In our current political climate there is much discussion about the United States Constitution, what it says, what it should or should not say, whether it needs to be up-dated or revised or if it's even relevant anymore. There is also a great debate over how the Constitution is to be interpreted. There are those who say we should interpret it according to the original intent of its writers while others say it's a "living, breathing document" meaning that its interpretation is to be adapted to the changing times in which we live. With so much debate it is easy for people to become confused by all these arguments that they no longer know what to believe.

The reason for this dilemma is because most people don't know the history of the Constitution, why it was written, and what principles it was meant to enshrine. When this knowledge is lacking it is easy for people to become persuaded, through their ignorance, into discarding the very principles that guarantees our liberty. And should that ever happen we will lose the very freedoms that our founding fathers fought and worked so hard to give us. Therefore, it behooves all of us to become better acquainted with this unique and important document.

When America was first colonized its form of government was similar to that of England because Americans, at that time, were citizens of England. However, the government of each state was separate and independent from all the others. In that sense, they acted as sovereign countries, where the people in each state elected their own representatives and governed themselves according to their own laws.

However, in time they realized they also needed to have some form of a central government that could unite all these separate and independent legislatures into one union of states. This became especially necessary once they went to war against their mother country. Since all thirteen states had agreed to rebel against England that meant money, material, and men were needed from all thirteen states to fight the war. The document that established the relationship between all the states and created a central government during this period of time was known as the Articles of Confederation.

This was an agreement that united the thirteen states to form a perpetual alliance or compact among themselves for the purpose of working together for the common good, and its legislative body was known as the Continental Congress. However, since each state was independent and sovereign, the Continental Congress lacked the power to enforce its own rules. If it passed a law and one or more of the states decided to ignore it there was no punishment.

The weakness of this form of government became apparent even before the Revolutionary War began but it became even more apparent during the war. The Continental Congress had no authority to raise taxes to pay for the war and the country had to depend on the voluntary participation of each state to provide men, weapons, and money. Therefore, after the war there were a group of men who felt there needed to be a different form of government that gave more authority and power to the central government. However, the task they faced was how to have a government that was strong enough to provide for the security of their nation and insure the stability of the union while at the same time maintaining the liberty they desired and had fought with their blood to secure.

What they wanted to do, as far as was humanly possible, was to form a more perfect union of states wherein justice would be established, tranquility would be insured, the general welfare of its people would prosper and the blessings of liberty would be secured for not only themselves but for their posterity.

The men who took this challenge were not ordinary, poor, farmers but were men of wealth, who were successful in their trade and were highly educated. Many of them were well steeped in the ways of governing, having learned this skill through their British upbringing. However, from first-hand, personal experience they knew full well the dangers of being ruled by a king, so they looked to other forms of government they might imitate. With much diligence they studied the many different forms of government that existed in Europe at that time as well as in other parts of the world but couldn't find any system that would insure the preservation of their liberty.

Having failed at that, they next studied governments that existed in the past, going as far back as the Roman Empire. In the words of James Madison, they tried to learn from "the experiences of [the] ages, with the continued and combined labors of the most enlightened legislatures." In an effort to find the best system of government they studied "the history of almost all the great councils and consultation held among mankind" along with understanding "the infirmities and depravities of the human character." While they found many praiseworthy aspects within each system, all of them possessed the potential for abuse which had led many of them to descend into tyranny and despotism. Instead of finding the perfect system of government they could emulate, what they found instead was that each form of government they studied had within it the seeds of its own destruction.

Knowing full well the weaknesses of human nature, what the framers of our Constitution did, as they diligently sought "to avoid the errors suggested by the past experience of other countries, as well as our own" was to fashion a form of government that was unique in the history of mankind.

Under this new system they had an executive branch, a legislative body, and a judicial system. While this was nothing new, what made it unique was that each branch acted as a check on the powers of the other two. Knowing that power can corrupt even the best of men, the framers of our constitution sought to place as much restrictions on power as they could.

One way these sought to do this was by taking power from those in government and giving it to the people. In this way the power to govern was spread out among thousands and perhaps millions of people rather than letting it accumulate in the hands of just a few. Furthermore, under this newly proposed governing system, every so many years the leaders of the country had to be elected by the people. In this way, those in leadership positions could only maintain their power with the consent of the governed. This was a radically new idea but it came from their study of history which showed how, time and again, if a man or a body of men became tyrannical in their use of power, it became almost impossible to get rid of them.

