Madison concluded from his study of governments that they were destroyed by factions. He believed this factionalism was due to "the propensity of mankind, to fall into mutual animosities" (Federalist #10) which he believed were "sown in the nature of man." Government, he concluded, must be based upon a more realistic view which also accounts for this sinful side of human nature.

A year before the Constitutional Convention, George Washington wrote to John Jay that, "We have, probably, had too good an opinion of human nature in forming our federation." From now on, he added, "We must take human nature as we find it."

Madison's solution to majority tyranny was the term extended republic. His term for the solution to governmental tyranny was compound republic. He believed that an extended republic with a greater number of citizens would prevent factions from easily taking control of government. He also believed that elections would serve to filter upward men of greater virtue.

Madison's solution to governmental tyranny can be found in Federalist #47-51. These include separation of powers, checks and balances, and federalism.

Madison realized the futility of trying to remove passions (human sinfulness) from the population. Therefore, he proposed that human nature be set against human nature. This was done by separating various institutional power structures. First, the church was separated from the state so that ecclesiastical functions and governmental functions would not interfere with religious and political liberty. Second, the federal government was divided into three equal branches: executive, legislative, and judicial. Third, the federal government was delegated certain powers while the rest of the powers resided in the state governments.

Each branch was given separate but rival powers, thus preventing the possibility of concentrating power into the hands of a few. Each branch had certain checks over the other branches so that there was a distribution and balance of power. The effect of this system was to allow ambition and power to control itself. As each branch is given power, it provides a check on the other branch. This is what has often been referred to as the concept of "countervailing ambitions."

Constitution and Governmental Tyranny

James Madison's solution to governmental tyranny includes both federalism as well as the separation of powers. Federalism can be found at the very heart of the United States Constitution. In fact, without federalism, there was no practical reason for the framers to abandon the Articles of Confederation and draft the Constitution.

Federalism comes from foedus, Latin for covenant. "The tribes of Israel shared a covenant that made them a nation. American federalism originated at least in part in the dissenting Protestants' familiarity with the Bible."{7}

The separation of powers allows each branch of government to provide a check on the other. According to Madison, the Constitution provides a framework of supplying "opposite and rival interests" (Federalist #51) through a series of checks and balances. This theory of "countervailing ambition" both prevented tyranny and provided liberty. It was a system in which bad people could do least harm and good people had the freedom to do good works.

For example, the executive branch cannot take over the government and rule at its whim because the legislative branch has been given the power of the purse. Congress must approve or disapprove budgets for governmental programs. A President cannot wage war if the Congress does not appropriate money for its execution.

Likewise, the legislative branch is also controlled by this structure of government. It can pass legislation, but it always faces the threat of presidential veto and judicial oversight. Since the executive branch is responsible for the execution of legislation, the legislature cannot exercise complete control over the government. Undergirding all of this is the authority of the ballot box.

Each of these checks was motivated by a healthy fear of human nature. The founders believed in human responsibility and human dignity, but they did not trust human nature too much. Their solution was to separate powers and invest each branch with rival powers.

Biblical ideas were crucial in both the Declaration and the Constitution. Nearly 80 percent of the political pamphlets published during the 1770s were reprinted sermons. As one political science professor put it: "When reading comprehensively in the political literature of the war years, one cannot but be struck by the extent to which biblical sources used by ministers and traditional Whigs undergirded the justification for the break with Britain, the rationale for continuing the war, and the basic principles of Americans' writing their own constitutions."{8}

Notes

  1. Gary Amos, Defending the Declaration (Brentwood, TN: Wolgemuth and Hyatt, 1989), 57.
  2. Donald S. Lutz, The Origins of American Constitutionalism (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1988, 114.
  3. Ibid., 140.
  4. M.E. Bradford, A Worthy Company: Brief Lives of the Framers of the United States Constitution (Marlborough, NH: Plymouth Rock Foundation, 1982).
  5. James Madison, Federalist, #51 (New York: New American Library, 1961), 322.
  6. Ibid., Federalist #55, 346.
  7. Lutz, Origins, 43
  8. Ibid., 142.


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Editorial; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: christian; christianheritage; constitution; declaration

1 posted on 08/18/2004 2:33:18 PM PDT by Tailgunner Joe
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To: Tailgunner Joe; kjenerette; Van Jenerette

Thanks...for my American Government Class.


