The preservation of the sacred fire of liberty, and the destiny of the republican model of government, are justly considered deeply, perhaps as finally, staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.~George Washington~
What did Washington mean when he said the words in that quote? I’ll tell you what they mean to me; it means that whether our country continues to exist as a nation founded upon the principle of individual liberty, or whether it morphs into a semi-dictatorial state or an aristocracy of the rich and powerful will depend upon the people who inhabit the country.
If our country is in sad shape the fault lies not with those who sit in the seats of power; it lies not with the Democrats or the Republicans; it falls upon YOUR shoulders; because you put those people into office with your votes. The fault lies with you because you did not take the time to learn what your system of government was designed to do; and then elect people who would stay within the limits the Constitution imposes upon it.
The government has not failed you; you have failed your country.
I may very well be an enigma as I love to study the history of my country and the origin of its system of government. However, history to most people is a dry and boring subject. Our schools gloss over it; buffing it out and making the truth more politically correct, all the while revising and distorting the facts to paint an untrue picture of how our nation grew from the first settlers at Plymouth to where we are today. This is why, to this day, there is still such angst and animosity when someone tries to tell the truth about the War of Northern Aggression, i.e. The Civil War.
Nonetheless, Noah Webster, the man whose name is synonymous with our most commonly used dictionary, once said, “Every child in America should be acquainted with his own country. He should read books that furnish him with ideas that will be useful to him in life and practice. As soon as he opens his lips, he should rehearse the history of his own country.”
I am a product of the public fool system as much as anyone else, but I have chosen to try and make up for the failure of my countries educational system by seeking out the truth for myself. Still, the more I learn the more I realize I don’t know a damned thing about the true history of my country. I may never learn the whole story, but at least I’m trying; unlike many of the people to whom I address these articles.
There are, however, critical periods that one should pay close attention to if they wish to learn how we got to where we are today. The period which gave birth to our nation is one of them, and the period leading up to, and encompassing the Civil War is another.
Just out of curiosity, how many of you know the name Joseph Warren? Aside from a few devout students of the period which gave birth to our republic I doubt that many of you have even heard the name, let alone know who he was or what he did.
Joseph Warren was a physician, [a doctor], who lived ruing the period which spawned our nation’s first war for independence. He served as president of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress. It was Warren who enlisted Paul Revere and William Dawes, who on April 18, 1775 made their famous rides to warn that the British were on their way to Lexington and Concord; not only to seize the arms stored there, but to arrest John Hancock and Samuel Adams as well. Warren participated that day when militiamen that fought the Redcoats in the battle where the shot which started the Revolution was first fired. Warren held the rank of Major General in the militia but chose to fight as a Private amongst his men at Bunker Hill; where he was killed in action.
Warren was, what most people would consider, a hero of the American Revolution. I’ll bet you didn’t know all that; did you? Well then, I’m positive you aren’t familiar with something he said, “Stain not the glory of your worthy ancestors, but like them resolve never to part with your birthright; be wise in your deliberations, and determined in your exertions for the preservations of your liberties. Follow not the dictates of passion, but enlist yourselves under the sacred banner of reason; use every method in your power to secure your rights.” (emphasis added)
Re-read that underlined sentence if you must; use every method in your power to secure your rights. That is a solemn obligation upon us all as Americans, to use every possible means to preserve our rights. I have to laugh though; because today there are but few people living in this country who know the first damned thing about their rights; so how can they fight to defend them?
To far too many rights are things like the right to health care, the right to an education, and the right to food and housing. These are not the rights our Founders fought to secure for us; these are, as P.J. O’Rourke said, the rations of slavery.
True freedom, true liberty does not come from government; it comes from being free of governmental interference and the shackles of endless regulations telling you what, when, and how you must do something. True freedom does not come when you are rationed out handouts, subsidies, benefits which are paid for from the public treasury; as by our government giving you these benefits another person is enslaved to pay for them.
True liberty is, as Jefferson said, “…is unobstructed action according to our will: but rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will, within the limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add ‘within the limits of the law’; because law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the right of an individual.”(Thomas Jefferson to Isaac Tiffany, 4 April 1819)
Although most will not admit this, true liberty scares the hell out of most people. In a society where true liberty exists there is no safety net to catch you if you make a mistake, if you fail. You and you alone are responsible for your survival and your happiness. As Ben Franklin so aptly said, “The Constitution only gives people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it for yourself.”
In a system where true liberty exists you do not stifle speech because it offends. It a society where true liberty exists you do not place restrictions upon when, where, and how a person can defend themselves or their property. In a society where true liberty exists you do not take from those who have and give it to those in need.
Our country was fought for and established by men who sought one thing, and one thing only, a nation founded upon liberty. They established a system of government in which the people were to elect representatives to act on their behalf, but restricted by the limitations imposed by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. If that system fails, if it fails to preserve the liberty of the people then the fault lies with the people who both elect, and then tolerate the abuses of power by the people whom they elect.
In Federalist 51 James Madison offered us the great quandary that has led us to where we are today, “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.”
Our liberty is not the gift of a wise and benevolent government; they are our birthright; given to us from God. Our Declaration of Independence says that our rights come from our Creator and that government is instituted to protect those rights; not take them from us or limit or exercise of them.
Jefferson also said, “God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure if we have removed their only firm basis: a conviction in the minds of men that these liberties are the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever.” (A Summary View of the Rights of British America)
If our rights are, as Jefferson said, a gift from God; and if, as Joseph Warren said that we should use every means in our power to preserve our liberty, (which is nothing but the full and free exercise of our rights), then who do you think God’s wrath will be directed towards should our nation devolve into one of slavery and servitude? Hmmm?
I can give you a hint; go find a mirror.
There is another thing Noah Webster said that you should think about, “In selecting men for office, let principle be your guide. Regard not the particular sect or denomination of the candidate — look at his character. … When a citizen gives his vote to a man of known immorality, he abuses his civic responsibility; he not only sacrifices his own responsibility; he sacrifices not only his own interest, but that of his neighbor; he betrays the interest of his country.”
So if you intend to vote for someone merely on the belief that this guy is only slighter better than all the others; you are betraying the interests of your country. If you are voting for a certain candidate simply because they are the same political party as you; you are betraying the interests of your country.
There is something another Webster said, this time the relevant Webster being Daniel. I hold little love for this particular Webster, as he was instrumental in expanding the power of the central government; but even a broken clock is right twice a day. Therefore, something Webster said bears your attention, “There is no nation on earth powerful enough to accomplish our overthrow. Our destruction, should it come at all, will be from another quarter. From the inattention of the people to the concerns of their government, from their carelessness and negligence. I must confess that I do apprehend some danger. I fear that they may place too implicit a confidence in their public servants and fail properly to scrutinize their conduct; that in this way they may be made the dupes of designing men and become the instruments of their own undoing.”
And that my friends, is what I believe Washington meant by the words I began this article with…