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The Foundation of America

By Justin Storm

Introduction

More than 200 years ago, in the year 1776, thirteen American colonies declared
independence from, as the founders described it, “an absolute Tyranny” that was
administered and executed by King George III. Numerous British “injuries and
usurpations” on the American people prompted the free thinking, strong willed
immigrant citizens to declare and fight for their independence for the next eight
years (1776-1783). The fight was an arduous one. Many battles were won and lost
on each side. Had certain, seemingly random, occurrences favored the British
forces, America would have dissipated into renewed bondage and its great history
would likely have been altered into mediocrity. Cornwallis, who led the British
troops at Yorktown during what is considered the battle that ended the war,
summed it well when he “expostulated that it even looked like God was on
Washington’s side” (pg. 104). Washington recounted and affirmed numerous
events where divine providence had protected him in war.

The people on this continent were preserved and liberated to carry out a great
work. Liberation led to freedom but history, at that time, proved that freedom
rarely leads to sustained happiness and security. In fact, the founders identified
only two nations in the history of mankind that were able to provide “certain
unalienable Rights… (of) Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness”(Declaration of
Independence) for a sustained period of time. It was the founders’ mission to
resurrect, what Thomas Jefferson called, the “ancient principles” to establish a
republic of, for, and by the people; a republic that has blessed this and hundreds of
other countries for the past two hundred years. The purpose of this paper is for
the reader to understand the governmental principles and structure found in the
U.S. constitution that led to the greatest nation on earth.

Constitutional Convention

During the revolutionary war the United States of America adopted what was known
as the “Articles of Confederation” to govern the birth of our nation. It was evident
by the end of this war that the articles were incapable of preserving the country’s
freedom. The articles themselves nearly forfeited the colonies to the British
because of its inability to facilitate quick decisions, raise wartime funds, and
establish a synergetic relationship between the states. The U.S. troops, who were
severely mistreated during the war and not financially compensated as promised,
were so dissatisfied with the Articles of Confederation that they proposed, and
almost forced, a military based government with George Washington as King (King
George I). Had it not been for Washington’s wisdom and humility the proposed
monarchy would have likely displaced the birth and reality of the nation we enjoy
today.

With the threat of a monarchy subsiding and anarchy looming over the states,
Congress knew that revisions to the Articles of Confederation were immediately
required. The Constitutional Convention or “The Miracle at Philadelphia”, as it is
called, started on May 25, 1787 (almost 11 years after the Declaration of
Independence was signed). It was here that the greatest minds of the time came to
debate the new governing document that would shape the nation. It is because of
this convention that we venerate and celebrate the secured blessings of life, liberty,
and pursuit of happiness found in the U.S. Constitution.

People’s Law

The founders developed a scale through which all governments were measured. At
one end they identified too little government (right side) and at the other end too
much government (left side). Does this sound familiar? Traditionally democrats
who are known for wanting more government involvement are considered “Lefties”
or “left winged” and republicans who want less governmental regulation are
considered “righties” or “right winged”. The challenge and goal of the
constitutional convention was to establish a government that contained the fine
balance between tyranny (extreme left) and anarchy (extreme right). The founders
despised tyranny but considered anarchy even worse. “They felt that the formula
must provide enough government to insure order and justice but not so much
government that it could abuse the people. They referred to this as the “medium
point” or balanced center between anarchy and tyranny” (pg. 42 Making of America
(MofA)).

Ruler’s Law (Tyranny) People’s Law (Balanced Center) No


Law (Anarchy)

The founders were well aware of the “swinging pendulum” that went from tyranny
to anarchy after a revolution. This typically occurred when the suppressed people
overthrow the traditional government and do so with no structure or plan in place.
Without much knowledge of sound political principles the people “would soon find
themselves quarreling, bickering, and eventually fighting one another” (pg. 42).
The result was extreme chaos from which “a cry would gradually arise for someone
to take over and restore order. Always, there seemed to be some strong man,
anxious to assume command. Taking control by force he would soon have order
restored, but in the process the people would be right back where they were before
– under a tyrant” (pg. 42 MofA). This pendulum swing is exactly what occurred in
the French revolution when the people freed themselves from a king only to re-
captivate themselves under the well known menace-ruler Napoleon. Fortunately,
the swinging U.S. pendulum was stopped when George Washington declined the
honor of becoming King George I. In summary, everything discussed and debated
at the convention had the ultimate end of cracking the governmental code to
establishing People’s Law.

Two Examples

Recent history could not be dissected to find this formula. The last 700 or so years
were considered dark ages and littered with examples of Ruler’s Law (Monarchy).
The founders had very few successful examples of governments that contained
ingredients to the balanced center. Two examples existed prior to the onset of the
dark ages.