But, no sooner had this plan been presented than it faced several challenges, the greatest of which was states rights. Under the Articles of Confederation each state operated according to its own constitution and was free to set its own laws. The fear that each state had was that under a powerful, central, national government, those rights could be taken away. Yet, without a strong general government the union would not last. Therefore, a compromise had to be found.

Under the newly proposed system, each state would elect two people to represent their constituents in Congress. However, the larger states immediately objected, saying that it gave the smaller states just as much power as the larger ones, which, they argued, was unfair. They proposed that the number of representatives from each state be determined by its population. But the smaller states strongly objected to this proposal, claiming that would allow the larger states to have more votes than the smaller states thereby causing them to be out-voted.

So heated was this debate that some of the delegates to the constitutional convention stormed out of the meeting and never returned. However, a comprise was finally reached where the legislative branch was split in two with one chamber called the Senate, that gave equal representation to each state, and the House of Representatives who members were elected based on the number of people in each state.

The document that came out of this convention was not a perfect system but it was the best compromise that could be fashioned, given the nature of men. However, before it could become the law of the land, it had to be approved by the legislative bodies of at least nine of the thirteen states. But even here, the rancor and debate that had existed during the framing of the Constitution continued as each state legislature argued both for and against acceptance of this document. The biggest objection that many people had was the fear that this new general government, as it was called, would have too much power and authority over the states, thereby taking away the freedom of their people.

To help convince the American public that this form of government was best for them, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay wrote a series of eight-five articles that were published in the local newspapers, explaining the value of the new Constitution and why it would not take away anyone's freedom. These articles have come to be known as the Federalist Papers and are an excellent source of understanding the thought process and intent of those who crafted our Constitution.

Yet, even so, there were many who remained skeptical of this newly proposed general government precisely because they feared it could someday take away their liberty by infringing on the rights of the states. To quell these fears, it was proposed by many state legislatures that a Bill of Rights be added to the Constitution as a means of insuring the protection of certain fundamental rights of the people. It was only when such a bill was promised that three-fourth's of the state legislatures ratified the Constitution.

At the first session of the new Congress in 1789 they passed the first ten Bills of Rights. In its ending clause, they added, "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." This clause effectively limited the power of the general government to only what was specifically contained in the Constitution. Any power or authority not specifically mention in the Constitution was automatically reserved for the states. In this way the presumption of authority resided with the citizens of the nation, rather than with those in the Federal Government.

With deliberate thought and intent, the Constitution was purposely written to limit the power of the central Government so as to prevent it from becoming too large and too powerful. What the framers of the Constitution knew too well was that without this imposed limitation on power, men of dangerous ambition would find ways to usurp more and more authority to themselves until they had obtain all power. The Constitution of the United States of America was specifically designed to prevent this very thing from ever happening in our country.

To do this, the Constitution was based on a Republican form of government rather than that of a Democracy. This is why we say "I pledge of allegiance to the flag of the United States of American and to the republic for which it stands."

A democracy is simply defined as majority rule. Under a true democracy, laws are determined by whatever a majority of people want and that law can be changed anytime by a majority of people. Human nature being what it is, the framers of our Constitution realized that such a form of government could and had in the past lead to an abuse of power. Their study of history has shown that those who had successfully overturned the liberties of their countrymen had done so "by paying an obsequious court to the people, commencing [as] demagogues, and ending [as] tyrants." By using flattery and preying upon the fears, prejudices ignorance, and baser instincts of human nature, such as greed, jealousy, revenge, or laziness, such men were able to sway a majority of people into thinking that it was in their best interest to give up their rights and liberty.

A Republic, on the other hand, is a form of government where those in power must govern according to a set of principles that are set forth in a charter. Our Constitution is such a charter that sets forth the principles by which we are to be governed and those principles are not subject to change by a majority vote, not even a super-majority. This distinction has been summed up in the saying, "Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote." A set of principles, enshrined forever in a charter, is what arms us against the misguided will of the majority. This was the very reason why the states eventually agreed to ratify the Constitution and intended it to remain as written for as long as the United States exists.