2 posted on 08/18/2004 2:48:32 PM PDT by Van Jenerette (Our Republic - If we can keep it!)
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To: Tailgunner Joe

Bump -- read later


3 posted on 08/18/2004 2:49:32 PM PDT by EdReform (Support Free Republic - All donations are greatly appreciated. Thank you for your support!)
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To: Tailgunner Joe

BTTT!


4 posted on 08/18/2004 2:50:29 PM PDT by The Ghost of FReepers Past (Legislatures are so outdated. If you want real political victory, take your issue to court.)
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To: Tailgunner Joe

Yes, but then they went and added that pesky Bill of Rights in which the First Amendment seems to contradict the First Commandment.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof vs. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.


5 posted on 08/18/2004 2:51:55 PM PDT by NC28203
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To: Tailgunner Joe

Somewhere on the internet is a putative statistical breakdown of authors cited in the works of the Framers. As I recall, St. Paul comes in fairly high in the rankings. Anybody have the link, though? I lost it, though I think I originally found it here at FR.


6 posted on 08/18/2004 2:52:35 PM PDT by Dumb_Ox (Ares does not spare the good, but the bad.)
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To: NC28203

The First Commandment is not what the Founders considered to be an 'establishment' of religion. Only laws establishing a certain denomination, such as Anglican, as the National Church would violate this clause.


7 posted on 08/18/2004 2:57:03 PM PDT by Tailgunner Joe (Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people.)
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To: Tailgunner Joe

Rom 13:1-2
Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.

Just wondering - were these scriptures in the bible in 1776 or were they added later?


8 posted on 08/18/2004 3:02:41 PM PDT by The Lumster
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To: The Lumster
Render unto God what is God's. Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's.

If Caesar is due an ass kicking, God wants us to give it to him.

9 posted on 08/18/2004 3:05:56 PM PDT by tacticalogic ( Controlled application of force is the sincerest form of communication.)
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To: Tailgunner Joe

But if the Bible played such a large role, why did they create the First Amendment which allows for direct violation of the First Commandment?


10 posted on 08/18/2004 3:11:19 PM PDT by NC28203
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To: tacticalogic

"If Caesar is due an ass kicking, God wants us to give it to him."

Care to cite chapter and verse for that?


11 posted on 08/18/2004 3:22:04 PM PDT by The Lumster
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To: Tailgunner Joe
The western calendar is based on the passage of time since a very,indeed the most, important event in western society and culture.


IF the men framing the constitution were in fact making a complete break from all things Europe, they would have ditched that pesky calendar which measures the passage of time from the birth of Christ.1776 or one thousand seven hundred seventy six years having past since the birth of Jesus.


All our founding Documents are dated with a system that acknowledges the birth of Jesus as a singular event.You can't register your dog without using that system.Not your car,your birth certificate,nor pay your taxes without acknowledging the birth of Jesus.


If God were not important to the Founders, what would hold them back from starting a new calendar for a new country with a new flag in a new world?


Faith Was regarded by the Founders ,religion,or "Denomination" was not.Congress was not to favor a particular denomination over others and requiring government officials to belong to particular denomination was to be forbidden.


However thanks to a newly found "Living Constitution" we are free from the thoughts of all those old dusty dead white men.


just a reminder-gird your loins- we will soon be hearing the term "Living Constitution" again as Dems try and get rid of the electoral college once more.....

12 posted on 08/18/2004 3:22:12 PM PDT by Grendelgrey (....nay, we are but men..........Rock!)
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To: The Lumster

Matthew 22:21 I believe.


13 posted on 08/18/2004 3:30:51 PM PDT by tacticalogic ( Controlled application of force is the sincerest form of communication.)
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To: The Lumster

We ought to obey God rather than men. - Acts 5:29


14 posted on 08/18/2004 3:37:10 PM PDT by Tailgunner Joe (Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people.)
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To: Grendelgrey
However thanks to a newly found "Living Constitution" we are free from the thoughts of all those old dusty dead white men.

Not really anything "newly found" about it, just following in the footsteps of FDR.

15 posted on 08/18/2004 3:41:08 PM PDT by tacticalogic ( Controlled application of force is the sincerest form of communication.)
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To: tacticalogic

"If Caesar is due an ass kicking, God wants us to give it to him."

Care to cite chapter and verse for that?

"Matthew 22:21 I believe."