Ancient Israel

The first example was found among the children of Israel in the Old Testament. It
was at the age of eighty that God called upon Moses to liberate the Hebrews from
Egyptian bondage. Once liberated and traveling in the wilderness the population
was estimated to be roughly 3 Million (pg. 49 MofA). Interestingly, Moses had been
trained in Ruler’s law upward of forty years at Pharaoh’s palace. Now he faced the
same dilemma the founders faced: what system of government did God want his
people to have?

Moses’ first attempt was to mimic Pharaoh’s government by putting himself as the
ruler over 600,000 households. It is recorded that “…the people stood by Moses
from the morning unto the evening.” (Exodus 18:13). Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro,
visited the chosen people and observed Moses’ struggle to attend to matters both
great and small and “retire to his tent at night in total exhaustion” (pg. 49). “And
when [Jehtro] saw all that he did to the people, he said, What is this thing that thou
doest to the people? Why sittest thou thyself alone, and all the people stand by
thee, from morning unto even?...The thing which thou doest is not good” (Exodus
18:13-16). Jethro then instructed him on a structure that would ease his burden and
allow the people to rule.
Jethro’s Plan

The people were to “take” men known for their wisdom and understanding and
bring them before Moses for final ratification as rulers and judges. Over time the
system of government began to take shape with numerous layers of communities
each led by elected leaders. The communities were layered very much like a state
is today with towns and cities, counties, and states. In addition to the elected
leaders another permanent council of seventy was also put in place to contribute to
the administrative and legislative affairs of the people. The burden no longer rested
with Moses but was shared among the people. See below for detailed diagram on
Israelite government:
Anglo-Saxon

The recorded beginnings of the Anglo-Saxons are traced to land near the Black Sea
in first century B.C. and from there spread all across Northern Europe. They were
known for being the best organized and governed people of their day. They
conquered and intermarried with the royal families of Northern Europe enabling
them to rule after their own customs and not after the monarch tradition. In fact,
the island of Britain had its name changed under their rule to England (Anglo-land
or Engel-land). Their system of government very much resembled that of ancient
Israel. Skousen wrote:

“Many have thought the Yinglings, or Anglo-Saxons, included a branch of the


ancient Israelites because they came from the territory of the Black Sea (where the
Ten Tribes disappeared), and because they preserved the same unique institutes of
government as those which were given to the Israelites at Mount Sinai. But whether
related or not, there is certainly irrefutable evidence of a cross-fertilization of laws
and cultural values between these two peoples” (pg. 55).

The similarities between the children of Israel and Anglo Saxons are as follows:

1) They considered themselves a commonwealth of freemen

2) They organized themselves into units identical to those of the Israelites.

a. The head of 10 families was called a tithing-man

b. The head of 50 families became an obscure office but may have been
a vil-man, or head of village

c. The head of 100 families was called the hundred man

d. The head of 1,000 families was called the eolderman, later shortened
to earl. The territory occupied by 1,000 families was called a shire,
and the administrative assistant to the earl was called the “shire reef.”
We pronounce it sheriff.

3) All laws, as well as the election of leaders, had to be by the common consent
of the people.

4) Authority granted to a chieftain in time of war was extremely limited and was
taken away from him as soon as the emergency had passed.

5) Their system of justice was based on payment of damages to the victim


rather than calling, is a crime against the whole people.

These and many other Anglo-based examples are what Thomas Jefferson referred to
as the “ancient principles” and came as a breath of fresh air when comparing it to
existing forms of government. These guidelines were an important ingredient as
the founders tried to develop the success formula for these newly formed United
States. In fact, their influence was so instrumental to the organization of the U.S.
government that Thomas Jefferson proposed to have the below symbols on the U.S.
seal.
Instead the founders landed on the seals that we recognize below:

Organizing According to the Ancient Principles

Vertical Separation of Powers


With these two governments before them the founders had the challenge to
organize and apply these principles to 18th century America. The obvious
organizational structure that the founders needed to mimic was the pyramid
approach as depicted in the children of Israel diagram. This grouping process and
assigning responsibilities to each group is what they referred to as the vertical
separation of powers. The decided upon separation of powers is as follows:

1. The Individual – has the right and responsibility to solve most problems as it
relates to work, play associations, education, etc.

2. The Family – founders considered this to be the most important unit of


organized society. It has an inescapable responsibility in the conduct,
education, and religious training of their children. They were to raise morally
competent, self-sustaining adults.

3. The Community – responsibility to provide roads, schools, water, police


protection, city courts, etc. They have power to tax to provide these
services.