A Republic also gets its power from the people. As James Madison explained in the Federalist papers, the genius of republican liberty not only comes from the people "but that those [who have been] entrusted [by the people] should be kept in dependence on the people, by a short duration of their appointment."

In addition to this, the framers of the Constitution gave us a "federal" rather than a "national" government.

James Madison explained that "Under a National Government, all local authorities are subordinate to the supreme; and may be controlled, directed, or abolished by it at pleasure." Under this system the Union would be considered "as a consolidation of the States" where each state, instead of being independent, free, and sovereign, would become the collective servant of the National government, doing as they were told.

On the other hand, a Federal form of government "regards the Union as a confederacy of sovereign states." Under this system, the general government and the States share power with each other and are equal in authority to one another. In this way it provides a check and balance system to prevent one governmental body from becoming so powerful that it can take away the rights of the others.

However, even here the framers of the constitution created something unique. As James Madison explained in the Federalist Papers, "the proposed Constitution… is, in strictness, neither a [fully] national nor a [fully] federal Constitution, but a composition of both." Yet, even so, as a safeguard to prevent the Federal government from usurping the State's powers, the Constitution was deliberately written to act as a protective barrier and shield to preserve the rights of the states.

It was envisioned by the framers of the Constitution that "the members of the federal [government] will be more dependent on the members of the State governments, than the latter will be on the former" and that "the operations of the federal government will be most extensive and important in times of war and danger; [while] those of the State governments, [will be most extensive and important] in times of peace and security." The original design of the Federal government was for it to be limited in power and small in size.

However, over the last 200 years the Federal government has grown in power and in size until today we've become accustomed to looking to it for almost everything we want. As a result of this change in mind-set, many people have lost sight of the importance that the framers of the Constitution placed on preventing the Federal government from infringing on the rights of the state. But there are many reasons.

One is that that the closer the government is to its people the more say the people have in their own affairs. Conversely, the farther away the government is from its people the less influence they have on those in power and the more detached those in power are from those whom they govern. Like anything else, the larger something is the more cumbersome and unwieldy it becomes. It is for this reason that the framers of the Constitution sought to create a small Federal government and let most of the work of governing people be done by the states.

Another reason is that the more power that's placed in fewer hands, the more those hands desire and even want to increase their power. Conversely, the less power any one individual or group of individuals has, the less opportunity they have to abuse it. Power is best protected from misuse when it is spread over the widest number of people possible. To place power in thirteen or fifty-two states is much safer than placing power in one Federal government. And when the Federal government can keep check on the states power and the states can keep check on the Federal government then it becomes nearly impossible for any governmental body to misuse their power by taking away the liberty of its people. But if the Federal government is able to take away the rights of the states then they will have destroyed the checks and balance system that was designed to protect our individual rights.

Still, another reason is that if the Federal government has the ability to take some power away from the states, it will only be a matter of time before they will take more and more until they have taken it all. It is for this reason that the rights of the states must always be protected because if they ever lose their rights, then all we will have left is a National Government.

Back in the 1700's Americans had a clear understanding of the vital importance of these principles of liberty but through the years we have taken them for granted and, in so doing, have lost sight of them. Therefore, if we are to maintain our liberties we must relearn what those principles are.

However, before we look at them, it is important that we first understand what a "principle" is.

The dictionary defines a principle as "a basic rule or standard of personal conduct based on moral or ethical standards or judgments." A principle is something we strongly believe in to the point that it influences every decision we make and affects the way we behave in every situation. A principle is like a compass we look to for guidance when we don't know what to do or where to go. It is like an anchor that helps us remain firm against the winds of change. Principles are what give men the courage to keep going against all odds and to persevere when others want to give up.

A simple example of a principle is mathematics. We've come to believe that 2 times 2 equals 4 and we base our life on following this simple principle. It isn't hard to imagine the chaos that would result if we didn't follow it. We also believe that 4 times 4 equals 16 and that 8 times 8 equals 64. But the way that we've come to know these principles is because we've been taught it so many times that it has become a permanent part of our memory.

But suppose someone said that 64 times 64 is 3,096. Unless our knowledge of mathematical principles was good enough we wouldn't know if that answer is correct or not. Nearly all adults know their multiplications tables up to 10 and some even up to 12 because they've had these mathematical principles drilled into them throughout their school years. But not many people have learned to multiply by 64. Yet, by using the basic multiplication tables we have been taught, with a little bit of effort we can find out for ourselves what 64 times 64 is equal to.

