225 Years Later...Get To Know Your Fathers
Happy Birthday to the Constitution of the United States.(http://www.usconstitution.net/const.html)
Two hundred and twenty-five years later, and you can't look at the United States, particularly in it's current political climate, from within, without seeing a clear division. A country formed to be United splits itself apart, many times over words written Two hundred and twenty-five years ago. (Let's not draw the clear parallels to the Bible and religion. We digress)
Stand by the constitution, and the rights it gives it's citizens, as we do, but remember in addition to not being widely accepted during it's time, it has also been amended (changed/added to) twenty-seven times to meet the needs of the times (most recently 40 years ago). Remember it was a document about organization and guidance of a country, not about controlling and abusing the rights of it's people.
No matter the side, there are several articles and amendments that have been subject to...heated debate. But we're not here to talk about those, or even the words of the constitution, per se.
No, today seems like a good day for some words from the Founding Fathers of the United States of America, on this day, the 225th birthday of our seemingly corruptible and exploited papers of freedom. Who were those men that birthed those important documents, and what were their thoughts...
John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and George Washington. Among them are lawyers, political thinkers, writers, plantation owners (slave owners), and then there was Benjamin Franklin...musician, scientist, satirist, inventor (who seems out of place with the political company he kept).
Here are some of my favourite quotes from the founding fathers. The words they say/write help us better frame the purpose of the founding documents of the country we call home, as well as the men behind the ink.
"[...] the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion" (The Barbary Treaties 1786-1816 - Treaty of Peace and Friendship, Signed at Tripoli November 4, 1796 http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/bar1796t.asp)
And now, words from our Fathers...
Plantation owner, Office of Armed Forces, First President of the United States.
"It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliance with any portion of the foreign world."
-- George Washington, Farewell Address to the People of the United States
"Religious controversies are always productive of more acrimony and irreconcilable hatreds than those which spring from any other cause; and I was not without hopes that the enlightened and liberal policy of the present age would have put an effectual stop to contentions of this kind."
-- George Washington, Letter to Sir Edward Newenham (22 June 1792)
"There is nothing which can better deserve our patronage than the promotion of science and literature. Knowledge is in every country the surest basis of public happiness."
-- George Washington, address to Congress (8 January, 1790)
"If they are good workmen, they may be from Asia, Africa or Europe; they may be Mahometans, Jews, Christians of any sect, or they may be Atheists..."
-- George Washington, to Tench Tighman (March 24, 1784)
"To give opinions unsupported by reasons might appear dogmatical."
-- George Washington, to Alexander Spotswood (November 22, 1798)
Lawyer, First Vice-President and Second President of the United States
"Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence." -- John Adams, Argument in Defense of the British Soldiers in the Boston Massacre Trials, Dec. 4, 1770
"Abuse of words has been the great instrument of sophistry and chicanery, of party, faction, and division of society." -- John Adams, letter to J. H. Tiffany, Mar. 31, 1819
"Laws for the liberal education of youth, especially of the lower class of people, are so extremely wise and useful, that, to a humane and generous mind, no expense for this purpose would be thought extravagant." -- John Adams, Thoughts on Government
"There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution." -- John Adams, letter to Jonathan Jackson, Oct. 2, 1789
Plantation owner, Lawyer, Congressman, Third President of the United States
"Because religious belief, or non-belief, is such an important part of every person's life, freedom of religion affects every individual. Religious institutions that use government power in support of themselves and force their views on persons of other faiths, or of no faith, undermine all our civil rights. Moreover, state support of an established religion tends to make the clergy unresponsive to their own people, and leads to corruption within religion itself. Erecting the "wall of separation between church and state," therefore, is absolutely essential in a free society.
We have solved, by fair experiment, the great and interesting question whether freedom of religion is compatible with order in government and obedience to the laws. And we have experienced the quiet as well as the comfort which results from leaving every one to profess freely and openly those principles of religion which are the inductions of his own reason and the serious convictions of his own inquiries."
-- Thomas Jefferson, to the Virginia Baptists (1808) ME 16:320.
