When asked by a Philadelphia shopkeeper "what form of
government have we crafted ?" Benjamin Franklin replied. "A
Constitutional Republic sir……if you can keep it."
Truer words have never been spoken. As we struggle today to
maintain our grasp on our constitutional republic, it is
wise to elicit the thoughts of the men who pledged their
lives, and their
fortunes, and their sacred honor, to forge this nation for
us. They warned us of the potential for abuse and perversion
of our birthright. Let us hope we have the good judgment to
heed their warnings.
It is best to start with the Declaration of Independence,
for this is where our nation started. Having grown weary of
the oppression of the crown caring and principled men met to
forge a document, and set our nation on its course. They
chose Thomas Jefferson to put words to paper, and he did so
in a style
that has yet to be equaled. I cannot do justice to that
document here, and so with the approaching holiday, I
suggest you read it aloud with your family as part of the
celebration of Independence Day.
While the power of Jefferson’s words speak for themselves,
there is one phrase in the Declaration that captures the
spirit of that inspired document.
That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted
among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of
With this phrase, Jefferson juxtaposed the role of
government, and citizen. No longer were men to be considered
subjects, but rightful masters of government. This concept
was a novelty in those days, and I fear it is regaining its
Having declared themselves free men, the founders later met
and toiled to craft the Constitution of the United States,
and bring order out of chaos. They created a system of
representation. They created the office of president. They
created a judicial system. In each of these they vested
power, and they showed the foresight to vest no more power
in any, such that it might dominate the land.
They then added to the Constitution specific enumeration of
the rights of citizens of these United States. These
comprised of the first ten amendments to the Constitution,
and are called the Bill of Rights.
"The whole of the Bill of Rights is a declaration of the
right of the people at large or considered as individuals...
some rights of the individual as unalienable and which
consequently, no majority has a right to deprive them of." -
Albert Gallatin, October 7th, 1789.
With these words Mr. Gallatin has given us a warning. The
rights of free men, are inalienable, and no majority may
deprive us of them. And yet we find the deprivation of
these rights to be commonplace in today’s society. Have we
heard the warning? I think not.
The founders specified for us in the first amendment,
freedom of speech, and :the right to a free press. They
recognized the need of the citizenry, to effectively
communicate without governmental intervention. What better
way to prevent tyrannical rule, than to prevent the
government from controlling the means and content of
communication. Yet our nation seeks to destroy this ability
with limits on encryption technology, and by labeling
specific content as criminal hate speech. While hatred is
despicable, it is Constitutionally protected.
"The Constitution shall never be construed to authorize
Congress to infringe the just liberty of the press or the
conscience…." -Samuel Adams
The founders specified our right to keep and bear arms in
the second amendment to the Constitution. This amendment
gives We the People, our teeth. This was no incidental
afterthought, but a clearly designed warning to the
that the rights of the people, belong to the people. This
right is not a means of securing a sportsman’s ability to
hunt, as liberal instruments of government would have us
believe. It is our means of securing the blessings of
liberty as so aptly stated by all of the founders.
"Firearms stand next in importance to the Constitution
itself. They are the American people's liberty teeth and
keystone under independence...From the hour the Pilgrims
landed to the present day,events, occurrences, and
tendencies prove that to ensure peace, security, and
happiness, the rifle and pistol are equally indispensable...
The very atmosphere of firearms everywhere restrains evil
interference; they deserve a place of honor with all that's
good... A free people ought to be armed." - George
Washington, speech of January 7, 1790, printed in the Boston
Independent Chronicle, January 14, 1790.
"Are we at last brought to such humiliating and debasing
degradation, that we cannot be trusted with arms for our
defense? Where is the difference between having our arms in
possession and under our direction, and having them under
the management of Congress? If our defense be the real
object of having those arms, in whose hands can they be
trusted with more propriety, or equal safety to us, as in
our own hands?" - Patrick Henry
Although there is a nearly limitless list of quotes to
choose from here. These two amply demonstrate the intent of
the founders with respect to firearms. They make amply
clear the need for affirmation of our second amendment
rights. Yet our government seeks to limit and harass us in
our right at every turn. Extreme caution is called for
The founders warned us about our "grand social
experimentation" regarding the redistribution of wealth…
"The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from
those who are willing to work and give to those who would
not." --Thomas Jefferson
And they warned us about the dangers of public education……
"It is better to tolerate the rare instance of a parent
refusing to let his child be educated, than to shock the
common feelings and
ideas by forcible asportation and education of the infant
against the will of the father." - Thomas Jefferson.
And they warned us about the maintenance of our
"I say the same as to the opinion of those who consider the
grant of the treaty making power as boundless. If it is,
then we have no Constitution." - Thomas Jefferson,
They warned us about federal usurpation….
"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." -
10th Amendment, U.S. Constitution.
And about taxation……
"The power to tax involves the power to destroy." -Supreme
Court Chief Justice John Marshall, 1819
They warned about regulation…..
"Were we directed from Washington when to sow and when to
reap, we should soon want bread." - Thomas Jefferson,
But most of all… They warned us about the monstrous specter
that is government….
"Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force.
Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful
master." - George Washington, presidential farewell address
We have failed to heed these warnings, and our nation
suffers for our failure. We are the children of a decisive
age. Our nation was handed to us not in ownership, but in
trust. Let us now rise to the task of that trust and restore
our nation to its rightful place.
"Hold on, my friends, to the Constitution and to the
Republic for which it stands. Miracles do not cluster and
what has happened once in 6,000 years, may not happen again.
Hold on to the Constitution, for if the American
Constitution should fail, there will be anarchy throughout
the world." - Daniel Webster, 1851
We are indeed a Constitutional Republic.... If we can keep
it. We can't say we weren't warned.....as we celebrate the
birth of our nation this coming weekend, take a moment to
think about the state of our Constitutional Republic. Don't
let the curtain fall quietly on the greatest system of
government ever to grace the face of our planet....
This one really is for the children....