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February 2017 Policy Study, Number 17-2


A Commentary on the American Founding


Part 18



It would appear we are at a crossroads.  Government growth and control have been expanding at an ever-increasing rate, and our liberty has been decreasing commensurately.  When will our liberty be denied?  When will we reach critical mass?  When will we reach the point of no return?  It is this author’s earnest desire that we acknowledge our stumble and right ourselves by returning to the course set by our Founders — the course of liberty:


If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace.  We seek not your counsel, nor your arms.  Crouch down and lick the hands that feed you.  May your chains set lightly upon you; and may posterity forget that ye were our countryman.  (Samuel Adams).


But what is the course of liberty . . . that animating contest for freedom?  Will we know it when we see it?  How will we know it?  How many people do you personally know who have ever read their state constitution all the way through, or even the United States Constitution — much less actually studied them?  If the citizens of this nation are not familiar with their constitutions and the history surrounding them, how can they then use them to protect their liberty?


It is characteristic of any decaying civilization that the great masses of the people are unconscious of the tragedy . . . the great masses, without faith, are unconscious of the destructive processes going on, because they have lost the vision of the heights from which they have fallen.  (Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, 1948).


The last question posed above brings us to our final and most important “we must.”  We must teach our children of liberty.  No one must be allowed to graduate from high school, much less college, without being introduced and becoming familiar with the history that surrounds the impetus, design, and implementation of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the respective state constitutions.  Our young people must develop a keen understanding of these blessed documents from an early age.  When we fail to inculcate the values and meanings found in these documents in our youth, we send them forth unarmed into the never-ending battle in defense of liberty.  Being unarmed, it is a battle they are destined to lose.


Our schools, both public and private, must be charged with the commission of this endeavor.  And a still greater responsibility falls upon us as parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, neighbors, and fellow citizens to introduce, teach, and further reinforce the importance of the lessons on liberty.  To fall short in this responsibility is a grievous act of perfidy.


God has given to men all that is necessary for them to accomplish their destinies.  He has provided a social form as well as a human form.  And these social organs of persons are so constituted that they will develop themselves harmoniously in the clean air of liberty.  Away, then, with quacks and organizers!  Away with their rings, chains, hooks, and pincers!  Away with their artificial systems!  Away with the whims of governmental administrators, their socialized projects, their centralization, their tariffs, their government schools, their state religions, their free credit, their bank monopolies, their regulations, their restrictions, their equalization by taxation, and their pious moralizations!  And now that the legislators and do-gooders have so futilely inflicted so many systems upon society, may they finally end where they should have begun: May they reject all systems, and try [return to] liberty; for liberty is an acknowledgment of faith in God and His works.  (Emphasis added).  (Frederic Bastiat, The Law).


In their desire for liberty, they pledged their very lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.  Their commitment wasn’t to a government, for they were quite apprehensive of government, or even to their country.  Their commitment was to liberty!  And their commitment was complete.  The government, which they established of necessity, was merely the means by which they would secure their individual liberty.


I often wonder whether we do not rest our hopes too much upon constitutions, upon laws and upon courts.  These are false hopes, believe me, these are false hopes.  Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it; no constitution, no law, no court can even do much to help it.  While it lies there it needs no constitution, no law, no court to save it. (Emphasis added).  (Judge Learned Hand)




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