"[N]o man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer, on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities."
-- Thomas Jefferson, Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom (1779)
"I never will, by any word or act, bow to the shrine of intolerance, or admit a right of inquiry into the religious opinions of others."
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Edward Dowse, April 19, 1803
"[N]o man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer, on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities." -- Thomas Jefferson, Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom (1779)
Plantation owner, Leader of the House of Representative Secretary of State, Fourth President of the United States. An author of The Federalist Papers (http://thomas.loc.gov/home/histdox/fedpapers.html).
"Conscience is the most sacred of all property; other property depending in part on positive law, the exercise of that being a natural and unalienable right. To guard a man's house as his castle, to pay public and enforce private debts with the most exact faith, can give no title to invade a man's conscience, which is more sacred than his castle, or to withhold from it that debt of protection for which the public faith is pledged by the very nature and original conditions of the social pact."
-- James Madison, The National Gazette (29 March 1792)
"During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity, in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution.
-- James Madison, Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments § 7 (1785)
"Religion & Govt. will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together."
-- James Madison, Letter to Edward Livingston (1822-07-10)
Writer, Lawyer, Economist, Soldier. First U.S. Secretary of Treasury. Principal author of The Federalist Papers (http://thomas.loc.gov/home/histdox/fedpapers.html).
"Ah, this is the constitution," he said. "Now, mark my words. So long as we are a young and virtuous people, this instument will bind us together in mutual interests, mutual welfare, and mutual happiness. But when we become old and corrupt, it will bind no longer.”'
-- Alexander Hamilton,
"Constitutions should consist only of general provisions; the reason is that they must necessarily be permanent, and that they cannot calculate for the possible change of things.
-- Alexander Hamilton, Elliot's Debates, volume 2, p. 364
**this dude was all about industry, manufacturing (obviously, because he was in charge of the money) and seemed to be pro-reasonable national deb ; but as the principle author of The Federalist Papers, so many quotes are attributed to that document.**
Lawyer, Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Chief Justice of the United States, Author of The Federalist Papers (http://thomas.loc.gov/home/histdox/fedpapers.html).
"Real christians will abstain from violating the rights of other, and therefore will not provoke war."
-- John Jay, Letter to John Murray (12 October 1816)
** There are very few words by John Jay, perhaps the most important things he contributed in writing was contained in The Federalist Papers. He is definitely the least commonly known founding father. **
Scientist, Author, Musician Politician
"I confess that there are several parts of this constitution which I do not at present approve, but I am not sure I shall never approve them; for having lived long, I have experienced many instances of being obliged by better information, or fuller consideration, to change opinions even on important subjects, which I once thought right, but found to be otherwise. It is therefore that the older I grow, the more apt I am to doubt my own judgment, and to pay more respect to the judgment of others."
-- Benjamin Franklin, Speech to the Constitutional Convention (September 17, 1787)
"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
-- Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania (1759)
"Make yourselves sheep and the wolves will eat you."
-- Benjamin Franklin
The Federalist Papers
James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and John Jay were the authors of The Federalist Papers, the tool of indoctrination of the ratification of the Constitution of the United States, which was opposed to the Bill of Rights (one of the three main parts of the Constitution).
The opposition was most notably stated by the author of Federalist No. 84, Alexander Hamilton, who feared once the document, that eventually became The Bill of Rights was written down, it would later be mis-interpreted as a list of rights that people had, but seen as being limited to only those rights, and would then be used to restrict freedom through false-interpretation and self-interest.
The important things to remember is, these words we hold so dear in the United States, at the end of the day, we're still written by fallible man, and are equally perverted by them for personal gain and self interest, and even at the time of penning was still opposed by the public. It should not be used as a tool of control. It should be used as it was meant to, a guide for the growth and development of a prospering country. It should be revered, but it should not be held above the heads of "men", by "men".
As it was then, shall it be always, until we can learn to be tolerance of differences, while respecting the changing of times and people, and by educating ourselves on history to work towards a peaceful future.
Happy Birthday, Constitution. May civil dissent over your text some day, maybe 225 more years from now, be a thing of history.