The principles of liberty are the same. We learn them by being taught over and over again until they become part of our memory and this teaching can come from our parents, schools, and churches. Yet, we don't need to know every principle. As long as we know the basics we can then figure out for ourselves the more complicated issues that confront us. However, when we aren't properly taught even the basic principles of liberty then we are left confused by the many philosophies that swirl around us and, because of our ignorance, we become vulnerable to being duped into believing anything.

Most tyrants don't come to power by military conquest alone. More often than not they first need to enlist the support of others to their cause and many times they do this by preying on the ignorance of the population. By changing the meanings of words such as patriotism, justice, fairness, equality, goodness, and evil they are able convince a gullible public into believing that dark is light and that light is dark. They make promises that can never be kept or they have no intention of keeping yet the ignorant believe them because they don't know enough to realize they are being lied to. In this way tyrants come to power to the cheers of those who will shortly become their slaves. But, by the time the people realize what they have done (if they ever do) it will be too late to rid themselves of the monster they helped put into power.

However, the early Americans had no such illusions. Having lived under the tyrannical rule of the King of England as well as the Church of England, they fully knew, through painful experience, the value of the true principles of liberty. And it was their belief in these principles that motivated them to leave their homeland, taking a perilous voyage across thousands of miles of treacherous seas, to settle for life in an unknown wilderness full of many dangers.

All the colonists who came to America - the new England - came primarily for one reason: to have a place where they could enjoy the freedom to live as they wanted. And because of their freedom, they prospered. But, it wasn't long before the King of England extended his dictatorial rule across the ocean to take away their cherished liberty.

It must be remembered that these early colonists didn't consider themselves to be Americans but Englishmen. It was never their intention to create their own nation. It was their hope that through the power of their petitions to their King that he could be persuaded to let them live in peace. Had he done that they would have remained loyal subjects to him.

However, when their repeated petitions were ignored and more of their freedoms were taken away, they were eventually left with only one of two choices - either give up their liberty altogether or fight to preserve it. On March 23, 1775 Patrick Henry expressed the choice that laid before them in these words: "Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!"

At this time England was a world super-power and the colonists were mostly farmers armed with musket guns for hunting wild game, plows for tilling the ground, and pitchforks for throwing hay. They had no army or navy and they had no great wealth to buy one. Yet it was their belief in the principles of liberty that compelled them to do the unthinkable.

On July 4, 1776, representatives of the thirteen states signed a letter addressed to the King of England. But this time it is wasn't a petition they sent him but a bold statement declaring their independence from his rule. However, as men of honor, they felt required to declare the causes which impelled them to separate themselves from England. And in setting forth their reasons they listed many of the principles of liberty. If we want to learn what those principles are, we can have no better text to study than the declaration they wrote.

It begins by saying, "We hold these truths to be self-evident."

Truth is the way things really are. As such, it is unchanging. What was true yesterday is just as true today and will be true tomorrow. What the founders of our country believed in were certain things that they felt were not only true but were self-evident. That is to say, these are truths that are so apparent that they don't need any explanation or defense. It's like saying 2 times 2 equals four. That's a self-evident truth.

However, there are those who will not accept self-evident truths but, instead, will argue that such ideas are neither truths nor are they self-evident. King George certainly did not accept as truth what the signers of the Declaration of Independence told him. But denying a truth doesn't make it untrue. It is merely ignoring truth.

The signers of the declaration then went onto say, "that all men are created equal."

When they said "all men" they meant just that. It excludes no one. It doesn't make any difference whether a person is rich or poor, male or female, slave or freeman, born in America or lives somewhere else, we have all been "created" the same way. This is another way of saying that we have all been born of a woman and we all came from the womb the same way. The child of a nobleman is created no differently than the child of a commoner. In that sense, we were all created "equal." It is only after we have been "created" by nature that man then changes what nature has done so that we become unequal.

Furthermore, what man has created, by right, belongs to him. Since the state didn't create man, they have no rights over him except that which he allows. Yet, there are those who look for ways to take what doesn't belong to them and that applies to people in power perhaps even more so than to others. However, the true function of government is not to take away man's rights but to protect and secure them.

But men are also created equal in another sense. Just as the state has not "created" man, so man has not created himself. As the signers of the Declaration of Independence went on to say, all men "are endowed by their Creator."