I'd say your exegesis is a bit faulty here. :-)


16 posted on 08/18/2004 3:41:21 PM PDT by The Lumster
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To: Tailgunner Joe

bump


17 posted on 08/18/2004 3:41:41 PM PDT by Tribune7
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To: The Lumster
I'd say your exegesis is a bit faulty here. :-)

Some people find it so, others not so much.

18 posted on 08/18/2004 3:45:13 PM PDT by tacticalogic ( Controlled application of force is the sincerest form of communication.)
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To: Tailgunner Joe

I absolutely agree that we should obey God rather than man.

So when the scripture says "the powers that be are ordained of God" that would include the King of England wouldn't it?

And when the scripture says "Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God:" That would seem to indicate that our armed rebellion against the King was in fact a rebellion against the ordinance of God.

So are we a Christian nation or are we a nation of rebels?


19 posted on 08/18/2004 3:49:02 PM PDT by The Lumster
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To: Tailgunner Joe

Excellent post! Thanks!


20 posted on 08/18/2004 3:50:43 PM PDT by sneakers
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To: The Lumster

Lumster...God removed the King of Israel many long centuries ago.We wait for Jesus to return and rightfully take his throne.Until then all leaders are stewards.We just happen to elect ours....


21 posted on 08/18/2004 4:01:34 PM PDT by Grendelgrey (....nay, we are but men..........Rock!)
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To: The Lumster
The word revolution, in its old sense, was "a round of periodic or recurrent changes or events – that is, the process of coming full cycle, or the act of rolling back or moving back, a return to a point previously occupied." (2)

Jefferson suggested in 1776, "Is it not better now that we return at once unto that happy system of our ancestors, the wisest and most perfect ever yet devised by the wit of man?"

He understood what a revolution was. He was referring to returning to the government of the ancient Anglo-Saxons of the fourth century A.D. and beyond, to the ancient Israelites and their system of judges.

So who are these people kidding? What order and what law did the Americans rebel against and overthrow? Private property, equality, local self-government, limitations of powers, divisions of powers, taxation (by consent), natural rights, the pre-eminence of God's law, common law, trial by jury, and laws against theft, murder, deception, profanity and so forth, were their heritage, not their invention.

As Edmund Burke noted about this "true revolution," the Founders built a more glorious structure upon the ancient traditions of English law. - Commies, They were Not!


22 posted on 08/18/2004 4:02:43 PM PDT by Tailgunner Joe (Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people.)
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To: Grendelgrey

God still selects the leaders of nations

Dan 4:27
....that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest (lowest) of men.

Tha fact remains that all powers are ordained by God. When our founders took up arms aginst the established power they were rebelling against God himself. God allowed this but it doesn't mean He places His stamp of approval upon the methods used.

Many nations such as Canada and Australia were once part of the British empire and gained their freedom without a violent rebellion.

Nevertheless, God has used this nation for His glory but only because there has always been a remnant of the righteous in it. Not because we were founded on Christianity.

Isaiah 40:17
All nations before him are as nothing; and they are counted to him less than nothing, and vanity


23 posted on 08/18/2004 4:26:22 PM PDT by The Lumster
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To: The Lumster
King George was the one who rebelled against God by usurping powers that were not granted to him.

That is why God selected new leaders to govern this nation according to His laws.

24 posted on 08/18/2004 4:41:34 PM PDT by Tailgunner Joe (Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people.)
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To: NC28203

>>Yes, but then they went and added that pesky Bill of Rights in which the First Amendment seems to contradict the First Commandment. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . .

As long as there was "free exercise", Christianity was not threatened. There was nothing to prevent its continued dominance in our society. That is why communist infiltrators, such as the A.C.L.U., had to eliminate the "free exercise" clause to incorporate their agenda. They accomplished it by judicial tyranny.



25 posted on 08/18/2004 4:53:37 PM PDT by PhilipFreneau
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To: NC28203
The real object of the First Amendment was not to countenance much less to advance Mohammedanism, or Judaism, or infidelity, by prostrating Christianity, but to exclude all rivalry among Christian sects [denominations] and to prevent any national ecclesiastical patronage of the national government. - Joseph Story
26 posted on 08/18/2004 6:57:52 PM PDT by Tailgunner Joe (Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people.)
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To: Tailgunner Joe

Bump for later.


27 posted on 08/18/2004 6:59:34 PM PDT by hedgetrimmer
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To: The Lumster
...The Kings of Europe can claim anything they wish but it does not make that claim so. Many an English King came to the throne through bloodshed ,murder ,intrigue and civil war.Many of Israel's kings were overthrown in much the same manner.Mad King George had The House of Lords cutting into his power.Did that nullify his authority under God?