4. The County – responsibility of prosecuting serious crimes, secure long-term


jail (although less than a year), county roads, bridges, and drainage systems;
providing rural schools, police services, keeping records, conducting
elections, caring for the needy and protecting public health.

5. The State – has the authority to tax, regulate commerce, establish courts,
define crime and prescribe punishment, establish and maintain public
schools, build roads and bridges, pass laws to protect the health, safety, and
morals of its people. Although states can only intervene where public
morality is involved such as liquor, gambling, drugs, and prostitution. The
state is responsible in defining what public morality is. They are set up to be
a protection of the will of the people.

6. National Government – Powers allocated to national government were


carefully enumerated in the constitution. They include foreign affairs, war,
federal taxes, bankruptcy laws, interstate commerce, federal lands and
property, federal finance, coining of money, fixing weights and measures,
post offices, federal courts, crime on the high seas or violations of the law of
nations. The Tenth Amendment was created to remind national government
that it had no authority in any area not specifically described in the
Constitution.

Government Structure

After grouping, the founders now needed to develop a government that would
facilitate and secure people’s law. This was perhaps the most challenging part. The
founders instilled several checks and balances to avoid the government leaning too
far to the left or right of the balanced center. Skousen describes this organizational
structure by the diagram below:

After months of debate at the constitutional convention this structure is what they
decided on and what exists today. A breakdown of the structure diagram is found
below (pg. 186 MofA).

Heads: Each head represents a branch of government. Note that the legislative
head has two eyes.

• Central Head was the law-making or legislative function.

o One eye is the senate which was originally “designed to look at


problems and legislation from the standpoint of the individual states
and the property or welfare of that state”.

o “The other eye (House of Representatives) was designed to focus on


the needs of the people themselves, who are citizens of the state but
have a different perspective from the state itself. Both of these eyes
must agree or see “eye to eye” before a piece of legislation can be
approved and sent to the President for his signature”.

• Second head was the executive department. This is the President of the
United States who operates in a clearly defined framework of power.

• Third head is the judicial branch which is meant to be the guardian of the
constitution and to interpret the original intent of the founders.

Wings: The wings represent the way in which government should solve problems.
• Wing #1 is called the problem solving wing. The purpose of this wing
is to find ways to solve the unfulfilled needs of the people.

• Wing #2 has the charge to conserve the nation’s resources and the
people’s freedom. Its purpose is to review and analyze the programs
of Wing #1 with two questions: First, can we afford it and second, will
the proposed plan compromise the rights and individual freedom of the
people.

If either of these wings fails to perform their role then the eagle may veer towards
the right (tyranny) or to the left (anarchy). For example, if the problem solving
wing becomes infatuated with solving all the nations’ problems regardless of the
cost and the conservation wing fails to step in and allows such to take place then
the Eagle starts to sway leftward towards tyranny or ruler’s law. On the other hand,
if wing #1 fails to see real problems of our country and/or wing #2 refuses to allow
the government to solve problems in an effort to save money then the people will
see their government’s incompetence. Such a scenario may frustrate the people to
the point where they overthrow the government which forces the eagle rightward
into anarchy.

If both these wings can fulfill their responsibilities the eagle has great potential to
sore higher than any other civilization that has ever existed.

The Claws – Lastly the claws are meant to show strength and power through war
(arrows) and peace (olive branch). Our purpose for war is to preserve one of our
most sacred principles… peace.

Conclusion

Our government did not happen by chance. The structure was not simply the ideas
of 18th century men put on paper and executed. Our nation’s birth was divine. The
founding fathers were raised up for the very purpose of establishing the greatest
nation ever known to mankind. Thousands of hours of study by each founder
contributed to the constitution and governmental structure detailed above. Our
government was not the first of its kind. Past generations implemented sound
principles which led to freedom and prosperity. They established building blocks
referred to by Thomas Jefferson as “ancient principles”. These building blocks have
given us the foundation that has led to peace, prosperity, and the pursuit of
happiness for the last 200 years.

Our freedom is based on the individual citizen understanding the principles of the
constitution. If we cannot identify when the eagle is swaying too far to the right or
too far the left then we will not have the power to prevent tyranny or anarchy. We
must heed the wise adage of “A people must from time to time, refresh themselves
at the well-spring of their origin, lest they perish”. Thomas Jefferson further clarified
the precarious state we are in today as a nation. “If a nation expects to be ignorant
and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.”
(Thomas Jefferson, letter to Chas. Yancey, 1816) As a nation are we educated or
ignorant? I am ignorant and am now just starting to understand why our nation is
great. I hope you have gained some understanding of this truth as well through the
reading of this paper.