The word "Creator" as used in this sense refers to a superior being who alone has the power to create life. Therefore, our life, along with our body, no more belongs to us as it does the State. Instead, it belongs to Him who created us and has given us life. Throughout the history of the world, in nearly every civilization, man has believed in some sort of a "Creator." They may call this Being by various names and ascribe to Him different titles but, the term Christians use to describe this Being - and the framers of our Constitution were devout Christians - is "God."

From this we learn a self-evident truth which is that "God" has created all of us and that we are all equal in His sight. He doesn't love the freeman more than He loves the slave. He doesn't love one race of people more than He does another. All of us are the work of His hands and because of that He has equally "endowed" each of us.

The word "endow" means "to give, empowered, equipped, or instilled." Thus, God, our Creator, has endowed, or given, equipped, or instilled within each of us "certain unalienable rights."

As used here, the word "right" has a legal connotation. A "right" is something we either own or are owed, as in a debt, and, as such we are entitled to. The word "unalienable" means something we cannot be separated or alienated from. It is as much a part of us as the air we breathe. If man is separated or alienated from air, he dies. Thus, an "unalienable right" is a right that is a part of us and makes us who we are. As such, it is something we cannot give away even if we wanted to.

What kind of rights are unalienable? Among others, the signers of the Declaration of Independence listed three: "… life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

Life is the most basic of all unalienable rights. Without it there is no existence and without existing nothing else matters. Just like we didn't create our own bodies, so also we did not create life. Therefore, our life doesn't belong to us but to that Creator who gave it to us and who endowed or instilled it within us as an unalienable right. Since life doesn't belong to us we have no right to take it from ourselves or anyone else.

If governments are instituted by men to protect and secure our rights, then there is no higher duty of government than to protect life. Therefore, it is a self-evident truth that no man or no government of man has the right to determine who will live and who die. The only exception to this rule (and the framers of the Constitution believed in this principle) is capital punishment for those who have committed violent crimes against society. But even here, our founding father sought to preserve even the life of a criminal by giving them ample opportunity to prove their innocence.

To the early Americans, the words "liberty" and "freedom" had the same meaning. Another word that is often used to describe this principle is "free agency." It is a self-evident truth that all men have been equally endowed by their Creator with the unalienable right to choose for themselves Therefore, whenever any man or government of man takes away the right to choose, either by physical force or by the demands of law, it is just as detrimental as taking away a person's right to breathe. Therefore, the second highest duty of government is to protect and secure the right of its citizens to have the freedom to make their own decisions as long as those decisions don't infringe on the freedom of others to decide for themselves.

In matters of religion, this country was specifically established to grant everyone the right to worship whoever, wherever, and whatever they wanted without being punished for doing so. Although each religious sect had their own methods of converting others to their faith, no one was forced to belong to a church they didn't want to join. From the very beginning of this county, the role of government was never meant to prevent people from telling others what they believed but to protect the rights of its citizens to choose for themselves which church, if any, they wanted to join. Being offended because someone believes differently doesn't give anyone else the right to prevent someone else from expressing their beliefs. Being prevented from becoming offended is not a right but a personal choice.

But the right to chose also means having the unalienable right to experience the consequences of our decisions. If we take away the consequences of our choices then it is as though we have no choice at all. If, for example, one person chooses to work hard, the consequences of their choice may be to amass wealth. On the other hand, a person who chooses to be lazy will reap the consequence of having very little money. But if we feel sorry for the lazy man and, in the name of compassion, give him money he hasn't earned, then, for him, it doesn't matter if he works or not because he will still have money. In that case, he really has no choice because the consequences of his choices will be the same.

To voluntarily give of our time, money, or material possession to help others, is a choice we have the right to make. But, whenever a government takes from those who are wealthy without their consent and gives it to those who are poor, whether they ask for it or not, is a violation of man's freedom to decide for himself. That is not an act of compassion but an act of robbery in the name of compassion.

The meaning of the phrase "the pursuit of happiness" has often been debated by many people but it doesn't need to be because its definition is very clear. "Happiness" means different things to different people therefore, "the pursuit of happiness" simply means the right to pursue doing those things that brings a person happiness. If money makes someone happy, then they should have the right to do what they want in order to make as much money as they desire. If having a large family makes someone happy, then they should have the right to have as large a family as they want. If being lazy and doing nothing makes someone happy, then they should have the right to be joyously lazy.