Indeed God did NOT even want Israel to have a king other than for them to trust in Him, and follow his appointed men.Lots of scripture states that He will remove his anointing from Kings who fail Him, and He did so repeatedly. While I agree that we are blessed only because it suits God's purpose,I do believe that it can be historically proved that the nation has been founded upon deep Christian roots....

28 posted on 08/18/2004 7:00:35 PM PDT by Grendelgrey (....nay, we are but men..........Rock!)
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To: Tailgunner Joe

Ahh, Tailgunner Joe, Anderson left out the most important part,

the People:

the records left by my forefathers (in Massachusetts 1620-1775) and by others' forefathers in New England Town Hall Meetings and other colonies as well-----always prefaced by prayers to the Almighty God--

Therein will be found the essence in writing about the mindset of their principles.

If one checks those records, one can discern the highest values already present here brought to these shores from the descendants of the people of the Magana Carta and English
Common Law.
A lot of my ancestors in Ipswich and Plymouth couldn't read or write too well as attested to their private letters and legal documents.

Thus one must rely upon their spoken words inscribed by the
recorders at the Town hall meetings and other
gatherings of the people and authorities. (Freedom to Assemble, Religion etc.)

Exempla Gratia:

The basis of the second amendment:

my family has had weapons since 1620,
an unbroken line handed down of WEAPONS from muskets
to Blunderbusses to Civil War .50 calibers
to carbines and other weapons, from father to
son and daughter, from cousins to nephews etc. down to the present day.

The U.S. Constitution merely transferred, and REAFFIRMED, CONFIRMED and REASSURED those rights which had been practised under Massachusetts and other colonies' laws.

Yet, e.g., even before 1607 and
1620, we mention French settlers, my other ancestors, who had been practising these rights to bear arms, to assemble, etc., since 1590's under French New World Territories laws and before in the northern parts of the New hampshire, Maine and New York (VT later), to be absorbed later into the U.S. populace as citizens thru marriage and pensioners in Washington's Army.

Not only that, but Native Americans had rights guaranteed by the English Crown Treaties of 1763 and others Colonies' Treaties with NA's which were reaffirmed and GUARANTEED by the US Treaties of 1784 and 1794 Chatauqua, which allowed them TO BEAR ARMS FOREVER, assemble freely, etc, on their native lands for the exercise of their
LIBERTY and Happiness. (Iroquois Confederacy etc.,) ...


The NA's and the Colonists were doing what they had been doing sincethe French, Dutch and English had established their colonies here:

The French, Dutch, English settlers and farmers and NA's had arms for mutual defense against each other and these rights were previously inscribed in Town Hall meeting records, private letters, and Treaties, respectively.

(New England Indian Wars, King Philp's War, Queen Ann's War, French and Indian War, etc.)

The a priori requirements for any proof of the background of the Constitution and Declaration of Independence
rest in the daily, weekly and monthly records and letters of the Colonists and their co-existing sometimes enemies, the Native Americans (via oral tradition)
against whom the colonists had to be well -armed even up to the time of the War of 1812, due to the New York State Militia, for example, telling the farmers of the Adirondacks
to fend for themselves against Indian raiders and that the NY State Militia could not send help when they sent messages to the NY State Militia asking for help.

This assumes that, of course, the farmers, (my ancestors) were well armed to fight close battles with an equally
well-armed foe. Later on, some of these NA's married non-NA's and brought their NA rights by tradition and treaty into the American fold.

Just ask any descendant of a Mayflower family or of any 17th
Century colonists and you will hear the
same true stories.

Rely upon the testimony of the people and you will find
the reaffirmation of their RIGHTS in the U.S.
Constitution, reaffirming their ancestors' traditions
from generation to generation for over 400 years, even unto now, 2004.

The proof is in the people; the proof is in the Constitution;
The people live 10 generations, an unbroken line of Patriots
in the Constitution still reaffirming their ancestors'
values and rights of life unchanged in essence and practice then as now:

My forefathers' blood spilled at
the Battle of Bunker Hill and the Battle of Saratoga is their testament, their legacy, for
The U.S. Constitution is written in their blood, their sacrifice for us today.

God bless America!

Case closed.