But without being able to pursue our dreams, life has no meaning, therefore one of the vital roles of government is to help protect and secure the right of its people to do those things that brings them happiness. Of course, as always, the rights of one person cannot infringe upon the rights of another, and government has a duty to protect everyone's rights, not just a certain few. But, whenever government places unnecessary barriers and obstacles in the way of its citizens in their pursuit of happiness, they are taking away their liberty to decide for themselves.

In most cases, the results of our pursuit of happiness comes in the form of material possessions. Although many people work at a job they are not thrilled with, yet they look forward to the money they get as a result of their labor. And it is with that money that people can then purchase the things that bring them happiness, whether it is clothing, a home, car, vacation, or just eating out. And because our property is the tangible result of our pursuit of happiness, the right to keep what we have is an essential part of our liberty.

As every student of American history knows, one of the grievances the colonists had with England was their taxation policy. People would work hard to earn their money and were outraged when the government simply took it from them in the form of a tax. Since the government has no other way of generating revenue except through taxes, it has no other choice than to levy a certain amount of taxes on its people. But, since the Constitution limits the duties of the Federal government, it likewise limits the amount of taxes it can levy.

The duty of the Federal government is to protect the country from foreign danger through the use of a standing army and navy, to make treaties and regulate foreign commerce. They also have a responsibility to provide for the peace and harmony within and between the states, such as interstate commerce. In order for them to carry out these duties, they have to have money, so the Constitution allows them to fund these activities through the taxing of their people.

However, when the Federal government begins raising taxes to fund activities not specifically mentioned in the Constitution, such as social programs, then they are going beyond their Constitutional authority, taking power to themselves they are not entitled to, infringing on the rights of the States whose duty it is to provide for the social needs of its people, and are violating the rights of its citizens in their pursuit of happiness.

While many of these social programs are started with the best intentions of helping people, what is actually happening is that the Federal government is slowly becoming a National government as it takes more and more power to itself. This was the very thing the founding fathers tried hard to avoid when they wrote the Constitution because they knew how easily corrupted such a government can become and how easily such a government can take away the rights of its people. This was the very reason why the American public in the late 1700's had serious reservations about ratifying the Constitution and insisted on putting more restrictions on the Federal government before accepting this document.

Liberty is an individual right and the duty of every government should be to protect the rights of each of its citizens. But when governments protect the rights of certain classes or groups of people over those of other classes or groups, then we will not only lose our individuality but our individual liberty at the same time.

But no form of government can be prevented from falling into tyranny if its people are not moral and ethical themselves. Laws are only good if they are obeyed and only those who have high moral and ethical standards are law abiding people. Every society has its criminal element who look for ways to either get around the law or get away with breaking the law, but when the majority of people within a society want someone else to take care of them by taking it from others, when a majority of people don't care about the rights of others or even their own rights and are willing to give away both, then no government can long survive.

The right to life is what makes possible our ability to make choices and the right to make choices is what makes it possible for us to pursue our dreams, which then gives us our property. But, when we take the lives of those whom we don't want around anymore and make choices that hurt other people or takes from others what rightfully belongs to them and who find happiness in building up their own power at the expense of others, then the Constitution of the United States will no longer be of any use to us because it's only for a moral people and none else.

These are the principles that have made our country the freest and most prosperous nation in the history of the world, but we can only maintain our freedom by understanding and adhering to the principles of liberty.

NOTE: Thoughts from Benjamin Franklin on liberty:

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." (1775)

"Sell not virtue to purchase wealth, nor Liberty to purchase power." (Poor Richard's Almanac, 1738)

"Idleness and pride tax with a heavier hand than kings and parliaments. If we can get rid of the former, we may easily bear the latter." (Letter on the Stamp Act, 1765)

"I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it." (1766)

"Sir, I agree to this Constitution, with all its faults, - if they are such; because I think a general Government necessary for us, and there is no form of government but what may be a blessing to the people, if well administered; and I believe, farther, that this is likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic government, being incapable of any other." (Speech to the Constitutional Convention, 1787)

Return to Nature of Freedom menu

Return to main menu

If you like this article, tell a friend, or Click here to email a friend!