29 posted on 08/18/2004 8:38:18 PM PDT by bunkerhill7 (case closed)
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To: Tailgunner Joe

I am always struck by how people like Dershowitz can make the claims that they make. Their ignorance of what our founders read and discussed is mind-boggling. The most glaring example is that they seem to acknowledge Locke's influence but cannot possibly have read "The Second Treatise" and take the positions that they take with any level of intellectual honesty. Every page in it is saturated with references to scripture, the Divine Creator and the Divine Creation.


30 posted on 08/18/2004 8:50:43 PM PDT by AmericanVictory (Should we be more like them, or they like us?)
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To: bunkerhill7; Tailgunner Joe

Thanks for your posts. I know someone whose young daughter wants to be an attorney. I asked what kind of law and they didn't know. I suggested constitutional law and will give a copy of this thread to her.


31 posted on 08/18/2004 10:31:54 PM PDT by lakey
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Comment #32 Removed by Moderator

To: Dumb_Ox
Authors Most Frequently Cited By the Founders of the United States
33 posted on 08/19/2004 4:58:54 PM PDT by Tailgunner Joe
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To: Tailgunner Joe

Thank you! I remember that ranking being on a yellow background, though. Oh, well.


34 posted on 08/20/2004 9:17:07 AM PDT by Dumb_Ox (Ares does not spare the good, but the bad.)
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To: NC28203
The Decalogue addresses what were long considered to be man’s vertical and horizontal duties.

Noah Webster, the man personally responsible for Art. I, Sec. 8, ¶ 8, of the U. S. Constitution, explained two centuries ago:
The duties of men are summarily comprised in the Ten Commandments, consisting of two tables; one comprehending the duties which we owe immediately to God-the other, the duties we owe to our fellow men.

So all the Commandments are enforceable by God, but the only ones enforceable by man are those that directly affect another person. (murder, theft, fraud, perjury, etc.)

The Commandments define 'crime'

35 posted on 08/20/2004 9:27:54 AM PDT by MamaTexan (TAG - You're it! :)
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To: MamaTexan

>>>The duties of men are summarily comprised in the Ten Commandments, consisting of two tables; one comprehending the duties which we owe immediately to God - the other, the duties we owe to our fellow men.


Then should attempts at posting the 10 Commandments be limited to posting just those in which we owe a duty to our fellow man (murder, theft, fraud, perjury)? I think that would remove a considerable amount of the controversy.


36 posted on 08/20/2004 12:09:43 PM PDT by NC28203
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To: NC28203
I think that would remove a considerable amount of the controversy.

While you're probably correct, the 10 Commandments need to be displayed in their entirety.

Not just because of their content, but to remind people the structure of America goes like this;
God
Man
government.

You are endowed by your Creator- (whatever your right of conscience tells you that Creator is) -with unalienable rights.

Just because the Commandments are from the Christian religion, doesn't mean you have to BE Christian, you only have to obey the 'horizontal laws' of the 10 Commandments.

Since the fabrication of 'separation of church and state', government has tried to supplant natural (God given)law with positive (man made) law.

As I've said before, the Commandments define 'crime', but government has tried to redefine it.

From nolo.com legal dictionary;
crime
A type of behavior that is has been defined by the state, as deserving of punishment which usually includes imprisonment. Crimes and their punishments are defined by Congress and state legislatures.

So, according to our legal system, when government doesn't approve of our 'behavior', it makes it illegal and criminal to disobey.

37 posted on 08/20/2004 1:50:06 PM PDT by MamaTexan (TAG - You're it! :)
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To: MamaTexan

If "you only have to obey the 'horizontal laws' of the 10 Commandments" should they be displayed with the caveat that only some of them need to be obeyed?

I have been discussing on another thread where a superintendent poted them in a school.
When the highest ranking government employee in the government operated and financed schools posts a a list of rules on the wall, isn't their an implication to the students that they should follow all of those rules?
If they are not required to follow them all, then there will be confusion as to which rules they must adhere to.


38 posted on 08/20/2004 2:15:20 PM PDT by NC28203
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To: The Lumster

Calvin's Institutes, I believe in the famed Chapter XX, spoke of the need for "lesser magistrates" to resist idolatrous or tyrannical ambitions of the King. The American counter-revolution was a scrupulously law-abiding re-assertion of the traditional Christian order imperilled by insane royal ambitions. ("The Madness of King George!")


39 posted on 08/20/2004 2:16:27 PM PDT by TomSmedley ((technical writer looking for work!))
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